Here’s a news flash: There are a lot of fad diets out there and a lot of people claiming to be experts in what you ought to eat. You’re wise to be wary. Which is why it’s worth noting when a reputable source comes out with a guide to one of today’s dietary fixations: avoiding gluten.
“Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free” is the latest addition to the clinic’s extensive series of personal health guides. This one is written by Joseph Murray, who became interested in celiac disease (where reaction to gluten results in damage to intestinal lining) as a medical student in Ireland and gained what he calls “a new appreciation” of the disease’s complexity since coming to the United States. He begins by helping you ascertain if you really have celiac disease, if you might have a still-undefined condition of celiac sensitivity or if you’re just being caught up in a popular movement that has whole grocery-store aisles devoted to gluten-free foods. He explains how the digestive system works and what celiac disease does to it. He follows this up with case studies, coping strategies and recipes. And there are some nice extras, including a glossary of gluten-free grains accompanied by color photographs – useful to those of us who have never seen amaranth or teff.
Of course you are skeptical of the promise in “Aging Backwards: Reverse the Aging Process and Look 10 Years Younger in 30 Minutes a Day.” But inside this book there’s an appealing mix of advice and exercises that looks like maybe not quite a fountain of youth but something that could do a body good.
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Miranda Esmonde-White, a former ballerina and creator of the long-running PBS fitness show “Classical Stretch,” offers a plan that begins with understanding what she says are two kinds of exercise: concentric, which crunches muscles, and eccentric, which stretches and lengthens them. To combat the stiffening, shrinking aspects of aging, she has designed a series of eccentric exercises – she calls them Essentrics – that she asserts will work all 600-plus muscles in your body. She has organized them into eight workouts that have specific goals – improved posture, looser joints, bone strength and so on. She suggests you do one workout a day – slowly, gently, not trying too hard – which should take about 30 minutes.
The workouts, illustrated with photographs, reflect her interest in tai chi, yoga, ballet and strength training – but they don’t include holding poses or lifting weights, and she tries to keep them very simple. For instance, here’s how she gets you started on improving posture: “Try this one exercise: Pull one arm at a time toward the ceiling for a total of 32 repetitions. Alternate arms … do this for 5 minutes every day. It will make you look and feel younger.”