Good Books Lift You!

Good Books Lift You!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Review: Candles on The Ganges

Candles on The Ganges Candles on The Ganges by Peter E. Upton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a deeply spiritual and moving book. This is true account of how the urge to communicate with his son (who passed away tragically very early at the age of 7), keeps the author, Peter, going.

The loss of a child, and at such a young age is a painful tragedy like no other. I have seen how immensely traumatic this is for people who have faced this. Peter is a cab driver in London, and senses that he has a gift as a potential medium himself. He approaches many mediums at the church and also at some other places subsequent to his son Michael’s passing. He receives several messages from his son and feels good that his presence in their lives continues – Peter and his wife also have another daughter. Peter himself is able to convey messages to other people from their loved ones who have passed on. He also takes up a course in astrology. At some point, he feels he should make a trip to India to deepen his spiritual practices.

His travels in India – Delhi, Haridwar and then Rajasthan are very well narrated. Peter runs into a number of instances where he is cheated, but at the same time meets many wise & helpful people as well. Much of his experiences makes for very interesting reading (except a very silly narration of an episode on a train where a doctor asserts that eating chappatis is making Indians foolish and weak). His keen interest, respect for and observation of the meditation practices of some of the gurus in Haridwar, helps him reach the silence within him which he has longed for. An overview of Vedanta would have helped Peter better tie up the concepts, temples, practices and rituals which he observed though.

This is a book which should be widely read – it is very honest, deep and meaningful. Very strongly recommended.

My rating: 4.5 / 5.

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Review: The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases

The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases by Amy Myers
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is the third health related book I have read and reviewed in the past few months (the others being ‘Brain Food’ by Lisa Mosconi and ‘How not to die’ by Michael Greger). It can be difficult to reconcile the advice offered – as there are contradictions. And yet some conclusions are clear – we severely underestimate the role the food we eat plays in our health and the benefits of consulting a good dietitian. My interest in reading this book was because of some prevalent autoimmune conditions in people close to me. As I read on, I found I have an autoimmune condition myself.

This book makes an interesting start – it delves on the various types of autoimmune diseases ranging from allergies, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and others. The first section of the book details how the immune system mistakenly attacks inflammatory agents it encounters. The key principles of addressing this includes: healing the gut, reducing intake of inflammatory foods, limiting exposure to toxins and managing stress. This is referred to as ‘The Myers Way’ – a phrase which repeats multiple times on each page. The author talks about how conventional medicine does not help much – progressively requiring more medication, compounded by the fact that people with one autoimmune condition are at high risk of developing others. I cannot agree more that better solutions are needed to treat autoimmune disorders.

Amy details the foods we should strictly avoid – gluten, grains, dairy and legumes. She explains how she ate largely vegetarian food herself but changed her diet to come out of her autoimmune condition. She states that vegetarians & vegans have no way to improve their autoimmune condition. While this view came across as disappointing to me – I also know this to be incorrect as I personally know a few people who have improved their autoimmune condition with a strictly vegetarian diet. Also, a lot of her diet recommendation contradicts studies on people living long and healthy lives. So, assuming ‘The Myers Way’ does work for limiting autoimmune conditions in the short term, what about the longer term? Unlike the other two books I have referred at the start of this review, this book refers to almost no research.

There is detailed discussion on inflammatory foods, especially gluten, grains, dairy & eggs and the harm they cause us – even people without a current autoimmune condition can progress towards one. The book includes a detailed 30-day diet plan and recipes of many of the dishes mentioned. The author claims that people taking up this diet will feel better in a week, and are most likely to significantly limit their symptoms in a month.

If people are able to take up this diet, I suppose there cannot be any harm in trying this for a short period (after all the author says the difference should be noticeable in a month). I would be very wary of adopting something like for the long term.

I considered my review and rating carefully to see to what extent I am allowing my personal values & diet habits to influence it. This book suffers from an egotistical tone, repeating material, non-evidence based conclusions and almost no references to credible research. So, not guilty.

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