Two new books to help you clean up your health.


The Inertia

If you think there are a lot of fitness fad books out there, you’re right. But it’s arguable that the market for nutrition books is even more saturated, and that many of the titles on offer are merely trying to cash in on the diet du jour before it goes out of fashion and the next gimmicky approach comes around, leaving stacks of copies in distribution warehouses.

Yet occasionally a book comes along that is based on sound, enduring principles that are evergreen, features easily applicable takeaways (pun intended) and doesn’t require you tossing out everything in your pantry and refrigerator and replacing it with whatever product line the author is hawking. The best two such books I’ve read in the past year are Mark Sisson’s The New Primal Blueprint and Dr. Catherine Shanahan’s opus Deep Nutrition. Here are a few highlights from each one:

The New Primal Blueprint

Traditional publishers were too shortsighted to see the value in Mark Sisson’s book. Rather than being deterred, he started his own publishing company and launched the first edition of The Primal Blueprint to great acclaim in 2009. This new second edition – retitled The New Primal Blueprint – adds eight years of wisdom from his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple, and expands the scope of his approach.

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Unlike some other authors whose principles relate to Paleo, Sisson isn’t against dairy, believing it to be a solid source of fat and protein. Just make sure you’re sticking with full fat, grass-fed, organic cheese, milk and butter where possible. He’s also not anti-carbs, suggesting that we eat sweet potatoes, yams and quinoa instead of lower value, more highly processed options. All too often we can get caught up counting calorie expenditure or obsessing about the number of steps we take, but Sisson makes the point that 80 percent of our body composition isn’t defined by exercise, but by our nutrition. He then proceeds to lay out several key principles that anyone can use to improve in this area, included in two of his 10 Primal Blueprint Laws:

— Eat plants and animals

— Avoid poisonous things

The other 10 laws focus on other lifestyle areas, and are:

— Move frequently

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— Lift heavy things

— Sprint once in a while

— Get plenty of sleep

— Play

— Get plenty of sunlight

— Use your brain

Whereas many other books in this category can descend into zealotry or dogmatism, Sisson’s is a study in moderation and common sense. On page 63, he typifies this by stating, “The Primal Blueprint is not about being perfect. It’s about trending in the right direction, being aware of environmental hazards like junk foods or too much screen time at night, and doing the best you can under the circumstances you face each day.”

Variety is the spice of life! Take a walk and sprinkle in a few squats, push ups, or other body weight exercises. #wellnesswednesday

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A post shared by Mark's Daily Apple (@marksdailyapple) on

Deep Nutrition

This book took years to write (hat tip to co-writer Luke Shanahan) and unless you’re a speed reader it’s going to take you quite a while to finish. But trust me, you’ll be glad you did. There’s a reason elite teams like the LA Lakers consult with Shanahan – she’s able to do a deep dive into complex topics and distill them down into a practical plan for the lay reader. In the midst of almost 500 pages, two key principles stand out (from page 275): “1) Find the best ingredients grown in the richest soil in the most wholesome, sustainable manner and 2) Ensure that your body can use those nutrients most efficiently by preparing the raw materials according to the principles of the Human Diet: the Four Pillars of World Cuisine.” Those pillars are simply:

Pillar 1: Meat on the Bone (starts on page 242)

Pillar 2: Organ Meat: Officially Good for You (starts on page 252)

Pillar 3: Better than Fresh: Fermentation and Sprouting (starts on page 256)

Pillar 4: Fresh: The Benefits of Raw (starts on page 264)

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Ok, so if you don’t eat meat, you may be about to close your web browser. Don’t! Shanahan offers the following advice for you on page 412: “Vegetarians can get all the healthy fats they need by including dairy and eggs in their diet, but it is particularly important for these to come from pastured animals.” This answer is one of many in a helpful FAQs section at the back of the book that provides a quick reference guide. I also found it beneficial to get Shanahan’s take on processed vegetable oils, which she says contribute to everything from cancer to heart disease. Better options? Nut, olive, avocado and yes, despite what recent reports might lead us to believe, coconut oil.

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