Book review: Effortless Healing, 9 simple ways to sidestep illness, shed excess weight, and help your body fix itself by Dr. Joseph Mercola (New York: Harmony Books) 2015
Have you noticed that when you go on a weight loss diet, all you think about is food. As I write this I’m at a B & B, in Nuksup, BC. One of my fellow inmates is on a diet, avoiding carbs and cocktails, counting calories and walking 5km every day. He’s lost 11 lbs. in the last month. (Good for him!) My hosts are interested in healthier eating. They told us about a gal in their community who dropped 90 lbs and got off her medications by taking vitamins and losing weight. While weight loss is a great goal, most people who go on a weight loss diet, gain the weight back within a year. What we all need is a healthy lifestyle change so that our body can fix itself, drop the excess weight, and heal.
Spring is the perfect time to begin a lifestyle change. The garden is coming into production. The weather is right for long walks and more sunshine. Fruits and vegetables are coming into season, and thus dropping in price. And Dr. Mercola’s new book, Effortless Healing, is ready to inspire your changes with sound, well researched and tested methods for losing weight, eating a better diet, and moving toward health.
You were created for health
Your body was meant to heal itself. It wasn’t meant to be sick. Yet you are more likely to have some health problem than you are to be healthy. Isn’t that crazy? Obesity rates are at an all-time high. 7 out of every 10 people are on some kind of prescription drug and the majority are on more than 10 different medications. Chronic illness and autoimmune diseases are the norm rather than the exception. This generation is the first generation in history that isn’t expected to live longer than their parents. How did we get here?
Whose fault is it anyway?
It’s easy to blame corporations. Big Food, Big Diet, Big Pharma, and Big Government are responsible on the macro level. But ultimately it is you and I that have the final say about how much exercise we get, and what gets put in our mouth. Big Food makes the Twinkies, but it’s my hand that puts the Twinkie in my mouth. So if the responsibility for where we are is on our shoulders, that’s good news. It means that we can do something about it. But where do you and I begin? Especially when we all know that diets don’t work.
Dr. Mercola is a beacon in the healthy living community. Dr. Joseph Mercola is a holistic health advocate, a physician, and a New York Times bestselling author. He’s been walking the walk and leading the way for decades. His years of research are brought together in his new book, Effortless Healing. Mercola is a doctor that you can trust to give you sound guidance on the most important healthy lifestyle choices that will give you the greatest impact and let your body heal itself.
About Effortless Healing
Effortless Healing is divided into three parts. Part 1 explains how the body heals itself. Part 2 offers 9 principles that, when applied, help the body heal itself, and part 3 brings it down to a personal level and offers detailed plans to help you embrace these healthy lifestyle changes.
Each of the 9 principles has a chapter devoted to it, explaining why it’s foundational to health. Each principle is well documented with scientific research and practical applications.
Principle 1: Drink pure water
Principle 2: Eat your veggies
Principle 3: Burn fat for fuel
Principle 4: Exercise less and gain more benefits
Principle 5: Enjoy the sun and get your vitamin D
Principle 6: Let your gut flourish
Principle 7: Clean your brain with sleep
Principle 8: Go barefoot
Principle 9: Avoid 6 “health” foods (whole grains, natural sweeteners, soy products, refined vegetable oils, most fish, conventional dairy products)
Principle 2, eating more vegetables, is probably the most difficult to achieve. Let’s look at a few of Dr. Mercola’s suggestions to help you eat more vegetables. Mercola’s healthy eating plan is void of sugar and starches. You won’t find whole grain breads, pasta, potatoes, corn, or rice in the Mercola eating pyramid. Instead the foundation tier is healthy fats and vegetables. In the Effortless Healing Plan grass fed organic meat and poultry, pastured eggs, and wild salmon are the second tier. Fruit consumption is recommended only in moderation. This healthy eating plan stresses that 30 to 50% of the food is consumed raw. Think veggie juice, fermented vegetables, sprouts, and salads. (See my post on juicing here.) In this way the body is fueled with ample nutrients to detoxify and begin the healing process.
Part 3 takes these principles and walks them through with a weekly strategy, that includes a menu plan for effortless eating, an achievable exercise plan, and a few time management suggestions like planting sunflower seeds on Sunday so you can harvest sunflower greens later in the week. While not exactly effortless, it will get easier as you and I form new habits around food and activity. Considering that much of the food is served raw, there is less time devoted to cooking and cleaning up afterward. It is an exchange of time committed to healthy living vs. time spent doing what you and I are doing now.
Why I gave it 4 stars
I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars because it was hard to read from cover to cover. I found myself reading a chapter than just reading the headings of the next chapter to glean the nuggets there. It’s a lot of information to read in one or two sittings. This is a book that’s meant to be kept on the reference shelf so you can go back to it again and again. There are few pictures to attract your interest or to draw you from one lengthy body of text to another. And the book contains very few charts or graphs to visually represent the data.
While the cover is clean, it’s also mundane. On a book with a list price of $26, a few coloured illustrations would have made the book easier to read and more attractive. This is not the fault of the author, whose text and research was strong, but a fault of the book designer. Others who may have trouble finding the time to read a lengthy manuscript might find the audio version more attractive.
The research is sound
Effortless Healing is not a fluff book. There are over 200 footnotes documenting the relevance of these 9 principles of healing. It is 323 pages of sound research and detailed practical advice to help you move from an unhealthy lifestyle to natural health and well being. This book is for those who have a need to know the “why” behind lifestyle modifications, and who want to see scientific studies rather than just anecdotal proof. There are enough stories of Dr. M.’s patients who achieved remarkable healing, to keep the reader interested.
Dr. M. sells supplements on his website and there are referrals in the book to supplements on the Mercola site. For instance, after giving recipes and instructions for making simple fermented vegetables, or milk kefir, he offers a probiotic supplement for those who find fermented foods unpalatable or for those who can’t make their own. But the book doesn’t demand the use of supplements for effortless healing. Supplements are for those who can’t apply these 9 principles of Effortless Healing.
Who should read this book?
Should you read the Effortless Healing? If you are sick and tired of yo-yo diets and are ready to refocus on total health so that your body can heal itself, this book will motivate and guide you. Is it enough to keep you on track when the sugar cravings and the caffeine headaches start? Probably not. To achieve the total lifestyle change that this book suggests, you may need to find a support community to encourage you when things get difficult. But this book is a catalyst to get you started on a healthier lifestyle. The next step is up to you.
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Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Effortless Healing from Blogging For Books. Nevertheless this review represents my honest opinion of the book.