These book and product reviews (and e-books) have absolutely nothing to do with law.  Some have been published in newspapers, others have not.  If you are interested in the topics, I hope you enjoy the reviews.   If not, return to the main page.

As a "bonus", I have added, in pdf format, a revised version of my telescope review, which has been posted on the Cloudy Nights web page (click Bushnell Review, if you are interested).

 

Here are the books and topics reviewed:

 

Bowflex reviews

The Discarded Image, C.S. Lewis

Islam, Alfred Guillaume

e-books, the Bible on e-books, and Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton

Diabetes Book Reviews (14 books, one product, reviewed)

 

The Bowflex Body Plan

By Ellington Darden, PhD

(Rodale Inc., © 2004)

And Bowflex Conquest

reviews

 

            After purchasing both the Bowflex Conquest unit and The Bowflex Body Plan, it became obvious that one could not be reviewed without the other. Although cross-references will be made in each review, I will do my best to keep the reviews separate.

 

            Preface. If you are considering purchasing exercise programs or equipment (such as p90X, the Total Gym, Vigro Fit, treadmills, bar bells, elliptical machines, etc.), as did I, please consider your goals. My wife, who suffers arthritis in her hands and decreasing bone density, wanted something that would help her in both categories. I believe everyone understands that stronger muscles increase bone density which helps persons with arthritis. For myself, I wanted an alternative exercise to a nightly cardio, stretch and limited resistance workout on my Nautilus NordicTrack CX 1055 (which is a very good and useful elliptical machine); as one who is trying to be liberated from impaired glucose tolerance (pre diabetic), it is necessary for me to exercise a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day. The information I was reading about resistance or strength training suggested that my cardio workout could be reduced if I increased my muscle mass (which continues to “work” the physiology of my system, even when I am resting). In addition, I wanted stronger lower back muscles (my family has an unwanted tradition of pain in that part of our bodies).

 

            With these factors in mind, I ordered the literature and free DVD from Bowflex. The testimonials and information were very encouraging, but I was unwilling to spend a bunch of money on a Bowflex. Besides, the size of the units created space problems, because we had no room for a piece of equipment as large as a Bowflex.

 

            Book Review: The Bowflex Body Plan.. One weekend while I was visiting a used bookstore in Texas, I stumbled onto Ellington Darden’s book, The Bowflex Body program. After flipping through the pages, I decided it was worth a try, so I bought it.  This turned out to be a pivotal event.

 

Darden has been a body builder and body trainer for over 40 years. He holds a PhD, likes to investigate things and learn about new disciplines. He has also written lots of books on body building. He is a pretty good writer, which helps us readers.

 

One of the surprises in the book relates to his knowledge of nutrition: he has taken post-graduate courses in the topic, and studied the principles of Understanding Nutrition (a thick, heavy, lengthy book, used in colleges and universities). As I read more in his book, it was obvious that Darden knew more about nutrition than most, and although he is not at the level of Marion Nestle or Eleanor Noss Whitney, nor does his program touch on “hot” topics such as carbohydrate reduction diets or mineral additives, his weight loss and body building programs take into account some fundamentals of nutrition.

 

In short, Darden appeared to be a learned man, who was willing to admit he was wrong. In the book, he points out erroneous perspectives he had formulated (including taking the wrong or unnecessary dietary supplements, over exercising, etc.), and explains why his beliefs were out of kilter.

 

            The book has lots of materials, ranging from the science of dieting (for example, diets won’t work without exercise – although this fact ought to be obvious, Darden explains why one doesn’t work without the other), to specific dieting programs, to the science of strength training programs (frequency of exercises, meaning, no less than 20 minutes nor more than 30 per session, no more than 3 sessions a week so your muscles can recover and rebuild, no less than 8 repetitions nor more than 12 per session, using short pauses between exercises – i.e., circuit training, etc.).  He concludes with the observation that all exercise regimens (stretching, cardio and resistance) can be accomplished by using a Bowflex machine.

 

            Although the principles of strength training are Bowflex oriented in this book, they could be adapted to any resistance training program and produce the same results. Even if you do not own or purchase a Bowflex, you can use the principles.

 

            Much of the book is devoted to helping people lose weight, which was not one of my objectives. Apparently people want to lose weight when they buy exercise equipment. If one factors in Michael Pollen’s observation in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, that a third of our population is overweight, and according to Darden, between ages 30 and 50, we lose 15 pounds of muscle mass, the handwriting on the wall is obvious: we cannot expect to have healthy bodies if we do not eat properly and exercise.

 

            The book contains so many Bowflex exercise routines, that over the course of time, I will have no problem adapting what I now do with my Bowflex unit, and adding other exercises for specific needs. As an aid to a novice, there are dozens of photographs of how exercises are to be done (including some which do not require a Bowflex unit).

 

            Comparing this work to others I have read on the topics of exercise, strength training, cardio and stretching, I learned more about all of those subjects in less time than all of the other materials and resources. His dietary program, however, is not what as healthy as it might be (but his purpose is to formulate a diet that can lead to weight loss of up to 60 pounds in 6 weeks – not to detoxify a system).

 

If I had not purchased this book, we would not have purchased a Bowflex. I don’t think any novice Bowflex user should purchase a Bowflex without first reading this book.

 

            Bowflex Conquest Review. By the time I finished the book, I was pretty excited about the Bowflex equipment. The units I had seen at Sears and some sporting goods stores were so large that I was discouraged, because we only had one room where we could keep the equipment, and the unit had to be moved to the middle of the room to be used. The one positive thing we learned as we visited these stores was that the units had wheels, and it appeared the units could be moved into a corner in a folded position (there are a couple of Bowflex units that don’t have wheels and can’t be moved, but I wasn’t interested in those; one of them did not have a rowing bench and the other was out of our budget constraints).

 

            I called the Bowflex toll free number on several occasions, and learned quite a bit of information about the difference in the units (they could not tell me anything about the Conquest, however, since it is not available through the direct telephone purchase program). The folded footprint size of the direct purchase units deterred me from considering but one or two, both of which were more expensive than the Conquest unit (which is sold through Amazon.com).

 

After moving some furniture around, we determined we could squeeze the Conquest into a corner space, and hopefully, the unit would be easy to move to the middle of the room (it was). Since it weighs close to 200 pounds and is close to 7’ high, I had some reservations, which were misplaced, by ordering it sight unseen.

 

            So we bought the Conquest, because of its relatively small footprint and its price. It arrived in 4 boxes (most of the boxes weighed about 70 pounds), and fortunately, the instructions were pretty easy to follow. It took about 3 hours to assemble (one hour was spent trying to find an adapter for my electric drill; the Allen wrenches furnished with unit took too much time to use, in my opinion). Once we got it together, we rolled it into the corner, and spent the rest of the evening reading the manual and watching the DVD that came with the product. The DVD instructed us on proper body positioning during the exercises, how to adjust the power rods, and was a very useful training aid.

 

            The manual contains lots of information on the exercises which are designed for this unit, has many photographs, some anatomy diagrams relating to the muscle system, and has a diet and exercise program (all of which are written by Ellington Darden). Using the manual, plus information gleaned from The Bowflex Body Plan, we embarked on the 6 week program.  

 

Since weight loss was not one of my primary objectives, I did not drink a gallon of cold water every day, or follow the prescribed diet. My wife followed some of these recommendations, however, and lost a couple of pounds.

 

            At the end of 6 weeks, we had each lost about 4 pounds of body fat (which is fairly close to normal, according to Darden); my overall weight was about the same. In that time period I gained an inch in size in each arm, and my abs were visibly improved (they were in pretty good shape when I began the program, but the difference is very apparent).

 

            The drawbacks to the Conquest relate to features which are not available on this unit: the lower pulley bar has only one setting (the more expensive units have more), which means, some of the exercises from The Bowflex Body Plan are not entirely adaptable to the Conquest. In addition, there are other pieces of available equipment (as separate purchases, in most instances) that cannot be used on the Conquest (e.g., ones that are to be used for certain leg exercises). For our purposes, however, I have no regrets.

 

            The basic six week program is designed to increase the number of exercises performed over the six week time period. By week 7 we had increased the number of exercises to 12. We always warm up by rowing, and are able to finish all 12 exercises within the allotted 30 minute time period. About every 2 weeks we increase the weight resistance, and the sessions have proven to be more difficult and more strenuous. However, the results are rewarding.

 

            I was surprised to learn that my wife’s carpal tunnel pains had abated over the course of time, and that we both decreased our body fat. Since muscles weigh more than fat, I regret that I did not follow the diet. I wanted my weight to stay about the same, but after week 6, it has inched its way upward, because of the weight of my “new” muscles. Presently, I am using some of the dietary techniques with moderate success, so as to return to what I regard as normal weight.

 

            One of the Bowflex salesmen I visited on the phone with mentioned that his grandmother had been using a unit similar to ours for many years. This was a comforting thought, because I know we need look no further for a unit with more features. The Conquest meets our needs and is accomplishing our objectives.

 

            We are very pleased with our Bowflex.

 

            Conclusion. Both the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association now recommend resistance training as part of our daily regimen, in addition to cardio exercises. I will give you the hotlink to their site shortly, but the bottom line is this: we are an obese nation, and are somewhat indolent. Exercise puts us in better physical shape, and with a proper diet, exercise can help us to stay healthy. The Bowflex program helps accomplish these goals, and should certainly be considered.

 

Here are some useful links (updated 2013) provided by a reader: The ACSM guidelines link, mentioned earlier doesn't work anymore, but these links might be useful:

http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise

Also, there are government guidelines here: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx
...and any excellent article for older people here http://www.seniorhomes.com/p/physical-activity-helps-older-adults-vs-adults-under-65/

 


The Discarded Image (an Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature) by C. S. Lewis (paperback, Canto Series, November 1994)

 

To those who like to travel back in time, read on.  For those who don’t, then stop reading this review. 

 

We all enjoy good entertainment, and movie producers usually hit the “mother lode” with time travel productions: Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, The Time Machine, the Terminator, and so forth.  As good as these productions are, however, visual arts can never accurately depict what life was like in times past. To travel backwards in time, we must use other resources. 

 

C. S. Lewis is a wonderful guide to time travel, and in The Discarded Image, he shines his light on what life was like in medieval and Renaissance times, using the same tools employed in his other scholarly works, by pointing to delightful period literature. 

 

The book is lightly laced (a) with wit:  “I cannot boast that (this book) contains much which a reader could not have found out for himself . . .”  “One gets the impression that medieval people, like Professor Tolkien’s Hobbits, enjoyed books which told them what they already knew.” (b) with unexpected information: “Arabic numerals are really of Indian origin and date from the fifth century; they reached the West through the work of . . . Ben Musa, known as Al-Khowarazmi” “The . . . soul has ten senses or wits, five of which are what we call the five senses:  sight, hearing, smell taste and touch . . . the inward five Wits are memory, estimating, imagination, fantasy, and common sense. (c) with literary recommendations which lead to good reading.

 

Through all of his writings, Lewis wants all of us to read good books.  In The Discarded Image, he gives the titles and authors he likes and dislikes, and gives us a synopsis of  the better works.  As an example, he commends the wisdom and writing of Boethius, 430-524 a.d., in the Consolation of Philosophy, as he characterizes it as being “one of the most influential books ever written in Latin . . . until about two hundred years ago it would . . . have been hard to find an educated man in any European country who did not love it.” To support his observation about this book, he cites dozens of other works which borrow from the Consolation, and by so doing, encourages us to read Boethius for ourselves.

 

We live in an era with satellites, space shuttles, and spy planes; this technology has given us remarkable pictures of our world, and might lead us to believe those living in other eras, i.e., 13th century Italians (and other Europeans), were ignorant of the earth’s topography. Lewis challenges this uninformed view, by reminding us that the medievals’ geographical world extended not only to Europe, but much further East:  “Marco Polo’s great Travels is easily accessible and should be on everyone’s shelves.”  Lewis reminds us that citizens of the 13th Century knew quite a bit about geography.

 

As Lewis describes life in medieval times, we are somewhat calmed about the events of today.  We come to understand that our ancestors were faced with difficult and hard issues of life, but they survived the trials extant in every generation, and they passed the torch of life’s experiences to their progeny.  By learning from the past, we gain hope for the future.

 

Lewis died on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated.  Because he is no longer here, we cannot listen to him lecture students in the halls of Magdalen College at Oxford.  This book might give us a close substitute, however, since it covers some of his lecture materials. The added treat is, of course, time travel, for we learn about the habits, thinking, and attitudes of our European ancestors. And Lewis reveals his secret to exploring time, by encouraging us to do the same:  read old books.

 

 

 

 

 

ISLAM

By Alfred Guillaume,

 Penguin Books U.S.A., 1954 and 1977

 

            After September 11, 2001, the question was asked and answered differently: Is the civilized Western World at war with the Islamic Nations?  If not, then which Islamic sects advocate terrorism? Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently commented that “Islamic militants have irrational goals: the conquest of the world and the taming of mankind to rules that are against human nature. Communists had similar irrational goals, but unlike Islamists, they pursued their goals very rationally. Every time they had to choose between their own survival and their ideology, Communists chose survival and backed off. But Islamic militants may very well chose destruction.  And this pathological streak is what makes militant Islam so dangerous.”

 

            Since most of us know very little about Islam, it is difficult to understand what Islamic traditions breed the “militant Muslims” described by Mr. Netanyahu. Can we better understand their mindset if we conduct independent studies of Islam?  Perhaps.  That was certainly my intention when I began to read this 202 page book.  Because it was written some 50 years ago, it is not influenced by recent events.  Additionally, it was penned by a British professor (who also taught in the United States), a man educated in Arabic studies and in theology. Another plus for me was the author was ordained as a Christian Minister.  Although this work is somewhat old, it has had time to “cure”, and like beef bourguignon, satisfies the intellectual palate because it is aged.

 

            The book ends with a comparison of Christian beliefs and Islamic beliefs.  Since my review of this book has a Christian bias and I also approve of Western capitalism, I will not attempt to dilute my beliefs. It is not my objective to be impartial. By the same token, if Professor Guillaume were alive today, I believe he would echo my sentiments.

 

            So from this prospective, we begin with the last chapter, which compares Islam with Christianity. Muslims believe in God, and also believe that Jesus Christ is an Apostle sent by God.  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost (note: Islamics don’t regard the Holy Ghost as a “person”, but an emanation of God), and was born of the Virgin Mary.  They believe that Jesus was not crucified, but that he died. Interestingly, however, they also believe that he ascended into heaven.

 

            Although Professor Guillaume ends the book with a comparison of beliefs, Islam is not a monolithic religion. One of his chapters deals with various Islamic “sects”; you see, Muslims differ on several issues.  For example, the Qādiānīs believe that Jesus is dead, but that Hell is not ever lasting, that Apostasy is not punishable by death, and that Muhammad is not the last of the prophets. In addition that these sects, Hallāj (who was an Islamic Mystic) taught that Jesus rather than Muhammad was the supreme example of glorified humanity. As Hallāj was being crucified for his beliefs, he paraphrased Jesus by asking God to forgive those who were putting him to death, by saying they “know not what they do”. 

 

            But let’s not stray into the divergent Islamic sects. We should focus on the basic beliefs of Islam, which, of course, stem from Muhammad himself.  Guillaume states that “Muhammad was one of the great figures of history whose overwhelming conviction was that there was one God alone and that there should be one community of believers.  Muhammad’s message from the first to last was the almighty power of God and man’s duty to obey him, of sin and judgment.” 

 

            Muhammad’s message began to be spread in 622 A.D., which was the beginning of Muhammad’s Hijra (or flight) from Mecca to Medina. At that point in time, he became convinced that converts to his message came through force. As Guillaume said, “This message was for all Arabs, and perhaps for all mankind. There could be no compromise with idolatry.  Therefore it followed that all those who refused to believe in Islam must be quelled.  Idolaters whose very existence was an insult to the one true God would have to accept Islam or the sword; other monotheists would have to acknowledge their inferiority by paying a special tax.  This became the established principle of Islam during the few years of the Prophet’s life at Medina. It was put into effect in the whole of the Arab Empire in the century that followed”.   

 

            By definition, a prophet receives messages from God, and Muhammad was known to have ecstatic seizures; during these time periods, the Qurān was written. The Qurān itself “was a transcript of a tablet preserved in Heaven, in which is written all that happened and all that will happen.” Guillaume’s reports that “the Qurān recorded what Muhammad said while in the state of ecstasy. Verses were written on palm leaves, stones, and the shoulder blades of animals; in short, on any material which was available.  Tradition associates the collection of all this material, together with what man had committed to memory, to AbūBakr, the first Caliph, and alternatively to his successor, ‘Umar, who died before the work was completed.”  

 

            Muhammad believed that “God had revealed his will to Jews and Christians, but they could not agree either to follow God’s commands or to live in unity among themselves. If Jews held Christians to be blasphemous innovators, and Christians called Jews unbelievers and persecuted their own co-religionists for holding divergent views about the nature of Jesus, they must either have corrupted the original scriptures or followed their own mischievous imaginations.  They must be brought back to the first principles, to the original truth taught by Abram.  This return was through Islam, a word which appears to mean submission or resignation to God.” 

 

            I must insert a personal comment on the Trinity. Muhammad could not understand the Christian concept of a Triune God. Perhaps Francis Schaeffer’s explanation would have satisfied him:  The Trinity teaches us that God is unified, yet diverse.  Christians are unified in essential beliefs, but yet are diverse in appearance, practice of worship, baptizing by immersion or by sprinkling. 

 

            Back to Guillaume’s book. After Muhammad’s death, Islam continued to flourish, due in part to the religious and political “empires” of the time. “The Byzantines were hated by their Semitic and Coptic subjects because of their oppressive taxation and their persecution of the “heretic” churches. The situation in the Persian Empires was somewhat similar. Many rivals to the Zoroastrianism of the state raised their heads and were kept down only by an army of mercenaries whose loyalty was seldom above suspicion.  Thus neither of the great powers of the time was in a position to offer an effective resistance to the new enemy.”  So Islam grew, in part, because the Arabic people were unhappy with the existing political and religious rulers.

 

As the boundaries of the Islamic world grew, “non-Muslims had to pay a tax, and this not unnaturally led to a vast access of converts to Islam.” The Muslims continued expansion using its military, and entered “Europe with sporadic raids on outlying islands such as Cypress and Rhodes. These became more and more serious until the11th century, when the Arabic empire began to break up. The Turks in the East, the Christians in the West, and the Berbers in Africa were causing dissolution and decay of the Arabic world. The Crusades, which established a transient rule in the Holy Land, forever embittered, it would seem, the relations between Christians and Muslims, and brought misery on successive generations of Eastern Christians who were left to bear the brunt of Muslim resentment. 

 

Though the empire was weakened four hundred years after Muhammad’s death, the tenets of Islam were still practiced, based upon law, custom, and the beliefs of the prophet and his companions and followers. Guillaume mentions many such practices, such as prohibition of using wine and pork (even this practice was not always followed, as reported in the Travels of Marco Polo). To the Western world, Islamic family life is an anathema. The Qurān regards women as a man’s tillage, and the word for marriage is that used for the sexual act.  The primary purpose of marriage is the propagation of children, and men are allowed four wives at a time and an unlimited number of concubines. Although the husband pays the woman a dowry, and the wife is to keep this as her own property, the husband is licensed to beat his wife.  Though the husband is instructed to treat her with kindness and impartiality, he may divorce her at any time (historically, her only ground for divorce was the husband’s impotence).   .

 

Guillaume observes that Muslims are “intensely conscious of their decline from the great days of the Islamic empire, and tend to repudiate the past teachings on fatalism, the inferiority of women, blind obedience to authority, lack of a healthy spirit of skepticism, and low public morality”.  He concludes with his hope the Islamic world will change for the better.

 

The review of this book may become your only information on Islamic beliefs (and incidentally, the book, though currently out of print, is fairly easy to find in used bookstores and on the internet).  Perhaps you can perceive that there are vast cultural and philosophical differences between Islamics and the civilized Western world.  And if you read this book (or any other book on Islam), I suspect you will conclude that we are not at war with Islam, but that we are at war with certain sects of Islam.  The core beliefs of these sects are deep rooted.  They believe, as did Muhammad, that force is a means of persuasion.  Sadly, these sects will only be quelled by force.

 

 

 

           

 

e-books, the Bible and Orthodoxy (by G. K. Chesterton)

 

SEGMENT 1:  e-books

 

            Last week when my sister-in-law visited us, I tried to explain the virtue of reading e-books.  Using my PDA, she read a page from Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. She handed it back and said, “you always like gadgets.” My retort was sincere: these gadgets have blended two sources of pleasure into one: I can now carry scores of books on my PDA, which slips into my pocket, and I can read a book whenever I have a break in schedule.

 

            Although this column is a book review, it must be done in installments: this segment will cover some of the technology. The next segment deals with a great e-book application, the Bible, and the last one will review Chesterton’s Orthodoxy (a good Christian apologetic work), which is an available (and free) e-book.

           

            e-books.  e-books (electronic books) are to literature what e-mail is to a letter – simply put, these are books which can be read on computers, electronic book readers, handheld computers, and PDAs.  Historically, e-books have been around since the first days of personal computers. Because reading books on a computer screen isn’t much fun, until recently, the thought of pouring over a novel using a handheld computer or PDA sounded even worse.

 

            Let me digress. I bought my first Palm Pilot about three years ago. At that time, there were no memory expansion cards available, and the unit was of limited value as far as I could determine: I kept track of my business expenses, had a rolodex of names and phone numbers, and a calendar (which served as an electronic Daytimer).  On this unit, I also installed a document reader furnished by Teal, and a couple of New Testament books .  However, the unit’s memory was so limited, I never considered using this device as a means of storing e-books. 

 

            Time passed, and these handheld devices became more popular. Palm Pilot permitted other companies (such as IBM, Visor Handspring, and Sony) to use its operating system.  With added competition the manufacturers added hardware features: memory cards and memory storage devices.  With increased memory, the programs became more user friendly.  I no longer needed a separate business calculator to do a mortgage amortization, because a PDA program was written to do that. I could use the PDA to house dictionaries, language translators, and computer games (such as solitaire and chess). The unit could also contain a map program, serve as a remote control for my TV, DVD, VCR and stereo receiver, and with more hardware, I could receive and send e-mails or play music using mp3s. Color screens were being offered.  And the screen was much brighter than my 1999 model.

 

As I saw friends buy these advanced units, I perceived that my old unit might need replacing.  So last month, after reading more articles than I ought, and  listening to the pitches of sales personnel at several electronics stores, I finally bought a new handheld unit, which offered more internal memory (instead of 1 mg, which was the size of my original Palm Pilot), and an expansion slot which might be used for adding memory.

 

            Not long after I purchased this unit (which was a Tungsten TX), I bought more memory in the form of a “flash card”.  With the added memory, I decided to download some free e-books off the internet. Before I could read an e-book, I had to install a portal called a “reader”. Some of these readers are free, and others must be purchased (usually for a fee of under $20).  All of them gave me a free test drive (for 30 days), so I downloaded several to my computer, and added them to the PDA via the hot sync cradle.

 

My initial resource for e-book readers was www.palmgear.com.  There are 7 internet pages offering different readers and other components.  Because I had previously used Teal.doc, I downloaded that one, but discovered it was no longer “free” (I had to buy it after a 30 day trial period).  In addition, I downloaded other programs, such as iSilo, the Palm Digital reader (www.peanutpress.com), and MobiPocket (www.mobipocket.com). 

 

Each reader is different in several respects, and not all readers can decipher all e-books (books encoded for Peanut Press, such as its Bible, can only be read using the Palm Digital reader; Adobe books cannot be read unless the Adobe e-book reader has been installed, and that can only be done on a desktop computer, or a hand held unit that has the same capabilities as a desktop). Since this review is limited to PDAs using the Palm Pilot operating system, my observations will not be universally applicable to all e-books, but the principles should be the same, regardless of the operating system used.

 

Let me identify some differences in the readers.  The Teal reader uses an “automatic scroller” which moves the screen up one line, about every 3 seconds, which meant, I had to read the bottom line of the screen, then wait for the next line to scroll into position, to continue my reading. The iSilo reader did not have a page turning system as such, and I was forced to use a tool bar on the right side of the screen, to move the text down or up.  This required delicate use of my stylus, and I was unable to move the screen in a manner that permitted easy reading.

 

Because page turning for the MobiPocket and Palm Digital readers only required me to tap the stylus on the screen, I kept both of these systems on my PDA.  I deleted all of the others.  Being able to turn a page with ease was an important issue.

 

The second key related to visibility. The MobiPocket reader became my default program, for the font was legible (I had to try different fonts on different readers, and with the MobiPocket reader, I used a dpi of 160 x 160, to achieve a font which is similar to the one used in this newspaper; the viewing area is about the same width as a newspaper column, so there were no big reading adjustments on my part, other the length of the “column” is about 2 inches; what this means is, I have to tap the screen to turn the page after reading 2” of text).  The Palm Digital reader is probably the easiest to use of all of the readers, but its screen resolution at 320 x 320 dpi was too faint on the screen (the contrast adjustment didn’t help, either), and I could not easily read the text. I increased the font size to 160 x 160 dpi, which made the screen very legible, but the type was then so large that I had the sensation I was reading a first grade primer. 

 

            The other e-book feature which I thought was important (but I haven’t used) is the text conversion feature. If I ever want to publish my own book and make it available to the public on my web page as an e-book, I will use a word processor on my computer, then launch the companion program that comes with the reader itself.  Both MobiPocket and Palm Digital permit me to convert documents to e-book format.

 

            Once I had settled on a reader, the next question was, where can I locate e-books?  That one was pretty easy to answer: e-books are available on the internet, or on computer CDs sold at CompUSA and other vendors.  The e-books on the web are either for sale or are free. Two web addresses that have lots of books to offer are www.cosmi.com and www.peanutpress.com. In addition, amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com have sections on their web pages devoted to e-books.  Most e-books can be purchased for $2-9 (but some e-books are sold for the same price as a hardback or paperback).

 

Reading a book on a screen that is 2” x 2” was a new experience, but now that I’ve gotten use to doing this, I’m not displeased. I have downloaded War and Peace, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Art of War by Sun Tsu, and other works of interest.  Since e-books were either free or were part of the $15 CD package which contained 200+ books, I felt as if I had hit the mother-lode of bargains in life. Stated differently, I do not have to invest $250 to get a separate e-book reader, such as the one made by RCA (my PDA works fine as a reader), and I don’t have to use my desk top computer to read e-books.

 

 

Segment 2:  The Bible

 

            One of my mentors in PDA technology has been using his unit in church for some time, as an electronic Bible. Since I was slow to buy one of the newer units, I didn’t realize what dramatic changes had been made.

 

            In the early days of PDAs (which was only 3 years ago), I used the Teal reader to display selected books of the Bible, such as Galatians or Romans.  Because the 1 mg memory was precious, I never considered storing more than a couple of Bible chapters at a time. Things have changed.  With the advent of more memory being available at somewhat reasonable prices, I can now store the entire Bible on my PDA.

 

            Bibles are available both as e-books (which are free) or can be purchased from the vendors – a beginning resource is at www.palmgear.com.  Though I’m not adverse to the King James version, which is available at that site, I wanted a more current translation, and finally settled on the Modern King James Version.  This rendering is free, at www.olivetree.com (this site also has several versions of the Bible, some which are free, others which are not).  Unlike separate e-books, Olive Tree’s Bibles can only be displayed using the Olive Tree reader.  And unlike other “universal” readers, the OT reader is designed for the Bible.  The OT reader features a verse locator, word finder, and of course, the ability to add a bookmark (e-book parlance for dog-earing a page). 

 

            I have been using this reader for my daily Bible reading, which is about 4 chapters a day.  I have opted for the paragraph format of the Bible (rather than selecting the verse format, which separates each verse into a separate line).  The MKJV translation is all right – it is not as rich in vocabulary as the New English Bible (Oxford/Cambridge), but is not as simple as the Good News version.

 

There are some technical issues which make OT Bibles awkward.  For instance, it took me some time to discover how to delete a bookmark (the delete command normally has to be given twice to remove the bookmark).  In addition, storing the reader and text on the memory stick (expanded memory) saves internal RAM of the PDA, but using that technique limits the user’s access to all of the books of the Bible (OT divides its Bibles into 12 sections; if the reader and text are placed in expanded memory, only 4 of the sections can be used at one time).  To compensate for this limitation, I elected to store the Bible and reader in internal memory (I can access all 12 sections, which means, I can access and use all 66 books of the Bible). 

 

There are several translations of the Bible available for download from Olive Tree, and its reader can retrieve any number of translations stored in memory. Once the Olive Tree programmers resolve the extended memory problem, I might add other Bible translations to the PDA.  Until that time, I am content with the MKJV.

           

I gave the OT reader a workout at church last week.  The pastor (who is a teacher) asked us to turn to dozens of texts throughout the Bible.  Using the verse finder feature, I was able to outpace the lady sitting next to me (who used a conventional Bible).  I could have book marked all of the texts the pastor referenced, had I wanted to.  Of course, I could not make margin notes of the sermon.  In addition, underlining portions of scripture is not an option using a PDA.

 

The second  Bible I downloaded was the King James Version, offered by Peanut Press (www.peanutpress.com). I am required to use the Palm Reader (www.palmgear.com), to the exclusion of other readers – but thanks to the Peanut Press programmers, I can store both reader and text in extended memory (the memory stick), which frees up my internal RAM for other purposes. 

 

The Palm Reader produces either a font too faint to see, or one so large that I sense I am reading from a large print Readers Digest.  However, the layout of scripture is much better than that offered by Olive Tree:  the verses are nicely spaced (an extra space is added between verses), and the high resolution text (using a larger font) gives an impressive appearance on the PDA. 

 

            The Palm Reader permits me to make notes (via the graffiti feature of Palm Pilots), add bookmarks with ease, and even shift to the table of contents.  However, the Bible is divided into parts (4 of them for the Old Testament, 1 for the New), which means, I cannot zoom to a particular verse (as I can with the Olive Tree reader):  the Palm Reader limits me to the section of the Bible loaded into memory.  If the preacher begins with a text in Galatians, then asks us to turn to a verse in Exodus, I must open another book, which is a slow operation.  In addition, there is no “verse locator”, per se.  To find a particular verse, one must “search for it”, and the search available on the Palm Reader is a “global search”, which means, the particular word or identifying text or chapter and verse will be displayed for all of the books of the Bible.  If you are trying to find Leviticus 4:2, and do a search on “4:2”, the Palm Reader will first locate Genesis 4:2, then Exodus 4:2, and finally Leviticus 4:2.  The Olive Tree system permits jumping to a specific scripture.

 

            For private devotion and study, the Palm Reader and KJV offered by Peanut Press will meet most needs.  But for better font resolution, and sheer speed in locating a verse or chapter in the Bible, the Olive Tree reader is the preferred product.  Additionally, if I had never read the Bible before, I don’t think a PDA should be used first.  However, I do see a benefit in having scripture with me all the time, and I think this particular use of e-books is a very good one.

 

 

Segment 3 – ORTHODOXY:    By G. K. Chesterton

Ignatius Press, 1996

 

            I first became aware of G. K. Chesterton in the Wheaton College bookstore in 1991.  The salesman pointed to the location of the C. S. Lewis books, which were of prime interest to me.  He then proudly took me to a row of books that had to be at least 20’ long; “these are the published works of G. K. Chesterton”.  Since I was too embarrassed to ask him, “Who is G. K. Chesterton?”, I smiled and said, “that’s great”. 

 

            As I later read more and more books by Lewis, I noticed his commendations on the writings of Chesterton.  Then in a Newsweek magazine article published in the early 1990’s, the editors remarked how popular Chesterton was becoming.  So I decided to seek out some of his writings.

 

            My first excursion into his Christian apologetics was The Everlasting Man, written in 1925.  This was a very good read.  I next read his autobiography, which was so-so, then began a biography on his life.  In the biography, the author made constant reference to one of his earlier works, Orthodoxy. I tried to find a copy at several used book stores (since it was published in 1909, I thought it was out of print; I have since learned that it is not).  I was slovenly in my search, since Chesterton was a Catholic, and I am not; the title suggested it would be Catholic literature.  It was not.

 

            We now fast forward to the year 2002.  As you know by now (if you have read my earlier columns), I have been engaged in a quest to accumulate free e-books.  Early on, I happened upon Orthodoxy, and downloaded it from the internet to my computer.  I got it installed on my PDA, and decided this would be the first e-book I would read using my new Tungsten TX.  The choice was a great one.

 

            Reading Chesterton in this age of being politically correct is akin to swimming in a clean river:  there is cleansing and refreshment that comes from his writings.  He feared no opinion contrary to his, and if I could paraphrase his style, it would be along these lines:  those who are politically correct forget that it is more important to be correct. 

 

            But let me give you a sample of his tongue-in-cheek, “politically incorrect” style – dealt with in the parenthetical comment: “Unitarians (a sect never to be mentioned without a special respect for their distinguished intellectual dignity and high intellectual honor) are often reformers . . . .  But there is nothing akin to reform in the substitution of pure monotheism for the Trinity. The complex God of the Athanasian Creed may be an enigma for the intellect . . . however, humanity is much more satisfied by the symbols that gather round the Trinitarian idea, the image of a council at which mercy pleads as well as justice, the conception of a sort of liberty and variety existing even in the inmost chamber of the world.  For religion has always felt keenly the idea “it is not well for man to be alone.”  Thus, the Triune God sets the stage:  God is not alone, nor are His children.

 

            If this is a sample of his style, what then, is the theme of Orthodoxy?  Doing an adequate review of Orthodoxy is difficult, because Chesterton’s writings sparkle so much that the light and color from this work cannot be captured.  So I can only touch on a few of his thoughts. 

 

One might begin with the questions Chesterton poses about Christianity: “Why cannot you take the truths and leave the doctrines?  Why cannot you simply allow for human weakness without believing in the Fall?  Why cannot you simply take the idea of danger and leave the idea of damnation?  Why cannot you take what is good in Christianity, what you define as valuable, what you can comprehend, and leave all the rest, all the absolute dogmas that are in their nature incomprehensible?  If I am asked why I believe in Christianity, I can only answer, “For the same reason that an intelligent agnostic disbelieves in Christianity.  “I believe in Christianity quite rationally upon the evidence.  But the evidence is an enormous accumulation of small but unanimous facts.”

 

            Although he cites evidence, Chesterton does not dwell on the facts.  He reminds us time and again that Christianity is based on believing something supernatural.  He contrasts Christians with non-believers:  “The materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane.  The materialist is sure that history has been simply and solely a chain of causation.  Materialists and madmen never have doubts.”

 

            From his perspective, Christians are the only balanced people alive, because they are confident in the unseen: “Mysticism keeps men sane.  As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity.  The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. . . He has always cared more for truth than for consistency.  The whole secret of mysticism is this:  that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand.  The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious.  The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious and everything else becomes lucid.”

 

            To bring this proposition to a conclusion, he properly defines happiness as being part of a Divine adventure:  “The perfect happiness of men on earth (if it ever comes) will not be a flat and solid thing, like the satisfaction of animals. It will be an exact and perilous balance, like that of a desperate romance.  Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them.”

 

            So with that pleasant thought, I will bring this review to a close.  This book is still in print (and also in e-book format) – although it was written 83 years ago, it is fresh and relevant.  Those who seek political office would do well to read this book.  Those who want a summary of the world’s philosophies would benefit by it.  And those who want some good laughs will find this a great encounter.  I hope you will enjoy it.

 

 

           

DIABETES BOOK REVIEWS

 

            In February 2004, my doctor told me I was a type 2 diabetic.  Although my Dad was also a type 2 diabetic, and he also learned of his condition at age 61 (that’s when I learned about it), he believed his diabetes came about because he had mumps at age 45, which was a catalyst to adult onset diabetes.  I am now told that diabetes is in part, hereditary.  There is no such thing as a diabetic gene, but at this point, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Perhaps because I served in Vietnam, which had been sprayed with Agent Orange, caused the problem. Who knows.

 

            Since Fran and I were very much aware of the diabetic diet, since Dad lived with diabetes for 29 years, we were surprised to learn that some of the old taboos about sugar and alcoholic beverages were no longer of major concern.  One physician even told me to enjoy holidays and family gatherings, and to eat whatever was served; as he stated, “so what if your BG readings jump to 300 (I remember Dad’s readings were in the 200 range during holidays)? The BG level will go down after the holidays”. 

 

            I wanted to accept what this doctor was telling me, and initially, I was a non-compliant diabetic.  I continued to eat as I always had, and to take my Avandia twice a day.  I exercised once or twice a day, but my blood sugar readings were somewhat high (140’s).  Fran knew changes had to be made, and she began checking out nutrition books from the library.  In addition, our personal trainer at the health club (which we joined; blood glucose levels can be controlled by diet and exercise) mentioned another book dealing with something known as the “glycemic index”.  We bought a copy of that book and I read it.  I liked what it was saying, and began to buy more and more books on diabetes. Now, over the course of six months, I have read about a dozen books on diabetes, and thought it might be beneficial for others to have my reviews of some of these books.  As a result of what I have learned and implemented in my diet, my BG readings have decreased to ranges from 98 to 112, which is good for almost any diabetic.

 

            Thus, this article will consist of 11 book and product reviews, and will add some of my own observations.  Before I go into the book reviews, I want to mention a device which helps in the matter of record keeping.  Thus, we begin with a product review.

 

Product Review:  Diabetes Pilot

 

Everything we eat is classified into four types of foods:   Carbohydrates, proteins, fats and minerals (ash).  From a diabetic perspective, each food group has some impact on the amount of sugar that circulates in our blood system.  As you probably already know, all carbohydrates turn into glucose (sugar), and if the blood glucose (BG) ratio in your system is too high, you could develop diabetic complications. These complications include neuropathy, blindness, kidney failure, heart failure, and probably other things that I have forgotten. I have represented diabetic clients who have had toes amputated, have become blind, have died of kidney failure, and have experienced other undesirable physical ailments.  The bottom line is this:  if you are diabetic, you need to monitor your blood glucose ratio, and keep within the normal range for a diabetic (i.e., which is probably from 95 to 126).

 

            There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is usually a youth onset situation: the pancreas does not produce beta cells.  Beta cells cause the pancreas to secrete insulin, which transports the sugar in your blood into energy, fat, or muscle.  If a pancreas does not have active beta cells, the person will be unable to produce insulin, and if this happens when the diabetic is young, they will be classified as a type 1 diabetic.

 

            Type 2 diabetics usually produce insulin, but for whatever reason, the person’s internal computer system rejects the insulin’s ability to transport the glucose into muscle or fat, and the sugar simply stays in the blood.  The solution for the type 2 diabetic is to keep the blood glucose ratio normal.  So what does a type 2 diabetic do to monitor the BG level?  Check the BG ratings every day (usually in the morning; as one of my friends told me, he checks his BG in the morning – if it is too high, then he watches what he eats the rest of the day). Some diabetics take several BG readings each day.  I have seen some with a “diabetic monitor”, which resembles a wrist watch, and this device is constantly gives information on the person’s BG level.

 

            I have found it helpful to keep a record of my BG readings, as well as the types of food I eat.  There are various techniques used to accomplish these tasks, such recording data on pre-printed forms. Because I own a palm pilot type of device, I ordered and installed a program known as Diabetes Pilot.  There is a computer version of the program, which I also ordered, and everyday when I hot-sync my Tungsten TX with my desk top, the data is transferred from my palm pilot to the computer.  From my computer I can produce pretty graphs and charts, which give me a historical picture of how I well I am keeping my BG levels (there are graphs and reports available on my palm pilot, which are also helpful). The desk top version of the program permits me to export reports into pdf format, which is easy to read using Acrobat Reader (the pdf reports are easier to read than the ones produced by the program itself). 

 

The desktop program is an extremely resource intensive program, which requires quite a bit of computer power to run (and I have a very fast computer).  The palm pilot version permits me to record my blood glucose readings, as many times as I take readings (which is currently once a day).  In addition, I record every food item I eat; the program then produces a report which tells me how much carbohydrate, fiber, protein and fat I have eaten that day. Because the program was developed possibly in Great Britain, or some other part of the United States that doesn’t enjoy foods such as grits and black eyed peas and roast beef, I have not been able to enter data concerning “regional foods”.  However, certain foods have similar characteristics (black beans probably have the same food characteristics as black eyed peas), so I enter “black beans” whenever I am eating black eyed peas. 

 

An important addition to maintaining records of carbohydrates, the palm pilot program tells me how many units of fiber are contained in each carbohydrate. As you will soon learn, the concept of “net carbs” is very important to a diabetic (net carbs consists of total carbohydrates, less the fiber content).

           

            The palm pilot also keeps track of the amount of exercise I do each day.  It is very important for me to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, so as to keep my BG levels from 100 - 109.  My clients who have developed diabetes complications have consistently neglected their diet, and do not exercise regularly.  Their BG levels have, over time, caused blindness, neuropathy, and other problems, such as kidney failure (which requires dialysis). 

 

            The program does not distinguish between the types of exercise I might be doing,  anaerobic or aerobic, but the program permits me to make independent notes on each entry (e.g., when I enter “30 minutes of medium exercise”, I can also note that it is aerobic, which for me, is using the treadmill – when I go to the gym and use weights, which is anaerobic exercise, I sometimes will enter a notation, “weights”).

 

            The program also keeps track of the medications taken, which is a handy feature for those who need to record what they take and when they take it. Because I am not required to take insulin, I do not use this feature of the program (the program permits me to keep track of oral medications, but I don’t do that, either).

 

Both of these programs are available on a 15 day trial period, and can also be purchased at www.diabetespilot.com.  If you can only afford one of the products, buy the palm pilot version, rather than the desk top version.

 

            Necessary record keeping can be dealt with using electronics, and I would recommend these programs.  Now let me begin the book reviews.

 

Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution

Robert C. Atkins, M.D, copyright 1992,

publisher Avon Books.

 

            I read this book before the publication of the Atkins Diabetic Revolution, and was going to review it as a diabetic book several months before the Diabetic Revolution was published, because at least 30% of its content deals with type 2 diabetics. This 540 page paper back is tedious reading, probably because it is a rewrite of earlier books.  Instead of making an effort to shorten the length of the book, Dr. Atkins states, and restates, and restates, the same diet principles he advocated during his entire medical practice.  Since the book is primarily directed to the topic of weight loss, much of the content is a series of pep talks, which emphases that staying fit and trim is not a short term crash diet process.  The “Atkins Nutritional Approach” is change in life style. Since diabetics must change their life styles, the pep talks are certainly appropriate for persons like me. 

 

            Atkins explains the importance of insulin, not only for dieting purposes, but for diabetics. The word pictures he uses are very good: “think of insulin as the barge that transports glucose from your blood to your cells. Once it reaches the cells, three things can happen to that glucose:  It can be mobilized for immediate energy; it can be converted into glycogen for later use as a source of energy; or it can be stored as fat” (page 49).

 

            He explains that insulin is manufactured by the pancreas, and as the sugar level in your blood goes up, the pancreas releases insulin to move the sugar out of the blood system.  Once your energy needs have been met, the liver converts the excess glucose into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and muscles, where it is available for future energy use.  However, once the glycogen storage areas are filled, the excess glucose will be converted by the liver into fat, which is kept in “storage tanks” in your body.  That is why insulin is called the fat producing hormone.

 

            The main chemical constituent of fat is triglyceride, which can be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  Excessive carbohydrate intake creates high amounts of glucose, and may over stimulate insulin production. This can create a destabilized blood sugar level, causing fatigue, brain fog, shakiness and headaches.  Atkins’ diet solution, which works not only in weight loss programs but also for type 2 diabetics, is to control the blood sugar by reducing the amount of carbohydrates a person eats.  The scientific basis for his conclusions is spelled out in an understandable manner. 

 

Atkins explains that we can control the release of insulin by controlling the types of carbohydrates we eat.  All carbohydrates are not created equal:  white bread and baked potatoes are converted into glucose faster than raw broccoli or peanuts.  The difference in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose is depicted by the glycemic index of the carbohydrate.  This index is simply a numerical scale that indicates how fast glucose enters your blood stream, after a specific carbohydrate is eaten.  Because fats and proteins do not produce glucose, carbohydrates are tested to determine where they land on the glycemic scale.   I will be reviewing a book dealing with the glycemic index, but Atkins does a pretty good job in rating foods on the glycemic index.   The longer a food takes to digest, the lower is its number on the glycemic scale. For example, peanuts are 14 on the glycemic index, whereas jellybeans are 80.  All Bran cereal is 42, and cornflakes are 84.  What this means is, peanuts (which have a lower number) are better for you, if your goal is to keep your BG ratio in a lower range.  White bread (which has a rating of 100) is more quickly converted into sugar. 

 

To bring stability to your blood sugar, it is important when eating foods with high glycemic index numbers to mix those foods with other foods which have low glycemic index numbers (this will slow the digestive process, thereby slowing the release of sugar into your system).

           

            Atkins wants those who use his diet to begin with an induction phase, which virtually eliminates carbohydrates for a period of two weeks (Atkins does not want you to eat more than 20 grams of carbohydrate per day during the induction phase).  What this means is, people who go on his diet will eat lots of eggs, cheeses, meats and certain vegetables, but will eliminate breads, donuts, and the like.  Once your body has gone through the “induction phase”, according to Atkins, it will switch from a carbohydrate burning mechanism to a fat burning mechanism. 

 

            After the close of the induction phase (which some people stay on for a year), you are permitted to enter into phase 2.  During phase 2, you may reintroduce certain carbohydrates to your diet.  Once a person reaches the desired weight, they will then move into a life maintenance program in which they are permitted to eat anywhere from 25 to 90 grams of carbohydrates a day (according to Atkins, those who eat 90 grams of carbs per day should engage in vigorous exercise 5 days a week for at least 45 minutes a day). 

 

            As with most of the books being reviewed, there are recipes for low carb foods.  I appreciate having the recipes on the one hand, but would prefer that the publishers use a pocket part for the recipes, so they can be removed and kept in the kitchen (rather than the library, where the diabetic portion of the book is stored).

 

Atkins Diabetes Revolution

Mary C. Vernon and Jacqueline A. Eberstein copyright 2004

published by Harper Collins Publisher.

 

            This book is actually copyrighted by the Estate of Robert C. Atkins, M.D., but is written by a physician and a nurse, both of whom knew Dr. Atkins, and both of whom worked with his patients, particularly in the diabetic arena.  Unlike Dr. Atkins diet book, this book is well organized and in my opinion, better written.

 

            The book contains some interesting testimonials from patients of Dr. Atkins. When they adopted the Atkins Diet Program, their diabetic conditions improved through the lowering of the amount of their carbohydrate intake.

 

            In this book, the term “net carbs” is a central learning point. Carbohydrates are to be measured, but the carbohydrates may contain a component of fiber.  Fiber cannot be digested in the system and although fiber is classified as a carbohydrate, it does not count in terms of total carbohydrate intake (because they cannot be digested).  For example, broccoli may have 4.6 grams of carbohydrate in a raw stalk, but it consists of 2.6 grams of fiber.  Thus, if you eat one cup of chopped raw broccoli, you will only absorb 2 grams of carbohydrate.  The rest is fiber, which is a “freebie”, towards counting your total net carbs for the day. 

 

There are two types of fiber:  soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber foods are foods such as oatmeal. The fiber is not digested, but instead, absorbs cholesterol from the blood stream and the fiber (and the cholesterol it has absorbed) is eliminated from your system through the normal digestive track. For this reason, eating oatmeal lowers the cholesterol in your blood stream.  Once the cholesterol leaves your blood stream, the liver will produce new cholesterol.  Insoluble fiber is not digested, either, but it has no effect on cholesterol.

 

            The palm pilot program I mentioned earlier contains its own table of foods, and each food’s characteristics are shown, such as, so many grams of fat, fiber, and carbohydrate.  Through these handy tables, I can easily determine the number of net carbs I eat each day:  I simply subtract the total carbs I have eaten from the units of fiber.

 

            The authors of this book encourage diabetics to cap their net carbs at either 40, 50 or 60 per day.  When I first began a diabetic diet, I was not complying with this restriction, but through exercise, I kept my blood glucose in an appropriate range, namely, under 126.  Since I have started restricting my net carbs (I try to keep them under 100, and on some days, I am fortunate to get them down to 50 or 60), my BG readings have been much better, ranging from a low of 98 to a high of 109. 

 

            I should hasten to add that I do take Metformin (glucophage), and a pill that contains hydroxycitric acid and chromium (I buy over the counter pills from GNC; Citrimax contains HCA, which is an extract from the brindle berry plant from Southern India, and it is formally known as garcinia cambogia; the nature of this extract will be discussed in the Diabetic Cure Book, which will be reviewed later). 

 

            The authors of this book depart from comments made in other books, dealing with alcohol intake.  Other books indicate that alcohol (taken in very restricted moderation) will interrupt the digestive process, and keep the liver from releasing glycogen (when the Alpha cells in your pancreas are released, the pancreas secrets glucagon, which causes the liver to convert the glycogen into glucose).  These authors do not want diabetics to drink alcohol. 

           

            The authors re-emphasize the positive effects of the glycemic index, found in the Atkins Diet Book, but give a more precise analysis of foods recommended for type 2 diabetics.  The authors also recommend taking Vitamin supplements, Omega III fatty acids (essential fatty acids), eating lots of fish and vegetables, and recommend exercise, much more than the Atkins Diet Book.  Diet and exercise are required for type 2 diabetics (as well as type 1 diabetics), and the authors even suggest different types of anaerobic exercises, as well as aerobic exercises, that can be done at home. 

 

            It is unfortunate that most persons will not read a book of this type until they have been diagnosed as being diabetic.  Much of this book should be read by everyone who is even slightly overweight, or persons who are extra thin (who may be experiencing hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar).  There are things that all persons can do to improve their physical health, but because diabetes is becoming an increasing problem, not only world wide, but especially in the United States, people ought to be educated and alerted about symptoms they might experience as a pre-diabetic, or experience what is known as Syndrome X (for purposes of this book review, you can accept Syndrome X as being pre-diabetic).

 

            I would recommend this book as one to read before reading the Atkins Diet Book.  Using the net carb approach, my BG has been much easier to control, and I have not had to exercise as much (I usually only exercise once a day, rather than twice a day).  

 

AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION COMPLETE GUIDE TO DIABETES

Second Addition Copyright 1999 by American Diabetes Association

Published by Bantam Books

 

            I read Dr. Bernstein’s book on diabetes before I read the ADA Complete Guide.  Dr. Bernstein is a Type I diabetic, and states on at least two occasions in his book, that if he followed the recommendations of the American Diabetes Association, he would be dead today.  With that sort of recommendation, I was not looking forward to reading this book.

 

            From a stylistic perspective, this is possibly one of the worst books that has ever been written.  The chapters are probably well organized, but the organization is lost from beginning to end with magazine style “sidebar articles” placed on almost every page (some of these sidebars span several pages), under topics such as “Diabetes: Fact or Myth”, and “Exercise Will Do You Good”, and “Skinny Meat”, and so forth.  It is impossible to follow the flow of this book due to these information sidebars. 

 

            In terms of simply being an encyclopedic resource, I suppose this book isn’t as bad as I may have made it out to be.  Much of the book’s material is covered in other books which are much better written.  The one exception deals with the health care system, which is the topic of Chapter 15.  Whoever wrote this section assembled some very informative information about insurance, hospital stays, Medicare benefits and so forth. Whether that information is worth $7.50 (the cost of the book), I don’t know. 

 

            The book covers most of the topics of interest to a diabetic, but in a sense the information is more of a survey of topics, rather than a plan for controlling blood glucose ratios.  There is a nice resource section at the end of the book, giving the addresses, telephones, e-mails for various organizations.  There is also a listing of the American Diabetes Association Regional Offices, which can probably give better information than one can find from this 522 page book.

 

            If I had my choice on diabetic books to read, this would certainly be the last one on the list.

 

THE DIABETES CURE

by Vern Cherewatenko, M.D. and Paul Perry

copyright 1999

 

            This 268 page book is written by a Bariatric Physician, that is, one who specializes in weight loss.  He has treated more than 5,000 people for obesity, many of whom had Type 2 diabetes. Through his medical experience, he discovered a weight loss herb known as Hydroxycitric Acid or HCA, which is used as an alternative to diet prescription drugs.  According to Dr. Cherewatenko, HCA permits the muscles of the body to absorb more glucose.  When this happens, “a full signal is sent to the brain, resulting in a reduced food intact.”   HCA also binds up “left over glucose in the blood stream, slowing down the rate at which glucose is converted to fat.  The result is a natural approach to glucose control, without dangerous side effects that can be caused by drugs.

 

            I am told that type 2 diabetics have a metabolism which makes them resistant to Insulin (commonly known as Insulin Resistance or IR). Stated differently, IR causes your system to work against insulin’s goal, i.e., to transfer glucose into energy, into muscles, or into fat storage tanks. HCA works against IR, thereby making your metabolism sensitive to Insulin.  Dr. Cherewatenko believes that HCA, working together with Chromium, can increase insulin sensitivity, without causing detrimental side effects (such as liver damage, which can be caused by taking Avandia). Since I was taking the 8 mg size of Avandia at the time I read this book, I took a leap of faith, and without consulting my doctor, quit taking Avandia.  I started taking pills that contained HCA (Dr. Cherewatenko even lists four pages of HCA products sold by different organizations, including GNC (a natural food franchise, where I buy pills known as Citrimax Plus; Citrimax contains HCA and chromium).  

 

            To cure oneself of diabetes, Dr. Cherewatenko has developed a 9 step plan, which includes daily exercise.  Although I did not enjoy walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day, I am now resigned to the fact that I must do so, in order to keep my blood glucose levels under control.  Rather than watch TV while I walk, I bought a reading rack for the treadmill, which gives me the ability to balance a book on the treadmill control panel.  I have used this time to read all these diabetic books.

 

            In addition to exercise, he also suggests keeping ones stress level under control.  Since I don’t do trial work anymore, and I limit the number of appointments I have each day, I am usually able to manage the stress level at the office.

 

            The second part of the book goes into more detail than I wanted to read on diabetic complications.  Hypoglycemia is as dangerous hyperglycemia (i.e., having too high a level of blood sugar; hyperglycemia symptoms include extreme thirst, parched mouth, confusion, sleepiness, dry skin, inability to perspire, blurred vision, hunger, nausea, frequent urination – all of which can cause seizures, comas and death). Diabetics face both of these risks. In addition, diabetics could develop cardiovascular problems, vision problems, complications with cataracts and glaucoma, neuropathy, loss of sexual function or desire, dental problems, problems with infections, amputations, pancreatic cancer problems, and much more.  As good as the first part of the book is, as far as helping to find a “cure” for diabetes (or at least a method to control it), the last part of the book is terrifying.  If I were asked how the book might better be written, I would put the terrifying information at the beginning of the book, so that the solutions can be given at the end of the book.  In other words, stimulate the plot by creating the problems at the outset, so the reader can relax when the problems are resolved at the end of the book.

 

            Past this minor editorial arrangement of material, however, I thought this book was very good, and would certainly recommend it.

 

 

DIABETES TYPE 2: COMPLETE FOOD MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

By Sherri Shafer, R.D., C.D.E.

copyright 2001

 

            This book was the first one we read about the diabetic diet, and after we returned our copy to the library, we decided to buy one for future reference.  In terms of giving general information about types of foods, sugar, and other useful information, the book is an excellent resource.  The author explains how to read food labels, (which are placed on literally every item in the food store, except for fresh fruits and vegetables and meats), and also presents in very easy to understand terms, the types of carbohydrates (sugars, starches and fats), the types of sugars (glucose, fructose, and galactose), and the American Diabetes Association “Carbohydrate Exchange” chart.  Interestingly, the American Diabetes Association did not explain its own “exchange” program very well in its Diabetes Guide. 

 

One of the surprises in this book deals with alcohol, and I quote from page 271 “I’ll jump to the punch line on this one:  It’s okay to include a moderate amount of alcohol, if your diabetes is well controlled and you don’t have any other reasons that you should abstain.”   The concept is this:  “when the liver is breaking down alcohol, it can’t make new glucose in response to low blood sugar (it takes about 1 – 1 1/2 hours to metabolize one drink). So if you take insulin or any diabetes pills that can cause low blood sugar, alcohol poses a special risk to you.” In other words, alcohol can cause hypoglycemia, which is a condition of having too little sugar in your blood. 

 

The book has sections on exercise, alternative therapies, (such as plants and herbs that have a positive effect upon a diabetic), advice dealing with cholesterol, diabetes during pregnancy, diabetes during the golden years, childhood diabetes, tension, and other topics which are of interest to a diabetic.

 

            Except for the concept of net carbs (dealt with by Atkins), the principles in this 350 page book are sound and in my opinion should be considered as a means of regulating BG levels.

 

THE NEW GLUCOSE REVOLUTION:

THE AUTHORITATIVE GUIDE TO THE GLYCEMIC INDEX

By Jennie Brand-Miller, Thomas M.S. Wolever,

Kaye Foster-Powell, and Stephen Colagiuri

copyright 2003

 

            For reasons that are not clear to me, the American Diabetes Association has never embraced  the concept of Glycemic Index. The glycemic index is a phrase which describes how carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels. In most things in life, timing is very important.  This principle certainly applies to diabetics, because certain carbohydrates turn into glucose more rapidly than others, and we must learn to deal with carbs which are digested too quickly (such as white potatoes and white bread). As the authors of this book state on page 23, “foods with a high glycemic index value contain carbohydrates that cause a dramatic rise in blood glucose levels, while foods with a low glycemic index value contain carbohydrates with much less impact.”

 

            To rephrase what was said in the first paragraph: blood sugar levels can be controlled by mixing foods that have a high glycemic index with those that have a lower glycemic index.  To achieve this goal, the authors suggest eating fruit at every meal, eating vegetables with lunch and dinner, and eating foods which contain lots of fiber. 

 

            As I indicated earlier, our personal trainer at the health club introduced us to the concept of the glycemic index. I was surprised to learn that personal trainers check their blood sugar levels, to make certain they do not fall into hypoglycemia (not having enough glucose in your blood stream).  Our trainer, Ryan, said his blood sugar is normally between 75 and 85.  He has done workouts, which has sapped his system of needed sugar, and he has experienced hypoglycemia (which can occur during or after vigorous exercise; it can also occur before meals or when insulin is peaking ­or when you are asleep ­– if untreated, you can lapse into unconsciousness, have seizures, and go into a coma). As a side note, the symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, shaking and sweating, dizziness and impaired vision, hunger, headache, loss of coordination, nausea, nightmares, irritability, anger and confusion.  Hypoglycemia is serious, and should not be ignored.

 

            Our trainer works with people who are trying to lose weight, as well as build up their muscle tone, and he has advocated using the glycemic index in eating for several years.  As the Atkins books state, the more sugar in your blood, the hungrier you will be.  A technique to keep blood sugar stable is to eat carbs which are slowly digested, or to eat other foods which retard the glycemic effect of carbs. 

 

            If there is any fault with the approach used by these authors, it is this:  It flies in face of the approach used by the Atkins Diet, and to some extent, the South Beach Diet.  The authors of this book seem a bit unconcerned about the total carbohydrate intake per day. As I have reviewed my own personal records, I learned that my BG levels are more easily controlled if I keep my net carbs under 100 per day.  The authors of this book are not troubled by persons who have carbohydrate intakes as high as 250 (they make no reference to net carbs; in the early days of my diabetic diet, my carbohydrate intake was approximately 200 per day, but is much less today, because I don’t want to exercise two times a day as a means of keeping my BG levels in check).

 

The book contains some specimen meals, recipes, and also pages and pages of charts, giving the glycemic index of various foods. Since the book is written by non-U.S. authors, the foods listed are not necessarily available in the United States grocery stores.  Even the foods listed in my palm pilot program (which was apparently written by non-U.S. authors) have a “foreign” theme to them; but my palm pilot program gives me enough information, so that I can tell the fiber content of the carbohydrates (which the Glycemic book does not).

 

            Since this book was written primarily for dieters, it will be of more benefit to them than Type 2 diabetics.  To the extent that the Atkins books do not explain the glycemic index in depth, this book does.  I regard this 345 page book as a useful resource in my diabetic library. 

 

REVERSING DIABETES

by Julian Whitaker, M.D.

Published by Warner Books

Copyright 2001

 

Dr. Whitaker has written a good book.  He operates a wellness center in California, and has treated diabetics for many years.  He advocates diet, exercise and nutritional supplements, as necessary tools for treating diabetes.  Unlike other books written on this topic, however, this one is well written. Dr. Whitaker’s encouraging style of writing engenders hope in the hearts of all diabetics.

 

Dr. Whitaker covers the downside of taking prescribed oral medications. He discourages using Sulfonamide drugs, because they stimulate insulin production (which can cause the pancreas not to manufacture needed beta cells). There are adverse side effects to Sulfonamide drugs, including gastrointestinal upset, headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms of hypoglycemia.  These drugs can cause hypothyroidism, skin rashes, severe allergic reactions, problems in the cornea of the eye, water retention, elevated blood pressure and increased stomach acid secretion.  In addition, they can have damaging effects on the cardiovascular system.   Dr. Whitaker also expresses concern about the effectiveness of Metformin (Glucophage), a medication which improves insulin sensitivity, improves cholesterol levels and ratios, decreases triglyceride levels, and to a slight degree, decreases blood pressure, as well as promoting modest weight loss. Its negative side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal upset. The drug may also interfere with absorption of folic acid and Vitamin B12.  Patients with kidney or liver disease, cardiac or respiratory problems, severe infections or alcoholic abuse are at an increased risk and, according to Dr. Whitaker, should avoid the drug.

 

Dr. Whitaker does not like the Thiazolidinedoines drugs, which is a newer class of insulin sensitizing drugs.  These drugs can cause serious liver damage.  In addition, they can cause a person to gain weight, and the newest of the drugs, Rosiglitazone (Avandia) and Pioglitazone (Actos), can create liver toxicity, and quoting Dr. Whitaker, “I strongly suggest you avoid this class of drugs”. 

 

The last oral medication he mentions is Acarbose, known as Precose, which slows absorbing glucose into the blood stream.  However, it causes numerous gastrointestinal problems.  Whitaker cites a Japanese study that reports 57% of the patients taking Acarbose  reported liver dysfunction, and two died. 

 

From Whitaker’s vantage point, there are alternatives to using prescription medications.

 

Whitaker first advocates sensible diets. He recognizes that all carbohydrates are not created equal.  As you know by now, carbohydrates are found in plants, whereas meat and eggs contain only protein and fat.  Dairy products do have some carbohydrate, but in controlling a diet, use of low glycemic carbohydrates improves the release of sugar into your blood.  In a nutshell, by eating low glycemic carbs, such as green vegetables, tomatoes, beans and peas, pasta, apples, berries, citrus fruit, and oatmeal, the sugar side of carbohydrates is kept to a minimum.  Diabetics can eat, in moderation, stone ground whole wheat bread, rye crackers, brown rice, sweet potatoes, grapes, new potatoes, whole wheat tortillas and kiwi, but should avoid high glycemic foods such as bagels, white bread, rice cakes, pretzels, most cold cereals, white rice, white potatoes, pineapple, dates and ripe bananas.  Whitaker also mentions that “the judicious use of alcohol actually improves insulin sensitivity”.  In addition, he is a strong advocate of exercise, because it clears the blood of glucose.

 

Dr. Whitaker is a strong believer in nutritional supplements, and believes Vanadium and Chromium are the two most effective means of helping a diabetic. Whitaker has formulated his own brand of nutritional supplements, and I have taken some of them.  Although I do not take his supplements any more, which contain strong doses of Vanadium and Chromium, when I took these supplements, I noticed a positive impact on my BG levels.  According to Whitaker, Vanadium mimics the action of insulin, and Chromium improves the uptake of glucose into the cells.  In addition, Whitaker advocates taking Magnesium, Anti-oxidants, and essential fatty acids.  He also suggests daily supplements of Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and others. 

 

Whitaker gives several recipes used at his wellness center, and I can personally attest that these are tasty, healthy foods;  as a matter of fact, we ordered Whitaker’s cookbook, which has wonderful recipes.  We have never been disappointed with one of his suggestions for meals. 

 

If my budget only permitted the purchase of one book, this 435 page book would be it.

 

DEFEATING DIABETES

by Brenda Davis & Tom Barnard

Published by Healthy Living Publications

Copyright 2003

 

            This book is written by some Canadian vegetarians, and the authors advocate becoming vegetarians, as a means of controlling diabetes.  The information given in the book is probably useful, but I am not convinced that diabetics need to give up meat in order to control their blood glucose levels. 

           

            In terms of technical information, the book delivers many helpful tables:  one lists foods that have high fiber content, such as green peas, all bran cereal, raspberries, blackberries, black-eyed peas and so forth.  In addition, there are menus which are based on different calorie diets, such as 1500 calorie diets, 1800–2100 calories, and so forth.  The authors have added several pages of recipes, as well as suggestions for nutritional supplements. 

 

            The basic problem with a vegetarian diet is getting enough protein.  The authors discuss this problem and give standard solutions, such as increased consumption of soybeans.  Since we are carnivorous beings, our chemistry can digest meat and meat products, which supply not only protein, but also certain fats.  Proteins help produce strong bones, muscles, and red blood cells. 

 

            Had I known this book was going to be a pitch for becoming a vegetarian, I would not have bought it.  That said, there is good nutritional information contained in the book, and I appreciate the efforts these authors have made towards convincing me to be a vegetarian.  Vegetables are good for us, and do cause our systems to shift from being acid based to becoming alkaline based (thus achieving a better PH balance).  There is some evidence that persons with acid based systems are more susceptible to certain types of cancer, and from a nutritional point of view, vegetables are indispensable.  However, meats are also important to our diets.

 

The $14.95 price might be worth the book’s 279 pages of information. However, I would place this one in the same category as the American Diabetes Association Guide, which should not be at the top of the list of books to buy. 

 

 

THE FIRST YEAR: TYPE 2 DIABETES

by Gretchen Becker

Published by Marlowe & Company

Copyright 2001

 

            I bought this book because of its title, and it is, indeed, a 12 month guide for Type 2 diabetics, during the first year. The author is a professional writer by trade, and she has done lots of research in preparing this book.  Although the book is designed to be read during each month of the first year of being a diabetic, suffice to say I read ahead of her schedule. 

 

            To some extent, the book asks the sort of questions a diabetic would want to ask his or her doctor or nutritionist:  What do I do if I take a trip or go on a vacation?  Did I do something wrong which caused the diabetes? What about taking vitamins and minerals and herbs? 

 

            Ms. Becker gave me two tips, which I will mention in this review:  First, there are web sites dealing with diabetes.  The best site is one by David Mendosa, formerly Rick Mendosa (he recently decided to revert to his Jewish heritage and use David as his first name).  The site is www.mendosa.com. Each month he publishes an article on a host of topics, and his has good hot-links to other diabetes sites.  He even wrote a chapter in the Becker book.

 

            The second tip deals with exercise:  since exercise lowers BG levels, the question must be asked, when is the best time to exercise?  Ms. Becker believes exercise should be done 40 minutes after eating breakfast.  Until I read that suggestion, I had been doing my exercise before breakfast, I switched regimens, and have stuck with her program.  It has worked well for me, and I suppose would work for others.

 

            Each chapter in the book is divided into sections: the first section of the chapter is subtitled “Living”, which deals with the everyday problems diabetics encounter, such as depression.  The second part of each chapter is subtitled “Learning”, and consists of an in depth analysis of topics of interest; most of these “learning” sections give an in-depth treatment of the topic covered in the “living” section. 

 

            I liked the chapter written on “Diet Wars”.  As you can tell by all of these book reviews,  there are firmly held beliefs that one diet is better than another.  Ms. Becker calls these diverging opinions “diet wars”.  The most important thing to remember, I suppose, is to find a diet that works for you.  What works for another may not fit your situation.  The important thing is to have some sort of diet regimen, and to exercise.

 

            This book contains very good and useful information, and would probably sell more copies if the title were changed, because the information given is useful whether you are in your first or tenth year of being a Type 2 diabetic. 

 

 

PREDIABETES

What You Need to Know

To Keep Diabetes Away

By Gretchen Becker

Published by Marlowe & Company

Copyright 2004

 

 

Gretchen Banker's second book, in my review of popular titles, is a much easier read than her first book. The purpose of this book is to alert the public at large, and pre-diabetics in particular, to change their lifestyles, in order to avoid contracting diabetes.

 

There are 50 short chapters in the book, which contain the same message throughout, but in a different format: Exercise and watch your diet. Each of the chapters contain useful information. Had the book been written in a different format, it would probably be dull reading. However, because the chapters are so short, the 200 page book can be read in a very short time.

 

The resources listed in the back of the book are good, of and I appreciate her mentioning a website for the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. This web site, http://www.joslin.org/main.html, is a very good internet based resource, which contains up-to-date information.

 

The book will not help diabetics reverse their condition. However, the advice is good, and the information can be adapted to those of us who have type 2 diabetes. You will not waste your resources by purchasing this book.  

 

 

 

DR. BERNSTEIN’S DIABETES SOLUTION

By Richard K. Bernstein, M.D.

Published by Little, Brown & Co.

Copyright 2003

 

            Some books have great opening lines.  Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities begins “It was the best of times, it was the worse of times …”.  Herman Melville’s  Moby Dick is in that same category: “Call me Ishmael”.  Dr. Bernstein’s book also begins with a classic line: “You’re the only person who can be responsible for normalizing your blood sugars”.  This sentence sets the tone for the rest of the book, and Dr. Bernstein, who is a Type 1 diabetic, loads the book with very useful data, techniques, recipes, and suggestions.

 

            Dr. Bernstein was an engineer who had Type 1 diabetes; he was not satisfied with the information his physician was telling him, so he started experimenting on himself, and learned there was a correlation between what he ate and his blood glucose level.  He developed his own diet, and used techniques to control BG levels, but the medical profession did not endorse what he was proposing.  To gain credibility, and while he was in his 40’s, he attended Medical School, and now devotes his practice to treating diabetic patients.

 

            The book begins with 30 pages of testimonies by his patients, all of whom were surprised at the improvement in their conditions, and some even reversed diabetic complications.  These testimonies are very good reading.

 

            Although Dr. Bernstein believes his is the only book written which deals with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (and he certainly covers both types in greater depth than other books), he does something no other author attempts, and that is, he analyzes the most important aspects of treating diabetes. For example, his advice on exercise goes into great detail: he prefers anaerobic exercise, over aerobic exercise.  He keeps meticulous level records of his BG readings, and gives practical advice on how to use spring activated finger stick devises to draw blood (he also believes in re-using lances until they become dull).  He is the only author who advises against using alcohol to sterilize your hands (washing your hands is much better). The book is chock full of things that never occurred to me, such as the timing of insulin injections, or the types of insulin to use.  He comments on oral medications, and gives advice on the ones that are preferred as opposed to the ones that should be avoided.  He delves into vitamins and mineral supplements, and how to create customized meal plans.  He even lists food emporiums that sell products that are low in carbohydrates, which are otherwise difficult to find. 

 

            Dr. Bernstein does not believe in eating carbohydrates, and at one point in the book states that he has not had a piece of fruit since 1970.  Toward the end of the book, he gives 50 pages of recipes for foods low in carbs, which range from turnip mashed potatoes, to cabbage cole slaw, to French brand toast. 

 

            The book being reviewed is the second edition. The first edition, written in 1997, was so brutal to my way of thinking, that after I finished it, I felt shell shocked.  His approach was that of a maverick, and he expected his patients to make severe adjustments to their diets.  Now that I have read his most recent version, which does not strike me as being as being as severe as the 1997 version, I understand his primary concern, which is, that his diabetic patients do not develop diabetic complications.  He wants his patients to have BG levels of 85.  At this point in my life, that seems to be beyond my reach.  However, using the Atkins Net Carb approach, I have brought my BG levels down considerably.

 

            His book will remain a classic, and the principles he pioneered will continue to have far reaching effects on those of us who have diabetes.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Bernstein, his research, his life, and certainly, his philosophy as reflected in this book.

 

THE SOUTH BEACH DIET

by Arthur Agatston, M.D.

Published by Rodale

Copyright 2003

 

            This book is not written for diabetes, but neither was Atkins Diet Book.  However, this one has information that is very helpful for diabetes.  There is even a chapter in the book written for diabetics, “Is It Diabetes Yet?” 

 

            To some extent, this book develops phase 2 of the Atkins Diet.  Dr. Agatston, who is a cardiologist, believes there is a correlation between a healthy heart and a good diet.  He explains in easy to understand terms the concepts covered in other books, but probably says it in less words.  For example, he explains the glycemic index as follows:   “As we have seen, the equation behind most obesity is simple:  The faster the sugars and starches you eat are processed, and absorbed into your blood stream, the fatter you get.  Therefore, anything that speeds the process by which your body digests carbohydrates is bad for your diet, and anything that slows it down is good.  Digestion is simply the action of your stomach breaking food down into its components; anything that keeps food intact longer is beneficial for people trying to loose weight.” 

 

The South Beach Diet requires that you eat no carbohydrates for 2 weeks. The purpose of this phase of the diet is to enhance insulin sensitivity (and decrease insulin resistance).  After that time period, Dr. Agatston advocates keeping carbohydrate intake to a minimum following the rule, “if the food is white, don’t eat it”.  Translated, this means no white bread, no white potatoes, no products containing white refined flour, and the like. 

 

There are meal plans given in the book, and some fairly sophisticated recipes developed by chefs in the Miami Beach community. 

 

Although the book is 310 pages, it read much more quickly than its length (probably because the textural material was only 107 pages).

 

            When people ask me what sort of diet I am on, I always tell them I am on the South Beach Diet.  Obviously, I am not on the South Beach Diet, but it does not have the negative ring of the Atkins Diet (which some violently oppose).  This book promotes good health, and certainly can cause a person to lose weight. There is nothing in the book that could be construed as being harmful to diabetics and I thought it was worth reviewing. 

 

 

The Diabetes Improvement Program

By Patrick Quinllin, PhD

The Leader Co.

© 1999

 

Because I ordered this book from health food resources, I had high hopes that this might disclose the missing link to normalizing blood sugars. The subtitle of the book is a “Doctor's handbook for using foods and supplements to slow and reverse the complications of diabetes.  Based on this subtitle, I assumed the book was written by a physician. It was not. It is written by a Ph.D., who re-prints lots of information he has accumulated from other resources; he compiles these resources into what I regard as a meaningless list of nutritional supplements that might be taken, in the hope that BG readings might go down.

 

Dr. Quinlan ploughs though much of the same ground that other nutritionists advocate,  and the book left me with the impression that he had no particular solution for diabetics. The list of nutritional supplements is a shotgun approach to the question we all want answered, viz., what specific supplement can I take to lower my BG readings? His answer is, “read the list and figure out for yourself what supplements you should take. Who knows, one of them might work?”

 

For my money, this book is a waste of time reading and a waste of money purchasing.

 

 

The pH Miracle for Diabetes

By Robert O. Young, PhD, and Shelley Redford Young

Warner Books

© 2004

 

            All persons who are diabetic, whether Type 1 or Type 2, or pre-diabetics (“impaired fasting glucose”, meaning, BG readings from 110 – 126) like me, want to lead normal lives, eat “normal” things, be lethargic, and go about their business without regard to their BG readings. To place ourselves in such an arena, we all want a magic pill which will make us fit in with the lifestyles of 5/6th of the U.S. population. Unfortunately, no one has found such a pill, even though more and more books are written about the virtues of more and more pills, and new and improved dietary supplements.

 

            If you read my book review of The Diabetes Improvement Plan, you might understand my frustration with finding the magic pill. Perhaps if we looked at the problem from a different vantage, we might gain an understanding of aspects of organic chemistry and biochemistry, which will lead us to a possible solution. Dr. Young thinks he has the answer, and this book was compiled to shed some light on a possible solution.

 

Before I review this book, I must first give you a mini-review of The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, by Dr. Susan E. Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr., Squareone Publishers, © 2006. This book gives a much more concise and better description of what pH balance is, how it affects your health, and the possible consequences of not keeping ones system “in balance”. pH means “potential for hydrogen”, a term used in chemistry, which indicates whether a solution, fluid or compound is acidic, alkaline, or neutral. pH can be measured in our bodies by testing saliva and urine or blood (pH strips are available for the first 2 tests), and if we have a heavy concentration of hydrogen in our systems, we are “acid based”. The scale goes from 0 to 14; to be healthy, we should have slightly alkaline, oxygen-rich arterial blood (7.365 to 7.45 is ideal) – a reading of 7.0 is neutral.

 

Oxygen rich systems (alkaline based) neutralize formation of acids which might prove to be harmful. To help us stay in the neutral zone, our bodies use calcium and protein from bones, and possibly other places, to pump more alkaline to our systems in order to neutralize formation of acids, so as to keep us in balance. After the passage of time, if we fail to keep our systems in balance, and we become acid based, our bone formation will be reduced, calcium will be lost in our urine (leading to kidney stone formation), proteins will breakdown causing our muscles to waste away, our systems will be unable to repair cells, tissues and organs fully, our systems will age at an accelerated pace, more free radicals will be produced, we will be subject to increased fluid retention, and so forth.

 

The American diet is centered around foods that create acid-base systems. Dr. Brown lists about 70 pages of foods we eat, and rates them according to whether the food is alkaline-forming or acid-forming. The first time I read through the list, I determined that I could not eat any food without running the risk of forming more acids in my system. To remedy this, Dr. Young would have me become a vegetarian, but Dr. Brown has an easier solution: eat more dark green vegetables than any other food group. She doesn’t require me to give up meat or eggs or nuts, so long as 2/3rd of my plate contains foods that are alkaline-forming (such as kale, collard greens, asparagus, snap green beans, etc.).

 

Dr. Brown explains the basis for her conclusions. Our bodies have 3 methods of getting rid of unwanted “poisons”, or acid forming chemicals, all of which are filtered through our bodies:

 

First, our lungs supply our bodies with much needed oxygen (as we breathe in), and dispel (exhale) carbon dioxide (the “burned” waste from our system – an inference might be made that aerobic exercise helps cleanse our system, because it requires lots of heavy breathing, which gives us a double dose of oxygen; in turn the CO2  expels the oxidized stuff we don’t need);

 

Second, our kidneys filter unwanted sugars, and other waste products which we don’t need (we rid our systems through urine – a preventative measure we can take is to drink lots of pure, and hopefully ionized or ozone rich water, which will keep our kidneys healthy, as well as supply needed oxygen to our systems); and

 

Third, our skin filters out other things, through our perspiration (which is also produced through exercise).

 

            With this background in mind, we can have a better understanding of what Dr. Young advocates in his book. He noticed the correlation between acid based systems and diabetes, and concluded that if our systems are neutral, or slightly alkaline, our blood sugars would be “normal”. As I have been checking my pH balance every morning, which I do before checking my BG reading, I can generally predict what my BG readings will be. If my system measures 7.0, which is neutral, my BG readings are pretty good (98 to 107). If my pH balance is 6.5, my BG readings will be higher (113, 114).

 

            Although Dr. Young's book does not explain the chemistry involved in the process, he nonetheless makes a very persuasive argument that by eating lots of green vegetables, and drinking pure water mixed with green powder (the “green drink”), diabetics can improve their BG readings. Throughout the book, there are very interesting testimonials, given by both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics; all of them reported a marked improvement in their BG readings – once they began drinking green drinks, stopped drinking carbonated beverages, and changing their eating habits.

 

            The “green drink” is simply a mixture of oxygenated water (which can be produced with an ozone machine, or by adding sodium chlorite drops to pure water) and a teaspoon of green drink powder (which is nothing more than powdered vegetables). I usually have two drinks a day, instead of an extra cup of coffee in the morning and a Diet Coke in the afternoon (which I have now given up).

           

Dr. Young also requires us to exercise. He prefers aerobic exercise to anaerobic exercise. I have no quarrel with his observations, especially since I have a better understanding of the benefits of having more oxygen pumped through my lungs. Oxidation is a good thing as far as I am concerned, because it neutralizes unwanted hydrogen ions and other viruses. As a side note, I have switched from the treadmill to an elliptical trainer, which gives me a better, complete body workout in less time.

 

Half of Dr. Young’s book consists of recipes, which are all vegetarian in nature. We have not tried any of them, for a number of reasons. First, Dr. Young assumes that food budgets are unlimited, even for those of us who do not live in California. Thus, we cannot eat avocados three or four times a day. Second, the ingredients used in the recipes (even by California standards) are very expensive.

 

            As I am writing this review, I can report that my pH readings do bear some correlation with my BG readings. When my pH is 6.5, my BG readings are a bit higher than when my pH is 7.0 or higher. Because of the changed variables (new exercise regimen, taking 2 green drinks a day, watching my intake of fatty foods, eating more green vegetables), I cannot isolate one component as causing the improvement in my BG readings.

 

It would be wonderful to learn that an adjustment to our diets could rid us of the need for insulin, metformin, Avandia, and other such drugs.  None of the books I have reviewed suggest that we will remain idle – all of the authors want us to exercise regularly (which may turn out to be the most important component of all – a recent report indicated that the best preventative for Alzheimer’s Disease was to do 3 hours of aerobic exercise a week ­– oxygen is needed in your brain, you know). 

 

Dr. Young’s book is worth owning. Before you purchase this recommended book, I suggest that you consider reading other resources on ph balances. 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS

 

            You are the only one who can control your blood glucose level.  I may have seen more people with diabetic complications than you have, I may be a bit more zealous about BG levels than others.  I don’t want to be driven by fear, but if I have a choice in changing my life style, so as to avoid kidney failure or having to use dialysis, I would prefer to make life style changes now, before it is too late.

 

I hope the information in these book reviews is of help to you.  There are other books written, which are probably as good as the ones reviewed in this article. I am also certain there are other over-the-counter drugs, which are not mentioned in any of these books, which help diabetics (such as cinnamon; a teaspoon a day, taken in pill form,  has worked wonders for me; I am surprised that it was not mentioned in any of these books).  

 

If I have done nothing more than stimulate your desire to learn more about diabetes, then I am pleased to have done that.  I wish you best success in dealing with your continued good health.