The Living Force
I just finished reading this book by T.S. Wiley and Brent Formby, and I thought it was very good. The main premise of the book is that we suffer from light poisoning, due to a combination of artificial light and lack of appreciation of our bodies' seasonal sleep pattern (which is abused in abundance, particularly in the Western world), and that this in turn leads to things from obesity, to cancer, to bipolar disorder. The following are the editorial reviews from Amazon:
This fascinating, thought-provoking study discusses the central role of sleep in our lives. After probing the scientific literature, Wiley and Formby, researchers at the Sansum Medical Research Institute, conclude that "the disastrous slide in the health of the American people corresponds to the increase in light-generating night activities and the carbohydrate consumption that follows." Our internal clocks are governed by seasonal variations in light and dark; extending daylight artificially leads to a craving for sugar, especially concentrated, refined carbohydrates that, in turn, cause obesity. More seriously, lack of sleep inhibits the production of prolactin and melatonin--deranging our immune systems and causing depression, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The authors prescribe sleeping at least nine and a half hours in total darkness in the fall and winter and switching to a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. They support their arguments with 100 pages of notes and by tracing the progression of disease from hunter-gatherers to our high-tech society. Despite its somewhat strident, all-knowing tone, this illuminating work is highly recommended for academic and public libraries.
The writing style is very engaging, and the suggestions offered by the authors are, with few exceptions, quite in line with forum recommendations. It also contextualizes many of the recommendations here into a nice, big picture; I actually learned quite a bit, for example, about what melatonin actually does, how it is produced (or not), and why it is vital to our health. Plus, you get a good feeling about a book when in the final pages it discusses killer asteroids and comets, as well as the JFK conspiracy, as examples of our government's general moral bankruptcy :)The lightbulb put us out of sync with nature. Way back when, people spent the summer sleeping less and eating heavily in preparation for winter because light triggers the hunger for carbohydrates. Now, with light available 24 hours a day, we gulp down food all year long. So, Wiley and Formby assert, it is light, not what we eat or whether we exercise, that causes obesity--and diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Indeed, eating bacon, ham, butter, and eggs for breakfast doesn't impair health, and exercise can make you fat. If we considered our waking periods as equivalent to the long days of summer and the short ones of winter, we would avoid those health problems. Wiley and Formby offer three steps for improvement, but they aren't optimistic, because the light-driven speed and intensity of contemporary life may be too much to overcome. Still, try, first, plugging the leaks in your psyche; then, because you will have lost weight, resisting carbohydrates; and, finally, swallowing a few pills and helpful foods.