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Good stress info -- but all solutions are food supplements
on February 19, 2004
Stress is bad for you. We all knew that, but Shawn Talbott explains some of the biochemistry of stress in layman's terms. After reading The Cortisol Connection, you will know WHY chronic stress is bad and what it's likely to do to you.
Much of this has been covered better in other books about stress, such as Robert Sapolsky's Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers. What's new about Cortisol Connection is the strong evidence that stress makes you gain weight. It puts on fat and makes your cells resistant to insulin, which puts you at risk for diabetes.
I'm very interested in this, because I'm currently researching a new book called The Politics of Diabetes. (I should also admit that Hunter House, publisher of Cortisol Connection, also published my first book, The Art of Getting Well: Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness.) I found Talbott's work helpful.
What I did not find, though, was many good ideas for what to DO about stress. He mentions stress reduction and exercise, but he seems to believe these are not realistic goals for most of us in our fast-paced society. Nearly all his recommendations are for food supplements - vitamins, herbs, minerals, amino acids - over 50 in all. And he really doesn't prioritize among them. I still have no idea where to start with these supplements, which ones have strong supporting evidence and which don't.
I also found his reference list really aggravating. I like to check references, both to learn more and to confirm that the author is playing straight with the facts. Talbott combines all the references for the first five chapters (six pages of references) into one long list, without numbers. So there's no way to tell which reference goes with which paragraph or claim in the book. The supplements actually have many more references than the information on stress does.
So if you are inclined to seek health through supplements, this may be the stress book for you. If you don't like investigating supplement claims and prowling around health food stores, you can still get some good information about stress here, but that's about it.
David Spero RN, author of The Art of Getting Well, Maximizing Health When You Have a Chronic Illness. [...]