It is that time of year again when you start combing the stores for something for that health lover in your life. As a certified health nut myself (just ask my wife), let me show you the top health products I fell in love with this year.
Books are always a good place to start, and this year there have been some great ones:
Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter MD, is a well written book by a noted neurologist that focuses on the role of grains in brain damage. I have long been a supporter of removing grains from your diet and this book adds yet another reason to kick them out of your life. According to Dr. Perlmutter, grains (including gluten grains) may be responsible for a diverse range of diseases including depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and a whole host of other mental and brain disorders. Do your brain a favor and pick up this book.
Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman has written an engaging book about how our brains think. We have both a fast and a slow way of processing information and these systems can either help us or hurt us – depending on the situation. Knowing when we can (say) trust our intuition and when we probably shouldn’t can help us all making better choices in the stock market or even choosing our next vacation.
Learn more here:Thinking, Fast and Slow
Wheat Belly, by William Davis MD. You have heard the term “beer belly,” haven’t you? Could it be that we were actually blaming the wrong substance for weight gain and grains actually are the reason for the many overweight people we see? (actually, beer is a unique type of alcohol because it switches on fat storage – but that is another story; see Fat Switch below). Dr. Davis provides plenty of research to support his theory and also a great dietary plan for kicking grains out of your life.
The Fat Switch, by Dr. Richard Johnson MD. You are never going to believe what turns on fat storage in the body. According to Dr. Johnson, it is fructose (actually, it is a bit more complex than that, but I’ll leave you to read the book to see what I’m talking about). This makes perfect sense because before the modern world changed everything, fructose was only available in the fall (when you wanted to fatten up before a long winter). Now fructose is everywhere: it is half of table sugar, more than half of high fructose corn syrup (which is in everything you eat), and fruit drinks are still consider a healthy alternative to soda (they are not!).
Learn More Here: The Fat Switch
The Paleo Diet, by Dr. Loren Cordain PhD. This one is a few years old, but it is also the book that started the whole Paleo movement. Dr. Cordain fills this book with tons of research supporting the notion that we humans should be eating human foods (go figure?). And just what is human food? This is the food that we ate before the agriculture revolution. Check it out, it is a great book.
Paleo for Beginners, by John Chatham. Here is a great and simple book to get you started on Paleo eating. It is easy with straight forward advice and it is full of practical tips and almost 100 recipes. It has a seven day step-by-step program and a shopping guide to get you started.
Learn More here:Paleo for Beginners: Essentials to Get Started
Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. I was on a plane recently and someone next to me was reading this book. I had forgotten how fun and interesting it was. McDougall tells the story of how he went from having difficulty running because of injuries to enjoying running again. The book takes the reader from the high-tech science labs to the desert of Mexico (to uncover the world’s most amazing runners and what they can teach us about being human).
Learn more here:Born to Run
Gadgets and Stuff
There are plenty of fun toys to get for your health nut:
Pro-Tec Athletic Orb: Athletes have their fair share of aches and pains and I have used foam rollers, roll recovery (see below), and other tools to keep myself as injury-free as possible. But all those tools seem to miss important part (like the back of my legs or the middle of my back). For a long time, I used a tennis ball or even a softball to reach those places, but they were never quite right. This Orb is what I’ve been looking for. It is the perfect density to work out those stiff places that other tools can’t reach.
Polar Loop Activity Tracker: Remember pedometers? You stick on one your body and it counts how many steps you take in a day? While pedometers are helpful, they are so old school. Today’s activity trackers can help you track your activity, see your calories burned, how many steps taken, time of day, and you can even attach a heart rate monitor. The best part is that you can connect these trackers to your computer or device and then track your activity over time.
Learn More Here: Polar Loop Activity Tracker
Garmin Forerunner 110: I was never a big fan of running watches until I got one. Now I’m addicted and consider my running watch to be the best training partner I ever had. My watch keeps me motivated to always improve my time or pace. This one from Garmin is a great basic watch that will track distance, time, pace. and heart rate.
Polar Ft80: This Polar watch has all the bells and whistles and it looks great! It is a super smart watch that can even calculate your maximum workout efficiency (which helps you spend your training time wisely). It displays heart rate as percentage of maximum, beats per minute, and within target zone indicator. You can create online personalized training programs and get feedback on your weekly training targets.
Learn More Here: Polar FT80 Heart Rate Monitor Watch (Black)
Roll Recovery: This massage tool is made by a small company in Boulder Colorado and I think everyone should have one (including non-athletes). While it looks a bit like a cross between a medieval torture device and roller skates, it provides spot relief for those hard-to-reach areas. I especially like it for the iliotibial band that is over-tight in so many runners and cyclists. Currently, you can only get this product from the company (see link below).
Learn More Here: Roll Recovery
Audio Bone Headphones: Nothing is more frustrating than fiddling with your headphones while you are running. After years of aggravation, I finally found a headphone that I can love. There are two things that make these the best headphones for the athlete. The first is that they stay snug, no matter what you are doing and the second is that they transfer the music through bones in your head (sounds strange, but they work great), this means you can enjoy your music and still hear what is going on around you. They also work in water.
Learn More Here: Audio Bone AB10BL 1.0 Headphones (Blue)
Camelbak Hydration Pack: Years ago, water packs on your back slipped all over the place and were a pain to run with. Now, they not only work much better, but they also look great. This one is perfect for the athlete who spends a lot of time outdoors in the summer.
Learn More Here: Camelbak Annadel 50 oz Hydration Pack, Aurora Pink/Frost Grey
Cuisinart Hand Blender: Want to blend a smoothie in no time at all? Throw away your magic bullet and move on to a hand blender. Toss your protein powder, fruits, and whatever else you love into your container of choice (limiting cleanup) and blend. Then just pop off the head and throw it in the washer. Easy. They come in a variety of colors, but I like the Polished Stainless Steel one.