Book Review & Giveaway: Your Personal Paleo Code by Chris Kresser
First off, let me say that Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac., is not only a friend, he is one of the most respected and trusted professional colleagues in the field of integrative health. For those that regularly follow my blog and podcast, you know that I frequently quote and refer to Chris Kresser as a knowledgeable expert.
He truly is a “health detective” committed to truth in science. His work in functional and integrative medicine is commendable, and I am honored to present you with my review of his new book, Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life.
That’s not all! I’m also excited to announce that I am giving away 3 copies of this awesome book to 3 lucky winners!
Your Personal Paleo Code starts off with the statement “This Book Can Save Your Life.” I agree. This book is a comprehensive, 360-degree approach to becoming and staying healthy and fit for life. The Personal Paleo Code program is presented in 3 steps: Reset, Rebuild, and Revive. The underlying theme of this book is “one size doesn’t fit all,” or as the title suggests, your personal Paleo code.
Chris Kresser’s commitment and passion for truth in science is more than just a career path. Chris shares his compelling personal story of chronic illness without resolution that eventually sent him seeking answers – and resulted in a journey of healing and a refocus in his education and career. Lucky for us that Chris shares his passion and wisdom in his work not only on his blog and podcast, but also in this book .
Chris is a master of supporting his position with science. What I particularly like is that he does it in a respectful, balanced manner. When relevant, he examines the science that conventional wisdom is based on and provides very succinct arguments as to why that science is flawed, or perhaps outdated, while providing more appropriate and reliable science that supports his take.
I appreciate how Chris explores nutrient density in Your Personal Paleo Code—a subject close to my heart and foundational to an ancestral or Paleo approach to wellness. Chris teaches you why certain nutrients are essential and what the possible consequences are when they are missing or depleted by consuming refined foods.
For example, a Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in long-term vegetarians and as Chris points out, “Vitamin B12 deficiency can mimic many of the symptoms of MS—peripheral neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the arms and legs), cognitive decline, and poor coordination and balance.” And, even more troubling, “Some damage caused by B12 deficiency is irreversible.”
As the author of The 21-Day Sugar Detox, I completely resonate with Chris’ explanation of how sugar degrades health. Delving into modern day staple foods that he considers toxic, he explains how they are contributing to chronic illness. Honestly, this chapter alone may be enough for most people to send sugar packing for good!
As a holistic nutritionist, I stand firmly with Chris and his take on fat. I love this analogy with which he begins one of his chapters:
“Gasoline and diesel are both fuel that cars can run on. If you put gasoline in a diesel engine, or vice versa, the engine may run but it won’t run well—or for very long. In a similar way, the human body can run on the entire range of fats (combined with carbohydrates and proteins). But it runs much better on the types it was designed to run on, and if you eat too much of the other kinds, the body will eventually break down.”
Brilliant. Those of you who follow my work and have read my book, Practical Paleo, know how much weight I put into gut health so it’s probably no surprise how much I enjoyed reading the chapter “Good Gut Feeling: Restore Your Gut Flora and Gut Barrier.” Once mostly ignored by mainstream medicine, scientific literature supporting the importance of gut health is mounting and gaining momentum.
Struggling with a a health issue?
Don’t skip this chapter on gut health as Chris explains the connection between your gut and pretty much the entirety of the rest of your health. So many people are used to living with poor gut health, they are not even aware of it. In fact, you can be born with impaired gut health or it may be dramatically affected by just one course of antibiotics.
Chris puts readers to work with lifestyle quizzes and offers compelling reasons why even the most nourishing food is not enough to achieve or sustain optimal health. For example, in “Move Like Your Ancestors,” Chris motivates you to listen up when he describes why sitting is dangerous to your health while providing great tips he calls “Swap Your Way to Health” and “How to Make Your Workspace Paleo-Friendly.”
How’s your sleep?
In Your Personal Paleo Code, you learn how sleep loss destroys health: “Changes in sleep duration and quality increase the risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes to overall mortality; there’s little doubt that sleep loss is directly contributing to the modern epidemic of chronic inflammatory disease.” If you are sleep deprived, I can guarantee that you’ll want to make sleep a priority after reading that chapter.
In “Manage Your Stress,” Chris gets personal and shares how meditation practice helped him find joy in the heart of pain, how to stay present in circumstances that felt unbearable, and how to love and forgive himself through it all when he was dealing with a debilitating, chronic illness. Those moments of meditation, he says, “are what made my life worth living and prevented me from succumbing to darkness and despair.” Priceless wisdom.
Who doesn’t love pleasure and connection, but in our crazy busy lives, do you take the time for it? Chris reminds up how essential cultivating social connections and experiencing pleasure is to 360 wellness. We learn how pleasure is the antidote to chronic stress and how it activates our endorphins (the feel good hormones), even during mundane daily activities such as “playing with a pet, watching a funny movie, listening to your favorite music, visiting a favorite place, or connecting with loved ones.”
During his struggle with illness, Chris shares that he finally found healing when he decided to move beyond a strict regimen of diet and supplements to cultivating more pleasure and connection in his life. I so appreciate these powerful words of wisdom from someone that has been-there, done-that and now focuses his career on teaching others how impactful a 360 approach to wellness is.
Go outside, Chris urges! His promotion of incorporating the outdoors into Your Personal Paleo Code is not just because he thinks it’s good for you, as he explains: “Researchers are now just beginning to understand that nature may be as essential to health as sleeping, exercise, and eating a healthy diet.”
Chris explains how vital sunlight is to health and while we all know too much exposure can be harmful, inadequate sun exposure can also cause problems: “One of the primary benefits of sunlight is that it stimulates vitamin D production…We now know that vitamin D deficiency is a major predisposing factor in at least seventeen varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, birth defects, infectious diseases, and more.” Chris goes on
to teach us the mechanisms of how this happens through his study of the scientific literature. He also provides some great solutions on how to get just the right amount of sun exposure and tips for protecting yourself.
The last “quiz” chapter is “Get Serious about Play.” Not surprisingly, Chris presents the “why we need to play” in scientific terms. But seriously, play is incredibly important for our 360 wellness. As Chris points out,
“Play is not simply a frivolous luxury; it’s necessary for the development of empathy, social altruism, and other behaviors needed to handle stress. It keeps our minds and brains flexible, and it helps us adapt to a changing and unpredictable world.”
Your Personal Paleo Code, provides lots of inspiration with tips and ideas to incorporate more play into your life!
In the section “Revive Your Health,” Your Personal Paleo Code goes on to lay out additional tools to tweak and fine-tune your health according to your particular goals and health challenges. Chris tackles supplementation, encourages you to be flexible, gives you tips for eating in restaurants, and so much more.
Lastly, Your Personal Paleo Code provides a Seven-Day Meal Plan and accompanying recipes. In fact, there are so many delicious-looking ones I had a tough time choosing which one I might try first. His “Tom Kha Gai” recipe, which he refers to as a champion of “brothy comfort foods” sounds perfect for this time of the year!
Chris really did an amazing job with this book. It truly is an all-encompassing approach to 360-degree wellness. Regardless of whether you are familiar with Paleo or not, I’m sure Your Personal Paleo Code will become a staple on your bookshelf and a book you’ll love passing on to friends and family who ask what you’ve been doing to take care of yourself.
Be sure to enter to win 1 of 3 copies I’m giving away below!
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