If I Could Turn Back Time

counterclockwiseExcuse me for inviting you to buy into our youth-obsessed cultural stereotypes, but have you ever wanted to look, feel, or actually be younger? Turns out all of these are possible, although the last may only happen if you lie about your age. Also, they take a lot of work, maybe more than you’re willing to do. Counter Clockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging by Lauren Kessler will take you along on one woman’s journey to reacquire youthfulness.

The author investigates and personally tries many ways to remain young, some of them expected and some quite surprising or relatively unknown. Of course many of the things she does are behaviors you’ve always been told will keep you healthy: eating unprocessed food, consuming more fruits and vegetables and, of course, exercise. Turns out these will also keep your body young. The goal is to keep your body healthy into old age and then suddenly die quickly, ideally in your sleep (and in bed with your much younger lover). Warning: don’t do it because Madison Avenue tells you to, do it because you want to be healthy.

Kessler learns about many different philosophies of eating with the goal of keeping you young for as long as possible. These include the idea of eating fewer calories than necessary-that is, semi-starving yourself for life. In studies, this practice has been shown to maintain the health and increase the longevity of rodents, but no studies have been done on humans. Guess they can’t find volunteers to be hungry the rest of their lives. No one would want to be around them, they’d always be so crabby.

She speaks with experts about the various food-specific diets that have you eat or avoid certain things. We also visit the big world of supplements. A lot of it seems natural, altruistic (they only want to make you feel better) and kind of hippie-granola-crunchy, but it is a big business with very little oversight.

And we can’t forget detoxification. Apparently we all need to do it, according to the popular press. The scientific community thinks it’s a load of bunk, and questions what it means and whether it is an effective or healthy activity.

Spoiler alert (but not really): Kessler finds that the things that work best to keep you young also keep you healthy and are the things your mother nagged you to do (or she should have). Don’t eat junk food! Get off the couch and get some exercise! Don’t let the TV turn you into a zombie (for real-brain activity and positive thinking can help keep you young and healthy)! Now go call your mom and thank her.

Did You Know? (Rabies Edition)

You almost certainly can’t get rabies from a squirrel?

squirrelsanswerguideSquirrels can get rabies but there has never been a documented case of squirrel to human transmission.

I found this information on page 130 in the book Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide. I also never realized that prairie dogs are squirrels or that there are so many varieties of squirrels. You can see many of the varieties pictured in this book, or take a look at Squirrels of the West by Tamara Hartson. For younger kids, Squirrels: Welcome to the World of Animals by Diane Swanson will give them an inside the nest view of the daily lives of these cute little critters!

Rodents such as squirrels, rats, mice and prairie dogs have a genetic abnormality that  generally keeps them from getting rabies. In addition, squirrels usually aren’t around the other types of animals that carry rabies so their risk of exposure is very low.

genesanddnaAs scientists learn more and more about genetics and disease, they are understanding more about the role certain specific genes play in our health and familial hereditary. There are now many diseases that they can detect in your DNA. Genes & DNA by Richard Walker is a children’s book that is very well written and explains the basics of DNA, RNA, the double helix, and genes. It also gives examples that easily explain twins, disease, cloning and more.

rabidIt seems odd to think of a disease as deadly as rabies as being fascinating, but Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy (which gives the history of rabies and the attempts by different societies to treat and prevent this catastrophic illness through the ages) was very enlightening. The factual accounts make it that much more interesting.

There are several famous fictional stories of rabies as well. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neile Hurston and Old Yeller by Fred Gipson will touch your heartstrings, while Cujo by Stephen King is suspenseful and will keep you on the edge of your seat!

vaccineFortunately rabies is very preventable now because of the vaccines that our pets can be given, and the advanced treatments that someone can be given if suspected of being infected. Vaccine: the Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver by Arthur Allen is informative; it talks about the creation and uses of different vaccines throughout history, while telling us about the controversies and politics of immunizations at the same time .

 

Fitness for a New Year

Fear not it’s not too late! If you didn’t get a jumpstart on that diet or workout plan you intended to start January 1st, Everett Public Library is a good place to start. The library has a myriad of great resources to help you move into phase two- ACTION!

I will be honest here, I don’t like the words diet or workout. I am, however, tempted by terms such as ‘fit in 4 weeks’ and ‘shed pounds in 15 days.’ Truth be told I want to incorporate a sustainable and challenging workout as well as tweak my diet. Here are just a few motivators I found.

flat-belly-yoga-coverI don’t know exactly when it happened but sometime between now and then I developed a muffin top. Flat Belly Yoga describes a muffin top as subcutaneous fat, the fat you can pinch. The dangerous belly fat is visceral fat that can form around internal organs. For a simple straight forward approach to strengthening your core, Flat Belly Yoga offers good illustrations and instructions with minimal equipment needed.

A recent survey on fitness trends conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) confirms that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) continues to be the number one choice for getting and staying in shape, second to Body Weight Training. I briefly considered getting into a 30 minute Insanity class offered through Everett Parks and Recreation but I quickly talked myself out it! If you would like to get a taste for this type of work out, checkout the library’s P90-X Extreme Home Fitness DVD.

fireyourgymJust reading the introduction to Andy Petranek’s Fire your Gym!: Simplified High-Intensity Workouts You Can Do at Home confirmed my decision to start slow pacing myself. Andy is up front: you will be sore, no pain, no gain. Known for his Crossfit LA gym, in this 9 week at home program the author incorporates a high intensity workout, forefoot or barefoot style running, and recovery endurance conditioning. If you are looking to mix things up this book gives you the tools and template to stay fit.

bodyresetdietJuicing and the benefits thereof have been around for a long time. The Body Reset Diet offers a new twist – blending. Author Harley Pasternak breaks things down step by step asserting that blending is the key to resetting your body’s metabolism and maximizing the bioavailability of foods. As a person who has never met the daily requirement for getting my fruits and vegetables this book gives me hope. You will find recipes and an exercise programs to get you started.

extrememakeoverOne of my favorite exercise DVD’s is Extreme Makeover. Weight Loss Edition: the Workout. Fitness Instructor Chris Powell, touted as a transformation specialist, truly gives viewers a doable workout for various levels of fitness. In his latest book Chris Powell’s Choose More, Lose More for Life , Chris shares his own inspirational story along with a specific diet and exercise regimen.

ellensdancejamsWhen searching in the libraries catalog, type in a keyword search ‘physical fitness’, search by ‘any field’, limit by ‘DVD’, and I guarantee you will find a fitness DVD to match your interest from stretching to strenuous and everything in between. If DVDs don’t do it for you place a hold on Ellen’s I’m Gonna Make You Dance Jams featuring artist Macklemore, Usher, Aretha Franklin and more.

I’ve listed just a few titles in hopes that you will discover something new that motivates you towards a healthy and fit new year.

It’s the Most Grumbleful Time of the Year

Meditation for BeginnersFor the most part my transition into my thirties was pretty smooth; no real shocking changes other than people all of a sudden assuming I had an issue with my age. The only thing I’ve found a little bit surprising was the emergence of holiday and seasonal stress. Up until a couple of years ago, Thanksgiving through New Years Eve was my favorite time of year. I guess the difference is the addition of new stressors to the November/December milieu: 2,000+ miles to travel to see family, 1 hour less daylight than I was used to getting in the Chicago winter (man that makes a difference!), taking over for grandma and mom to become the holiday cook, going home to an aging parent, and so on. This year I’ve been exploring different ways to decompress and have found a few things that work for me.

Meditation
For years I’ve had friends and family tell me that they benefited greatly from meditation. I remained skeptical that this could work for me because I rarely seem to be able to carve time out for other healthy pursuits such as the gym, or sleep. Thankfully for people like me, there are books that break down meditation misconceptions to show us that it can be added to a hectic schedule, and practices can even be included in your day-to-day activities. If you’re looking for a good guide that isn’t tied to any one spiritual practice and doesn’t require much of a time commitment, I recommend Meditation for Beginners, by Jack Kornfield.

Relax your NeckStretching
It’s no secret that tension can be hard on the body. Whether you’re gritting your teeth through outlet mall traffic or trying in vain to ignore bad holiday muzak in the QFC, getting all uptight about it begins to take its toll. Taking some time to stretch out helps to improve your mood immensely. Relax your Neck, Liberate your Shoulders by Eric Franklin provides some really useful stretches, exercises, and tips for body/posture awareness that are targeted to alleviate the soreness caused by tension. This book is also great for folks working desk jobs that involve a lot of typing and phone usage.

Medicinal HerbsPamper Yourself
Ready or not, it’s December, so there’s no avoiding the holidays. You might as well treat yourself to the things that make you calm and happy. I like to go the warm tea, hot bath, good night’s sleep route. I found some really useful recipes for teas, soaks, and calming essential oils in Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: a Beginner’s Guide. My favorite recipe so far has been for the Calming Herbal Bath. Also of interest for this time of year are teas to help with cold, flu, and bronchial problems; if you check back with me in February I’m pretty sure I’ll be using those.

Aside from the recommended reading, I’ve really enjoyed and benefited from the odd sunny days we’ve been having. Making an effort to get outside for a lunch read has been worth it, even with the slightly chilly temperatures. Come grab a good book to escape with, and I’ll see you on the other side in 2014.

Physician Heal Thyself

DR.I’m not sure exactly when the shift happened, but doctors, in the real world at least, are no longer considered infallible gods. This is great when it comes to getting second opinions and not being railroaded into unnecessary treatments. There is, however, a downside:  the perils of self-diagnosis. You see, without an authority figure (I tend to imagine Spock or Tuvok) to say “the chances of you being inflicted with such a disorder are infinitesimal” my fevered brain tends to see a deadly and rare disorder in the slightest cough or rash. Luckily, perhaps, the library has many tomes to guide me on my journey of disease self-discovery.

It is always best to start with the classics. The two heavy hitters are Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment (CMDT) and The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. Such scintillating titles no? Both are geared toward the medical professional and provide rational, current and highly technical information on almost every disease and its symptoms, that you could possibly think of. Just don’t expect much sugar coating. Also avoid looking at the diagnostic images at all cost.

If ice cold logic doesn’t put your mind at rest, perhaps it is time to admit that the problem lies in the fear of disease itself or as the professionals like to say, hypochondria. Luckily, you are not alone. There are many tomes dedicated to individuals who struggle with the fear of disease. Best of all, they tend to use liberal doses of humor to describe their plight. Here are a few examples:

wellenoughalone

Well Enough Alone: A Cultural History of My Hypochondria by Jennifer Traig
Convinced she was having a heart attack at 18 (the college nurse’s reply: It’s a gorgeous day and you’re not dying) the author realized that she just might have a problem. This book is a witty, and often hilarious, self-examination of all the foibles of a woman convinced she has every disease known to man. Each chapter not only highlights her own “issues” but also puts her hypochondria in a historical perspective with amusing anecdotes from the past.

Hyper-Chondriac: One Man’s Quest to Hurry Up and Calm Down by Brian Frazer
hyperchondriacFrazer definitely suffers from hypochondria, as a child he came down with a new disease every month, but this book is also a far ranging quest to find relaxation and, for lack of a better term, inner peace.  He tries reiki, yoga, Zoloft, Craniosacral therapy, Ayurveda, dog walking, and even, gasp, knitting. Sadly none of them seem to fully rid him of his demons, but the hilarious journey is well worth it. For the reader in any case.

The Hypochondriacs: Nice Tormented Lives by Brian Dillon
hypochondriacsnineAnother subtitle for this book could be: misery loves company. After reading about these nine famous suffers and their quirks, you probably won’t feel so bad about any fears of disease that you might have. While each sufferer’s oddities are definitely amusing, this work also highlights the interesting connection between each malady and the individual’s creativity. In several cases, such as Charlotte Bronte, the illnesses, both real and imagined, provided a means of escape as well as inspiration.

hypochondriacsguidetolife

The Hypochondriacs Guide to Life and Death by Gene Weingarten
While there is a smattering of actual medical information throughout this work, this is pure satire and all the better for it. The author introduces you to his own neuroses, and then tries to convince you that you should have them as well. The chapter titles (such as ‘How Your Doctor Can Kill You’ and ‘Pregnant? That’s Wonderful! Don’t Read This!’) tell you all you need to know about the contents of this book. There are even helpful quizzes to confirm your paranoia.

So you now have all the tools you need to calm your irrational fear of disease. I’m sure you will be fine. Well, maybe not.

Did You Know? (Egg Edition)

Eggs contain almost all vitamins except C and are a wealth of minerals including iodine, phosphorous, sulphur, zinc, iron, selenium and potassium?

eggsI found this information on page 9 in the book How to Boil an Egg by Rose Carrarini. The author shows how versatile eggs can be. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner and they are also used in snacks and desserts. The book gives tips for cooking this humble ingredient as well as some yummy looking recipes. For more egg recipes look at Eggs by Michel Roux. There are all kinds of ideas and recipes in this book, from crepes to custards & quiches.

joyofchickensDigestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski Ph.D. tells us that it is best to eat eggs that have not been oxidized (exposed to oxygen) to keep your cholesterol level down. Examples of eggs cooked this way are hard-boiled, soft-boiled or poached. It is also best to eat organic eggs, whether you buy them or raise your own.

The Joy of Keeping Chickens by Jennifer Megyesi and Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis are dinosaureggs“must have” references if you are going to raise your own eggs by keeping chickens. Everything you want to know about keeping poultry and more are in these two books.

And, keep in mind that chickens aren’t the only ones to lay eggs! Eggs, Nests, and Baby Dinosaurs by Kenneth Carpenter is a fascinating book about dinosaurs and how they reproduced. It shows fossilized decoratingeggsdinosaur eggs and excavations sites of nests. Eggs by Marilyn Singer, also shows us many other different kinds of eggs. Bird, snake, frog and insect eggs are all pictured. She also shows some bird nests and the way eggs hatch.

Finally, once you have used all those eggs, take a look at Decorating Eggs: Exquisite Designs with Wax & Dye by Jane Pollak for some lovely ways to decorate eggs either for yourself or as gifts.

Linda

Grilled Salmon and DEET

Lisa with apple in front of mountains

Demonstrating advanced trail food preparation

When my husband and I moved here from Chicago, I thought that I was finally coming into my element. Mountains, ocean – all the things the Midwest couldn’t provide. We had mastered what the flatland could offer us in regards to camping, so we were ready to up our game. For those of you lucky enough to have been born and raised in this lovely region, you know that my attitude was like thinking I was ready to play in the MLB because I batted cleanup in t-ball. Thankfully my husband was more experienced in these matters, and managed to keep up safe, dry, happy, and entertained in the wild. He’s since joined the Mountaineers and has been scrambling on the tops of mountains, while I have contented myself with scrambling eggs at camp and taking photos of mountains from the relative safety of familiar flat land.

Needless to say, I have some learning to do. I think I’m finally over the hump of thinking I’m always on the verge of being eaten by bears. Seeing a bear retreat in horror from my loud approach last weekend helped me realize that they don’t want to deal with me either. Now I’m going through the enjoyable process of checking out the library’s resources on all things outdoors. I know this isn’t a shock, but there is a lot here to get through.

Scout's Backpacking Cookbook

Not surprisingly, my first foray into outdoor ed. was the cooking section. It looks like I may be able to salvage that ill-conceived food dehydrator purchase from the kitchen gadget bone-yard after all. There are a ton of books in this area, so I quickly eliminated anything to do with RV or car camping (we’ve got that down). My favorite was The Scout’s Backpacking Cookbook, by Tim and Christine Conners. This book was packed with useful information about equipment, cooking techniques, meal planning, safety, ‘Leave No Trace’ cooking and camping, and recipes. There were also wonderful appendices that provided measurement advice, additional reading, and helpful websites.

Other picks:

The Trailside Cookbook by Don Philpott

Camp Cooking in the Wild by Mark Scriver

Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Washington CascadesWith the food taken care of, choosing a destination was my next priority. When we camp, we choose our destination based on a few different things. Weather is the most obvious determining factor; last weekend we went over the mountains to find the sun. On other trips we’ve selected sites because they were off pleasant drives, or offered a selection of excellent hikes. The Mountaineers Books has a fantastic series of Day Hiking titles that cover different regions of Washington and Oregon. My favorite book that I found about exploring Washignton was the Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Washington Cascades, by Allan May. May created a guide to geography, history (human and natural), and recreation in the Washington Cascades, all wrapped into a very enjoyable read.

Note: Sometimes published info about campgrounds, trails, and roads can be outdated. To be certain that you can actually get to where you’d like to go, call ahead to the ranger station in the area you’re planning to visit to make sure that everything is open.

The Backpacker's ManualLast, and certainly not least, I looked into info on safety and preparation. This is perhaps the largest section of outdoor materials we have because there is much to be said on the topic. For a beginner’s overview to all things backpacking, The Smart Guide to Hiking and Backpacking is a good place to start. More advanced advice on trip planning, cooking equipment, and more can be found in The Backpacker’s Field Manual, by Rick Curtis. I found some really helpful illustrations and ‘how to’s’ in Basic Illustrated Wilderness First Aid, but I strongly recommend attending some courses on the topic if you are serious about venturing into remote areas. If not, be sure to trek with someone who has.

Other titles that I found helpful tips in:

Hiking with Dogs by Linda B. Mullally

Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips by Mike Clelland

Making Camp: A Complete Guide for Hikers, Mountain Bikers, Paddlers & Skiers by Steve Howe, et al.

So there you have it – my newbie backpacker reading list. Come in and browse the shelves; there’s a lot more here for those who are more advanced than I am. As for me? I have a date with the food dehydrator – who doesn’t want to try powdered cheese?

Lisa

Fail Magnificently

Here we are, firmly wedged into the month of January. The magical glow of New Year’s Eve and memories of our ambitious resolutions have already started to fade. While some just might make this the year that they actually stick to their three-times-a-week gym pledges, others may be looking for a way to gracefully bow out of their publicly-announced best intentions. Thankfully, the Everett Public Library is here not only to support us in our triumphs, but also to help us get through our moments of weakness. So, if you want to kill your resolutions softly by making the best of your surrender, I have a list of books for you.

Here are my recommendations for failing magnificently at some of the more common New Year’s resolutions.

The Butchers Guide to Well-Raised Meat

Eat Healthier and Lose Weight

This is the granddaddy of them all. Who hasn’t sworn, after a long night of New Year’s Eve snacking, that it was time to get the potbelly situation under control? Perhaps you’ve spent the last couple weeks faithfully logging calories and exercise on your new My Fitness Pal app, but today you find yourself caring less than usual. Before you hop in the car after work, blow by the YMCA, and hit the drive through, consider picking up one of the following books to help you break your resolution with a bit more class.

The Pastry Chef’s Apprentice, by Mitch Stamm, provides a really accessible introduction to creating delicious pastries in your home kitchen. Stamm includes a lot of what I like to call ‘action shots’ of what dishes should look like during crucial stages of each recipe. If you’re as lousy of a baker as I am, you know how valuable it is to actually see what the recipe means when it tells you to mix the dough to a certain consistency.

If you prefer savory over sweet, Warren R. Anderson’s Mastering the Craft of Making Sausage may be up your alley. The first half of this book is a richly-illustrated discussion of different methods of making and smoking sausages; the second is a collection of great recipes to try your hand at.

Other sweet and savory honorable mentions to consider:
Chocolate, from Practical Cookery
The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat, by Joshua and Jessica Applestone

Who knows? Perhaps making your own guilty pleasures from scratch might burn some calories in the process and ensure that you’re using healthier ingredients.

The Home Winemaker's CompanionDrink Less

This one generally goes the way of weight loss pledges, so in order to help you fail in the same spirit, I suggest the alternative of taking up home brewing, wine making,or distilling. You may find that in the end you’ll opt for quality over quantity because you’ll come to prefer the fruits of your own labor to a couple of Sessions. For the beer drinkers, I recommend checking out The Complete Joy of Home Brewing and The Brewers Apprentice. If wine is more your thing, you can try The Home Winemaker’s Companion. For those of you who secretly harbor dreams of bootlegging and rum-running, you can try your hand at hooch with Making Pure Corn Whiskey. Please remember to brew, stomp, and moonshine responsibly.

Fly SoloSpend More Quality Time with the Kids

Dads of the world, my apologies, because it looks like the fun books for breaking this resolution are more geared towards the ladies. A quick stroll through our travel books turned up these gems:

Fly Solo: the 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone, by Teresa Rodriguez Williamson
Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide, by Marybeth Bond
Solo Traveler: Tales and Tips for Great Trips, by Lea Lane

Get Rid of that Old Junk in the Garage

But isn’t one man’s trash another man’s treasure? Are you really going to let that other man steal your carefully horded booty? Absolutely not! American Junk and This Old House Salvage-Style Projects may give you the inspiration you need to turn mom’s odd obsession with fancy antique doorknobs into a lucrative business making pretty coat racks.

Driveways, Paths and Patios

Keep the Lawn and Garden Tidy

Technically my recommendations here won’t break this resolution, but they will help you fulfill it a way that you might not have intended. It may be that you love a serene outdoor environment but the closest you’ve ever come to having a green thumb was the result of a misguided attempt to paint the Silvertips logo on your garage door. If that’s the case, you can design your outdoor space to look tidy while being relatively maintenance-free by exploring other options. Walks, Walls & Patio Floors and Driveways, Paths and Patios will tell you all you need to know about designing an attractive, zero-gardening landscape. If you can’t bear the thought of having a yard that isn’t lovely and green, consider going au naturel with the help of Beautiful No-Mow Yards, by Evelyn J. Hadden. This approach will require you to put in a fair amount of gardening effort at the beginning, but after a while you should have easy sailing.

Swear Less

If you find that your cuss jar is rapidly filling once again, it might be time to let go and embrace the fact that you have a potty mouth and you find swearing amusing. To help you along the way to self-acceptance, I recommend a couple foul-mouthed titles that are designed to make you laugh. The F**king Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel tells the sometimes true, sometimes fanciful, and completely inappropriate story of the 2011 mayoral election in Chicago. If they ever made an audio book out of this title, you wouldn’t want to listen to it with the kids around. Speaking of audio books – my other recommendation, Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortes, was just narrated by Samuel L. Jackson (the video is on YouTube – I recommend listening with earphones). I’m also happy to report that we carry ¡Duérmete, carajo!the Spanish-language adaptation of this recent best seller.

Machida Karate-Do

Manage Stress Better

Or just take up a contact sport to help let out your frustrations in a healthy way. I have never been very good at managing the different areas of life that cause me stress, so instead once or twice a week I go play ice hockey. Problem solved. So, if you need to get out some pent-up aggression, but you don’t have the budget to pick up an expensive team sport, consider some alternatives. May I suggest Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Taekwondo, or Mixed Martial Arts?

Step Away from the Internet

If you’re reading this post, you’ve already failed at this resolution. That’s all right, you can still learn to spend your time online doing something more productive. We have many great books on creating and marketing an online business, using social media to make money, and using the internet to help you find a better job. Here are just a handful of titles that can get you started:

Social Networking for Career Success, by Miriam Salpeter
Likeable Social Media, by Dave Kerpen
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing, by Aliza Sherman
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Social Media Marketing, by Jennifer Abernathy

For those of you who are still sticking to you goals I salute you! Let me take this opportunity to remind you that the library also has books to assist you in leaving the rest of us in your dust. For my fellow magnificent failures out there, happy 2013, and have fun making lemonade out of your lemons.

Lisa

Brew Two of These and Call Me in a Week

Like the changing of the leaves and the arrival of the rain, you can always count on at least one good-for-nothing, lay-you-on-your-back cold a season (at least I can). It arrived this week as an earache, and wasted no time invading my chest and causing all kinds of grief. So, aside from complaining, I wondered what I could do to shorten the stay of my respiratory intruder. Thankfully we have a lot of titles on the shelf that I could turn to for suggestions.

According to Doctor Chopra Says: Medical Facts & Myths Everyone Should Know, I am pretty much out of luck no matter what I try. This isn’t a promising start.  According to Dr. Chopra, studies have discredited popular preventatives, such as echinacea, zinc, and vitamin c. To my surprise, antibiotics  also seem to be worthless in treating colds, but may be prescribed to prevent secondary infections to individuals who are at a high risk for them.

So what does work? First and foremost, washing your hands regularly is one of the best ways to prevent catching a cold. Thank you, Dr. Chopra, for outing me as an unclean person. It also doesn’t hurt to get a proper amount of sleep at night and to avoid crowds during cold season. Perhaps if I were a well-rested demophobic I would be feeling better right now, but the life of a librarian is full of people and their occasional sniffles. One positive note in this book is that the jury is still out on the efficacy of good old chicken soup. I know that isn’t a ringing endorsement, but it’s nice to know that one of my favorite sick-time comfort foods hasn’t been completely debunked.

Adding on to the ‘what not to do’ list, Medicine for the Outdoors: The Essential Guide to First Aid and Medical Emergencies, has some really helpful hints for our outdoorsy readers (sorry, this won’t be good news). Author Paul S. Auerbach, MD, preaches the gospel of common sense, recommending lots of rest, hydration, and staying warm and dry. Sadly this means that weekend plans for tarp camping or backpacking into remote and snowy campgrounds are probably out. Auerbach also strongly recommends against folk wisdom that sweating out a cold through exercise is a good idea – this could lead to dehydration, or worse, pneumonia. So, if you’re feeling as bad as I am right now, stash your backpack back in your gear closet, hang up your mummy bag, and climb back into bed.

Upon learning that winter camping and all-night parties are probably out, the hippie foodie in me wanted to see if there was any wisdom in feeding my cold, as some have suggested. After taking a quick tour of the 615s, I learned that the Everett Public Library had a pretty respectable collection of books on medicinal herbs and traditional remedies. Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, by Michael Moore (no, not that Michael Moore) had entries on many basic cold-care topics, including expectorants, respiratory system care, and treating throat inflammation. According to this book, licorice can do just about everything for me, so I should probably continue drinking the licorice spice herbal tea I bought the other day.

 Healthy Herbs: Your Everyday Guide to Medicinal Herbs and their Use, by Linda Woolven, M.H., C.Ac. & Ted Snider, recommends a long list of plant remedies for the common cold. Anise, Asian ginseng, chamomile, catnip, garlic, oregano, peppermint, shiitake mushroom, and red clover, caught my eye. I’m not sure if this list makes me want to brew a curative tea, or prepare a revitalizing pasta sauce.

I found some good do’s and don’t’s in The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods, by James A. Duke, PhD. On the list of things to consume: chicken soup, citrus fruits, elderberries, garlic, onions, leeks, ginger, and honey get ringing endorsements. The list of things to not consume is much shorter: anything with too much caffeine is out because it can dehydrate you; the same thing applies to alcohol. If you’re going to try the Hot Toddy treatment, keep it to a two drink maximum and drink lots of water.

Finally, If you can’t beat your cold, you might as well learn something about it!

Ah-Choo! The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold, by Jennifer Ackerman, takes readers through the causes of the common cold, popular misconceptions about how to treat one, and even details about the massively profitable cold treatment industry that relies on these darned things being so annoying and so incurable to thrive.

In the end, I think the lesson I learned from my research into cold cures is that there isn’t one. Listen to what your mother has probably always told you: wash your hands if you don’t want to get sick. If you do wind up falling victim, fall into bed and stay there for a while. Hydrate and pamper yourself with whatever makes you feel most comfortable – including drinking hot tea with honey, sipping warm brothy soups, and applying warm compresses if your chest is sore from coughing. Most importantly, if your cold is stubborn enough to stick around for more than a couple of days, or if you find yourself getting worse than just light coughing and sniffles, put down all those herbal remedy books you just checked out and see your doctor.

Get well soon!

Lisa

Did You Know? (Sweat Edition)

The average adult produces more than 2 quarts of sweat each day? That is about 1.9 liters!

I found this information on page 5 in the book The Sweaty Book of Sweat by Kelly Regan Barnhill. This is not the kind of book I usually read, but once I picked it up I was so fascinated I had to read it all. There are two kinds of sweat glands: Eccrine glands all over your body and Appocrine in the armpits and groin area.

I also found out that you have 2000 sweat glands in an area the size of a postage stamp on the palm of your hands. Don’t Sweat It!: Every Body’s Answers to Questions You Don’t Want to Ask By Marguerite Crump is a very helpful book for teens and pre-teens that explains all about body odors, sweat and oil glands and all the other changes adolescents are going through.

For as bad a reputation as sweat has, a lot of people go to an extra effort to sweat on purpose. The Athlete’s Way: Sweat and the Biology of Bliss by Christopher Bergland provides a plan to “make exercise a pleasurable habit…. and no longer be something to dread”

If you haven’t started a fitness plan yet, and you need a little more help getting motivated, Mayo Clinic Fitness for Everybody from the Mayo Clinic is a book you should take a look at, especially the list of “excuse busters” on page 192!

When you do get yourself motivated enough to get out there and sweat, what better music to work out to than the CD Child is Father to the Man by Blood, Sweat and Tears?

Linda