Book Reviews
Book Review: Good Medicine by Patrick Holford

 A nutrition-based approach to health that offers safe remedies for 75 health conditions

Most of us depend on the modern healthcare system, comprising pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and medical practitioners. From simple medicines, like antibiotics, to new drug discoveries and improvements in surgical procedures, lives are getting saved and overall human lifespan is getting longer, thanks the modern healthcare system. But, there is a dark side to it. As eminent cardiologist Dr BM Hegde has been highlighting in Moneylife for years, commercial motives have permeated the system that was, at one time, supposed to be noble in its objectives. Pharma companies are bribing researchers, academics and doctors to push their new products; five-star hospitals are exploiting their patients in every way possible; and many doctors simply do not give enough thought before prescribing medicines.

In the words of Patrick Holford, author of Good Medicine: “In truth, so-called modern medicine has been hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry and many doctors, unwittingly, have lost the real art of medicine and communication, and spend much of their time simply dispensing drugs. Some spend more time looking at their computer than looking at you! We have now reached the crazy position where people who are not sick are being prescribed drugs at vast expense to the taxpayer, only to suffer significant side-effects as a result. What is more, in the US, medical intervention has become the fourth leading cause of death. If we had accurate figures for all countries, the same may be true where you live. Thousands die from medical drugs, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, experience adverse side-effects. Here is just one example: taking statins to lower your cholesterol increases your risk of diabetes by up to 25 percent, and creates memory problems and muscle aches, but it does very little to reduce your risk of heart disease if you didn’t have it in the first place. The vast majority of drugs intended for long-term use and ‘management’ of chronic conditions don’t pass the first law of good medicine, which is: first do no harm.”  

What is the way out? While we cannot do without the modern healthcare system, we need not be blind to its problems either. Popping pills, taking shots and going under the knife are options we should keep for serious ailments. Meanwhile, we should do two things: prevent diseases and try milder options when we do fall ill—through a combination of natural products and supplements.
The basic premise of this book is that “the vast majority of health conditions you are likely to suffer from in life, especially the chronic diseases, are primarily the result of too much ‘bad stuff’ and not enough ‘good stuff’. As Hippocrates, (c.460-c.377bc) had pointed out more than 200 years ago: “When enough sins (against nature) have accumulated disease suddenly results.”

“Such sins include poor diet, a lack of exercise, stress, poor posture, smoking and drinking, pollution, lack of sunlight, insufficient sleep, and a lack of love and fun.” Once your body is afflicted by disease, however, simply addressing those problems would not eradicate all your health issues, argues Holford. “You would need a great deal more of the good stuff and virtually none of the bad stuff to rebalance your health and to undo the damage.”

Seems sensible; but this is not the way modern medicine works. By and large, it works to suppress the symptoms. It blocks some function or the other of the body to ‘set right’ a body that has already deviated from the nature’s design. For instance, doctors try to control acidity and reflux by blocking the production of stomach acid. Asks Holford: “Would you rather restore your health by conforming to your body’s natural design or gamble on taking a hi-tech drug that has been designed to block some part of your body’s natural chemistry?”

“Real freedom, health and happiness come from conforming to your natural design, not trying to cheat it. Drugs are not, by their very nature, part of the body’s natural design. Of course, there is a role for short-term medication, such as antibiotics, and life-saving operations, but this should be a small part of medicine, not the mainstay.”

The mainstay should be a combination of natural remedies and supplements like vitamins and minerals. The author is not a doctor. So, where does he get the confidence to propose his cocktail of remedies? “I believe in good science and you’ll find that every remedy and recommendation made in this book is based on good science. It is proven and works.” Holford is a nutritionist and the author of 30 books, translated into 20 languages, selling a million copies. In 1984, he founded the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, “an independent educational charity, with his mentor, twice Nobel Prize-winner, Linus Pauling, as a patron.”

This book does not propose alternatives. It works with the range of proven medicines and strongly advocates the right diets and supplements to help the body regain its natural balance. For instance, if your problem is arthritis, the best foods are oily fish, red onions and garlic, turmeric, olives, berries, and vegetables of dark colours. The worst foods are sugar and refined carbohydrates (promotes inflammation), dairy products, meat and coffee. The right supplements are omega-3, glucosamine, multivitamin-minerals and vitamin C. The book is arranged alphabetically by condition, starting with acne and ending with weight gain & obesity. It also recommends the right diet for perfect weight and blood and sugar control. A very useful book that should find a place in every home.


Book Review: Romance of Commerce by Harry Godon Selfridge

Thoughts on business and life, of the man who founded the famous Selfridges department store

Most people have an innate disdain for merchants. But, as Harry Godon Selfridge argued 100 years ago: “The preacher, the lecturer, the actor, the real estate agent, the farmer, the employee all, all are merchants, all have something to dispose of at the profit to themselves, and the dignity of the business is decided by the manner in which they conduct the sale.”

This is an abridged version of a classic text on business and life, by Selfridge who started his life in the US in poverty and died in obscurity. In between, he became one of the most famous men of Europe. He transformed the idea of a department store, changed advertising forever, and was engaged in a series of affairs with some of the most glittering beauties of his time.

At 21, Selfridge was working for a store in Chicago, Marshall Field, where he coined the classic advertising line ‘Only ___ shopping days until Christmas’ and possibly the phrase ‘The customer is always right’. Selfridge then moved to London, opened his own store which became an instant hit attracting a million visitors during its first week.

Selfridges was a unique store. Massive space was given to ‘services’—library, a restaurant, a hair-salon and a smoking room. Later, it put up large displays of everything—from a monoplane used in the first flight across the English Channel to a seismograph. The first public demonstration of TV was at Selfridges, in 1925. However, heady with commercial success, Selfridge led a dissolute life, having a string of affairs, got addicted to gambling and was, eventually, ousted by the management. He slipped out of sight and passed away in 1947.

This book is filled with his thoughts about business leadership, customer care, advertising, risk-taking and so on. Apart from the idea that ‘customer is always right’, Selfridge also understood that employee loyalty is  key to successful retail operations. He was also an advocate of ethical advertising and argued: “Why should a statement be subject to question? Is it not infinitely wiser to make every statement dependable beyond the chance of question? Why pay for space and then fill it with matter, which must quickly be discovered to be false? Why thus reduce the value of every future statement?”

An array of such statements and powerful aphorisms appear throughout the book, challenging the centuries-old prejudice against commerce.


“Back to Basics: Learn to be Safe & Smart with Your Money”

The two basics aspects to managing  your financial life are – avoid losses by staying away from scams and to invest smartly and steadily to generate savings for your retirement. Moneylife Foundation's seminar today tackled these twin themes.

With the number of moneylifers increasing, Moneylife again held an introductory seminar on the basics of financial literacy on “ Learn to be Safe & Smart with Your Money” on 1 May 2014 (Thursday) supported by ICICI Bank and Disha which was indeed very informative, interactive and knowledgeable. The event, which again witnessed a packed audience, was held at the Moneylife Knowledge Centre (Dadar).

Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of Moneylife & financial journalists with over 25 years of experience warned the audience to stay away from so-called “ponzi schemes” which aim at fooling people to buy into attractive schemes promising extraordinary returns. She explained that the main problem is that people do not distinguish between purchasing consumer or financial products. They anyway get lured by big names and a strong sales pitch. The trick anyway is to look through the “sales pitch” and not get carried away. Ms Dalal warned that companies like Amway, Tupperware, Herbalife are also examples of pyramid schemes. According to research, less than half the people are able to sell and make money and end up blaming themselves and not the company. These Ponzi/MLM/Pyramid Schemes which operate at every level in the country have suceeded to cheat people from top managers to the poorest people.

Ms Dalal also emphasised on how one should not lose money to banks. Relationship managers usually work only to earn themselves fat commissions from your investments.
Thus, most “relationship managers” resort to mis-selling or hard selling a product. In order to be safe, one should have all communication documented. Ms Dalal also touched up on area related to credit cards, insurance and credit scores.

In the second session, Debashis Basu, editor and publisher of Moneylife, spelt out the various ways in which one can be smart with money—and presented to the audience the best ways in which they can manage their money. Mr Basu emphasised the importance of saving regularly to deal with big expenses such as education for children and more importantly for retirement.

Examples were shown on how one could use the power of compounding to their benefit. “The best way invest smartly is to start as early as possible and save as much as possible”, said Mr Basu.

One of the most important aspect of savings where a majority of savers are left confused is to invest how much and over which financial products. Left with confusing choices, majority of savers opt for bank fixed deposits which is a safe and easy option. Mr Basu explained to the audience how much they should allocate to fixed income investments and equity mutual funds depending on their age and whether or not they have dependents.

Inflation is the permanent risk and is difficult for one to avoid. The only way to overcome inflation is by smart investing. Savers should avoid trying and timing the market on their own and should stick to regular investing.

The risk involved in various asset classes was explained and how much returns these assets are expected to generate was informed to the participants. How a mix of these assets could be used for different investment horizons to keep you money safe was also discussed.

If you have not become a member of the Foundation yet, please visit for more details. Membership is free of cost, and Moneylife Foundation members also get access to such informative seminars and can utilise the state-of-the-art facilities at the Moneylife Knowledge Centre.




2 years ago

Why would anyone want anything to do with Amway? It is a scam:

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