The best books to help you understand and take charge of your health

Sharad P. Paul Author Of The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health
By Sharad P. Paul

Who am I?

I am a skin MD, family physician, and an adjunct professor at the Auckland University of Technology. My peers awarded me the Ko Awatea International Excellence Award for Leading Health on a Global Scale for “improving management, education and patient-centered care internationally, across several countries.” I have often said, “One cannot have bad health and good skin” and therefore my interests are using skin, our only universal organ, to help us understand not only human health and wellness, but also issues that affect humanity such as the changing climate, pollution, aging, and skin color. I am a global citizen as I was born in England, grew up in India, and I now live in New Zealand.

I wrote...

The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health

By Sharad P. Paul,

Book cover of The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health

What is my book about?

Personalized healthcare. My book takes us on a journey into our evolutionary past through the landscapes of evolution, genetics, health, and medicine. In the scheme of things, human footprints on our planet have been recent, yet our diets and lifestyles have migrated far from what we needed, to what we wanted. I have often said, “genes are our blueprint, not our destiny” and my book helps us understand our genetic links to our ancestral past, the connection between mind and body, and how we can optimize our health based on our individual genetic profiles.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Eat Like a Human: Nourishing Foods and Ancient Ways of Cooking to Revolutionize Your Health

Why did I love this book?

As I did in my book, this book uses evolutionary biology to explain how our diets and lifestyle impact our health. Ultimately it is not about the latest fad food or fancy diet, but understanding that the secret to becoming healthy, happy, and content is relearning how to eat like a human. Life has existed on Earth for 3.5 billion years, but modern human beings only migrated out of Africa 100,000 years ago, and yet our lifestyles bear no resemblance to that of our forebears. Here an archaeologist and chef explains how to follow our ancestors' leads when it comes to dietary choices and cooking techniques to achieve wellness. 

By Dr. Bill Schindler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eat Like a Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vegan or carnivore? Vegetarian or gluten-free? Keto or Mediterranean? Fasting or Paleo?

Our relationship to food is filled with confusion and insecurity. Every day we hear about a new ingredient that is good or bad, a new diet that promises everything. But the truth is that none of those labels matter. The secret to becoming healthier, losing weight, living a pain-free and energetic life and healing the planet has nothing to do with counting calories, reducing portion sizes or feeling deprived - the key is re-learning how to eat like a human.

This means finding food that is as nutrient-dense…

Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Why did I love this book?

Diets and lifestyles impact our wellness, but many diseases are because of habit-forming or addiction. As a physician, I deal with the aftereffects of bad choices every day. When one is trying to build healthy habits to reduce disease, Atomic Habits offers actionable items that anyone can perform to help kick bad habits and make good ones. James Clear helps us understand and break through the mental, physical, and environmental constraints that limit us.

By James Clear,

Why should I read it?

17 authors picked Atomic Habits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller. Over 4 million copies sold!

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the…

Book cover of The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Why did I love this book?

As someone who has been interested in the skin-brain connection, and the mind-body connection, and has written about how placebos can improve health, I found this book interesting. Bessel suggests that medications cannot 'cure' trauma; they can at best mediate the disruptive behavior of those affected. One of the foremost experts on post-traumatic stress disorders, Bessel has treated many military men. He shows how trauma and the associated stress literally rearrange a person’s brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control, and trust—and offers us innovative new treatments to reactivate these neurons. This book is less about drugs, and more about the doing. 

By Bessel Van Der Kolk,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Body Keeps the Score as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times bestseller

"Essential reading for anyone interested in understanding and treating traumatic stress and the scope of its impact on society." -Alexander McFarlane, Director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies

A pioneering researcher transforms our understanding of trauma and offers a bold new paradigm for healing in this New York Times bestseller

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der…

Book cover of The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Why did I love this book?

Bill Bryson, in his imitable humor-filled style, takes us on a journey of the human body, exploring how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. The book covers various organ systems and then proceeds with a short history of the immune system, disease, and medicines. Medical heroes, mavericks, and villains feature—from Karl Landsteiner who described blood groups, Frederick Banting who discovered insulin, Henry Gray the anatomist, and Nazi medical doctors who performed unthinkably cruel experiments. One fact that stood out in the book for me is, in general, poorer people have worse health outcomes. No surprise here, except for the fact that all Americans, no matter their wealth, die sooner than their European counterparts.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything, takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body—with a new afterword for this edition.

Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body—how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Brysonesque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding…

Book cover of Love Your Gut: Supercharge Your Digestive Health and Transform Your Well-Being from the Inside Out

Why did I love this book?

This is the only “How to” book in this selection that literally spoon-feeds us. Love Your Gut has over 50 recipes: from banana and fig breakfast loaves to chickpea crêpes, spinach pesto pasta to tofu satay skewers—there’s something for everyone. However, at the guts of it, this book deals with how our gastrointestinal tract is also inherently linked to our immunity. Taking charge of what we place in our guts, Rossi feels, is one of the best ways we can take control of our health and wellbeing.

By Megan Rossi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love Your Gut as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Support your immunity and fuel your metabolism with this revolutionary guide to gut health, including 50 fiber-packed recipes to nourish your microbiome—from the award-winning Gut Health Doctor (@TheGutHealthDoctor) and author of the forthcoming How to Eat More Plants

Publisher’s Note: Love Your Gut was previously published in the UK under the title Eat Yourself Healthy.

The path to health and happiness is inside you—literally. It’s your gut! When you eat well, you feed the helpful gut microbes that nourish your metabolism, your immunity, and even your mood. But your microbiome is as unique as you are, so how to eat…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the gastrointestinal tract, PTSD, and diet?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the gastrointestinal tract, PTSD, and diet.

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