With the growth of health maintenance into big business, exercise experts, nutrition gurus and purveyors of food supplements often make contradictory claims on our value systems and our pocketbooks.
To clarify a confusing subject, "The Best Medicine," published earlier this year, turns out to be the least medicine. Kurt Butler, a medical columnist, and physician Lynn Rayner hark back to a simpler time of common-sense dietary and exercise practices, showing why certain trends are extreme, faddish or gimmicky.
Choosing foods listed under the familiar Recommended Daily Allowance, they maintain, "in most cases, ensures adequate nutrition." Vitamins are recommended only if one is medically at risk, and megadoses of vitamins A and C, particularly among diabetics, can prove harmful.
In their brisk overview of sports medicine and prevention of common injuries, the authors, keeping matters simple, describe calisthenics that can be performed at home in the "poor person's gym." They list the pros and cons of the most popular forms of exercise, including a chart illustrating the number of calories burned. (Cross-country skiing comes in first at 600 to 1,100 per hour.)