1-Sentence-Summary: The End Of Illness will change the way that you think of sickness and health by identifying the problems with the current mindset around them and how focusing on the systems within your body instead of disease will help you make better-informed decisions that will keep you on the path of good health.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
All of us probably know someone who swears by some specific food that will cure anything. We also have seen health magazines tout the power of kale, and blogs will tell you the cure for cancer is carrot juice. But when it comes to health, things aren’t that simple.
There probably isn’t one magical supplement that will make you live longer or cure diabetes. Furthermore, what works well for one person won’t work for everyone. But science says there are things that we can do to live a healthier, fuller life. Hint: these things aren’t expensive supplements.
In The End of Illness: How the Body Works and What Health Really Means by physician David B. Agus, we sort through the health gimmicks and myths to get to the more simple truth about taking care of our bodies and feeling our best. He also acknowledges that health should be a very individual thing, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.
Here are the 3 of the most helpful lessons this book taught me about health:
- Don’t listen to every piece of health news or research.
- Your body needs vitamins, but be careful not to take supplements you don’t need.
- We can use technology like Google to predict illness outbreaks and get to know our bodies better.
Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Let’s get into some ways to end this cycle!
Lesson 1: You don’t need to follow every health news article or a new piece of research.
People tend to get excited every time a new study about food’s benefit and its behavior is published. Most tried to implement it in their lives. An example of this is vitamin D. Multiple studies showed that a large proportion of the population is actually deficient in it. This is important because it reduces the risk of everything from cancer to Parkinson’s.
Upon learning this, many people went to get their levels tested. Some people even just bought pills to be safe. This trend has seen vitamin D sales skyrocket. But what people don’t understand is that these studies aren’t perfect, absolute truths.
In fact, we should see them with a little bit of healthy skepticism. Studies are designed to apply to your average person. However, this definitely doesn’t mean they apply to everyone. Sometimes research is done in a petri dish or on an animal rather than a human being. This is why we should determine how they got to their conclusion before we jump to our conclusions.
In vitamin D, though many studies show the benefits, there are actually drawbacks in certain populations. One study found that elderly individuals who took a higher vitamin D supplement had a larger risk of falling and fracturing bones. This is just one example of why it’s important to understand that different people might need different health solutions.
Lesson 2: Vitamins are good, but it’s pretty common for people to take supplements they don’t need.
Many people take vitamins every single day. It’s easy to see why— we know vitamins are essential for our health. Vitamins help our bodies perform various functions, and because we can’t produce them ourselves, we need to obtain most of them from food.
There are 13 vitamins we need to function properly. Before we knew the importance of vitamin C, soldiers died in huge numbers during the war because of scurvy. Most people then considered it an infectious disease. However, we now know it’s caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. which we can easily get from citrus foods.
But though they are essential to our health, many people don’t realize that a vitamin deficiency is actually rare in the modern world. Sure, vitamin supplements don’t usually cause any problems, but they aren’t vital if you eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Humans need 30 milligrams a day of vitamin C to ensure they don’t get scurvy, which is the amount found in just half an orange. So it’s pretty easy to get this amount of vitamin C. But did you know many multivitamins contain up to 1,000 milligrams of the vitamin?
Because so many Americans take some supplement, it is a booming business. The annual cost of supplements in the US is a staggering estimated $25 billion! That’s a ton of money for something that probably isn’t even necessary.
Lesson 3: We know our bodies better and have an easier time predicting illness outbreaks because of technologies like Google.
We know many modern technologies such as computers and phones can make it harder to do things like exercise, but they’re also many ways that technologies have the potential to make us more healthy. Google can actually be used to predict both seasonal illnesses like the flu or even track pandemics.
I mean, think about it, doesn’t pretty much everyone search for health information from time to time? This search information can be collected and analyzed to predict where an outbreak might be and help health departments prepare. We have seen this technology be put to use with the COVID-19 pandemic, and our phones now can even warn us when we’ve been near someone with the illness.
This is only the beginning. The author expects that people will be able to share organized health information that can improve everyone’s health in the future. The ability to share health information could help researchers to understand the human body better.
There are ways we could organize this information, so it is even more useful for researchers. For example, if everyone’s medical records were made digitally accessible by all medical professionals, doctors could have more personalized treatment plans for patients.
The author says all of this is likely in our near future and more. But for now, you can rest assured that health isn’t about expensive or confusing supplements. Rather, it’s about our own personal habits, having a balanced diet, making time to exercise, and understanding that health is different for everyone.
The End Of Illness Review
The End Of Illness is a fantastic idea, but I think the title is a little misleading in reality. It’s still a great book about health that will help you take better charge of your fitness, though! I like feeling empowered to be smarter about how I take care of my body, and I think you will too!
Who would I recommend The End Of Illness summary to?
The 57-year-old feels good about taking their vitamins every day but wonders if it’s actually helping them. To that 28-year-old that is exhausted by following every new piece of health advice they read. To anyone who wants to take better care of their body.