Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, by Elson M. Hass, M.D. (Celestial Arts, 2006), $39.95

Leaving no area of nutrition untouched while answering the mystery of how to put it all together to create a healthy diet for an energetic and well-balanced life, Elson M. Hass, M.D., brings the planet to your plate with the updated edition of Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Accessible enough for every bookshelf, yet detailed enough for use by health professionals, Hass covers everything from the biochemistry of digestion to investigation of pollutants and toxins to nutritional suggestions for many common ailments, all with an eye on keeping the earth healthy. In teaching how to balance amino acids for a vegetarian diet, Haas illustrates that "rice’s deficiency in the amino acid lysine has been accommodated over the ages by the use of spices (such as fenugreek, mustard seed, and turmeric – all high in lysine)." Pointing out that the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 EFAs has been linked to the likelihood of weight-loss and to chronic inflammation, Hass suggests replacing high omega-6 peanuts with high omega-3 sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds. Listing the most important foods to buy organic – baby food, strawberries, milk and bananas – Hass warns that attractive conventional produce often remains laced with pesticides, such as cucumber, which has the second-highest level of carcinogenic pesticides used. Instead she offers her motto: good food (natural, organic, fresh), good thoughts, good actions. Providing meal plans and recipes for every stage of life, including infancy and adolescence, during lactation or when taking birth control pills, and diets for anti-stress and healthy travel, this easy-to-use and comprehensive tome can be considered the owner’s manual for the human body.

Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness, by Deb Shapiro (Sounds True, 2006), $19.95

Battling insomnia? If so, has someone broken your trust or is there something you are holding on to that is preventing you from releasing into sleep? Receding gums? If so, have you failed to maintain healthy boundaries or experienced a loss of power? Take back control by becoming fluent in the language of the bodymind. Speaking through its symptoms, the body concisely expresses the state of your mind and emotions. "Any emotion that is repressed, denied, or ignored will get stuck in the body," explains Deb Shapiro. This blockage leads to the symptoms you experience as illness. Using everyday language to detail the medical complexities of the body, this updated edition of Your Body Speaks Your Mind provides an excellent place to begin querying what emotional, psychological or spiritual problem your body is trying to solve by creating illness, while accounting for other factors at play such as environment and genetics. Expertly weaving together the best minds in the field, Shapiro presents a host of suggestions and questions to explore the hidden inner realms of specific illnesses ranging from food allergies to loss of balance. In addition, she supplies a CD that guides you through turning your body from a stranger into a friend. Stopping short of claiming that fluency in bodymind speak will cure illness, Shapiro instead offers a powerful tool in the healing process. After all, "As you think, so you become."

Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart, by Stephen Levine (Rodale, 2005), $23.95

Not feeling as connected to the world as you once did? Having a bit of trouble remembering how to play or enjoy the sunlight? When left unattended, sorrow (whether from everyday losses such as broken trust, words spoken that cannot be retrieved, and lost opportunities to the monumental losses of a job or the life of a loved one) accumulates and diminishes the flow of our life force "like a low-grade fever." Each unresolved loss, no matter the size, piles onto the one before. When a loss occurs, the pain flows not only from the immediate loss, but also from all the previous losses. Such is the case when you stub a toe and suddenly find yourself grieving the loss of your childhood pet. Instead of instructing you to simply "send love into the pain" (an ineffective technique when you can’t remember how to love or are so numb you can’t locate the pain), Stephen Levine gently guides you to turn toward the pain to "unearth the heart that has room for it all." Expertly leading you though exercises based in body awareness, Levine begins by inviting you back into your body through gently becoming aware of your belly and sensing your breathing. He then slowly ramps up to witnessing your thoughts during meditation to expressing your emotions though journaling to taking days for yourself in order to simply walk and allow your mind to settle, or sing loudly and allow your heart to open. If these techniques sound ridiculous or impossible, they are probably exactly what you need. Steeped heavily in Buddhist thought, yet embracing the essence at the heart of all the world’s religions, the short chapters of Unattended Sorrow allow you to connect to your grief while not being overwhelmed by it and invite you back chapter after chapter as you gradually peel away the layers of grief allowing your heart to expand once again.

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