Reviewed by Sue Ramsey, ND, Dip Nut, BA (Hons)
Even though this book was published in mid-2020, the content is still relevant as the Covid-19 pandemic persists. Author and award-winning science journalist, Dr Michael Mosley, explains where the virus came from, what it does when it infects our bodies and how our immune systems try to fight back. But perhaps one of the most important parts of the book is the chapter on how to bolster your immune system. At the time of writing, there were no vaccines available and the aim was to show us ways to help protect ourselves.
However, the principles Mosley outlines would seem to still have merit in terms of maximising our health and reducing the risk of severe disease. As Mosley explains, our immune system becomes less efficient as we age, but there are science-backed lifestyle changes we can make to keep it in good shape, even when we’re older.
The first, and arguably most important, is to shrink your waist as the risk of becoming seriously ill is much greater if you have a large waist. This is partly because the more overweight you are, the lower your lung capacity, says Mosley. “So if Covid-19 attacks your lungs you are more likely to end up in intensive care.”
Other reasons are that people with excess fat tend to have a less efficient immune response, he says, while a large waist often goes hand in hand with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, which may mean you’re more prone to getting infections.
According to Mosley, an 800-calorie rapid weight-loss diet (as seen in his book, The Fast 800, thefast800.com) is one of the best ways to lose fat from around your middle. It also lowers blood sugar levels fast and safely, he advises, and has been shown to be an effective way to reverse type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
For people who don’t want to follow a rapid weight-loss approach, he recommends the 5:2 diet – a form
of intermittent fasting, where you cut your calories to 800 a day for just two days a week. “It’s an effective way to lose weight, but there’s also evidence it can improve your immune system,” says Mosley.
In addition to boosting the immune system, the aim of some of his other lifestyle modifications is to reduce inflammation by eating a more Mediterranean-style diet, boosting your microbiome, improving your sleep, becoming more active and reducing stress. “Reducing systemic inflammation means you’re less likely to experience a ‘cytokine storm’ – that dangerous overreaction by the immune system to Covid-19,” says Mosley. He includes simple guidelines for each of these approaches, all of which are quite achievable and easy to follow.
This book is published by Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 9781760857592
This book review is taken from ACNEM’s Quarterly Journal (September 2021). To get free access to this journal, free monthly webinars and podcasts, education discounts, and a bunch of other great benefits, join ACNEM today.