Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why Zebra's Don't Get Ulcers, by Robert M. Sapolsky

Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers: The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases, and Coping, by Robert M. Sapolsky

Preventative medicine can counteract many adverse health situations, especially stress-related ones. The nervous system has two halves, one that is activated by stress and one that is suppressed by it. The sympathetic nervous system is turned on when life gets exciting or alarming, governed by “the four F’s of behavior—flight, fight, fright, and sex.” The parasympathetic nervous system is the other half, controlling calm activities such as sleep, growth, digestion, etc. Together, they control how our body works and this book shows exactly how; if we don’t manage our stress the book also describes how our health can suffer.

While containing a lot of medical and anatomical terms, the text is quite readable and in fact quite humorous in places. (“Are you overwhelmed and intimidated by these terms, wondering if you should have bought some Deepak Chopra self-help book instead?”) The light tone and amusing anecdotes made a complicated subject reasonably straight-forward and accessible. I learned a lot here and found myself enjoying a book that I initially wasn’t excited about reading.

First Sentence:
It’s two o’clock in the morning and you’re lying in bed.

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