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Reading List - Chapter 6: Environment

Born Together – Reared Apart, The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study, by Nancy L. Segal

The identical “Jim twins” were raised in separate families and met for the first time at age thirty-nine, only to discover that they both suffered tension headaches, bit their fingernails, smoked Salems, enjoyed woodworking, and vacationed on the same Florida beach. This example of the potential power of genetics captured widespread media attention in 1979 and inspired the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. This landmark investigation into the nature-nurture debate shook the scientific community by demonstrating, across a number of traits, that twins reared separately are as alike as those raised together.

As a postdoctoral fellow and then as assistant director of the Minnesota Study, Nancy L. Segal provides an eagerly anticipated overview of its scientific contributions and their effect on public consciousness. The study’s evidence of genetic influence on individual differences in traits such as personality (50%) and intelligence (70%) overturned conventional ideas about parenting and teaching. Treating children differently and nurturing their inherent talents suddenly seemed to be a fairer approach than treating them all the same. Findings of genetic influence on physiological characteristics such as cardiac and immunologic function have led to more targeted approaches to disease prevention and treatment. And indications of a stronger genetic influence on male than female homosexuality have furthered debate regarding sexual orientation.

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Identically Different: Why You Can Change Your Genes, by Tim Spector

This book is about how minor life events and the choices we make, as well as those made by our ancestors, fuse with our inherited genes to mould us into individuals. What makes you so different to your siblings? Why do you vote a certain way, remain faithful for twenty years, believe in God, love salads, be heterosexual, get cancer or depression, dislike sport or never put on weight? Using fascinating case studies of identical twins, Tim Spector draws gems from his exhaustive research project that has spanned twenty years to show how even real-life 'clones' with the same upbringing turn out in reality to be very different. Based on cutting-edge discoveries that are pushing the frontiers of our knowledge of genetics, he show us that - contrary to recent scientific teaching - nothing is completely hard-wired or pre-ordained. Challenging, enlightening and entertaining, Tim Spector explains theories such as why the Dutch have become the tallest nation in the world, why autism is more heritable than breast cancer and what could cause a fit and healthy man to have a heart attack within weeks of his overweight, heavy drinking, heavy smoking identical twin. Conceptually, he argues, we are not just skin and bones controlled by our genes but minds and bodies made of plastic. This plastic is dynamic - slowly changing shape and evolving, driven by many processes we still cannot comprehend. Many of the subtle differences between us appear now to be due to chance or fate, but as science rapidly evolves and explains current mysteries we will be able to become more active participants in this human moulding process. Then we can really begin to understand why we are who we are and what makes each of us so unique and quintessentially human. Learn more of buy on Amazon


Playing the Genetic Hand Life Dealt You: Epigenetics and How to Keep Ourselves Healthy, by Craig Hassed

The old way of looking at genetics was that we just got dealt a genetic hand by nature and we were either lucky or unlucky in what we got dealt. Science has found that this is no longer the case. We do get to play the genetic hand and Dr Craig Hassed provides a wealth of information to show how this can be achieved. Chapters include genetics, telomeres, hand-me-down genes, the importance of the environment - physical, social, chemical exposure, radiation; the mind-gene relationship; lifestyle medicine, the importance of nutrition, the importance of exercise; substance abuse; prevention - treatment - changing the course of chronic illness; stress, relaxation and meditation; caring for the next generation; the essence of health the future.

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Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Wellbeing, by Esther Sternberg

Does the world make you sick? If the distractions and distortions around you, the jarring colors and sounds, could shake up the healing chemistry of your mind, might your surroundings also have the power to heal you? This is the question Esther Sternberg explores in Healing Spaces, a look at the marvelously rich nexus of mind and body, perception and place. Sternberg immerses us in the discoveries that have revealed a complicated working relationship between the senses, the emotions, and the immune system. First among these is the story of the researcher who, in the 1980s, found that hospital patients with a view of nature healed faster than those without. How could a pleasant view speed healing? The author pursues this question through a series of places and situations that explore the neurobiology of the senses. The book shows how a Disney theme park or a Frank Gehry concert hall, a labyrinth or a garden can trigger or reduce stress, induce anxiety, or instill peace.

If our senses can lead us to a “place of healing,” it is no surprise that our place in nature is of critical importance in Sternberg’s account. The health of the environment is closely linked to personal health. The discoveries this book describes point to possibilities for designing hospitals, communities, and neighborhoods that promote healing and health for all.

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Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, by Brian Wansink

In this illuminating and groundbreaking new book, food psychologist Brian Wansink shows why you may not realize how much you’re eating, what you’re eating–or why you’re even eating at all. Brian Wansink is a Stanford Ph.D. and the director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. He’s spent a lifetime studying what we don’t notice: the hidden cues that determine how much and why people eat. Using ingenious, fun, and sometimes downright fiendishly clever experiments like the “bottomless soup bowl,” Wansink takes us on a fascinating tour of the secret dynamics behind our dietary habits. How does packaging influence how much we eat? Which movies make us eat faster? How does music or the color of the room influence how much we eat? How can we recognize the “hidden persuaders” used by restaurants and supermarkets to get us to mindlessly eat? What are the real reasons most diets are doomed to fail? And how can we use the “mindless margin” to lose–instead of gain–ten to twenty pounds in the coming year?

Mindless Eating will change the way you look at food, and it will give you the facts you need to easily make smarter, healthier, more mindful and enjoyable choices at the dinner table, in the supermarket, in restaurants, at the office–even at a vending machine–wherever you decide to satisfy your appetite.

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Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions For Everyday Lives, by Brian Wansink

In Slim by Design, leading behavioral economist, food psychologist, and bestselling author Brian Wansink introduces groundbreaking solutions for designing our most common spaces--schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and home kitchens, among others--in order to make positive changes in how we approach and manage our diets.   For a quick introduction to the book, check out this YouTube Video.
Anyone familiar with Wansink's Mindless Eating knows this is not a typical diet book. Wansink shares his scientific approach to eating, providing insight and information, so we can all make better choices when it comes to food.

The pioneer of the Small Plate Movement, Brian Wansink presents compelling research conducted at the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University by way of cartoons, drawings, charts, graphs, floor plans, and more. Slim by Design offers innovative ways to make healthy eating mindlessly easy.

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