Book Review: Drinkers Guide to Healthy Living

Irving Fisher, one of the greatest American economists of the 20th century, was interested in both the world of money and interest and the world of health. After facing and overcoming some personal health challenges, he devoted great energy to understanding how the body functions and how best to regulate its activities to be healthy, happy and productive.

Fisher even wrote (with Eugene L. Fisk) a best-selling book — How to Live: Rules for Healthful Living Based on Modern Science — to share his insights with others. The Foreword was written by William Howard Taft. That’s a pretty strong recommendation.

Gerald D. Facciani is one of the most prominent American actuaries of his time and he seems to be interested in both the world of risk and expected value and the world of health. After facing and overcoming some personal health challenges he has devoted great energy to understanding how the body functions and how best to regulate its activities to be healthy, happy and productive.

Facciani has even written a new book — The Drinkers Guide to Healthy Living — to share his insights with others. The Foreword is written by Robert M. Parker, Jr. That’s a pretty strong recommendation here in the world of wine.

Facciani’s book, like Fisher’s, provides both a great deal of useful objective information and aims to persuade the reader to adopt a particular strategy for a  healthier lifestyle based upon the evidence provided. Both are deeply rooted in personal experience (Facciani even provides his own medical test results just in case you have any doubts about the efficacy of his program).

The big difference, as you have already guessed, is that Facciani’s quest is to to live long and well and to enjoy wine in the process. Fisher, on the other hand and like many others in the Prohibitionist era (How to Live was published in 1915), put wine in a category with other unhealthy products. “The best rule for those who wish to attain the highest physical and mental efficiency,” he writes, “is total abstinence from all substances which contain poisons, including spirits, wine, beer, tobacco, many much-advertised patent drinks served at soda-water fountains, most patent medicines, and even coffee and tea.”

Facciani’s book presents a survey of the scientific research linking alcohol consumption with both health and lack of it. Since new studies seem to appear every week, this list of studies was obviously dated as soon as the book went to press, but reading through the quick summaries of scientific results is still very useful for the layman. I may not now know all there is to know about alcohol and health, but after reading this I have a better view of the landscape and appreciation of the complex issues. A good foundation for further research for the serious reader.

Much of the book is devoted to the conventional topics of diet and nutrition, exercise and wellness. Facciani sincerely wants his readers to live a good and healthy life and argues his points passionately, especially in the case of a program developed by Dr. Steven Gundry. Fisher’s scope was equally encompassing although his advice somewhat different. A century after Fisher’s book, I guess we still need help learning how to live.

I was surprised by Fisher’s book when I first encountered it years ago and although I certainly haven’t followed all of his advice over the years I must admit that some parts of it stuck. I suppose it is that economist’s way of thinking that we have in common. I have a feeling that Facciani’s book will have something of the same good effect on my life.

Concerned about wine and  your health? Maybe this is the book for you.

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