Book Review: The Ripple Effect

Did you know…?

  • Regular, restful sleep is good for your health.
  • Eating nutritious food is good for your health.
  • Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is good for your health.
  • Managing stress and thinking well is good for your health.

I’m sure that you are very familiar with the above four statements. You’ve known them for a long time. You’ve probably learned them from your parents, or healthcare providers, or through public health campaigns. They’re nothing new.

And that’s why The Ripple Effect by Dr. Greg Wells is important.

The healthcare industry is overrun with information and misinformation. We are always being sold on the latest, newest, shiniest products and services – things designed to capture our attention (and dollars) until the next new thing comes out.

Among this maelstrom of sensationalist misinformation, The Ripple Effect is a breath of experienced air reconfirming the basic tenets of healthy living. Dr. Wells revisits the things we all know we should be doing to live well, the things that various cultures have documented for centuries, and the things that science has solidly confirmed to be effective.

So if you know all this information (eat mostly unprocessed foods, exercise daily etc.) why should you bother reading The Ripple Effect? There are two important reasons.

1. Well researched while still accessible

Dr. Wells does a great job delving into the various aspects of health and wellbeing research. While going into great detail about certain aspects of health, from hormone levels and neurotransmitters, Dr. Wells makes the material accessible enough for anyone to understand it. And while many health books can get bogged down in boring facts, Dr. Wells draws upon his experiences and stories working with people of all walks of life to make the information interesting and entertaining, while still keeping it relevant and based in science.

Want to dive deep into the physiology of sleep? It’s all there with referenced studies to support. Or maybe you only want the gist of what to do to maximize your mental focus – then flip through to Dr. Greg’s 1% tips peppered in throughout the book, providing succinct strategies to impact your health.

2. Reinforcement of solid health principles

Despite almost everyone’s familiarity with good health practices, many of us fail to act upon them. In North America rates of heart disease, cancer, obesity, depression, anxiety, and dementia (just to name a few) are all on the rise. So despite knowing what we should be doing, we’re still not doing it. The Ripple Effect is a needed reminder of the importance to make healthy habits a priority.

And for those who are already putting healthy habits into practice, Dr. Wells offers a variety great tips on how to be better, or more effective with them.

If I have one critique of The Ripple Effect it would be the almost sole emphasis placed on the reader to effect the desired change in their life. While I agree that self discipline is very important, I think we owe it to the public to educate them about social determinants of health and the environmental factors that play a large part in influencing one’s ability to make positive health changes. This isn’t meant to encourage a defeatist attitude, or to discourage readers from giving it their all. Rather it’s to allay some of the guilt that many of us feel when we struggle to reach our health goals, thinking that maybe we didn’t try hard enough or want it bad enough.

That being said, Dr. Wells’ 1% approach – taking small, consistent steps to effect big change – is a practical and beneficial way to rage against the machine and make healthy progress. I also appreciate his clarity in that being your best means just that: being your best – we don’t all need to be Olympic level athletes, or meditation masters to reap the rewards of healthy living.

In conclusion, read the book and share it with others. It’s a good one, full of useful, motivational, evidence-based information. And we can all benefit from it.

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