Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs (Simon & Schuster, April 2012) acts as the conclusion to the author’s bestselling “humble quest” trilogy. As with The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically, Jacobs takes his readers on a wild and crazy journey, this time into the world of health.
We all see the ads on tv and the billboards that simultaneously berate and encourage us to optimize our lifestyles with a kind of paternalistic best-friend’s-secret style condescension. ‘Exercise more’, ‘eat this’ have given way to ‘exercise THIS way THIS often’ and ‘eat THESE foods in THESE portions THIS frequently’. How to sift through it all and figure out where to start?
Jacobs has had the same crisis of conscience and so he undertakes a two-year-long fore into the health world, testing all the theories and new food options that leave the rest of us stuck in limbo. From his first afternoon, we see how complex and involved this undertaking will be.
He first tackles the issue of want in a first world consumerist society when he visits Paul McGlothin, director of research for the Calorie Restriction (CR) Society, who offers him a blueberry… but not to eat. At least, not yet.
Blueberries are notoriously good for you. Full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, they’re the Vanderbilts of the berry world.