There are so many health books filling the shelves of bookstores that you may find it impossible to determine which ones are both useful and credible. You’ve scanned the latest diet and exercise books in your local stores. And all you've learned is that everyone has published a self-help book. Some come from physicians and medical experts, while psychologists and motivational speakers weigh in with their own perspectives.

What makes it more complicated is that new health books launch every month or two. Many seem contradictory to each other, and others seem to all say the same thing under different covers. Even the savviest consumers struggle to weed out the legitimate publications from the superficial ones.

Shelves Full of Health Books

When looking for useful health books, you may find that most focus on one area rather than overall well being. So, it’s important that you have an idea of what kind of information you’re looking to find. Are you trying to treat a medical condition? Or are you just trying to get fitter or lose some weight?

To simplify matters, you can narrow down your search by understanding which kinds of health books you can expect to find. Some deal with medical conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes or hypertension. The best of these will provide a holistic plan that helps you make both lifestyle and nutritional choices to alleviate your condition.

You’ll find many health books focused on diet, exercise, or both. There’s an epidemic of weight loss and fitness titles available, with many providing different takes on the same basic diet theories. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in low carbohydrate diets, currently called the “ketogenic diet” or “Keto.” Others focus on reducing the amount of chemical additives and genetically modified foods we consume. Many advocates claim that doing so will improve physical or developmental issues.

Exercise books abound as well, and many of these focus on motivating you and providing a plan that you can follow easily for a set number of weeks to make improvements in your fitness level.

How we reviewed

While many medical theories contradict each other wildly, we’ve put aside any agenda when compiling this list of the best health books. We’ve included the best health books from several areas based simply on a few criteria.

To compile this list, we’ve examined both best selling and lesser-known works and researched the author's credibility and credentials. We’ve also looked at whether the author has presented the information in a useful way. While we understand that not everyone wants to know the scientific details, we expect that any health book author should support their work with adequate research.

We’ve taken a look at recommendations from the health industry and medical professionals, paying the closest attention to those with their own credentials.

Additionally, we’ve collated data from the actual readers. We noted trends in customer satisfaction and the usefulness of the information. We've also reviewed their testimonials on the effectiveness of the health books we’ve included.

Last of all, many of these books have been or are currently on our own shelves, and we reference them frequently for information.

The Best Health Books

This list comprises health books that have provided thousands, perhaps millions of readers with excellent information. While health trends come and go, some medical concepts have proven their worth year after year, and even decade after decade. Others present new ideas and new perspectives we find exciting and worthwhile.


Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Boston Women's Health Book Collective (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Originally published in 1971 as a stapled flyer, this book tops our list as one of the best health books for women. Every woman should own a copy to familiarize herself with her body. It covers a broad range of areas, from reproductive health to medical conditions common to women. The book also covers vital areas of mental and emotional health, including building healthy relationships and dealing with stress.

Most importantly, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective has issued regular updates to the book as medical knowledge advances and as modern society adds new challenges to women’s health in the workplace and environment. The last edition was released in 2011 and will be the final update to the text according to the non-profit group.

And while some have referred to it as a “feminist” text, you’ll find it contains simple, honest, and frank discussions of women’s health issues. Amazon readers rated it 4.6 out of 5 stars. And Goodreads members rated it 4.35 out of 5 stars.

You can find it online at most booksellers priced around $ for the eBook and from $ to $$ for the trade paperback.


Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical...
  • BOOKS & MEDIA Prescription for Nutritional Healing 1 UNIT
  • Balch CNC, Phyllis A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

This vital health book is an excellent resource for those interested in complementary medicine. First issued in 1990, the authors have updated it regularly with new editions. The latest one, revised in 2010, provides a wealth of information for alternative and preventative protocols for improving health and fighting disease. This is one of our go-to health books for any health condition.

This 800-page manual provides usable information you can apply to your own and your family’s health. The book informs on both natural remedies and allopathic drugs for the treatment of many health conditions. If you’re tired of hearsay information from “experts” trying to sell you yet another bottle of supplements, this is the book for you. Backed by research and scientific inquiry, "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" is a must-have for anyone using alternative medicine therapies.

Amazon readers rated it 4.7 out of 5, and Goodreads reviewers gave it 4.53 out of 5 stars. You can find it online at many health stores and booksellers, priced between $ and $$. Unfortunately, however, you won’t see it in eBook format.


Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back...
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Davis, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The controversy over low fat vs. low carb diets has evolved into a debate over the consumption of wheat. Gluten-free products have peaked as a trend, with many people claiming sensitivity to this wheat protein. Others debate that it could be the type of wheat we eat that’s causing problems. Some cite digestive problems, obesity, and even neurological disorders. This is on our list of the best health books on eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet.

Very few Americans have Celiac disease. However, many do find themselves reacting poorly to wheat for one reason or another. Doctor William Davis shines a light on this issue. He focuses on the impact that genetic modifications have had on our food supply.

He's treated over 2,000 patients and recommended that they remove wheat from their diet. In his book “Wheat Belly,” Dr. Davis presents his evidence. He documents the association between wheat consumption and a host of ills. These include obesity, diabetes, intestinal disorders, and even dementia. He also offers a collection of wheat-free recipes.

Amazon readers rated "Wheat Belly" 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 6,000 reviews. Many of the positive reviews cited personal health issues resolved as a result of reading this book.

You can find this book in eBook, trade paperback, hardcover, and audiobook formats. Expect to pay about $ for the digital version and $ to $$ for the paperback.


Aging Backwards: Reverse the Aging Process and Look 10 Years Younger...
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Esmonde-White, Miranda (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

While the title seems to go right for the throat of our vanity, Aging Backwards has a plethora of information to help you fight the depredations of time. Written by Miranda Esmonde-White, star of the PBS fitness show, "Classical Stretch," this guide provides you with eight workouts to make you more resilient to the passage of time. This one tops our list as one of the best health books for staying healthy into old age.

One highlight is Esmonde-White’s thoroughly accessible lessons about how we age. She empowers readers with clear and coherent knowledge. She covers info about muscles, joints, cellular life cycles, and how various factors can accelerate or decelerate the aging process. Expect to find critical information for improving flexibility, increasing muscle density, improving balance, and revitalizing metabolism. The workouts are easy to follow and organized in a way to address specific age-related issues. These include weight loss, bone density, flagging energy levels, and reducing pain.

Amazon readers rated this book 4.3 out of 5 stars, and many readers in their 60s to 80s raved about the effectiveness of the program for their various health issues.

Expect to pay between $ to $$ for a digital copy of this book, and from $ to $$ for the trade paperback edition. You can find it a number of online booksellers or even at your local library.


How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent...
  • How Not to Die Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
  • Hardcover Book
  • Greger M.D. FACLM, Michael (Author)

The doctor who gave us the NutritionFacts website addresses the primary causes of early death. He then tells you how not to die from them by making the right dietary choices. Michael Greger, MD, takes on the 15 leading causes, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Using his vast medical knowledge and access to cutting-edge medical research, he tells us what we need to know in order to reduce the risk of an early demise.

Easy to read, yet full of detail, Dr. Greger also provides a handy list of the 12 foods to include in your diet every single day. This makes our list of the best health books for those who want to modify their diet to prevent disease.

Amazon readers rated "How Not to Die" an astonishing 4.8 out of 5 stars, with over 2,800 reviews. This includes 5-star reviews from other medical professionals. Barnes & Noble buyers gave it 4.4 out of 5 stars, and Goodreads reviewers rated it 4.54 out of 5 stars.

You can find it from your favorite booksellers, priced around $ for the eBook and $$ for the trade paperback. You can also find the companion cookbook to make adding these foods to your diet easier.


The New Primal Blueprint: Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight...
  • The New Primal Blueprint Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss Vibrant Health and Boundless Energy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sisson, Mark (Author)

Author Mark Sisson addresses a wide range of lifestyle issues and how you can modify them for better health. The program covers everything from sleep to sunlight, as well as keeping our minds healthy, curious, and youthful. While Sisson is not a doctor himself, he has recruited the endorsements of several medical professionals, including those who practice medicine based on holistic health principles.

Based on 10 “Primal Blueprint laws,” Sisson’s work channels hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution into the 10 factors he says have ensured our health and survival to modern times. The book subtitle claims that the program will “reprogram your genes.” But as Sisson explains more thoroughly in the book, the human body has a number of mechanisms to adapt to any situation. Sisson’s plan works to manipulate our life situation in order to cause our bodies to adapt with improved fitness and better health.

Since we find it easy to read for any layperson, and easy to follow, this is one of our favorite general health books with useful information you can apply now. Its holistic approach to health is comprehensive without being overwhelming.

Amazon readers rate "The New Primal Blueprint" 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 reviews. Expect to pay from $ to $$ for the eBook version or $ to $$ for the hardcover edition.


The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
  • The Obesity Code Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss
  • Fung, Dr. Jason (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

For those interested in diving into the scientific details that underlie the obesity epidemic, Dr. Jason Fung offers a wealth of background information. Based on the endocrinological causes of obesity, he follows up with the science and the studies. These support his five basic steps to more healthful eating. After that, he provides information on intermittent fasting. He explains how it can alter your body's hormonal profile to ensure that the weight you’ve lost stays off. 

We found this one of the best health books available for providing an in-depth look at the effect the endocrine system has on our metabolism and body composition.

Dr. Fung doesn’t offer anything brilliant in the way of eating plans. However, if you like to dig down into the gritty details, this is the book for you. If you want to know more about the hows and whys of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, you’ll appreciate Dr. Fung’s detailed explanations.

Amazon readers gave it 4.7 out of 5 stars, with over 1,800 reviews, some from medical practitioners who gave it 5 stars. GoodReads reviewers awarded it 4.42 out of 5 stars.

You can buy from your favorite bookseller in eBook, audiobook, or paperback. Expect to pay $ to $$ for the eBook, and $ to $$ for the paperback.

Comparison Table

Product Name & Details

Image

Paperback: 296 pages

Publisher: Greystone Books; 1 edition (March 1, 2016)

Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches

Paperback: 904 pages

Publisher: Avery; Revised, Updated edition (October 5, 2010)

Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.7 x 11 inches

Print Length: 292 pages

Publisher: Rodale Books; 1 edition (June 3, 2014)

Product Dimensions: -

Print Length: 290 pages

Publisher: Harper Wave (November 11, 2014)

Product Dimensions: -

Hardcover: 576 pages

Publisher: Flatiron Books; 1 edition (December 8, 2015)

Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.4 inches

Hardcover: 568 pages

Publisher: Primal Nutrition, Inc.; Updated edition (November 15, 2016)

Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.7 x 9.1 inches

Paperback: 296 pages

Publisher: Greystone Books; 1 edition (March 1, 2016)

Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 8.9 inches

How to Choose the Best Health Books

We suggest that you consider choosing several of these health books, regardless of the medical issues you’re trying to solve. While you may have a specific medical condition you want to treat, you'll gain insight by reading other general health books. Exercise books are helpful, but good nutrition will make your workout even more effective. And while eating right improves your health, improving your flexibility and muscle tone will provide immediate benefits by way of mood and sleep quality.

Buying stacks of health books can be expensive. So, while you may want to purchase those you find particularly helpful, don't forget about your local library. You can find many of the books on this list from your regional library, just as we did. Best of all, many library systems have access to eBooks, which means you won't even need to visit your library to check out your books. Good health and happy reading!

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