Having spent over 40 years reading literally hundreds of healthy-eating books, due to my daughter's serious allergies (who as regular readers of my blog already know is now a healthy 41 year old!) - I must be honest and say that I rarely get beyond flicking through them briefly and reading the first few pages. So many don’t live up to their publisher’s hype and tend to be just another re-hash of whatever the current diet bandwagon happens to be.
Rarely do I find these books to be a real page-turner - but I was unable to put this book down! It's already littered with bookmarks everywhere & I've ordered a copy for my GP! It is a readable, informative, exceptionally well-written, well-researched and eminently sensible book, written by an author who is not afraid to go out on a limb and has the courage to genuinely think for himself - instead of just slavishly following the prevailing fashion.
I’ve seen dozens of diet trends and myths come and go over the years and frankly always ignored the low fat/low salt advice completely, since it was invariably dished out by those same ‘experts’ who were also advising that chemically-processed, unnatural and foul-tasting industrial fats such as margarine are what we should be eating to be healthy! If that were the case - then wouldn’t Nature surely have invented them and designed our bodies to use them – instead of the many delicious-tasting, natural ones now finally being scientifically proven to be far healthier? Not only that - but those ghastly spreads weren't organic anyway - which has always been of paramount importance to me.
Healthy food was meant to actually taste good! Sea salt and natural fats like butter add to the flavour of food and also help our bodies cells to absorb all of the nutrients it contains. Basic biology in school taught us that all life on earth evolved in the saline ocean – so naturally isn't it only common sense therefore that our cells need salt to function? This book is full of common-sense that you don't have to be a scientist to understand. As the author himself puts it - “the similarity between the mineral content and concentration of our own blood and seawater has been known for decades”.
As someone who has always, as far as possible, followed the way that Nature evolved us to eat, I believe that eating natural, whole, organic ‘real’ food is the only way to true, long-term good health. That being so, yet another aspect of this book that I found exceptional, and for me personally most engaging, is that unlike a great many doctors, this one clearly advocates organic food. The benefits of eating organic are often either ignored altogether by many in the the medical profession, or even more astonishingly, discounted as being quite irrelevant. That’s usually the point when I when I stop reading their books - because how can anyone possibly presume to tell people how they should be eating when they don’t even understand what 'real food' is, or how the way that food is produced can affect it's nutrient content and health benefits? How can anyone seriously believe they know better than us, if they don't even understand what Nature actually evolved humans to eat? Organic food is so often ridiculed by the media (heavily influenced by the misleading PR of the agri-chemical industry) as being either an elitist, hippy-like ‘celebrity fad’ or some kind of neurotic ‘orthorexia’. Sadly many doctors seem to accept this misinformation unquestioningly! This particular doctor doesn’t!
As a former organic farmer, now retired, who has for many years extensively researched the health effects of pesticides and other chemicals, used either on or in food, I never feed my family anything that isn’t organic, so I found Dr DiNicolantonio’s open-minded, thoughtful approach in this book refreshing. I've developed my own ideas on what constitutes a healthy natural diet since I first started to really think about it in the early 1970's - and it seems to have served me pretty well up until now - fingers crossed! Synthetic, man-made agricultural chemicals can have many negative effects on the finely-tuned physiology of the human body, as well as on the rest of the biodiversity which we are just one small part of and our environment. Most of these effects have either never been investigated at all or very little - especially the possible effects when several are either combined in food (in what's called a 'chemical cocktail'), already present in the body, or in our immediate environment. This is because most of the research is done by the same companies producing those chemicals. Only the specific chemical is tested in isolation and the company's frequently less than 100% open and unbiased research results are usually just rubber-stamped by regulators!
There is excellent information in this book on the damaging effects of the many different types of sugar, both added and invisible, in high carbohydrate diets. I wish I’d had this book 4 years ago when my son and I both started following strict, low-carbohydrate diets, after we both separately had serious accidents which made it impossible for either of us to exercise for several months. (I lost 2 stones almost without trying and my 6ft 4 ins son lost 4!) There is also advice on how to deal with problems such as the muscle cramps that we both encountered initially when first eating a very low-carb diet, especially when exercising vigorously. Dr DiNicolantonio explains how easy it is to avoid these - simply by eating enough salt!
My son spent several weeks recovering in an orthopaedic ward after major surgery following his accident, and was extremely shocked to see the heart-breaking number of diabetic amputees whose suffering could have been completely avoided simply by avoiding all forms of sugar, including alcohol. I would thoroughly recommend this book not just to anyone trying to cut carbohydrates, but also to anyone cooking for schools and hospitals etc. or trying to generally improve public health. From my experience, most hospital diets seem mainly consist of high-carbohydrate, cheap, processed foods such as white sliced bread and high-sugar ready meals prepared in bulk by outside caterers, in order to keep budgets down. Hospital shops and vending machines are also full of junk food like chocolate bars, crisps and cans of high sugar sodas. Often the only healthy item one can find is plain bottled water! This meant that I had to take some healthy food to my son every day during his 6 week stay in hospital because there was no healthy choice even if you wanted one! A round trip of about 40 miles - but I felt I had no option, as I knew how vital food was to his recovery and health. It is so frustrating that condoning and encouraging patients to eat that kind of mass produced rubbish, instead of healthy real food, just for the sake of saving money - not only delays their healing but also does nothing to re-educate those eating habits which in many cases often caused their illness in the first place, and ultimately costs health services even more money in the long run!
The manufacturers of profit driven, high sugar, low fat, reduced salt, processed foods won't thank Dr. DiNicolantonio for this - but thank heavens for the sake of future public health that the era of all doctors and dieticians unquestioningly accepting industry-sponsored dogma seems at last to be disappearing! Science and health knowledge can only move forward and improve if current accepted norms are constantly being questioned. This thought-provoking, ground-breaking book does it in spades.