Like the authors' Trick and Treat book, this book has so many important things to say. Not just about weight loss, but also about health and about our health system.
This book explains that while it is our responsibility to make healthy choices, to make a choice first we have to understand that there is a choice. We need accurate information. Unfortunately the current food guidelines are based on myths and wishful thinking rather than science.
The idea that traditional foods are causing all our modern diseases is ludicrous.
The author writes about diet, that:
* The advice to cut down on sugar but to eat lots of grains makes no sense. Don't be fooled by the 'whole gain holiness!'
* Low fat, high-carb and low calorie diets are not healthy and not the best diet for weight loss.
* The GI is oversold and overhyped and used to push many unhealthy foods and a low-calorie agenda.
* Other animals with an abundant food supply don't get fat, so this is not just about too much food but about eating the wrong foods.
* High levels of glucose (as with a high-grain and high-carb diet) compromise the immune system.
* Grains are not as high in nutrients as we have been led to believe and in fact these foods can leach nutrients from the body if not properly prepared. The same is true of legumes.
* Excess fibre can cause problems for some people and fibre from grains is not necessary. Bran flakes are not a health food, but a faddish waste of money.
* Low salt diets have not been tested for safety and the scaremongering about salt is not scientific.
* Healthy low carb diets must be high in fat and NOT protein.
* The Paleo diet is very relevant today. Good macronutrient ranges by calories are 10 - 15% carbs, 15 - 25% protein and 60 - 70% fat.
* Saturated fat is a healthy traditional fat. We need to eat real foods and not things in boxes.
* The ideal figure for carbs has been found to be around 50 - 60 grams a day (The Trick and Treat book recommends 50 - 75 grams a day). This amount is a good one to start with and some people will feel best making it slightly lower or higher.
* People that are very ill (eg. MS patients) may do better starting with around 110 carbs a day before gradually going down to 60 or 70 grams a day. Going too low or too low too fast may make such patients more ill.
* It is a good idea to lower your carbohydrate intake gradually, so as to make the transition less stressful for the body. Going from a high-carb diet to just 20 grams of carbs a day is too much of a shock, and not necessary.
* It is not healthy to get glucose from protein long-term. It is wasteful and puts a strain on the liver and kidneys.
* A BMI of 25 - 30 is still a healthy weight and may even be the healthiest weight range.
* A weight loss of a kilo a week should be seen as a maximum.
Good information is also given about the dangers of some vaccinations and soy products and of fluoride, why humans are not designed to run, why excessive exercise can be harmful and pain and injuries should not be ignored.
The author has been following a low carb diet since 1962 so he really knows his stuff.
The whole book is contained and summarised in the first 36 pages which is helpful for those that just want the basic information fast.
The authors advice and views tally very well with my own. I have a severe neurological disease with some similarities to MS and I have found that a very low carb diet of 20 grams or so of carbs a day, makes me feel unwell after a few months. It seems like maybe my liver and kidneys cannot handle the extra strain. I have felt so much better staying around the 50 - 75 gram mark. It is also a far more pleasant diet to eat by far. This lower-carb diet also greatly helps my hypoglycaemia symptoms, makes me feel more satisfied after meals (and not starving hungry right after each meal due to blood sugar surges) and has treated my PCOS as well. I also do far better avoiding grains, legumes and dairy products too. I am using this style of diet, along with other supplemental nutrients and detoxification methods, to slowly improve my severe neurological disease - which had been slowly worsening for more than a decade.
I have only 2 major issues with this book. The first is the authors' assertion that we need to eat only 2 serves of fruit or vegetables daily and that claims we need 5 or more are unsupportable and quite silly. The sugar content of fruit is discussed, and the author claims that fruits and vegetables deliver few antioxidants. But the issues of taste, enjoyment, vitamins and phytonutrients are not discussed at all. What about the important detoxification aids and cancer-fighting nutrients present in brassica vegetables? What about all the folate and other nutrients in leafy greens? What about all the bioflavanoids present in foods like capsicums? None of this is even mentioned. It is a very strange part of the book, not remotely up to the standard of the rest of the book. This section is so poorly done it risks detracting people from the rest of the book, which is of a high standard and well reasoned, argued and researched. Best to just skip the anti-vegetable chapter I think.
What is weirder still about this book as opposed to Trick and Treat, is that it also contains some pro-high vegetable intake comments. The author recommends eating unlimited amounts of green leafy vegetables or 'liberal amounts' of green leafy vegetables for example. Plus it is stated that we should get most of our 50 - 70 grams of carbs a day from vegetables, but that would be very difficult to do with just two vegetable serves a day!
My second issue is the ignorant comments made about supplements not being necessary if you eat well. The author may be a diet expert, but he is not an expert on supplementation or the use of supplements in treating serious disease.
Dr Abram Hoffer explains that we need about 45 different nutrients in optimal quantities. He also explains that no nutrient works alone, and that an enzyme reaction that needs three different nutrients to take place, requires all three nutrients and so no one nutrient should be considered more important than the other.
Some nutrients can be obtained in reasonable amounts in food, while others will sometimes or always require the use of supplements to ensure optimal levels. It is not true as some claim that the optimum levels of all nutrients can be obtained through diet alone.
Supplements are necessary, for the following reasons:
* The soils used to grow our food are often very depleted.
* The levels and types of toxic pollution and toxic chemicals we are exposed to are vastly higher now than they were in the past (which requires far higher levels of nutrients than were necessary in the past, to deal with them).
* Many nutrients in food are fragile and only remain fully intact when food is picked and then eaten immediately. Storing foods for long times and heavily processing foods can dramatically lower nutrient levels in the food and may destroy some nutrients entirely; for example, oranges have been found to contain between 100 mg of vitamin C and 0 mg of vitamin C, each.
Supplements are necessary and eating well is also important. As Dr Sherry Rogers writes, 'What you eat has more power over disease than any medication your doctor can prescribe. Food is awesomely powerful.'
It is also important to be aware that the more ill you are, and the more stress your body is under the higher your nutritional needs will be. A person can need many times more vitamin C when ill than they need when they are well, and these higher doses just cannot be gotten from food.
More helpful information on intelligent supplementation is included in books such as Detoxify or Die, Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families and Physicians, Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life among others.
Condensed tinned soups, low carb bread, vegetable margarine and tinned vegetables are also not healthy foods in my opinion, and I'm not a fan of promoting mircowaving of foods.
These two big quibbles aside, this is a very good book on diet although by far not as good as his Trick and Treat book in my opinion. That book is by far superior. It is a more engaging read and covers more ground and is just put together a lot better. If you have a choice between the two get Trick and Treat, absolutely. There is no need to read both of the books either, as the advice given is virtually the same in both.
The above books are also highly recommended additional reading for anyone serious about improving their health. along with any of the high quality vitamin C books by Dr Thomas Levy and others.
Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E. (HFME)