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The Crazy Makers: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children Paperback – April 2, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

We already worry that our food makes us fat, dull, disease-prone, and sleepy. Now we have to worry that it also makes us crazy. According to certified clinical nutritionist Carol Simontacchi, the food industries that give us packaged, processed, artificially flavored, chemical-ridden, artificially colored, nutrient-stripped pseudo foods such as sodas, processed soups, sugared cereals, and fiberless bread "wantonly destroy our bodies and our brains, all in the name of profit." We Americans (adults and children) eat 200 pounds of sugar and artificial sweeteners each year. Our children's test scores and grades drop. We become violent, illogical, moody, depressed, drug-addicted, and crazy. The reason, according to the author, who is pursuing a doctorate in brain nutrition, is that we're starving our brains with lack of nutrition.

This isn't a process that begins when teenagers start snacking on sodas, chips, and ice cream. Rather, this nutrition deprivation starts in the womb: mom doesn't get the right nutrition (essential fatty acids, high-quality protein, unrefined carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water), so baby is born already brain-nutrient deficient, says the author. Infant formulas, processed baby food, and sugared cereals exacerbate the problem through the stages of childhood, with kids not getting the nutrition their growing brains need. Simontacchi also skewers prepared foods, additives, over-processed grains, school vending machines, and fast-food chains.

This book isn't only about children. Starbucks and its ilk get a "Crazy Maker Award" for "encouraging us to self-medicate with stimulating beverages that mask the symptoms of nervous system and adrenal exhaustion." We adults are genuinely fatigued, but instead of getting the sleep and rest we need, we succumb to the "marketing hype of sophisticated companies that convinces us that self-medicating with an addictive substance is the answer to our energy crisis." You may not accept all Simontacchi's views, but once you've read this book, you won't reach for a café latte or feed your kids sugar-frosted cereal with the same complacency. --Joan Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Why have depression rates soared in the post-WWII era? Why does one in four adults have a mental health crisis in any given year? According to Simontacchi, a clinical nutritionist (Your Fat Is Not Your Fault), the cause is a diet that consists of processed food deficient in crucial nutrients. Turning her attention first to the eating patterns of pregnant women, Simontacchi finds a connection between prenatal nutritional deficiencies (in fatty acids and B complex vitamins, among others) and "hidden" defects, which show up not at birth but later, as poor memory and the inability to concentrate. She also reports on a small study she conducted with teenagers: one group was given a nutritious breakfast drink and the other group was not. The youths who received the drink, she discovered, felt better in six areas of emotion, such as anxiety, depression and vigor. She also finds links between the poor eating habits of teenagers and fatigue, depression and self-destructive behavior. Throughout, Simontacchi documents her arguments with reference to mainstream journal articles and nutritional studies. But her tone is sometimes overwrought: "We are being systematically starved," she writes, eating not real food but "toxic food artifacts" made by food manufacturers. Her comments about the superiority of breast milk over formula may plunge into guilty despair anyone who didn't breast-feed her children for at least a year. But in a more positive vein, she offers pro-active strategies for improved nutritionAincluding pages of sensible suggested recipes for improving not only physical but mental health as well. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Natural Pr; First edition (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585421049
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585421046
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,705,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Valery Amador on May 30, 2000
Format: Unknown Binding
"Bravo" Carol for telling the truth about the American diet and how it is effecting not only our children, but ourselves. I must say that I had quite a few moments of, "Ah-ha!" as I read through specific examples of health issues that myself and my family have experienced due to processed foods. I was particularly thankful for the suggestions for improvement and messages of hope that you give your reader. I know there are going to be some changes happening in our household! This is must read!
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By PatBubo on September 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book has influenced me in no small way, and since I first read it several years ago and made various changes to my diet, my family and I have reaped so many very real rewards.

I no longer shop in the "center" of the grocery store except when absolutely necessary. I choose fresh produce, dairy, and breads instead and I compose simple meals with the ingredients: brown rice, grains, vegetables, real butter, etc. They take even less time than various "instant" products I used to use.

My family has, and especially I have, experienced redoubled energy, concentration, psychological calm, weight loss, regularity, steady sleep habits and many more benefits leading to our happiness and well-being. Ms. Simontacci may not have all the research -- but she has noticed these benefits in her subjects and they cannot be denied. The science to back up all of her claims is out there and has been stated by nutritionists and backed by research and experience over and over again. Aspartame, for instance, has been found unsafe on many fronts, and not just by some extremist sect as one reviewer claims (see "Excitotoxins" for more info). Most importantly, this book raises questions like, "shouldn't we at least be examining what we put in our bodies and feed our children?" I refuse to one day tell my kids not to do drugs, but the next day feed them non-nutritive, "non-food." ALL chemicals affect our metabolism, and potentially our brain health -- not just certain chemicals. That's what food is designed to do. Otherwise, we wouldn't need it!

The suggestion that we begin eating real food again is not crazy, but common sense that our society overloooks every day. Whether we consciously know the reasons why nutritious food is helping us or not, the benefits are there, and our bodies will do the work. Anyone claiming this book is "junk science" is probably in the food industry, and a "Crazy Maker" himself.
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Jo Sheppard on August 30, 2000
Format: Unknown Binding
Like most people, I try to eat right. I read labels and avoid Nutrosweet, MSG, and other suspect additives. And yet my energy level is low, I experience mood swings and occasional sleeplessness. I observe children who are anxious, moody, and have a difficult time in school. And I wonder what we are doing wrong that we have such problems. But it was by chance that I picked up The Crazy Makers How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children. Once I started reading it I could not put it down. This book both frightens the reader as it describes the bizarre results of our poor diets and offers an easy solution as it clearly and factually explains what vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs are essential for physical and mental development and growth and what food products and additives not only are non-nutritive but actually harmful to growing bodies and minds. The book is easy to follow, cites credible studies of daily requirements and actual nutritional content, offers recipes for entrees and snacks that not only satisfy but fortify the body, and lists sites for puchasing healthful foods. The extensive Notes section is a complete bibliography for anyone interested in health and nutrition. This book has been added to my cooking and health collection and I expect to consult it regularly.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Tim O'Shea on February 8, 2001
Format: Unknown Binding
Great job Carol! This book dovetails with the hidden truths kept out of popular media that I discovered while reseaching my chapter Sugar:The Sweet Thief of Life ([...]) I tell patients if they want a coke, drink one - that'll just give them diabetes - still the 7th leading cause of death in the US. But no diet drinks, please! At least white sugar was derived from a food - sugar cane. Aspartame in diet drinks is a chemical toxin and poison, and can in no way be thought of as a nutrient for human consumption. It became a food by politics alone. The rise of degenerative disease, learning disabiliites and inabilities, brain disease - it's no mystery, as Carol clearly explains. For the first time in man's evolution, foods may be created by legislation, with no ties to agriculture whatsoever. Worse than individual sickness in people is the longterm ill effect on the human genome: we're getting more frail as a species as these excitotoxins distort the human DNA of the entire race. This book may be a useful diagnostic tool for anyone who has a mysterious chronic illness that the medical geniuses just can't quite put their finger on, year after year. Carol's book should be read by both the sick and the well. It's the Real Thing.
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62 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Sandra D. Peters on July 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
To the author's credit, she has given us many points to ponder when considering what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. As a counsellor and watching the changes in individuals over the years, one thought that continually flows through my mind is the fact we appear to becoming an ever-increasing violent society. People seem less happy, less satisfied and more agressive, more short-tempered. One cannot help but wonder if changes in attitude and agressive behaviour have anything to do with the food we and our predecesors ate. All one needs to do is read a label on a can or package of processed food and the number of additives, preservatives, etc, jumps out like a bolt of lightening. Do you really know what you are eating? How can the additives not affect us over a period of continued long-term use?
While the author may be a good writer and an excellent clinical nutritionist, she should stick with what she knows and stay out of the kitchen. To the book's discredit, where the recipes! Hats off to the author if she is pursuing a doctorate in brain nutrition, but a Cordon Bleu chef she is not! These recipes were not just bland, they were desperate, arousing my taste buds to the same level as wallpaper paste! If I fed them to my family, even my dog would pack his food dish and leave home!
Read the book for the valuable information it contains on food and nutrition; it is excellent on both counts. As for the recipes, they will probably speed up your divorce immensely.
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