on May 24, 2008
It's a travelogue, a nutrition advice book (complete with case studies), and a cookbook, too. Writing in the first person, Daphne Miller brings these three books together into one fun read. She's adventurous and curious, which makes a book about preventing diabetes, cancer and depression into a delight. Who'd have thought!
Several ideas come together here: "Cold spots" are places in which chronic Western diseases are noticeably absent. Miller explores what and how people eat in the cold spots. Then she cites the research showing why a particular indigenous diet provides protection against a particular condition. She was led to the cold spots in her efforts to help individual patients who were struggling with health issues--and whose ethnic heritage is tied to the cold spot. That's another piece of the puzzle: in this fast-food world, it's not easy to maintain the ideal diet as usually presented: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and varying advice on carbs. " But a Mexican "cold spot" diet might be easier for a Chicana patient to stick with. The foods might appeal to cultural memory, or even an individual's memories of grandmother's cooking. Sure enough, it turns out that way, as Miller returns from cold spots with traditional recipes to share with her patients. For example, a Scandinavian patient, who turns up her nose at ubiquitous California salads, turns out to love the Icelandic diet with plenty of berries, fish, and waxy potatoes. And eating the Icelandic way helps her out of a serious depression. Miller explains how it works.
The book invites us to eat our way around the world and learn the principles of each indigenous diet. We can sample from Camaroon, Crete, Okinawa and more. The recipes look good--I haven't tried them yet-- and are written to incorporate ingredients easily available in most US towns. Miller finds out about the recipes by peeking into kitchens and cooking with locals, who are colorfully portrayed. I found inspiration for healthy eating in this book, and learned a lot about the mechanisms behind the adage "we are what we eat."
I should tell you that Dr Miller is our family doctor. She's just as devoted to her patients as it seems in the book. And her constant scan of medical and nutrition research has helped our whole family. While I haven't made any of the recipes yet, I recognize changes we have already made based on her advice.
on September 1, 2008
`The Jungle Effect` is what Dr. Miller noticed when her San Francisco practice patients went on a "native diet". Unlike typical Western diets, which caused her patients health problems, when they switched to native diets - traditional foods from native cultures - their health improved, often dramatically. To learn more about native diets, Dr. Miller visited places such as Iceland, Nigeria, Crete, the Amazon, Okinawa to discover what they are doing right. Thousands of years of human trial and error, according to Dr. Miller, have selected for the best diets for human health and longevity.
Dr. Miller is not new in this approach. Dr. Weston A. Price in the 1930s observed the same heath giving benefits of traditional foods and today there is a large and active community of native nutritionists surrounding Price and his legacy (see Sally Fallon's classic Nourishing Traditions). However Miller's book does offer some new and interesting perspectives. She actually traveled to native regions and sampled the foods and diets, and this makes for fascinating reading in an up to date journalistic human-interest story style. She dispels the notion that genetics plays a significant role, suggesting that anyone of an ethnic background can adopt any native diet (eg. a European can benefit from an Okinawa diet). Finally, she suggests food is more than its parts, each dish is symbiotic, so it is important to eat the entire food way, not just its elements. For example olive oil is good, but best in combination with the entire Mediterranean diet. Oddly enough, she also recommends mixing and matching various native diets (she personally cooks from different regions each night).
Dr. Miller's book is an excellent primer for anyone not already familiar with native nutrition. Her research supports and adds to the work done by the Weston A. Price Foundation, with a slightly different approach. Her field-trips make for excellent reading and reveal specific regional food-ways. `The Jungle Effect` is a valuable contribution to the growing literature, and an easy and fun to read introduction to native nutrition.
on December 16, 2012
I bought this book 2 or 3 years ago, after watching Daphne Miller on UCTV. At that time, and up until a couple of months ago, I would have given this book 5 stars. However, after watching the movie "Forks Over Knives", and reading "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, PhD., "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D., I have decided that a whole food, plant-based diet is the best diet to follow. I am 79 and had been eating eggs from free-range chickens, (I had my own hens) and using a little milk from grass-fed goats which I bought from a friend, as well as eating a little chicken, fish, and cheese (as well as fruits, vegetables, and grains). My blood pressure was going up, and I found I also had sleep apnea and an irregular heart beat, and was getting sicker and weaker. After going on a whole food, plant-based diet for only a week, I was able to get off the blood pressure medicine, and started feeling much better.
Daphne Miller selected Iceland as being a "cold spot" for depression, because Icelanders eat a lot of fish and also milk and meat from animals grazing on the arctic plants which are very high in Omega 3 fatty acids. She didn't mention that Iceland has the highest rate of breast cancer in the world, along with very high rates of prostate, colon and several other cancers, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, E.D., and other common western degenerative diseases, which are so prevalent in nations getting a lot of their calories from animal products.
on July 11, 2008
The old cliche is true - Dr. Miller has been my personal doctor for years and proved it to me. Her approach helped my health and well-being tremendously and is so logical and common sense - it's a shame that more doctors don't use nutrition as the first line of defense and offense for good health.
I expected it to be an interesting resource with some good recipes - but it is a highly readable and inspiring book. Worth owning and living by!!
on August 4, 2012
My feeling is that health should not be terribly difficult. It should not take a huge amount of time, stacks of books, or plan after plan from some guru. In fact, a person could learn most everything they needed to know by reading "The Jungle Effect: Healthiest Diets from Around the World--Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You," along with a handful of other books.
The answer to chronic disease and cancer is so simple. Enjoy America and all it has to offer, but eat like you live in a third-world country. The science is there to back this up, as well. Move to America, get cancer (and heart disease, diabetes, heart disease, and high-blood pressure):
-- Many Hispanic immigrants who relocate to the United States face much higher cancer rates than those in the country they left behind.
Cancer can be 40 percent more common for Hispanics after they immigrate [to the United States].
-- The risk of cancers common in Western countries is higher for Korean Americans than for their native counterparts.
-- Breast cancer among Chinese women who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years is 80% higher than their newly arrived peers.
-- Studies of Indian immigrants in Western societies indicate that rates of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as coronary heart
disease and diabetes, increase dramatically after a generation in the adopted country. Change of diet is among the factors that may be
responsible for the changing disease rates.
-- A team of researchers at West Virginia University has shown that U.S. immigrants from India and Pakistan take on the habits of their
adopted country, increasing their risks of prostate cancer among male immigrants and breast cancer among females.
Inversely, eat like you live in a third-world country, get some daily exercise, and don't get cancer (or heart disease, or diabetes, or high-blood pressure). How simple is that?
If you don't get it, read the above information once again. Move to America as a healthy person, eat like a typical American...get sick and die.
There is a nice cookbook, Extending the Table, that offers a wide range of recipes from third-world countries. Pick a few regions that offer things you like and start eating. The Jungle Effect shows, with evidence, that people improve on a healthy diet regardless if it is one they would have normally eaten (e.g. An American can do well on a diet normally eaten in South America). It also shows that, with evidence, that a person moving from a healthy third-world diet to an American diet gets American diseases.
We are spending millions, if not billions, to "cure" degenerative diseases and cancer in America, but the answer isn't going to be found in a pill or some exotic gene therapy. We don't even need to "find" the answer...we already have it. A person could spend under a hundred dollars and learn everything they needed to know about staying healthy in America:
* Spark: Exercise and the Brain (book) -- 14.52 (learn how exercise prevents Alzheimer's, as well as other brain diseases and problems)
* Extending the Table (book) -- 16.66
* The China Study (book) -- 10.16
* The Jungle Effect (book) -- 10.40
* Forks Over Knives (book) -- 13.22 (DVD)
* Ancient Wisdoms for Modern Health (Audiobook) -- 24.47
* Happiness Hypothesis (book) -- 9.76 (Totally skip the pro-prozac section of the Happiness Hypothesis, otherwise a good book).
Imagine having all the answers to health, happiness, and a long life for less than the cost of a typical doctors visit. It's not complicated. It's not expensive. Quite the contrary, some of the poorest people in the world eat this way, so obviously true health is not tied to education or having a lot of money.
on October 14, 2008
Author & Book Views On A Healthy Life!
The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World--Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home (Collins Living, 2008) by Daphne Miller, M.D.
Daphne Miller, M.D. author of The Jungle Effect, writes that indigenous foods, or native plants, vegetables, and fruits, are the natural prescription solution and even prevention for type 2 diabetes. Past studies of Pacific Islanders and Australian Aborigines have shown that when these peoples eliminated their own native diets, for the Western high carb diet, they quickly developed pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes. Indigenous diets include nuts, roots, and seeds like cheeky yam, black bean seed, and bush onion. Others you may be more familiar with: quinoa, barley kernels, cracked wheat (bulgur), steel-cut oats, and millet.
Further testing of the indigenous foods showed that they were difficult to break apart and digest. Blood sugar and insulin levels rose more slowly after eating these foods, whereas Western carbs --refined flour, sugar, pasta, mass-produced corn, white rice--digest quickly, rapidly raising blood sugar and insulin, leading to diabetes.
In The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World--Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home, Dr. Miller gives five reasons why slow release indigenous foods are antidiabetic:
* Slow-release foods are slowly digested--keeping blood sugar and insulin levels lower.
* Slow-release foods are fiber-rich--extending satiety, decreasing the desire for fast-release snacks (donuts, candy, etc..)
* Slow-release foods are nutrient-rich--unrefined grains have not lost their vitamin and mineral properties from the refining process. For example, white flour retains only 15% of its magnesium content after the refining. Dr. Miller writes that "Low-blood magnesium levels are linked to insulin resistance, poor blood sugar control, and diabetic complications."
* Slow-release foods are free of bad fats--saturated, partially hydrogenated, omega 6. Instead they contain stanols and sterols, healthy plant fats, which lower triglycerides.
* Slow-release foods have unique antidiabetic capabilities. Some specific indigenous foods cause sensitivity to insulin--some herbs, spices, and the prickly pear cactus.
A wonderful example of a slow-release meal is the corn tortilla, filled with beans, accompanied by squash, jicama, herbs, spices (cinnamon, pepper, cumin, coriander), and nopales (prickly pear cactus).
First, purchase or make tortillas that have 3 grams minimum of fiber each, have been treated with lime, are organic (if possible), and are free from hydrogenated fat and preservatives.
If you have a choice, cook your own beans. They are usually fresher, cheaper, tastier, less salty, and digest more slowly than the canned varieties.
Squashes, both the hard winter types and summer varieties, have been eaten in the Americas for several thousand years, says Dr. Miller. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Jicama, easily peeled and eaten raw, can be sliced into small slices and dressed in lime juice and chili powder.
Look for the prickly pear in Latino/Hispanic/Middle Eastern markets. Stick to small, tender, and bright green ones.
BackStory: "In the past 70 years, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the United States has increased over 700 percent, and the disease is slowly affecting younger and younger populations. While this is the case with people of all ethnicities, the most dramatic rise has been experienced by Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans. Furthermore, recent statistics have shown that diabetes is now taking center stage as one of the greatest health issues worldwide."--Dr. Daphne Miller
Daphne Miller, M.D. traveled around the world investigating the diets of many native peoples. She is a board certified family physician in private practice in San Francisco and an associate professor at the University of California, where she teaches nutrition and integrative medicine.
The Jungle Effect--I highly encourage you to read this book for better insight on your diet and health.--Kelly Jad'on
on February 22, 2009
Heard Miller interviewed on NPR and pulled over to order the book on my iPhone, she was that interesting. The book holds up--lots of good information collected together for someone trying to make practical changes in their diet for health. Only wish there were more recipes! What's there is good and not hard to make, but there are only 14 or so.
on July 14, 2008
I just loved this book, too, and probably will never read another diet book again. "The Jungle Effect" is really not a diet book - it's the Occam's razor of human dietary habits, the way our ancestors have always eaten for survival. Working only a block away from Dr. Miller's office, I've been tempted to walk down there to get the book autographed and buy ten more for my family and friends. I probably won't do that, but I definitely will do my best to promote it to people I know. I've already started making changes in my husband's and my diet and it's been a joyous, life-enhancing and elegant experience.
By comparing the sort of meals that Americans are used to eating to, say, an African meal, Dr. Miller conveys an eye-opening epiphany. It should come as no surprise that the fiber content in African meals actually prevents the development of colon cancer. It's not a big mystery, but we're always looking for complicated schemes and sophisticated medical breakthroughs for answers, when the solution is pretty darn obvious and really pretty simple.
I think that readers will also enjoy the travel diary experience as Dr. Miller wends her way not only through remote highlands in Mexico, but the wilds of Walmart in the Central Valley. She really wants to help everyone find a solution, regardless of their status or income and to be able to do it with any and all available resources. What a wonderful book. What great medicine.
on October 24, 2008
The Jungle Effect is a very well informed and well written book on healthy nutrition. Dr. Miller identifies various "cold spots" around the globe which have low or no rates of certain western diseases, and explains how the local diets are key to these statistical results. I use this book and the diets and recipes therein to plan my own diet that is tailored to my ulcerative colitis. The book is very well organized and very accessible. I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to plan an informed new whole foods diet. Try the Ndole--it's great!
on April 30, 2014
I've been feeling really frustrated with all of the conflicting information on diet and health... high protein, high carb, low salt, salt if fine... Dr. Oz has a different doctor with different ideas about how to lose weight and get healthy every day and all of it is conflicting. How do we sort through it all? We've lost our way with information overload! I cannot thank Dr. Miller enough... fiinally, a doctor who uses her observation skills and common sense rather than go by the latest studies. Where has all of this scientific research gotten us? Americans have become sicker and fatter!
Dr. Miller doesn't tell us what she thinks... she gives us extremely valuable, helpful information about what these cultures who are the healthiest and longest living are eating, and we then can use our own common sense about how to eat. This is a fascinating, highly interesting, totally inspiring, well written book! I read through it in one day, and then read it again to take detailed notes. All of my questions about what my family and I should be eating are finally answered and it was there in front of me the whole time...
I realize now that all I had to do was look at what my very healthy, 85 mother from the Middle East is eating. She has kept her indigenous diet and for breakfast might have a half of a pita bread dipped in tahini and date syrup. For lunch and dinner a small bowl (her portions are very small compared to what I, or most Americans eat) of steamed or boiled vegetables with a little rice and maybe a small piece of meat, poultry or fish and some fruit after dinner. She never eats out and everything she eats is prepared with whole, fresh foods.
Dr. Miller inspires us and gets us excited about eating this way with mouthwatering recipes... I really wish she would come out with a cookbook! My family's new favorite meal is fresh, homemade corn tortillas with beans and pork and some hot sauce with squash on the side. It's amazing... and who would have thought a culture eating corn tortillas three times a day would be some of the longest lived people on earth? If you examine the ingredients though, it's all comprised of naturally low-fat, nutrient rich, whole foods. The pork is really just a garnish and the beans are the star of the meal.
I no longer diet because I don't need to. If you simply eat the way our ancestors ate or these thriving cultures, you will never gain weight, prevent disease and most modern day health annoyances will resolve. My headaches are much better, skin is clearer, I have more energy, heart palpitations are gone and most importantly, I am excited about eating this way and want to stick with it!