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The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat Paperback – May 12, 2016
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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It is NOT a book on the Microbiome, as publicity suggests.
Here is the author's summation: Eat less meat, and eat a variety of foods.
If that floats your boat, then do read this book!
I had the impression that much of the information presented was taken from Gary Taubes' writing – but without any acknowledgement. Compare the following from Taubes, “The first New York City Marathon was in 1970, with 137 entrants; in 1980, there were 16,000 official entrants; and in 2008, 39,000...”, to this from Spector: “The New York Marathon began in 1970 with 137 runners and the London Marathon started modestly in 1981 – to date, over 850,000 joggers have crossed the finish line.” I found more examples, but more damning than anything else is that the entire book contains not one single mention of Gary Taubes or his work. Remarkable, given that Taubes is possibly the most influential writer on the topic of diet and nutrition.
Although Spector agrees with Teicholz's writing on the benefit of fats – the one's which he, coincidentally, also likes to eat - (she, at least, gets cited), he is still sitting on the fence with regards to red meat. He seems overly enamored with the Mediterranean Diet, which is coincidentally his own preferred food. Although he acknowledges failings in Campbell's The China Study, he is uncritical of a diet high in grains, veg and fruit.
Spector even gives an example of the Atkin's diet being used successfully for six months by an obese patient; he concludes that it failed because she gave it up! (How's that for logic?) Instead, he suggests that the obese try swallowing capsules containing human faeces from a non-obese person. And he thinks the Paleo guys are whacky?
To conclude, lots of interesting stuff about the gut, its micorbiome, and genetics which made it worth reading, marred by a failure to really engage with the findings of writers like Gary Taubes.
To cover such a broad topic, the book is broken down into sections. The first tackles microbes, energy, and calories. Fats (saturated, unsaturated, trans) then take up four more chapters. Protein (animal, non-animal, milk products), carbohydrates (sugars, non-sugars), fiber, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, cocoa, caffeine, alcohol, vitamins, some warnings (antibiotics and nut allergies), and best-before date usefulness are all discussed after. A final conclusion and glossary round out the book.
Since we have a Commonwealth genetics professor as an author, there is an emphasis on the importance of genetics with relation to everything from allergies to weight loss. The author has done many studies with twins and so those results figure through many of the chapters. But as well, he isn't afraid to state his opinions and some may find them controversial (such as comparing most diet fads as a religion with people following on faith rather than proven results). I found it refreshing to read, though, and appreciated that the author painstakingly backed up all his facts with notations and references.
Of interest to me was how so many studies touting one thing could be skewed into a completely misrepresented conclusion. He is careful to lay out the fallacies and the resultant bandwagons formed on those faulty assertions.
There are quite a few useful and enlightening discussions that anyone on a diet would certainly benefit from reading. But those with decent health will also find many topics as eye openers to understanding optimum health and longevity. This isn't a diet book or a diet myth debunker - it's a very large and in depth discussion of the health industry and relevant/current topics in that field.
The Diet Myth isn't necessarily easy reading - it is rather dense and straightforward. But the author also doesn't talk down to the readers and respects readers' intelligence. If there are some meanderings (I ended up skipping most of the alcohol chapter) they are still for the most part on the topic and provide insight into the topics. So although not a perfect book, there is still so much to learn and understand contained within. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.