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The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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“A factually accurate and highly entertaining work. It provides an effective counter to the fearmongering and false promises purveyed by sensationalists masquerading as scientists. This book should be essential reading for anyone who contemplates following a restrictive diet and for all health practitioners who use diets as the central platform of their therapeutic approach.” (Peter Gibson, MD, Director of Gastroenterology at the Alfred Hospital and Monash University)
“In the world of food fears, this is a landmark book. Levinovitz brings science back into the picture in an eye-opening, punchy, and entertaining way that will change many of the single-sided conversations about food. The Gluten Lie will put a lot of minds at ease, and bring a lot of balance back into diets.” (Brian Wansink, PhD, author of Slim by Design and Mindless Eating)
“Levinovitz shows us how to stop being afraid of food. Everyone truly interested in nutrition should read this book and get back to the joy of eating.” (Philip Zeitler, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine)
“The cure for Dr. Oz-itis and Oprah syndrome. Well researched, easy to read, and incredibly informative.” (Jen Gunter, MD, author of The Preemie Primer)
“Stop poisoning your friends and family—with junk science nutritional claims. Feed them The Gluten Lie instead and enjoy lunch again." (Hank Campbell, founder of Science 2.0 and co-author of Science Left Behind)
“With a thorough and incisive investigation into what science really tells us about gluten, fat, sugar, and detox, Levinovitz argues persuasively that we can stop worrying about what we ‘should’ eat and concentrate on enjoying food that appeals to our palate. Well-written, entertaining, solidly referenced, and perhaps the best debunking of popular diet myths ever.” (Harriet Hall, MD, Associate Editor, Science Based Medicine)
“A fun and evidence-based inoculation of clarity into an area permeated with confusion and controversy. It is a must-read for anyone fed up with all the noise surrounding nutritional advice.” (Tim Caulfield, Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta, and author of The Cure for Everything)
“A fascinating read. Professor Levinovitz uses the saga of gluten sensitivity as one of several compelling object lessons.” (Nortin M. Hadler, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine & Microbiology/Immunology UNC, Chapel Hill and author of The Last Well Person and Worried Sick)
About the Author
Alan Levinovitz is an assistant professor at James Madison University. His writing has appeared in Slate, Salon, Wired, The Believer, and The Millions, as well as academic journals. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with his wife, his daughter, and a cat. Fake cheese is his one food taboo.
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However, in the 1970’s I was an assistant DA in San Francisco, and handled a big Laetrile case that lasted 10 years. I even wound up testifying in Washington DC about the subject. And through that I learned that belief in a “cure” –the placebo effect – is very, very powerful.
I also learned, among other things, that a “new cure” taken two weeks after a valid treatment (such as chemotherapy) can be wrongfully thought to have caused a recovery which was actually due to the chemotherapy. “Cause” is not always clear cut.
Over the years I have probably read well over 300 books on health, and I subscribe to at least 10 doctors’ health newsletters and several health magazines. I have taken scores of vitamins every day my entire life.
Thus, I approached this book with extreme caution.
However, I loved it and plan to reread it. The author is clearly brilliant, and is a master of critical thinking. He points out the deception caused when certain “studies” or even just aspects of studies, are relied upon by someone claiming health benefits or detriments for a food product, and other studies are omitted.
He points out, repeatedly, the tricks played upon us to deceive us into thinking that an approach to health has been proven, when it has not been.
Dr Levinovitz stresses the power of myth, or as I think of it, the placebo effect –belief. He notes the complexity of the human body and the difficulty of establishing cause and effect when we analyze just one aspect of a situation and ignore a multitude of others.
I think the book is one of the best I have ever read on health. The last two chapters, setting forth his “diet” and then giving us that “diet” with notes letting us see how we are being misled by the claims set forth in it, are the best. If I read nothing else of the book, I would read and re read those two chapters.
This book will not deter me from reading an endless plethora more of books on health, nutrition, and vitamins, but it will help me to analyze them even better, much better, than I have in the past. As I have said already, it is one of the best books I have ever read on the topic.
Do I care that the author has no background in nutrition? You bet! In fact, I think it's wonderful, because he looks at food and out beliefs about food from a very different perspective - the historical and theological one. After all, the claims of so many food myths, both ancient and modern, frequently take on religious fervor in the supposedly miraculous abilities of foods to either make us sick or healthy. Throughout history, religious prohibitions and requirements have played powerful roles in establishing authority and identity of one group over and/or against others, and we see similar identity and authority (and anti-authority) roles being played out in the "food wars" of today.
Powerfully and effectively written, the author lays out the uncertainties in what science & medicine really do and don't know, and how those uncertainties are preyed upon and exploited by those with an agenda, putting their followers at greater risk of health issues than they would have ever faced if they'd just accept the real mantra of "moderation in all things and enjoy what you eat."