I’m way behind on my nutrition book summaries. In this post, I’ll cover three excellent books that approach nutrition from different viewpoints that compliment each other nicely.
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
Many of the readers of this site know about Weston A. Price. He was a dentist that traveled the world in the 1920s and 1930s studying the effects of how modern food was impacting traditional cultures. He published Nutrition and Physical Degeneration in 1939, which detailed the excellent health people had from different parts of the world before they became exposed to processed foods. As great as Price’s book is, most will not find the 500+ pages accessible. Plus we know a lot more about nutritional science today. That is where Deep Nutrition comes in. It beautifully connects the wisdom of traditional food preparation with modern nutrition.
Deep Nutrition does an outstanding job covering the dangerous of vegetable oils. It also has a great section called The Four Pillars of World Cuisine. These are the nutritionally dense foods used by traditional cultures long before we even knew what vitamins or omega ratios were. Those pillars include Meat on the Bone, Organ Meat, Fermented / Sprouted Veggies and Raw Foods. That sounds like my diet of the past few years. I may not be able to defend the science, but like my ancestors, I know those foods are working great for me.
Deep Nutrition is the best nutrition book I’ve seen directed at mothers. There is a section on what the mother should be consuming during pregnancy and why waiting three years between children is a wise idea. If you are looking for a book that connects the knowledge of ancestors with modern nutrition, this is a great book to own.
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan
Perfect Health Diet: Four Steps to Renewed Health, Youthful Vitality, and Long Life
If you like numbers and getting under the hood on nutrition, you will love The Perfect Health Diet. Like Deep Nutrition it covers which foods are most nutritious and which are the most toxic. Some things you will learn in PHD:
- Why saturated fats are the safest fat.
- Strategies for healing and preventing disease.
- What are safe starches.
- Why non-starchy veggies should be counted as fats, not carbs.
- A no hunger method of Intermittent Fasting, which I have tested successfully many times.
- Which supplements are the most useful and which to avoid.
Perfect Health Diet like Deep Nutrition falls under the Paleo umbrella. I think it is an excellent reference.
The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite
An emerging theory of obesity is based upon food palatability and food reward. I first posted about this last August in the post Flavor Signaling and The Shangri-La Diet. The End of Overeating explores how food scientists are engineering food that override our natural appetite. When we get foods that provide an excess stimulus, we become addicted to those foods and over consume them. This is good for profits, but not for our health.
Before I read The End of Overeating, I knew processed foods like breakfast cereals and candy bars were designed to get us to over consume. What I didn’t know was just how pervasive food engineering has become. Many sit down restaurants with visible kitchens aren’t actually cooking the meal on site. They are receiving the food that was assembled and pre-cooked at a different location. This is done not only to drive down costs, but to stimulate more addictive behavior in their customer base. From page 72:
Before the chicken is shipped from the manufacturating plant, it’s battered, breaded, predusted, and frozen. This creates a salty coating that become crispy when fried in fat. “All this stuff absorbs fat, dries out the batter and breading, and replaces water with oil. So now you’ve got batter and breading that is probably 40 percent fat,” according to the food consultant.
All this processing makes the food softer and easier to consume. From page 69:
By eliminating the need to chew, modern food processing techniques allow us to eat faster. “When you’re eating these things, you’ve had 500, 600, 800, 900 calories before you know it,” said the consultant. “Literally before you know it.: Refined food simply melts in the mouth.”
To make matters worse, the fat restaurants typically use is the very cheap and inflammatory soybean oil. Not good. By layering sugar on fat on sugar on fat, food scientists have figured how to get you consume past satiety. If this book doesn’t make you want to start cooking your own food, then nothing will. I’ve read a few posts where smart people have critiqued this theory of obesity. Although it may not end up being complete, after I ran my own Food Reward Test: Almonds vs Almond Butter, I became a believer. The more you chew you food, the less calories you need to reach satiety.