Top positive review
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How and why we are what we eat.
on 9 August 2001
Published in 1987, but still an excellent introduction to good nutrition, I keep my battered copy by me and still refer regularly to this book. When writing an article on nutrition it's always an excellent starting point, especially for getting the basic statistics on particular nutrients or the nutritional implications of a particular disease. I'm not the worlds greatest writer, but this book really helps me get my bearings.
Before starting to write this review, I'd actually never read systematically through it but used it as a reference, going straight from the excellent index to the information I wanted. Now, having gone through it systematically, I'm even more impressed. The first section deals with basic nutrients - vitamins, minerals (including some micronutrients which got very little attention 14 years ago but whose importance is now beyond doubt), proteins, essential fatty acids (ahead of their time again), carbohydrates and fibre. This section concludes with examples of the health problems associated with some common components of the western diet - eggs, milk products, wheat, caffeine and alcohol. Environmental poisons and problems associated with medicinal drugs are also covered.
This is followed by a short section on allergies concentrating on food allergies and environmental causes of asthma and other respiratory allergies.
Next is the longest section of the book, over 200 pages on the nutritional management of a wide range of disease conditions, ranging from arthritis to zinc deficiency (as a cause of senile dementia) by way of just about every group of diseases common in the Western world. Clear indication is given when a doctor must be consulted for serious complaints.
The appendices deal with healthy living, nutritional deficiencies and supplements, exclusion diets for identifying food allergies and information souces (the latter now unavoidably out of date). The strongest point of this book is probably its treatment of food allergies - which makes sense as this is an area where self diagnosis and treatment stands a reasonable chance of success.
A useful addition would have been a chart giving sources, recommended daily intake and deficiency signs of nutrients; presently, one has to read fully the sections on different nutrients to get this information. Where this book does show its age is in the scanty coverage given to antioxidants and their role in protection fron free radical damage. Only half a page is devoted to this important group of nutrients, mentioning solely the antioxidant vitamins and enzymes. The authors cannot be faulted for this, as the importance of pycnogenol (pine bark extract) and the phenolic compounds in grapes were little known in 1987. It is sincerely to be hoped that they feel moved to bring out a new edition!