Finally a book I can unreservedly recommend! I've been very interested in books on diet for a while now, but this one really stood out. It doesn't miss out anything vital nor have anything in it that is so wrong that unreservedly recommending it is difficult. It's so well done and the most complete book on diet I have found so far.
This book is a pretty good summary/amalgamation of many of the very best books on diet I have found, such as Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats by Sally Fallon, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan, Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck, Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol by Mary G. Enig, The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food by Kaayla T. Daniel, The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger by Nancy Deville....
Plus: Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride, Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine: Improving Health and Longevity with Native Nutrition by Ronald F. Schmid, The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease by Uffe Ravnskov and The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series) by Mark Sisson.
What is also wonderful about this book is that it is also a book about health and treating illness. It deals with the topic of health in some depth and does NOT just tell you to eat well and as your ancestors did and everything will be fine. The author acknowledges, as many do not, that while yes following a diet as close to our ancestors as we can get is essential this is not all we need to do to stay healthy and to improve disease states.
In other words, having an optimal diet that suits your genes gets you at least 70% there and is the most important step for health, but there are other areas we need to look at as well. This book explains that we are facing far more assaults on our bodies than our ancestors did due to pollution and chemical exposures and so we need to raise the levels of antioxidants and other nutrients we take in accordingly. Supplements are essential.
We also need to do what we can, whether we have health issues yet or not, to get the chemicals that we couldn't avoid out of our bodies through nutrient supplements and also methods such as FIR sauna use, green drinks, body brushing and so on.
How much vitamin C we need, for example, isn't set in stone from one person to the next, nor even one day to the next. How much we need depends on how many chemicals our body has to detoxify. When our chemical load goes up, so too does our need for all sorts of nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin C. There is also significant biochemical individuality between people and some of us need far more of certain substances and nutrients than others.
The fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E, and also omega 3s from fish oil and fermented cod liver oil are so important, and low-fat diets are to be avoided, but some of us may also need coenzymated B vitamins, sublingual B12, B1 as benfotiamine, carnitine, ALC, RALA, CoQ10, iodine, magnesium and extra vitamin C, this book explains. Assessing whether or not you need betaine HCl, probiotics and digestive enzymes with meals is also key, as you are not what you eat, but what you can actually digest!
As the description of the book says, this book combines, `Your body's Paleolithic needs with modern nutritional and medical research for complete mind-body wellness.'
This book provides information on:
1. The basic principles and foods of the hunter-gatherer diet; meats, eggs (if tolerated), non-starchy vegetables, healthy oils, and small amounts of nuts, seeds and fruits. Avoid processed foods, trans fats and oxidised oils, plus anything you are allergic to, plus sugar and high-carbohydrate foods such as potatoes and fruit juices. A high-fat, moderate protein and green vegetable filled diet is the way to go!
2. Why we are not suited genetically to eat foods such as grains and legumes, and especially not in large amounts, and the many problems these foods can and do cause.
3. Why we are not suited genetically to eat dairy products. (Although the book does recommend fermented and raw dairy products to some extent, for those that can tolerate them.)
4. Why adrenal or thyroid problems cannot be fixed until you deal with your leptin problems, through following a non-high-carbohydrate diet.
5. Which supplements are most important and which we all need to take and why, and how to make sure you buy only good-quality supplements. Some basic information is included on dosages.
6. Why following a low-calorie diet wont extend your lifespan unless the diet helps keep insulin levels low and why supplementing individual hormones which test as low can be problematic.
7. Why there is little point treating a person for a psychological issue if they have significant nutritional deficits and these deficits are best treated first and then other psychologically-based assistance given, if it is still needed.
8. Hunter-gatherers did NOT die young, as is often stated and human health actually deteriorated when agriculture was introduced.
9. Grass-fed/pastured and organic meats and eggs are best, along with home-grown or organic fruits, nuts and vegetables.
10. Those facing serious illness and gut problem are advised to follow the GAPS diet program (which describes a low-fibre easy to digest diet with lots of stocks, unrefined sea salt, meat and vegetable soups, eggs, liver and good oils) and also recipes from Sally Fallon's excellent Nourishing Traditions book.
This book tells us that we need to stop being self indulgent and grow up, and eat what our bodies need for health. Not just what brings us superficial comfort. That isn't an easy thing to do, but that doesn't mean it is not worth striving for. It really is worth getting through those first few fairly awful days of switching over to a fat-burning metabolism (instead of a carb-burning one).
My only criticisms of this book are minor and are that I feel it could have highlighted the benefits of very nutrient rich foods such as bone broths and liver a bit more, been a bit more educated about the history of the beneficial use and complete safety of larger amounts of vitamin C and have at least mentioned the possibility of grounding or earthing as the best way (aside from avoidance) of improving problems caused by EMF radiation - as per the new book on grounding co-authored by Dr Sinatra (Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?).
Because this book does provide such a great summary of all the books listed above, it can also be a bit light-on for theory in some areas and so reading some of the books listed above may also be a good idea for anyone with a real interest in some of these topics - even though this book does in fact contain all the practical information on diet needed. For example, the information on fats is far more detailed in `Know Your Fats' and the book by Gary Taubes contains far more detailed information on why the saturated fat = heart disease hypothesis is wrong and how high insulin levels from high carbohydrate intake cause weight gain. So it just depends how much you want to read and in how much depth.
Having said that, this book also contains lots of information that isn't in any of the other books listed above, which is pretty impressive.
For those who need more information on health, supplements, extensive health testing, detoxification issues and want more specific information on FIR sauna use and how to safely go about it the book Detoxify or Die by Dr Sherry Rogers is essential extra reading. These two books would go very well together, for anyone facing serious illness (as I am). While `Primal Body, Primal Mind' contains all the practical information you need to change your diet, extra information about precautions and expected healing reactions is pretty important if you're seriously ill and about to start any type of detoxification or supplementation program and the aforementioned book by Sherry Rogers provides this.
'Primal Body, Primal Mind' is also surprisingly easy to read, thanks in part to all the short little chapters on each topic, and the author has a great writing style. The book is also very well referenced and the arguments given are convincing, logical and compelling.
I also love that this book completely lacks the self-aggrandising tone (and comments) that some nutrition books have. The author's lack of a huge ego is also seen in the way she so wholeheartedly recommends other great groups, websites and books such as those run by the Weston A. Price Foundation and its members. The author also recommends not taking her word for it and reading as much of her reference material (and other relevant material) as possible. It is so clear that this author's only agenda is genuinely helping people by promoting the most accurate, unbiased and helpful health information.
I'd like to thank the author for writing this book. It is a huge achievement. I hope it is as widely read as it deserves to be, and gets lots of very positive reviews as well.
ps. I have a severe neurological and cardiovascular disease called M.E., but am slowly improving month by month (after more than a decade of slow worsening) through dietary, nutritional and detoxification interventions - as described in books such as this one. Read more ›