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on 15 March 2007
"The New Optimum Nutrition Bible" is excellent in many ways, and full of interesting and accurate information, with dietary advice that is, in general, sound, though I would have some reservations about the fairly heavy emphasis on supplements and fairly expensive blood tests, and, while these are, of course, optional, they may be beyond the pockets of many readers. The book is very much about personal health, without any side-trips about saving the environment, animal welfare, or ethical vegetarianism, and is none the worse for that, as there are many excellent books which cover these issues, along with the personal health aspects. I would, however, be concerned about the accuracy (or the provenance) of some of the claims in this particular Bible:

The comparison (on page 283) that the incidence of breast cancer in China is 1 in 100,000 women compared to an incidence of 1 in 10 women in Britain is not backed up by any reference to any study, scientific or otherwise, and does not appear to be borne out by Dr Colin Campbell's "China Study". There is no doubt that the incidence of breast (and other) cancers in rural China IS a good deal lower than in the West, but even in China some cancers were 100 times more frequent in some counties than in others, and I would very much like to know where the "one in 100,000" figure comes from.

Mr Holford does not seem to be aware that recommending the purchase of only "cold-pressed" oils is misleading, as this term apparently has no legal force, (i.e. there is no particular temperature defined as "cold")and has nothing, in the final analysis, to do with whether an oil is chemically refined or not (see "Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill" by Udo Erasmus.) I understand that the only unrefined oil normally available in general retail outlets is extra-virgin olive oil.

Ths more or less blanket recommendation,in the chapter "Eat Right For Your Blood Type", of the theories of Peter D'Adamo seems ill-advised.

While there may be something in these blood-group theories, I understand Mr D'Adamo has not referred to having published any studies supporting his theories in any independent scientific journals, and his diet has been denounced by "all of the leading scientific organizations, including government health organizations, and all the major universities and medical journals that have commented on it": (John Robbins in "The Food Revolution".) D'Adamo's diet has, apparently, pushed many people (Blood Type O & Type B) towards daily meat eating, which is surely a step in the wrong direction, when the thrust of all independent studies of diet in at least the last hundred years is towards a plant-based one, and a reduction or elimination of meat from the diet.
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on 8 September 2000
I thought I understood the basics of healthy eating, but this book taught me so much more. It all started when I read an article about longevity, which claimed that vitamins C and E were proven to slow down the ageing process. I was intrigued, not least because the quantities of vitamins that were recommended in the article were hundreds of times the RDA (recommended daily allowances). This sparked a hundred questions in my mind. What are RDAs and what do they mean? How well 'proven' are these anti-ageing claims in reality? Is it safe to take such (seemingly) massive doses of vitamins? And don't I get all of what I need anyway - after all, I eat lots of fruit, veg, carbhohydrate, and not a lot of fat. By the standards that I understood, I was eating a reasonably healthy, balanced diet.
I set out to answer these questions, but it took me a while to find this book. The shelves are stacked with A-z guides of vitamins, foods, ailments etc - but this was the only one I found that takes you through from first principles, and helps you to design a diet, including supplements, which is ideal for yor lifestyle. It answered all my questions, and many more I hadn't even thought about. Some facts that stunned me: - by the time you get round to eating that orange that's been shipped across the world, sat in a supermarket, and then lingered in your fruit bowl at home, it could easily contain NO vitamin C at all! - RDAs are based on research at the turn of the last century, and are based on preventing the diseases of the time, such as scrurvy and rickets. They have no relevance to today's big killers, such as cancer and heart diseases, yet hundreds of research studies have demonstrated that much larger daily does of vitamins can help prevent modern day diseases. - nine out of ten people in the UK who, like me, think they're getting a balanaced diet aren't even getting the very basic (and this book would argue, inadequate) RDA levels of minerals and vitamins, all because of the way our food is produced, sold, stored and cooked. One thing that appealed particularly about this book is that it isn't preachy; for examplel it recommends drinking little or no alcohol - but hey, if you choose to drink, it also gives you advice on how to minimise the harmful effects of alcohol by eating other foods and taking supplements. Great! Almost before I'd finished the first chapter, I had a strong feeling that this was going to be one of those rare books that really do change your life. Like other reviewers, I have bought additional copies to give to the people that I love. And on top of all this, it's really readable!
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on 30 June 2013
I brought this book because I wanted to review my diet as part of a health and fitness plan. I recommend it for anyone who is seriously interested in health & fitness. I read the book from cover to cover and since adopting his advice I feel so much better, my skin has improved and I am bursting with energy. Can't recommend it highly enough. One last comment - this is not a 'fad' diet book, it is serious nutrition!
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on 9 April 2007
My first impression was that this is a well-put together and practical guide to nutritional health. The recommendations and diet advice seem more realistic than in some other comparable books, which is good.

I also liked the wide scope and open-minded approach of Patrick Holford's book. Other authors in this field can verge on the fanatical in their advocacy of particular (often rather extreme) diets, like Joseph Mercola's No Grain Diet, to give one example.

However, like some other reviewers I was concerned about the accuracy of some of the information, and the scientific standards applied. I have not been so diligent as to check particular facts, but just from having looked through the book in some detail, I picked up on vague and sometimes contradictory statements (the percentage of water of the human body is variously stated to be 62 or 65% - while this is not crucial and may vary, it reflects a sloppiness and cavalier attitude to presenting information (implicitly as scientific fact) that worried me. Information about required water intake is similar vague and contradictory.

The health/nutrition advice on various medical conditons may be handy but I strongly suspect that the 'supplement recipes' are based purely on generally known facts with a dash of Mr Holford's intuition and common sense - unlikely to do harm but far from proven to work.

At a glance, and without having read the book in full, the worst section appears to be the one about blood types, which uncritically summarises and even recommends Peter D'Adamo's scientifically unproven claims about dietary types. It seems a very slap-dash and frankly irresponsible chapter that's been quickly knocked up for the new edition. Even without being an expert or doing any research, its suggestion that early humans were primarily carnivorous hunters appears to in contradiction to the widely-accepted theory that they were omnivorous hunter-gatherers. I think the chapter also contains a factual error on blood type compatibility (Type A does not react against type O donor blood as stated, as type O individuals can donate blood to persons of any other blood type as far as I know). Bad science indeed.

This may be a too useful and practical guide to healthy eating to miss - I am well informed on nutrition but learnt quite a few new things and clarified areas of previous knowledge. But double-check the facts elsewhere before you go supplement shopping, and definitely skip the chapter on blood types!
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on 18 October 2007
After reading some of the criticism which is now surfacing on the net about the validity of Patrick Holford's claims I felt compelled share my own experience with this book.
I bought the first edition some 3 years ago with a view to finding some help with my asthma. I read the first 4 chapters and put the book down as I felt there was enough information to try a few things out. I then followed the recommendations and was able to do without my inhalers after 2 months. After 3 months I was completely free of any asthma symptoms and was able to walk and run without attacks coming on. Now, almost 4 years on I am still free of asthma.
I am 49 and have been asthmatic since 2 years of age. Therefore the advice offered in the first 4 chapters was enough to change my situation in a way which conventional medicine denies even to be possible.
A person should have enough discernment to separate the wheat from the chaff and benefit thereby. I believe the critics should take some time to ask those who have been helped by Holford's approach and not harp on about clinical trails which generally prove little in any case. Nothing compares to personal experience when trying different approaches to health.
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on 11 April 2012
Nowadays you really hear so many contradicting opinions and statements about what one should eat and what one should stay away from that at times it gets really confusing.

I'm glad I received this gift from a friend who is really into healthy nutrition, because it finally explained to me what the right quantities of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and the like our bodies actually need to function in various conditions.

As another review said, it isn't a preachy "do or else" type of book, but rather a friendly and encouraging approach to help you get the nutrition which goes well with your personal needs and your own metabolism.

A definite must read for all people out there who have understood that what we eat influences us a great deal!
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on 18 August 2009
"Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre devotes an entire chapter to Patrick Holford, the author of this book and many others in the "Optimum Nutrition" series, exposing the way Mr Holford makes sciencey sounding claims about food (and his own range of supplements..) which have not been verified by clinical trials. I recommend reading the Goldacre book first..
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on 15 September 2012
A lot of what Holford has to say is very good when he's talking about the positive health effects of good nutrition and the negative ones of bad nutrition. And a lot of his nutritional advice is good - eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbs, complete protein; avoid junk.

His message is overshadowed slightly by pimping his own company's supplements and breakfast shakes throughout the text - an advert in the end pages, fair enough, but as it is the text smells a bit of dishonesty. And some of his instructions like filtering tap water and avoiding plastic packaging veer into the realm of neuroticism.

Furthermore his dietary advice in regards to protein requirements for sports people is false: protein is required to repair muscle which is trained hard as well as to build new tissue and his anecdotal figure for the amount of muscle it is possible to gain in a year's training is much too low as anyone who has ever used a gym will tell you. Nevertheless he is correct to identify a balanced diet as being sufficient to feed most peoples' protein requirements and that guzzling MetRX is not necessary in most cases.

Similarly the very high doses he recommends for certain vitamins and minerals are given without reference to scientific studies in many cases. I get the impression he has pulled a lot of the numbers out of his ear.

Nevertheless there is good information and advice in here, you just have to exercise your critical faculties a bit to sort the wheat from the chaff.
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on 28 June 2004
One guy said it only bangs on about supplements.To quote the book's tips at the end of chapter 5:
"There is no substitute for whole foods, which contain hundreds of health-promoting substances, the importance of many of which we have yet to discover"
I've read over the book once, and the gist I get is that you should use supplements if you have symptoms until the symptoms cease, by which time your new way of eating for nutrition should be in place for you.
Another reviewer said he cannot weight-train/gain mass if goes on the book's recommendations of little meat. Again on first reading of the book I think his workouts could be more intense and his strength improve if you were to follow the chapter on proteins. Holford compares 30grams of rice and lentils protein having the same amount of "useable protein" as 30 grams of egg protein. Surely this chapter can leave you no doubt that all your protein needs can be met on a vegetarian diet. I myself am vegetarian between meals :)
Whereas a lamb chop has 75% fat - much of it saturated - so do you want muscle cells full of fat, or do you want muscles that are lean?
I only give four stars as this book leaves the reader to assimilate this information on their own, and in my opinion could do with some example weekly diets, and moreover some guidance as to where to purchase all this food. Has anyone done any nutritional analysis of Aldi vs. Waitrose vs. market fruit and veg? What about pre-packed/tinned fruit? The book says frozen veg has more minerals/vitamins than chilled but my instinct has always been to avoid frozen. It also says brown rice has a higher glycemic index than white spaghetti, should I spurn one in favour of the other?
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on 26 March 2006
When I stumbled across this book, I was desperate. I had a range of medical problems and it was a toss up to decide which to treat first. But PMT was what lead me to Mr Holford and I am glad it did! The supplements are expensive but I made sacrifices elsewhere to afford them. I did not need that bottle of wine every couple of weeks, nor did I need to smoke the odd cigarette! I had decided at this point that my health and sanity were far more important!
Mr Holford has a comprehensive supplementation regime for almost every illness and he recommends these are followed BEFORE treatment via conventional medicine (I would not recommend this if your illness is life-threatening, by the way). I followed the regime for PMT - with miraculous results! The PMT disappeared within 3 cycles and has NEVER made a comeback.
Later on, I had problems with depression. Again, I turned to my rather large red book. And again, after 17 years chequered by drug resistant clinical depression (complicated by SAD - Seasonal Affective Depression) - I have NEVER had a repeat of an illness that made me so gloomy that I contemplated suicide at times.
Aside from the regimes, Mr Holford makes a lot of sense. It was a book that I read from cover to cover, over and over. I cannot recommend this book enough. Honestly. My copy is so dog eared that I will need to buy a second copy soon. If you care about your health, if you or members of your family have ongoing health problems - anything - then this is the book for you.
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