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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Health Delusion: How to Achieve Exceptional Health in the 21st Century
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on 2 August 2012
Similar in approach to Bad Science, you will either love or hate this book, I can't see an in-between.

Quite simply, if you live religiously by the current dogma of health - which the authors claim is responsible for our health woes - then you're in for quite the rude awakening. I doubt anyone can read this book with out being shocked, as the authors dismantle the systems of health we live by today. The diet, supplement, drug and food industry as well as the governments and the media all get taken to task, and quite simply get a lashing as it is revealed how they compromise our health in order to boost profits.

But where Bad Science prided itself on revealing the faults, The Health Delusion merely uses it as a starting platform, the real agenda to provide a new solution for well-being. And, with the comprehensive backing of hundreds of scientific papers the authors provide a practical and easily applicable guide on diet, supplements and lifestyle for achieving exceptional health.

The style is almost arrogant, sometimes flippant, often satirical. An assurance in the quality of the information they have, the authors take the topics, but not themselves, very seriously, and are as focused on making a great story to entertain as much as to enlighten. Guaranteed to thrill and delight most, it will assuredly agitate others.
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on 28 June 2017
Got it for £0.01 and £2.80 shipping! Really interesting, it really enlightened me.
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on 20 March 2017
Thank you
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on 10 September 2014
Great insight into how the world perceives nutrition
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on 15 June 2012
This book is a 'must have' for anybody interested in health, in particular health professionals. The book is evidence based, informative, educational, easy to read & laced with a sense of humour. You may be surprised or even shocked by some industry claims, but it is good to know what the truth is at the end of the day.
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on 28 July 2012
Some time ago I came across "Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre. A jaw dropping expose on causation vs correlation in scientific research and a crash course in understanding how such research gets appropriated to fulfill a particular agenda, whether it's selling drugs, filling column inches or simply justifying yet more psuedo science.

With The Health Delusion, Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten have picked up the guantlet and decided to take the healthcare, diet and pharmaceutical industries to task. But it's not enough to shine a light, the authors come armed with a wealth of information that actually makes a difference. Like Ben Goldacre, both Aidan and Glen come from an academic background. Their biggest gripe is that the most compelling information out there seems to be ignored, misinterpreted or simply passed by. In the introduction, there sense of frustration at the current state of affairs is palpable.

"Despite all the mind-bending advancements of modern medicine, a stark fact remains: If you are a healthy adult in today's sociey, you're in the minority. Does that really sound like the definition of a healthy society to you?"

At the conclusion of The Health Delusion, the authors state that what they have on offer is not complicated, in fact, it's really simple. But before we get back to basics we can take a journey through the headlines, fads, psuedo science and big pharma/food companies that got us here.

The Health Delusion makes it's case very early on. Despite all the advances in modern healthcare, despite the wealth of information at our fingertips we are struggling. Struggling with the diseases of what Dr Robert Lustig calls the "industrial global diet". But it is not just one thing, we are in the midst of a perfect storm with the food and pharmaceutical industries conspiring to keep us consumming at the cost of our health.

Globally, the diet industry is worth around $150 billion. As The Health Delusion highlights "Clearly the profits are not performance related!"

The beauty of this book is the perfect mix of science and common sense. Each chapter includes notes in the form "science blasts" information boxes and a summary. Whilst it's easy to read section by section, it is also ideal to dip in to the areas that interest you most.

Chapter one lays out the agenda. We are bombarded with information on health and diet, most of which is edited to fill column inches by self proclaimed gurus and experts. The Health Delusion offers some insight on how research is conducted and how it can be manipulated. All of this in an effort to look beyond the headlines and apply some critical thinking.

Part 2 looks at the holy grail of supplements, antioxidents. Pill munchers beware, some of what is on offer migh make you choke. This chapter is filled with "Doh!" moments. More is not better. And we don't escape the irony that it is the most health concious who are the supplement industries best customers.

The next section is a "what's what "of natural protection. A reminder of Michael Pollans appeal for us to"Eat food, not too much, mostly plants". Again, the science and the summary make the choices clear.

Next we move on to the big S. Selenium, it's role in immune function, cancer prevention and overall health care. As with all things in the Health Delusion, they are quick to point out the schism between the headlines and the research.Next up, Vitamin D, whose benefits have been heralded across the media this year. Once again, we get the real science behind the headlines and some startling information about D-deficient "sun smart" dermatologists and the catch 22 of too little or too much sun.

Part 3's Diet Discrepencies looks at the short term success and long term failure popular diets. This has been a common topic amongst a number of my friends recently. Seems each week there is a new quick fix on the block. Diet Discrepencies has much to say on the long term metabolic effects of novel dieting. We move on to physical activity. It is heartening to see the prescription for movement given equal headline status. It is not just about the obvious benefits in terms of metabolism. Their is a boatload of evidence out there that simply getting more movement in your day provides physical and mental benefits. If in doubt check out The 100 Rep Challenge for a daily fix.

We continue with a look at fat, the issues with BMI as an indicator (Wladimir Klitschko has a BMI of 28, you can tell him he's overweight) and the admonition to "get active or pay the price".

Milk, Beef and Plant based diets get the Delusion treatment in section four. Again, amidst the Paleo, Juicing, Raw Food evangelists, there will be much wringing of hands. But none of what the Health Delusion suggests requires a particular dogma, a special t-shirt or a funky pair of barefoot running shoes to be implemented. And this is at the core of much of what is on offer. A kind of science based common sense that seems to have been largley ignored because it doesn't come in a shiney wrapper.

Part V is devoted to developmental growth. You are what your mother ate. The effects of pre-natal diet appear to have a profound effect on the long term health of offspring. Whilst the ubiquitous Folic Acid gets mentioned there are a host of other considerations that we seem to be missing out on.

Failing Fats looks at just how much misinformation has spread regarding fat intake. It would seem that the entire food industry has shaped us to their design. Somewhere along the way they succeeded in getting everyone else to go along for the ride. The very organisations and institutions that we rely on to look out for our best interests seem as disastrously misinformed as the rest of us. Brain health and the effects of food on our moods is covered with a look at the benefits of EPA supplementation.

Finally, Prescription Junkies looks at the culture of medicate now worry about it later. With big pharma trying to control every aspect of health care from preventitive to paleative we are discouraged at every turn from taking matters in to our own hands, made to feel awkward for asking questions about our health care and expected to simply follow the prescription. The Health Delusion makes it clear that our most pressing issues cannot be solved with a pen and a presciption pad. Our health lies in our diet and our lifestyle. Simple as that.

Health Delusion delights in asking difficult questions and then answering them. The information notes through out are engaging, each chapter concludes with recommendations. For those who are interested a complete reference list of accompanying research is included.
[...]
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on 11 February 2014
This is mostly a superb book if you ignore the last two chapters. He deals with many of the nutrition myths perpertrated by the media, big pharma, big food and health food shops, and explains them in an easy to understand way. If the book had just ended there it would have been fine, but they just fall off the rails at the end wittering on about lowering cholesterol and taking statins, as if this were the nineties or noughties. We have moved on from there even if big pharma has not.

We should not be trying to lower our cholesterol and we do not need to take statins exept if we have actually had CHD. There are many scholarly articles about this so I do not need to list them here. Yes statins do lower cholesterol, but firstly that is not how statins work, they work by dissolving the plaques formed after CHD. Secondly it has been shown that lowering cholesterol actually has a negative effect on health, for all sorts of reasons. Thirdly although RCTs show that statins do lower the rate of CHD slightly, they actually increase mortality from ALL causes. Hardly what you want.
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on 17 June 2012
A thoroughly enjoyable and informative read! It sheds light on so much of the myth and misinformation regarding food, supplements, health and what we are 'fed' by the media. This should be required reading for every health professional as it provides a very credible, evidence-based and concise guide to the role of nutrition in health.

As a current student on the MSc at the University of Surrey, I can appreciate the huge volume of reading, critique and evaluation that has taken place to produce this book. It is a handy 'pocket book' guide to have with you all the time as it provides up to date conclusions on many of the current hot topics - Vitamin D, antioxidants, Selenium, Fish oils, bad fats, 5 a day, pregnancy, foods for the brain and many more!

Shocking facts behind the industries which put profit first and put our heath in jeopardy are investigated. However, the book, with its balance of humour and fact, gives hope to all as it shows we can get regain control of our own lives and get back into balanced and better health. For those who like all the references and a good scientific read, the references are plentiful and a website is given for further information. I highly recommend this book. A must for your shelf!
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on 28 May 2012
In a fairly radical departure from the uplifting, spiritual books HayHouse publishing is well known for, this is a grounded, hard-hitting, scientific-research based look at our health.

Both the title and the subtitle imply a broad-sweeping coverage, but this book principally focusses on nutritional health. It is similar in remit to "The Diet Delusion" by Gary Taubes, although somewhat easier to read. But matters such as poor sleep, social bonds or purpose in life can undermine the benefits of nutrition. So do not expect a wide-ranging guide to prime health.

Fortunately, nutrition is enormously influential on our well-being, and `The Health Delusion' does also extend its scope to embrace the effect of exercise and sunshine on health. And what is offered makes for a solid, informative read that will hopefully enlighten a large audience.

The authors were appalled to learn how much the nutritional information thrust upon us by political, medical and commercial powers was not only misguided, but often damaging for our health. Armed with their masters degrees in nutrition, they scoured the latest research to furnish their concerns with hard evidence. Along the way, they discovered additional, unexpected findings that should make for engaging reading, and reveal how regularly the pharmaceutical industry places profits ahead of our health.

The book adopts a somewhat flippant style at the start, but one that only occasionally resurfaces later in the book. They are making statements that fly in the face of established conventions, so would have done better to avoid comments such as "... unless you happen to believe that the X-Men are real ...". But very soon, you are hit by a lot of research conclusions that do indeed make a serious refutation of much of what we are told. I do not want to spoil the reading experience, but by way of example, anti-oxidants are not exactly the vital scavengers they are made out to be.

Since the book is heavily contingent on research findings, they are very smart to take time to provide a splendidly clear explanation of the different classes of research and their relative significances to our health. Terms such cohort and epidemiological now make sense. So research results are placed in a much better light that many newspapers achieve.

Overall, a pretty consistent, balanced, undogmatic perspective on the science of nutrition is offered, with discussion of selenium a great example of this balance. The tendency to take large doses of supplements as a prudent - more is better - approach is flawed, with the effect of too much selenium in our diet shown to be as bad as too little.

I checked the reference for the selenium content in brazil nuts as the finding was alarming, and found the paper corroborated their findings. It was easy to find the paper since the web site to accompany the book has links for all the references.

Whilst there is much to praise, there are areas of concern. They fall into the trap of stating that `... a calorie is a calorie ...', without scientific basis. The body is a dynamic, complex food processor, choosing whether to store, use or excrete food. The body drives the process and the nature of the calories has a bearing on that process.

They mention the importance of milk but not of raw milk. They wisely recommend nutrition from food rather than supplements but recommend the latter with regard Omega 3 fatty acids. But they do at least list the relative values of the EPA and DHA Omega 3 fatty acids naturally occurring in fish.

The book sometimes gets a little too focussed on the science and not focussed enough on the application of that science to improve our health.

However, in spite of these shortcomings, "The Health Delusion" is worthy of a 5 star rating simply because there are enough important messages proffered in an accessible and well-referenced manner that as many people as possible should read it.
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on 2 January 2013
I love this book. As a doctor with a special interest in obesity and nutrition I read a lot of books related to this topic and this is one of my greatest recent reads. Because it is different. It is easy and fun to read, written in a relaxed but informative style and made me laugh and think seriously all at the same time. But it does so much more.

Most nutrition based books tend to have similar basic messages, tweaked to fit the particular agenda of the author, whether it is low carb, paleo, vegan, raw - the list goes on, and I believe that many of them have merit. The authors of this book, however, have let the evidence form their opinion rather than forming an opinion and then digging up evidence to support it as so many others apparently do.

Also refreshing is that the book does not contain any tired old messages about 'eat more fruit and vegetables and eat less junk', a mantra that is repeated too much elsewhere. In Western society we already know this, it does not need to be repeated again here. What this book does do is grapple with some of the big health/nutrition questions of the day, including - do we all need to be vegan? Is dairy bad for you? Is saturated fat as bad for you as they say? What about supplements? And others. And they answer them. Based on an extensive review of pretty solid evidence.

The recommendations at the end are quite brief, but on reflection this is entirely appropriate - if you think of all the general, obvious, healthy eating messages that are already in the public arena, add the information in this book to them and apply a modest amount of common sense then most people probably have all they need to achieve exceptional health; this book has done its job and done it brilliantly.I would recommend it to anyone who takes their health seriously and who wants to go beyond eating 5 a day and take it to the next level. Although to be honest, I'd recommend it to everyone!

A must have.
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