Book Summary: In Defense of Food, Part 2

If you missed the first review, it is here.

Part 2: The Western Diet and The Diseases of Civilization

1 –  The Aborigine In All Of Us:

  • A very interesting study was done on 10 Aborigines who lived in Derby, Australia.  Since leaving their villages and adopting a western style of eating, they became overweight, had elevated triglycerides in their blood, developed Metabolic Syndrome, and diabetes.  Their diet consisted of sugar, rice, soda, alcohol, powdered milk, meat, potatoes, onions, and a few vegetables and fruit.  In the experiment, they agreed to leave civilization and return to the bush to see if their health would improve.  For seven weeks their diet consisted of seafood, birds, kangaroo, grubs, larvae, fish, yams, figs, honey, and crocodile.  After the 7th week, there were striking improvements in almost all areas of health.  All ten participants had lost weight, had lowered blood pressure, lower triglycerides in their blood, and most interesting – some of them no longer had diabetes, and the ones who still did were showing signs of reversal.
  • Shows an interesting link between diet and health.

2 – The Elephant in the Room

  • Those who eat a Western Diet (much of the world) have higher rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
  • People who come to the west and adopt this style of eating also suffer from these problems.
  • Another interesting study done by a dentist who had a theory that poor nutrition caused cavities.  He studied all cultures and different respective diets.  He discovered:
  1. Populations eating a wide variety of foods had no need for dentists at all.
  2. Refined flour, sugar, canned/chemically preserved foods, and vegetable oils negatively impacted tooth decay.
  3. There was no single diet that proved superior.  Some tribes consumed no produce at all, but ate only meat. Others consumed no dairy, but the common thread was that they were eating plants and animals that were fresh and from good soil.
  • Soil has been highly processed due to fertilizers.  Most of it now has synthetic nitrogen, which strips nutrients from plants.

3 – The Industrialization of Eating: What We Do Know

  • What we need is a broader view of food – don’t think of it as a chemical, but as a system.
  • Start thinking of food as a relationship between the ecosystem, plants, animals, and us.  We are all helping and influencing each other.
  1. From Whole Foods to Refined: The history of refining and processing grains.  A whole food is more than the sum of its nutrient parts.  Studies were conducted where parts of a grain were isolated.  Those who ate the whole grain compared to those who ate this isolated part showed more benefits.
  2. From Complexity to Simplicity:  Foods start out as a complex set of nutrients and antioxidants, but by the time they get to us they are simplified/un-nutritious.
  3. From Quality to Quantity:  We are now concerned with producing food as cheaply as possible.  Foods are so depleted that we have to eat more to get the same amounts of nutrients.  We now have to eat 3 apples to get the same nutrients in one 1950’s apple.  Farmers produce 600 more calories per person per day, prices have fallen, portions have increased, and we are eating more.  Basically we are overfed and undernourished.
  4. From Leaves to Seeds: We are eating more seeds than leaves.  Omega-3 fats are found in leaves.  These are important to the diet.  Omega-6 fats (also important), found in seeds, block the absorption of Omega-3 fats.  They compete for the space in cell membranes and for certain enzymes, so too many Omega-6s can be just as much a problem as too little Omega-3s.  The introduction of seed oils (soybean oil especially) now results in Omega-6s outnumbering Omega-3s ten to one.
  5. From Food Culture to Food Science:  Cultural food traditions are dying.  We are no longer taught about food harvesting and preparation from our Grandmothers, but from science, journalism, and government.

I finished this book tonight and will sum up the rest soon.  I don’t want to overload your brains (or mine) with too much mumbo jumbo in one night. 🙂

**Just a side note that the No Processed Food Challenge will start next Monday, January 9th.  Excited for the next week!!**

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