Monday, January 29, 2007

Book Review -- "The Maker's Diet"

My dad graciously gave me this book when we stayed with them for Thanksgiving, and I finally finished it recently. Here's a little background on the book:

The author is a doctor who almost died of severe Crohn's disease as a teenager -- his body had simply lost the ability to absorb nutrients from food. He is Jewish and eventually returned to the strict Jewish diet and hygenic lifestyle that's recorded in the Old Testament (mostly the book of Leviticus). By hygenic I don't mean anitseptic by any means; it's more of a "return to the earth" and letting the good bacteria and flora work in our system. Within months he had fully recovered his health, and now he claims that his diet, supplement and hygiene regimen can help lose weight, regain energy and even cure disease.

What I Liked

He seems very passionate and geniune about his journey, and a lot of the science behind his recommendations is solid. I thought several of his points about diet and hygiene were right on:

  • Fatty foods aren't killing Americans... refined carbohydrates are. The human body just wasn't designed to run optimally with insulin spikes all day long. Look up some statistics about the Type-2 diabetes epidemic in our country if you don't believe me.
  • A good mix of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and even some saturated fats (animal fat, mostly) are essential for good health. Dietary fat doesn't necessarily make you fat, just like dietary cholesterol hasn't really been shown to raise blood cholesterol. The human body is weird like that.
  • Vegetables are essential. Period. Eat lots of colors and lots of textures; variety is good.
  • Meat is very good. Beef, poultry and turkey are all good sources of protein, healthy fats and tons of quality phytonutrients (this means it's neither a vitamin nor a mineral). It's important to avoid meat from animals fed a steady diet of corn, antibiotics and growth hormones. Grass-fed animals produce far superior meat.
  • Milk is okay, but the healthy reputation is a little overblown. Again, organic is key. My family only buys Horizon-brand milk for this reason (they promise no artificial hormones in their cows). Wanna take a guess what type of hormones you have to give a cow to produce extra milk? Estrogens, the same hormone that helps women lactate. Do you think any of those cows fed tons of estrogen hormones, far beyond normal levels, might pass some of that on through their milk?
  • Exercise should mimic life. Not many of us need to walk or jog dozens of miles a week, but almost everybody uses some basic muscle functions to do their daily activities. Strength, endurance, mobility and balance are all important parts of a well-rounded, functional body.

What I Wasn't Crazy About

  • He proposes an end to vaccines given to children, saying that they are the primary cause of the rise of allergies. This is possible, but unproven, and there could be dozens or hundreds of other environmental factors in the increase of people with severe allergies. I have a pretty bad peanut allergy, as does my daughter. We'll still take that over diptheria or pertussis.
  • Sometimes it felt like he was saying that technology is our real problem, while providing no alternatives or suggestions. So maybe computers, air travel and electricity all wreak havoc on the human body. Whether or not it's true, that's not a particularly useful statement to me unless I'm planning on joining an Amish fellowship.
  • The last 50 pages of the book are long lists of businesses that provide foods, supplements, natural clothing, soaps, etc... It felt much more like paid-for advertising than a helpful reference.
  • His half-dozen or so "real-life stories" of people whose lives were changed by The Maker's Diet felt pretty forced, and they weren't really corroborated in any way. Real names weren't used and no other witnesses were cited, so I have no idea if the stories are genuine or not.

Overall it was a useful book, although people who aren't bible fans will be put off very quickly by the author's reasoning (using Leviticus as a guide for 21st century life).


FishrCutB8 said...

Great report...I'll pass. And I LOVE Leviticus, too...

Bob Devlin said...

Seems like a lot of the same information we've heard over at JP's. I've been trying to keep to organic fruits veggies and meats for the last 6 months. I think you can taste the difference.

Good reveiw. Thanks.