Sources that Fuel the Science Behind Wellness
Dive into the research that powers your journey to a healthier you!
I highly recommend reading the following books as background information and insight on topics covered by this website…
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Search for a Perfect Meal in a Fast-food World
Author: Michael Pollan
Pollan, M. (2011). The omnivore’s dilemma: The search for a perfect meal in a fast-food world. Bloomsbury Publishing.
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” takes readers on a journey through the modern food production system, examining the origins of our meals and the ethical, environmental, and health implications of our food choices. Michael Pollan divides the book into three main sections, each representing a different meal:
- Industrial Meal (Corn): Pollan starts by investigating the industrial food complex, with a focus on corn. He delves into the prevalence of corn in the American diet, tracing its journey from farm to table. This section reveals how corn is used in various processed foods and the environmental consequences of monoculture farming.
- Pastoral Meal (Grass): In this section, Pollan explores alternative food production systems, specifically sustainable and organic farming. He visits a farm that practices responsible animal husbandry and examines the benefits of grass-fed beef. Pollan highlights the importance of knowing where our food comes from and how it’s produced.
- Personal Meal (Forest): The final section of the book follows Pollan’s foraging adventures and explores the idea of the hunter-gatherer as a way to reconnect with nature and food sources. He discusses the ethics of hunting and gathering and the satisfaction of obtaining food directly from nature.
- Food Choices and Consequences: Pollan challenges readers to consider the consequences of their food choices, from the impact on health to the environmental and ethical implications. He advocates for greater transparency in the food industry.
- Industrial vs. Sustainable Agriculture: The book provides a critical examination of industrial agriculture and contrasts it with sustainable, local, and organic food production methods. Pollan encourages readers to support more sustainable practices.
- The Paradox of Choice: Pollan explores the paradox of modern food choices. While we have an abundance of options, many of them are driven by the same ingredient, such as corn, and this can lead to a lack of diversity in our diets.
- Connection to Food Sources: Throughout the book, Pollan emphasizes the importance of knowing where our food comes from and the benefits of establishing a closer connection to our food sources.
“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is a thought-provoking exploration of the modern food landscape, encouraging readers to be more conscious of their food choices and to consider the broader implications of what they eat. It’s a blend of investigative journalism, personal narrative, and philosophical reflection on food and its place in our lives.
Please note that this summary covers the general themes of the book. For more in-depth information and references, I recommend reading the book itself.
Diana Rodgers & Robb Wolf
Rodgers, D., & Wolf, R. (2020). Sacred cow: The case for (Better) meat: Why well-raised meat is good for you and good for the planet. BenBella Books.
“Sacred Cow” delves into the intersection of nutrition, sustainability, and ethics in the context of modern food production. The authors, Diana Rodgers (a registered dietician and nutritionist) and Robb Wolf (a former research biochemist and bestselling author), argue that there’s a need for a more nuanced and balanced discussion about meat consumption.
- The Ethical Perspective: The book addresses the ethical concerns surrounding meat consumption and the treatment of animals. It acknowledges that there are problems with industrial factory farming but argues that responsible, regenerative agriculture can provide a more ethical approach to meat production.
- Sustainability: Rodgers and Wolf explore the environmental impact of meat production, emphasizing the importance of sustainable farming practices. They discuss how well-managed grazing and raising animals on pasture can actually have positive effects on the environment, including carbon sequestration and improved soil health.
- Nutrition: The book discusses the nutritional benefits of consuming meat, highlighting its role in providing essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals. It challenges some prevailing misconceptions about the health effects of red meat.
- Balancing Perspectives: “Sacred Cow” encourages readers to take a balanced approach to meat consumption. It suggests that rather than eliminating meat altogether, individuals should focus on sourcing it from ethical and sustainable sources while reducing overall consumption.
- Alternative Proteins: The book also explores alternative protein sources, such as insects and plant-based options, as potential solutions to reduce the environmental impact of meat production.
- Cultural and Historical Context: Rodgers and Wolf provide historical and cultural context for our relationship with meat, arguing that humans have evolved as omnivores and that meat has played a significant role in our diets for millennia.
- Recipes: “Sacred Cow” includes a collection of recipes that promote a balanced and sustainable approach to meat consumption, showcasing how to prepare and enjoy meat in a healthful and environmentally conscious way.
“Sacred Cow” is grounded in intricate scientific research and aims to foster a more informed and nuanced conversation about meat consumption, taking into account not only health, but also ethical and environmental considerations. This summary is based on the general themes of the book and for specific details and references, I recommend reading the book.
10% Human - How Your Body's Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness
Author: Alanna Collen
Collen, A. (2015). 10% human: How your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness. HarperCollins UK.
In “10% Human,” Alanna Collen takes readers on a journey into the microscopic world of the human microbiome—the trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in and on our bodies. The title refers to the fact that human cells make up only about 10% of the cells in our bodies, while the rest are microbial.
- Microbiome Overview: Collen provides a comprehensive overview of the human microbiome, explaining its complexity and the roles microorganisms play in our bodies. She explores how these microbes impact our health, both physically and mentally.
- Gut-Brain Connection: The book delves into the emerging field of research on the gut-brain axis, showing how the gut microbiome influences not only our digestive health but also our mood, behavior, and even mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
- Diet and Microbes: Collen discusses the profound impact of diet on the composition of our microbiome. She explains how dietary choices can either promote a healthy, diverse microbiome or lead to dysbiosis, an imbalance in the microbial community associated with various health issues.
- Antibiotics and Hygiene Hypothesis: The book explores the effects of antibiotics on the microbiome and the potential consequences of overuse. Collen also delves into the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that our overly sanitized environments may be contributing to the rise in immune-related disorders.
- Probiotics and Prebiotics: Collen examines the use of probiotics and prebiotics as tools to support a healthy microbiome. She provides insights into how these supplements can be beneficial and when they may be appropriate.
- Personalized Medicine: “10% Human” discusses the concept of personalized medicine, where healthcare is tailored to an individual’s unique microbiome. Collen explores the potential for microbiome-based therapies and diagnostics in the future.
- Holistic Health Approach: The book encourages readers to take a holistic approach to health that considers not only genetics but also the symbiotic relationship between humans and their microbial inhabitants.
- Practical Tips: Collen provides practical advice on how individuals can take steps to support a healthy microbiome through diet, lifestyle, and other factors.
“10% Human” is a thought-provoking and accessible exploration of an increasingly important area of scientific research. It underscores the idea that our microbiome plays a crucial role in our health and happiness and that understanding and nurturing this complex ecosystem is essential for overall well-being. This is only a brief summary covering the general themes of the book. For more in-depth information and references, I recommend reading the book.
Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? - The No-nonsense Guide to Achieving Optimal Weight and Lifelong Health
Author: Mark Hyman, MD
“Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” by Dr. Mark Hyman provides a comprehensive guide to making informed and health-conscious food choices in a world filled with conflicting dietary advice. Here’s a summary of the book:
Dr. Mark Hyman begins by acknowledging the confusion and misinformation surrounding nutrition today. He emphasizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diet and that each person’s dietary needs are unique.
The book covers a wide range of topics related to food and nutrition, including:
- The Pegan Diet: Dr. Hyman introduces the concept of the Pegan Diet, which combines principles from both the Paleo and vegan diets. It focuses on whole, real foods and encourages the consumption of fresh vegetables, healthy fats, and high-quality proteins.
- The Importance of Quality: Dr. Hyman emphasizes the significance of the quality of the food we eat. He encourages readers to choose organic, non-GMO, and sustainably sourced foods whenever possible.
- Understanding Macronutrients: The book explains the role of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) in the diet and how to balance them for optimal health.
- Debunking Dietary Myths: Dr. Hyman addresses common misconceptions about fat, sugar, and grains. He provides evidence-based insights into the health effects of these dietary components.
- The Impact of Food on Health: The book explores how food choices influence various health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
- Sustainable and Ethical Eating: Dr. Hyman discusses the environmental and ethical considerations of food choices, encouraging readers to support sustainable and humane food production.
- Practical Guidance: Throughout the book, practical tips and meal plans are provided to help readers make healthier food choices and incorporate them into their daily lives.
- Personalized Eating Plans: Dr. Hyman emphasizes the importance of individualized nutrition and provides guidance on how to tailor a diet to one’s specific health needs and goals.
“Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” serves as a valuable resource for individuals seeking clarity on nutrition and dietary choices. Dr. Hyman advocates for a whole-food, plant-rich diet with an emphasis on high-quality ingredients. His evidence-based approach and practical recommendations empower readers to take control of their health through informed food decisions.
The Scars of Evolution: What Our Bodies Tell Us About Human Origens
Author: Elaine Morgan
“The Scars of Evolution” by Elaine Morgan is a groundbreaking book that challenges traditional theories of human evolution by proposing the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (AAH). In this comprehensive summary, I’ll delve into the key ideas and arguments presented in the book:
- The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis:
- Elaine Morgan introduces the AAH, which suggests that at some point in human evolution, our ancestors lived in a semi-aquatic environment. She argues that many of the unique features of humans can be better explained by this aquatic past than by the savannah-based theories typically proposed.
- Hairlessness and Heat Dissipation:
- Morgan argues that our hairlessness is a key adaptation for a water-based lifestyle. Rather than the conventional theory that humans lost their body hair to regulate temperature on the savannah, she suggests that hairlessness helped with heat dissipation when our ancestors were partially submerged in water.
- Bipedalism and Wading:
- The book explores the idea that walking on two legs (bipedalism) may have developed as an advantage for wading and walking in shallow water. Morgan suggests that bipedalism allowed our ancestors to move efficiently between land and water.
- Subcutaneous Fat and Buoyancy:
- Morgan discusses the distribution of subcutaneous fat in humans and its potential role in buoyancy. She posits that the fat layer under the skin could have helped our aquatic ancestors stay afloat in water, similar to how blubber works in marine mammals.
- Breath-Holding and Diving Reflex:
- The book touches upon the human ability to hold our breath for extended periods and the existence of the diving reflex, which is more pronounced in aquatic mammals. Morgan suggests that these traits may be remnants of our aquatic past.
- Aquatic Diet:
- Morgan proposes that our ancestors’ diet included a significant amount of aquatic foods, such as fish and shellfish. She argues that this diet could explain certain nutritional aspects of human evolution, including the development of our large brains.
- Social Aspects and Evolutionary Adaptations:
- The book also discusses the social and behavioural aspects of aquatic ape theory. It suggests that group living and cooperation, which are important for aquatic foraging, may have played a significant role in human evolution.
- Criticisms and Controversy:
- Morgan acknowledges that the AAH is controversial and that it challenges the established theories of human evolution. The book explores some of the criticisms and debates surrounding this hypothesis.
“The Scars of Evolution” by Elaine Morgan presents a compelling alternative perspective on human evolution, emphasizing the importance of water-based environments in shaping our unique traits. While it remains a subject of debate in the scientific community, the book invites readers to reconsider conventional theories and explore the possibility of our aquatic past. For a more detailed understanding and supporting evidence, it’s recommended to read the book itself and explore further research in this area.
Further reading on the AAH topic: “The Waterside APE – An Alternative Account of Human Evolution” by Peter Rhys-Evans (2020)
Lies My Doctor Told Me - Medical Myths That Can Harm Your Health
Ken D. Berry, MD, FAAFP (Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians)
In “Lies My Doctor Told Me,” Dr. Ken D. Berry questions many of the standard pieces of advice and recommendations provided by the medical establishment. He argues that some conventional wisdom in healthcare is based on outdated or flawed research, leading to misguided practices.
Key themes in the book include:
- Dietary Misconceptions: Dr. Berry criticizes traditional dietary guidelines, particularly the promotion of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. He advocates for a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) approach, which he believes is more aligned with our evolutionary history and can lead to improved health outcomes.
- Cholesterol and Heart Health: The book challenges the idea that dietary cholesterol and saturated fats are the primary culprits in heart disease. Dr. Berry explores the complexities of cholesterol metabolism and questions the effectiveness of statin drugs.
- Nutritional Ketosis: Dr. Berry discusses the benefits of entering a state of nutritional ketosis by reducing carbohydrate intake. He believes that ketosis can lead to weight loss, improved metabolic health, and enhanced mental clarity.
- Intermittent Fasting: The book touches on the benefits of intermittent fasting as a tool for weight management and improved insulin sensitivity.
- The Importance of Real Food: Dr. Berry emphasizes the significance of consuming whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding processed and sugar-laden products.
- Patient Advocacy: Throughout the book, Dr. Berry encourages readers to become advocates for their own health. He suggests asking questions, seeking second opinions, and being proactive in healthcare decisions.
“Lies My Doctor Told Me” is written in a conversational style that aims to make complex medical concepts accessible to a general audience. It challenges readers to reconsider their beliefs about health and wellness and provides practical advice for those looking to make positive changes in their lifestyles.
It’s important to note that while Dr. Berry’s perspective aligns with certain alternative health movements, it may not reflect the consensus of the entire medical community. As with any book on health, it’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals and consider various viewpoints before making significant changes to one’s health regimen.