Monday, June 11, 2012

Book review: Read Me. I am interesting and sciencey.

I read this book:  "The Anti-Inflammation Diet and Recipe Book" by Jessica Black, ND*.

Here is the author's professional web site:

And here is the author's official book site:

Review:  I liked it!  I couldn't find any wrong information in it - which was refreshing since many books with the word "diet" in the title end up being pseudo-science or just stating "facts" that are plain wrong.  Basically, the idea is that the foods we eat are causing chronic inflammation which leaves us more susceptible to injury, diabetes, heart disease, even cancer.

One issue I have (in general and by no fault of Dr. Black's) is that no one mentions that these molecules that are critical for inflammation are ALSO important for other processes in the body.  For example, a friend once asked me why, if arachidonic acid is so bad for inflammation (it really IS a major mechanism for turning on the inflammation response), is it an additive in baby formula (sorry to use your question, friend X but its an important point)??  Well - arachidonic acid doesn't JUST mediate inflammation.  Its a HUGE component of the membrane or protective barrier for our nerve cells.  Without it, brain development halts.  See?  That little molecule that seemed so bad for inflammation turns out to have multiple roles in the body.  This concept is called pleiotropy and its something that's really important to know and understand in life science.  You cannot flood yourself with one molecule that seems "healthy" based on ONE of its jobs without there being consequences for a possible other role for that same molecule.  Don't believe me?  Check this out:

I heard a story on NPR this weekend about how Calcium supplements cause heart disease.  In fact, plaque in your arteries (oh yeah I am talking to YOU!) is only partially made up of that bad boy cholesterol.  The rest is - that's right - CALCIUM.  Do you take a supplement that your doctor suggested?  I did.  Then again, I had my thyroid removed and I needed to support my parathyroids for a while during recovery.  I don't take it any more cause I'm skerred.  Check out this un-scientific but interesting article from an NPR reporter and if you're still skeptical leave me a comment and I will distill the real scientific literature that I've read (in British J Med and JAMA):

Flooding your system with fake Calcium (and before you ask, adding Vit D or Magnesium does NOT change the risk of heart disease) to solve the problem of brittle bones might NOT be the right thing.  Calcium does other things in our bodies - did you know that?  Did you know that every muscle contraction requires calcium?  That the way cells talk to one another - their "language" - is small molecules like (and including) calcium?  And did you know that your artery plaque is made up of calcium?  So are kidney stones and gall stones.

So anyway.  Completely removing something from your body that it requires and that it has EVOLVED to require or flooding your system with fake chemicals that are supposed to take the place of getting said chemicals from a varied diet are not the answer.

I realize I've gone off on a tangent here.  I'm cool with it.  What it boils down to is that our bodies are not prepared for the industrial revolution.  We have only evolved to handle hunting and gathering.  So we should probably only eat berries, lean meat (yeah dude, hot dogs and bacon are not acceptable), the occasional legume and fruit, etc.

I will leave you with this parting thought:

We can talk about that another time. 

*you can buy Jessica Black's book on Amazon or just use this handy link.  You're welcome!  :)


  1. You are so smart. I can't follow. LOL

    1. Hmm. That's not what I was going for :) Is it really too technical - be honest!

  2. It's not too technical for me. But, you actually have to read it and not skim it.