The Diet Myth by Tim Spector

The Diet Myth can feel like a bit of a ramble until one recognizes that the author is talking about diet (nutrition) and not diet (weight loss). Author Spector (a geneticist) covers nearly every nutritional hot-topic right now – from paleo to superfoods – and discusses why they are useful and why they aren’t (emphasis on the latter). The theme to this book is on gut diversity (abundant bacteria) and genetics – and how these may be the two keys to whether a healthy diet is achieved or fails (which may or may not include weight loss).

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To cover such a broad topic, the book is broken down into sections. The first tackles microbes, energy, and calories. Fats (saturated, unsaturated, trans) then take up four more chapters. Protein (animal, non-animal, milk products), carbohydrates (sugars, non-sugars), fiber, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, cocoa, caffeine, alcohol, vitamins, some warnings (antibiotics and nut allergies), and best-before date usefulness are all discussed after. A final conclusion and glossary round out the book.

Since we have a Commonwealth genetics professor as an author, there is an emphasis on the importance of genetics with relation to everything from allergies to weight loss. The author has done many studies with twins and so those results figure through many of the chapters. But as well, he isn’t afraid to state his opinions and some may find them controversial (such as comparing most diet fads as a religion with people following on faith rather than proven results). I found it refreshing to read, though, and appreciated that the author painstakingly backed up all his facts with notations and references.

Of interest to me was how so many studies touting one thing could be skewed into a completely misrepresented conclusion. He is careful to lay out the fallacies and the resultant bandwagons formed on those faulty assertions.

There are quite a few useful and enlightening discussions that anyone on a diet would certainly benefit from reading. But those with decent health will also find many topics as eye openers to understanding optimum health and longevity. This isn’t a diet book or a diet myth debunker – it’s a very large and in depth discussion of the health industry and relevant/current topics in that field.

The Diet Myth isn’t necessarily easy reading – it is rather dense and straightforward. But the author also doesn’t talk down to the readers and respects readers’ intelligence. If there are some meanderings (I ended up skipping most of the alcohol chapter) they are still for the most part on the topic and provide insight into the topics. So although not a perfect book, there is still so much to learn and understand contained within. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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