The Five “Must Read” Nutrition Books of 2012

by Dr. Jonny Bowden · 20 comments

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This is the time of year where book and movie critics come up with their “Best of the Year” lists, so I thought it a perfect time to do my own version of same.

These five books—only three of which actually came out this year—are must reading for anyone interested in health, nutrition and diet.

Now before you read ahead, let me make a couple of disclaimers:

  1. There were plenty of great books that came out this year that didn’t make this list. Chief among them are The Virgin Diet by my sister-from-another-mother, JJ Virgin, and the absolutely wonderful Blood Sugar Solution by my friend Mark Hyman. But I was looking for titles that are paradigm shifters—that is to say, they question the conventional wisdom about things we believe are true, and literally argue for a change in the way we think about health and nutrition. (Both “The Blood Sugar Solution” and “The Virgin Diet” are programs, and I wanted to focus on the science behind the programs, on outstanding books that are radical departures from conventional thinking.)
  2. The second disclaimer you’ll find in my description of book number five.

So here we go!

Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD

This superb book completely turns conventional wisdom about wheat (and grains) on its head, and it’s about time. Though many people are becoming aware of potential problems with gluten, Davis makes clear that there’s a lot more in modern wheat products that we need to be concerned with. Writing in a clear and readable style, Davis explains that the wheat we eat today bears little resemblance to the wheat our grandparents consumed, and why that should be of great concern to all of us. If you’ve ever wondered why bread can be addictive to so many people, or why wheat in particular tends to be fattening, or why you get brain fog after eating grains, this book will lay it all out for you. If you still believe all the standard American Dietetic Association talking points about “whole grains” and “whole wheat”, reading this book may give you a much different perspective. And if you’re looking to lose weight, it’s a must-read.

Sugar Nation by Jeff O’Connell

“Sugar Nation” was actually written before 2012, but it’s one of the most important books you may never have heard of. O’Connell’s story is personal, entertaining and incredibly informative. He’s a well known writer and editor (formerly of Muscle and Fitness, currently of Bodybuilding.com) who’s 6’5” and exercises religiously, yet he found himself with a diagnosis of Type ll Diabetes.

“Sugar Nation” tells the true story of what has happened to the US food supply over the past decades. In his quest to understand how he wound up with diabetes, O’Connell takes us on a journey, which includes interviews with some of the leading experts in the low-carb community. In this highly readable book you’ll learn about the politics of sugar, and a lot about why our nations leading “health” organizations (like the American Diabetes Association) don’t take a firm stand on avoiding it. And you’ll learn how sugar really impacts our health.

Fat Chance by Robert Lustig, MD

Lustig is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco whose lecture on sugar was a surprise viral hit on YouTube, garnering almost 3,000,000 views and landing him a book deal. “Fat Chance” is the book, and it’s one of the most important books on nutrition I’ve read in a long time.

If you’ve seen Lustig’s YouTube lecture—called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, you won’t be surprised at the subject matter, but you’ll be fascinated by the detailed, well-argued case Lustig makes against fructose as the number one promoter of metabolic dysfunction and obesity. Particularly brilliant are the sections on leptin and appetite regulation. Read this book and you’ll never again fall for any of the “Sweet Surprise” propaganda about how fructose is perfectly harmless. It’s not. Read this book.

Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

“Why We Get Fat” is a book that truly sets conventional wisdom about overeating on its ear. Taubes convincingly argues that the traditional thinking about obesity has the equation backwards. “We don’t get fat because we overeat,” he says, “we overeat because we’re getting fat”. Sound crazy? It’s not. Through detailed, well-reasoned arguments, Taubes shows that hormones and enzymes promote obesity,  and overeating is the result. Scientifically accurate and yet counter-intuitive, this book will change the way you think about calories and over-consumption. It’s one of the best arguments I’ve ever seen for lower carb diets and explains in details why it’s carbohydrates—not calories—that’s driving the obesity epidemic.   If you haven’t read Taubes, one of the best science writers of this generation, this is a great place to start.

The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden and Stephen Sinatra, MD

OK here’s the disclaimer I promised: I wrote this book, so of course I want you to buy it and read it. But that’s not why it’s on this list. It’s on this list because I honestly believe it has the power to change how we think about diet, heart disease and cholesterol.

It’s definitely the most important book I’ve ever written.

Cholesterol-phobia has informed all the dietary recommendations from major health organizations and from the USDA for over 30 years, and the obesity and diabetes epidemics are a direct result of those shifts in eating patterns. After all, where did the crazy “low-fat” diet come from? Fear of fat because it “clogs up your arteries” (not true) and it raises cholesterol (true but not in the way you think!)

But what if cholesterol were not a cause of heart disease? What if statin drugs were far more dangerous than you’ve been led to believe? What if lowering cholesterol didn’t save lives? And what if our emphasis on lowering cholesterol (with drugs that have a list of side effects as long as your arm) was misplaced and caused us to take our eye off the real causes of heart disease, things we could easily do something about without taking statin drugs?

That’s the thesis of this book, and it’s supported with well over 200 citations from peer-reviewed scientific papers. We’re certainly not the first health professionals to call the cholesterol myth “the greatest scam ever perpetrated on the American public”, but we feel we make the case in the clearest and most accessible way.

The book will be featured on a special Dr. Oz show to be aired on Christmas Day.

If you know anyone who has heart disease, is afraid of getting heart disease, is on a statin drug, or is generally concerned with their overall health, please give them this book. It has the potential to save their lives.

Spend some time with each of these five books and I can promise you you’ll know more about the real risks to your health than half the health professionals in America. Better yet, you’ll have a clear understanding about what to do about them.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne

Hi Jonny

I stumbled across you yesterday when I was sent a link, so have since found your blog.

Another 2 books you should add to this list are Sweet Poison and Big Fat Lies by David Gillespie. They have made waves here in Australia.

I look forward to reading more of your stuff in the future

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S.R.

Congrats in advance of my reading this book. It’s about damned time for someone to attack the ridiculous and deadly cholesteol haters; I’ll bet “controlling cholesterol” has killed more people than…well, I can’ t think of an apt comparison.

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Patrick Meijer

I am currently reading your book The Great Cholesterol Myth and I love it! Not only is it simply very clear and no nonsense, I really enjoy your sense of humor. Moreover, as an almost graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I have found myself a target market after reading your book (and I am not even finished yet) and that is men with cholesterol issues.

I will therefore take your word on the other books recommendations and order these today! Well done Jonny, I have become a keen follower of your blog ;-)

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Dr. Jonny Bowden

thank you! you’re very kind! These days i’m recommending “Fat Chance” by Robert Lustig, and of course, “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes and “Wheat Belly” by William Davis.

warmly
jb

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Jennifer

Hi Jonny, I am a big fan of what you do and use your information and recipes to be constantly tweaking my own own diet and vitamin regime to feel good, look good and reduce inflammation. I have genetically super high cholesterol (350) with a great HDL so I take Ezetimibe every day and pravastatin 3 times a week. I don’t want to be on a statin however I never know if the research I read against taking them (such as your book) applies to people with genetic high cholesterol as opposed to people who are able to lower there cholestral with diet and exercise. Best Regards, Jennifer

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Patrick Meijer

Hi Jonny,

It’s me again ;-) As I have come to see you as an authority in the field of CVD I am turning to you with a question. I read your book Cholesterol Myth in which you advocate among other L-carnitine. Now I just received the latest info from Dr Gabe Mirkin who refers to a study in Nature Medicine, published online April 7, 2013 which shows that carnitine can increase blood levels of TMAO, a chemical that markedly increases the formation of arteriosclerotic plaques in mice arteries.

I apologise for putting this on your blog post but I don’t know how contact you directly with this question. If you wish to keep this ‘non blog related’ post correspondence outside your blog, please email me at patrickthediver@hotmail.com

Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge.

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Patrick Meijer

On the same note I came across this very interesting study from years back in the Journal of American College of Cardiology which shows that consumption of saturated fat impairs the anti-inflammatory properties of high-density lipoproteins and endothelial function which goes against your (and my) idea that saturated fat is heart healthy. What is your opinion on this?

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Dr. Jonny Bowden

i have read that study and subsequent analysis and critiques of it and my opinion is that it is not anything i would take very seriously

warmly
jb

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Dr. Jonny Bowden

hi

i did a blog post on this recently, also posted on it on Huffington Post.

warmly
jb

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Mariano Cannon

By having cholesterol as this middle-man, this has allowed an entire pharmaceutical industry (and stupid cook books) to come up with ways of lowering cholesterol. The most lucrative of these has clearly been statins – drugs designed to stop the body producing the cholesterol that it is designed to produce. It never hurts to remind people that one statin alone, Lipitor, has been worth $125 billion to Pfizer since 1997 . Taubes has a deeply troubling passage in The Diet Delusion where he looked at the committee who approved a lowering of the target cholesterol levels for the USA population. From memory (it’s a big book to find a reference!), a number of people were on the committee and all but one were funded by pharma companies and one didn’t want the target cholesterol level lowered. I wonder which one! (Anyone reading this – if you can find the page number I’d be so grateful – my copy has so many scribbles on I can barely read it).

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Dr. Jonny Bowden

actually it was 8 out of the 9 members of the committee!

warmly
jb

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Beryl Lindsay

By having cholesterol as this middle-man, this has allowed an entire pharmaceutical industry (and stupid cook books) to come up with ways of lowering cholesterol. The most lucrative of these has clearly been statins – drugs designed to stop the body producing the cholesterol that it is designed to produce. It never hurts to remind people that one statin alone, Lipitor, has been worth $125 billion to Pfizer since 1997 . Taubes has a deeply troubling passage in The Diet Delusion where he looked at the committee who approved a lowering of the target cholesterol levels for the USA population. From memory (it’s a big book to find a reference!), a number of people were on the committee and all but one were funded by pharma companies and one didn’t want the target cholesterol level lowered. I wonder which one! (Anyone reading this – if you can find the page number I’d be so grateful – my copy has so many scribbles on I can barely read it).

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Dr. Jonny Bowden

you are 100 percent right;. There were 9 people on the committee and 8 received funding from the pharmaceutical industry. It’s also in my book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth”

warmly
jb

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Mitchel H. Mccarthy

Dr. Lundell knows for the last 50 years, the cholesterol theory of heart disease has become firmly embedded in the minds of the American people (and worldwide!). It isn’t always easy to change those deep-seated, erroneous beliefs. This book will do so but here’s more .

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Frances V. Cortez

In other words, when you tease apart the subsets of LDL that are preferentially involved in heart disease, total LDL is a less reliable bio-marker. It’s like the sniffles that could signal allergies, or the onset of swine flu, or nothing at all. This ambiguity works both ways. Just because you have less of the symptom (statin users take note) doesn’t mean you’ll have less of the disease. A drop in your total LDL cholesterol might mean nothing at all. A higher LDL cholesterol reading, for that matter, could simply mean you are a healthy person who has learned how to build an amazing sauce out of wine, garlic, shallots, butter, and heavy cream.

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Dr. Jonny Bowden

Couldn’t have said it better.

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Dylan Z. Lowe

So what’s it all come down to? Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol don’t cause heart disease. Check out the cool video below to learn even more than what I have here. Actually it’s the high carbohydrate diets and so-called “heart healthy” vegetable oils (corn, soy, canola, safflower, peanut, etc) that are linked to heart disease, cancer and most all diseases. A diet high in carbohydrates and inflammatory oils increase LDLs and oxidize them – and that can cause atherosclerosis.

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Tracie Ochoa

The Heart Pounding Truth About Cholesterol!Finally, the heart pounding truth about cholesterol is told in an engaging style that all of us outside the medical community need to understand. This is the first health book I’ve ever read in one sitting cover to cover. I couldn’t put it down until I handed to my wife and told her she simply had to read it. What board-certified nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden and cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra have done to blow the lid off the big pharmaceutical companies’ statin-drug-brainwash is nothing less than remarkable, life-saving work!From the first-hand stories these two excellent authors share to make their points clear, to the results of drug studies no paid consultant doctor ever wanted you to know about, The Great Cholesterol Myth will absolutely help you and those you love live healthier lives, while simultaneously not falling prey to prescription drugs that can increase your risk of heart disease and leave you feeling less energetic.Get this book today. Your heart will thank you!

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Julius Rose

What is little known is that Keys originally tried to establish a link between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood (our cholesterol levels when we have a blood test) because he thought (probably because of poor Bugs Bunny) that cholesterol in the blood causes heart disease.

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Carlo C. Robbins

The correct terminology for cardiovascular disease is either “chronic” scurvey or “sub-clinical” scurvey. Medicine has been deliberately steered astray about vitamin C since the 1940s. Elevated cholesterol, elevated homocysteine, and oxidized cholesterol then, are effects, not the cause of CVD. Sugar intake is more closely correlated to cardiovascular disease than cholesterol intake. Pauling and Rath claim that specific non-toxic substances, called Lp(a) binding inhibitors, taken orally will prevent and even dissolve existing atherosclerotic plaque build-ups. The three primary Lp(a) binding inhibitor substances are vitamin C, lysine and proline. They increase blood concentrations of important substances that will strengthen and heal blood vessels, lower Lp(a) blood levels, and keep Lp(a) levels low, and inhibit the binding of Lp(a) molecules to the walls of blood vessels. Lysine and proline work to unbind Lp(a) from the arterial wall. Unlike ordinary drugs, there are no health risks. There is an awesome elegance that these binding inhibitors are completely non-toxic, yet they have been shown to dissolve plaqe in vitro. They are also the basic building blocks of collagen. The theory places poor collagen production at the root of the heart disease problem. Since plaque formation is a surrogate healing process, doctors should not be surprised that plaque reoccurs after invasive surgery.

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