Some things right, a lot wrong
As a retired cardiologist I have always been interested in diet. I agree with the author that as a speciality medical society, we owe a huge apology to the American public for the diet theory of heart disease. Dr. Hyman does a great job explaining the history of this and why our almost reigious belief of fats in diet causing heart diease was ill conceived and advocated. I too feel ashamed that the original research was not better. When I saw this book on the Non-Fiction best seller list, I just had to read it.
However, with that said, I don’t think the author, who clearly has published a lot of successful books, has done the lay person a service in pusing his “Pegan” diet-kind of compliation of Pagen and Vegan. He has clearly done a lot of reserarch and has quoted some very good and erudite sources. However, most people will not go to those sources and read the original studies. I did in some that I felt he was misinterpeting.
Early on he points out that a food cannot be lableled as good or bad based upon only one or two components. With this I agree. But later on he slams peanuts because of Aflatoxins. They are toxic and a carcinogen. Howerver they also are in tree nuts and seeds which he seems to adore. Ditto for some components of beans and legumes. He spends a lot of time on the environmental impact of foods and also seems to endorse a soda tax. But when he speaks of unpastureized milk at daires, that have caused illness and death, he seems to think the consumer should have “…the freedom to choose the foods we want…"
He notes a study showing low cholesterol causing as much death as high cholesterol, but the study he cites showed extreme low cholesterol levels like those found in people with serious malnutrition or cancer, which likely affected death rates. He does not point out this distinction.
He notes childhood obesity and child fatty livers that lead to liver transplants, but cites no reference to support this claim or put the exact incidence in perpsective. He cites sugar as the culprit for many illness, from diabtes, (agreed) to dementia-unproven.
He misinterpets the reults of the PURE study to say there was “no link between total fat or saturated fat and heart disease.” This has been refuted by the Harvard school of Public health in one of its newsletters.
He pushes the claim about “nightshade” vegetables and fruits, like eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers, reacting badly in “some people” and "causing pain, inflammation, and arthritis.” Yet in Greece and Italy where they are so popluar, inflammatory diseases are no more common than other countries where they are consumed less.
He quotes an article slamming the American Heart Association printed in the on-line app “Medium”. This source publishes virtually anything that is not offensive or hateful. There is zero review of its contents by any expert for accuracy.
He sites the high saturated fat content of breast milk to show it isn’t bad for you. However, this argument ignores the fact that what is good for an infant is not necessarilly good for an adult.
Some of his arguments are dangerous and ill advised, like a ketogenic diet. In my practice I have seen people suffer kidney failure and even die from these.
The most absurd claim however comes with the oft slammed dietary enemy: gluten. He claims that wheat “may” have changed over the years and that this and other factors could be responsible for “a rise in Cesarean sections.” You know what caused a rise in C-sections? It’s called malpractice suits!
It says to avoid lobster since it has too much mercury but if fact it is in the middle zone of fish and shellfish and ounce for ounce has <10% amount of mercury of swordfish.
Lastly, he says Morton’s salt has dextrose or the other big villain-sugar. However, the amount in a serving is so tiny that this claim lacks perspective and foundation and is almost laughable.
I could go on and on but my biggest gripe is that people will believe and try and adopt this diet entirely, after first going throgh his detox program. Good luck eating out at a restaruant on this diet, going to a friends’ house for dinner, or going on vacation.
Sadly there is a lot of good information here. We do eat too much sugar and carbs and processed foods. Fats in food is not as bad as we once thought. But the author too “cherry picks”, as he likes to say, the studies he believes are true and valid. Without a scientific or medical background, I do not know how a consumer can possibly dissect what is accurate here, like we have pushed too much on a high carb low fat diet, and what is far from proven scientitic fact, like almost everyone should avoid gluten.