Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food by Catherine Shanahan
I’ve read a good many health and nutrition books over the years. Considering there are only so many food choices/sources out there I guess I thought I’d lost the ability to be surprised, but I’m happy to report that I’m wrong!
Catherine Shanahan starts the book by giving many examples of how food promotes health and healing. It always amazes me how many illnesses we are willing to live with, thinking that there’s no better way. For instance, allergies run in our family so, until recently, I thought allergies were just a fact of life. The luck of the draw, so to speak. I accepted the fact that allergies were something we’d have to manage and accommodate. Tough luck. Too bad, so sad. The GAPS diet had already changed my mind on that point, but Deep Nutrition does a much better job, in my opinion, of explaining how much food can influence which genes are activated. You do not necessarily have to suffer through illness just because it runs in your family!
After establishing the amazing ability of the human body to protect and even restore health, Shanahan begins to detail what foods are beneficial and why with her Four Pillars of World Cuisine. She highlights traditional cuisine from around the world and talks about the similarities between them. Korean kimchi, Japanese tsukemono, Chinese suan cai, Filipino atchara, and Salvadoran curtido are all fermented vegetables, for example. They may look and taste different, but they all work to replenish good bacteria in the gut.
As for foods to avoid, sugar, vegetable oils, wheat, fluoride, aspartame, and MSG make the top of the list. The book shows why these foods are so bad for us and how they deplete our bodies of nutrition. Deep Nutrition spends some time explaining how these foods became so widespread and how the mainstream wisdom vilifying meat and fat could be doing us serious harm.
As for what I didn’t care for in the book, there’s not much to say. I didn’t care much for the section on health and beauty, but it was interesting to read, nonetheless. Just not necessary, in my opinion. The only other complaint one may have is that it forces the reader to take responsibility for their health. It’s much easier to play the victim and look for quick fixes instead of doing the hard work of eliminating processed foods and introducing a more traditional menu. The diet, like GAPS, is starting to gain some notice, but is certainly not trendy the way veganism and vegetarianism is, which can make it difficult to implement; it certainly flies in the face of what many consider to be healthy!
Deep Nutrition was a great read and is worth buying to add to the family library! I can see it being reread over the years and loaned out to family and friends again and again.