Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review: Whole 30

Next up for review is Whole30: The 30 day guide to total health and food freedom. There are 2 authors; Dallas Hartwig, who is a licensed physical therapist and Melissa Hartwig.

The goal of this book is to teach you how to reset your health by avoiding all foods that the authors consider unhealthy for 30 days. After the thirty days are over, you re-introduce one food group at a time to see how you physically respond to it. You then decide what you can safely eat and what you should avoid going forward. The book is 422 pages. It is very well written. The authors have a very motivating style of writing and I enjoyed reading this book.

5 Things I Really Liked About Whole 30
1) I really like that this book has you strictly limit refined carbohydrates like bread, white rice, pasta and sugar. I strongly believe that a stable blood sugar is the path to weight loss and greater health. Avoiding these foods will make it much easier to maintain a stable blood sugar.

2) I agree with the authors idea that inflammation is behind most chronic disease. 

3) This book provides a ton of recipes. Cooking for yourself is critical to improving your diet. These recipes make it much easier to do so.

4) I really like the meal template. Combining a source of protein, fat and carb at each meal is critical to maintaining a stable blood sugar.

5) The section on eating out at restaurants is really well done. Eating meals outside of the home is a major challenge to anyone looking to improve their diet. This section gives you some good tips to stay on course when dining out.

5 Things I Didn’t Agree With in Whole 30
1) I do not understand the recommendation to limit nuts. Nuts have consistently been shown in the research literature to improve health (References 1 and 2). They are loaded with protein, healthy fat, fiber, and other micronutrients. They are not in the slightest bit unhealthy.

2) Similarly, I don’t agree with the idea that whole grains are unhealthy and promote inflammation. Whole grains have been shown in the research literature to reduce risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and inflammatory mortality (References 3-6). They are a very important part of a healthy diet.

3) I also don’t agree with the recommendations to avoid legumes. Legumes (like beans and lentils) are nutritional powerhouses. They are loaded with fiber and are an excellent choice of low glycemic load carbohydrate. They are a very good source of healthy vegetable protein and are packed with micronutrients. I don’t understand why the authors would think these are unhealthy.

4) While the book recommends avoiding some very healthy foods like nuts, whole grains and legumes, it also recommends some questionable ones. You can eat potatoes and drink fruit juice on this plan. These foods are very high on the glycemic index/glycemic load scale and should be strictly limited in order to stabilize blood sugar.

Similarly, coconut oil, butter and red meat are given the green light as well. These are unhealthy sources of fat and protein and should be strictly limited.

5) Once the 30 days are up, I feel that the recommendations are a little too open ended. The authors advise adding one food back at a time and then to see how you feel. After you add the food back to your diet, you then decide if and how often you want to have it. I feel like there could have been a bit more guidance about what foods will promote (or hurt) long term health going forward.

Is Whole 30 Worth Reading?
Absolutely! This book gets a lot right. The Whole 30 plan limits refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, sugar and pasta. It helps to stabilize the blood sugar by recommending a source of protein, fat and carb at every meal. I would make just a few small changes: nuts, whole grains and legumes are very good for you and don’t need to be avoided. Saturated fats like coconut oil, butter and red meat should be strictly limited. One last thing, you don’t just want to eat healthy for 30 days and then add a lot of the unhealthy stuff back in. Although it is admittedly difficult, the goal is to eat healthy for the rest of your life.

1) Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 1998; 317:1341-45.

2) Jiang R, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. Journal of the American Medical Association 2002; 288:2554-60.

3) Liu S, Stampfer MJ, Hu FB, et al. Whole grain consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: results from the Nurses’ Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999; 70:412-19.

4) Schatzkin A, Mouw T, Park Y, et al. Dietary fiber and whole grain consumption in relation to colorectal cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health study.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007; 85:1353-60.

5) Sun Q, Spiegelman D, Van Dam RM, et al. White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. men and women. Archives of Internal Medicine 2010; 170 (11):961-69.

6) Jacobs DR, Andersen LF, Blomhoff  R. Whole grain consumption is associated with a reduced risk of noncardiovascular, noncancer death attributed to inflammatory diseases in the Iowa Women’s Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007; 85:1606-14.

No comments: