Thursday, October 6, 2011

Joy Bauer's "Food Cures" Review

Recently I received a copy of the newly revised and updated "Food Cures" by Joy Bauer, nutritionist and health expert on The Today Show. Before I received the book, I had honestly never even heard of Joy Bauer, nor this book, which was a New York Times bestseller. I know, I'm not sure where I was, either. I spend most of my time pursuing specialty nutrition topics such as raw foods and veganism, so the popular basic primers usually slip by me unnoticed. However, I'm actually pretty impressed with this book, and I'll tell you why.

Firstly, this isn't a book you'll ever have to sit down and actually read from cover to cover to get some benefit from it. It's almost perfectly designed for people who don't want to know anything more than what they need- and for that reason alone, it's already at the top of my list for clients who are just beginning their journey into health and healing. Each chapter focuses on an individual diagnosis or ailment, such as arthritis, weight loss, vision, memory, IBS, cancer prevention, and loads more. This is a huge book, topping out at over 500 pages in the index, but most people will simply pick up the book, find the chapter that they need, and follow the step by step instructions on how to reduce or eliminate their symptoms. It's so freaking easy.

What really made this book stand out for me was the information on anti-inflammatory diets for arthritis. This is something I've been sharing with friends, family, and clients for years with the large majority of people dubious about the idea that their diets were actually increasing or even causing their pain. Now I can simply refer them to a television personality who agrees with me. It's illogical, but the majority of people will take advice more seriously if it's from someone famous.

In addition to the information on dietary adjustments for inflammation, Joy has included herbal and supplement recommendations here, as well, and she and I couldn't agree more. In fact, the three herbs that Joy suggests for arthritis are, no joke, the exact three that I recommend and use in my anti-inflammatory tincture blends. This little snippet really sold me on the book.

The diet suggestions, while they may not be exactly what I would consider ideal, they are exactly what I teach to my clients who have no idea where to begin and need to take small and steady steps towards vibrant health. This is not a vegan or even vegetarian text, but it is vegetarian friendly, and you will find suggestions for alternatives here. Lots of loving attention is lavished on fruits and vegetables, and it's clear that Joy really understands and makes good use of the healing power of phytonutrients. Recipes are abundant, and several sections contain entire meal plans to help you get started on your individual nutritional healing plan. Also, obtaining as much nutrition as possible from fresh, whole foods is recommended over excessive supplementation, which I also agree with.

There are a few down points in this text for me, such as the heavy reliance on modern studies to "prove" the effectiveness of certain herbs that have been used successfully for centuries. For instance, Joy does not recommend that people take Gingko Biloba for memory problems simply because a study showed that it didn't work. Studies are rarely conducted on the effectiveness of herbs, since spending money on proving that free cures exist really defeats the entire purpose of funding a study. Oftentimes, the studies that are performed on herbs are not performed at the correct dosages, or use extracts instead of the actual plant matter. Furthermore, in order to conclusively prove something with a study, you need more than one. You need more than five. You need a entire body of work, and that's just not something that anyone's been interested in funding so far. There's a lot more money in proving that herbs don't work, and that expensive drugs do. I definitely don't think it's fair to negate centuries old medicine just because we can't figure out how it works.

Another part of this book that really knocked it down a peg was the constant reliance on dairy for calcium. Calcium in dairy is not properly balanced with magnesium, and furthermore the protein in dairy will produce acid when metabolized and in turn encourage your body to use up it's calcium as a buffer, and this calcium comes straight out of your bones. Add to that the studies that have linked IGF-1 in milk to Type 1 diabetes and the fact that the calcium in kale and other plant foods is absorbed in greater quantities in the human body than that in dairy, and you've got a whole host of reasons not to use it. I'm not even going to bother with all the ailments it's proven to cause. We'll save that for another post and just conclude here that I don't agree with Joy on this point.

However, it's a rare client that dives into these sort of changes overnight, and using this book could potentially start the average person on a lifelong journey towards true healing, and for that reason alone I think this is a great book. It's the perfect gift for that person in your know the one. The one who tells you you're going to get sick from eating raw food around a mouthful of Taco Bell. This is the sort of thing that they can get on board with and will make a drastic difference in their health and well-being without appearing "extreme". Remember, we're trained to think that the state of dis-ease is normal, and it's hard to relate to that ideal once you've broken the illusion.

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