bookThe Unhealthy Truth, by Robyn O’Brien, is not a new nutrition book.  It is a book that lifts the veil on what is actually in our food – even our “unprocessed food.”  It sheds new light on why we Americans are in this food allergy epidemic.  I love this book.  It is powerful, bold and inspiring.  While it is aimed at parents, and written by a parent, it is a must read for everyone who eats: that means you.

 

I have some food sensitivities so I am much more open to the concept that the food we take in dramatically affects the way we feel, think and even sleep.  After years and years of going to different doctors, and right when I was about to go on two more prescription medications, I started a gluten-free diet and pretty much ALL my ailments went away.  It was a mixed emotion thing when I realized that this wasn’t a fluke and that I really was better.  My husband was so thrilled to not have me swinging back and forth between digestion pains, stomach pains, and daily headaches (well, the combo of gluten-free and staying away from Diet Coke cured those headaches).  We could finally hit dinner and a movie without me clutching my stomach saying I couldn’t make it.

On the flip side, I was also really angry that this whole time my problem had been a DIETARY issue, and it had gone undiagnosed.  Oh, plenty of prescriptions were thrown my way for ulcers, headaches, acid reflux, excessive stomach acids…but no one ever thought to say “Hmmmm, what do you think is CAUSING this?”  I mean, sure, they asked about STRESS.  This always made me laugh…let’s ask the lady who has three small kids and keeps starting new businesses and is married to a husband who is either starting a new business, turning around a business or is working for a start-up if she’s stressed.  The question itself stresses me out!  Oh, did I mention that my gluten-free diet even made my monthly mood swings and cramps almost disappear?  My kids are so happy as I used to be a mean Mom for a few days each month…..

OK – back to the book. It’s not a book about gluten-free, I just wanted you all to see first hand my path which taught me that food really is responsible for much of the way we feel day to day.  The book is about how we Americans have an ever increasing rate of allergies, asthma and diabetes and how all these autoimmune disorders (yes, allergies, asthma and diabetes are all autoimmune disorders) have a direct relationship with the way we live: our environment and of particular interest, our food.  Robyn O’Brien, founder of Allergy-Kids, makes a very compelling case.  Read this book.

O’Brien, “just a Mom” three years ago, had a child diagnosed with an egg allergy.  Three of her four kids ended up with food allergies and she started researching WHY diligently.  In some ways, this really is a book about just how far reaching one person’s passion can carry-even when up against some formidable foes.  And, wow, does she have some formidable foes.  She’ll inspire you.  Read this book.

The connections made in The Unhealthy Truth will make anyone pause and think.  I can’t imagine ANYONE dismissing her theories out of hand.  This is not a political book, but my gosh the connections made between industry and the influence over our FDA throughout all the previous administrations since the 1970’s is astounding.  Remember what I said in the second paragraph about my headaches?  Gluten-free and getting rid of Diet Cokes, I was spending 3 -4 hours a day in bed during May 2008.  I had no idea where this daily head pain was coming from.  My friends and family were getting really worried.  I had heard a bit about an Asparatame-headache connection and thus I decided to stop drinking Diet Coke.  Within three days my headaches were so much better, but not all the way gone.  They would disappear completely six months later with the gluten-free diet.  With that background, when I read in The Unhealthy Truth about all these buried studies about seizures and serious neurological issues connected with Asparatame, I wanted to jump up and down and scream “Me TOO!  My head hurt like CRAZY!”  Read this book.

Do genetically modified (GM) foods scare you?  I always scoffed at the idea that they should scare us.  I mean, really, who cares?  Farmers have been slowly genetically modifying everything from cows to corn for centuries.  The truth is that we should be concerned.  We have scorpion poison being genetically modified into our vegetables to make them resistant to insects.  Scorpion poison……and much more.  I’m not scoffing anymore.  O’Brien theorizes that the introduction of GM soy into most of our processed foods in 1996 (approx 70% of all American processed foods contain GM soy) potentially caused the huge peanut allergy epidemic we all directly or indirectly deal with daily.   Read the book to see why this theory makes sense as a full explanation here would require another blog post.

O’Brien masterfully connects the dots and let’s us decide if we really need to be eating these things and why so many countries around the world have banned them.  Did you know that in England, the Wal-Mart arm, called Asda, as well as Kraft, Coca Cola, and Mars candy company have all voluntarily removed artificial colors, aspartame and even the preservative sodium benzoate from their products?  (I don’t even want to get into how sad it is that these are American companies changing, for the better, foods for a non-American consumer group when ours stays the same.)  The South Hampton study, that O’Brien sites, makes it painfully clear on the relationship between these artificial food dyes, mixed with the preservative sodium benzoate, and hyperactivity.  Since the artificial food dyes are almost always paired with this preservative, it makes sense to study their combined effect.  After reading, I took my kids off all these dyes, for the sake of my HIGHLY ENERGETIC son.  My daughter said to me today, after three weeks of this,

“Mom, Charlie is sitting pretty still at hook up now.  He used to get warnings from the teachers because he was going crazy.  But now, he is SO good!”

I think he now finally CAN be still as I’m not feeding him bright orange mac’n’ cheese, cheese it’s, orange gold fish, cake with red icing, and Gatorade!  Read the book.  You’ll see if you too want to experiment with no food dyes….

There is so much more in this book and I’m passionate that everyone NEEDS to read it! Davis Kidd just got in 20 of these books yesterday (as they usually only have a couple on hand.)  So, run by TODAY and get it.  If they run out, just put your name on the wait-list, they’ll order more.  Just published, this needs to be the Nashville cocktail conversation as I’m sure there will be some that say “B.S” while others who dramatically change the way they and their families eat.  No matter which side of the aisle you come down on, at least be informed enough to make the decision.  Read this book.

This is not a book on nutrition per se; it is a book explaining how what we eat is not necessarily what we think we are eating. Our corn, soy, milk, vegetables and more are not what our parents raised us on.  And the Pop Tarts, crackers and mac n’ cheese are definitely not the same.  All you have to do is look around at all the peanut allergies to KNOW that something weird is going on.  Read this book.