Resources on Food, Diet, and Health

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This post was written for an English course I gave for dieticians at the MHH. I decided to keep it here, as I find the issues discussed to be of general interest.

In this post I have listed some of the internet resources and literature I have read and looked at myself and would and can recommend for anybody interested in going into the issues of food and health more deeply. It is, of course, an incomprehensive list and totally selective.


There are loads of pages specifically interesting for dieticians. One is an American magazine:Today’s Dietician. We read one article from this website that was, admittedly, a little difficult. Nevertheless I would recommend students of nutrition, diet and health to browse through this website, especially the articles archive.

On this blog, in other posts, I have recommended many sites that can be useful for improving or just holding your level of English proficiency. One post is about TED (see post June 8 2013).

Try the link to a playlist under the title: What’s wrong with our food? Here you can listen to 9 talks by people of different backrounds from Jamie Oliver (the chef), who gives a very committed talk on the US’s obesity problem (and how to solve it), to Mark Bittmann (a food journalist), who offers an insightful path through the history of eating in the US from the 1960ies to today. Though some talks might be difficult to follow, they have the advantage of not being so long (so you can watch them repeatedly), and TED talks offer subtitles of high quality (different from the google translator).

Another interesting TED talk is Dr Wahls on how she brought her MS into remission by changing her diet and was able to walk again after already having had to use a wheelchair. For some unclear reason a disclaimer has been placed by TED and has already been severly criticized by viewers of the talk.

Dr Wahl’s TED Talk

Another medical doctor who share’s his thoughts on the internet is Dr Robert Lustig, presenting his research on the dangers of sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup and why he thinks it is mainly responsible for the obesity epidemic in the US.

90 min lecture by Robert Lustig (Dr. med):

I always recommend the BBC website as a place to go. See my page Resources and Recommendations. You can also find material on food and health at the homepage of the BBC as well as under the section World Service/Learning English. Under ‘Six Minute English’ for instance’, you can find a little session on food waste.

A very interesting DVD for discussions on the relation between food and health, the attitude of the (US) medical establishment toward the relationship of nutrition and disease, the food and nutrition situation in socalled Western diets and many other issues is

FOODMATTERS: You are what you eat. .

For more information on the authors and people in this documentary go to their webpage

Books on food and health I have personally read include:

Bailor, Jonathan. 2014. The Calorie Myth. HarperCollins

Charles, Sam. 2013. 3 – Word Diet. (Kindle book)

Cordain, Loren. 2002, 2011. The Paleo Diet. New Jersey: John Wiley & Son

Davis, William A. 2011. Wheat Belly. Rodale

The book has been translated into German under the unfortunate title ‘Weizenwampe’, which in my opinion does not do the otherwise well translated book and especially the original (written by a cardiologist and not a yellow press journalist) justice. Seems the translator could not withstand the temptation of the alliteration. Too bad . ‘Weizenbauch’ would have sufficed. (I know my mother is not necessarily representative, but she felt totally insulted when I gave her the book, and I would not be surprised if she never touches it.)

There is also a presentation on youtube (58 min)

Jaminet, Paul and Shou-Ching. 2012. Perfect Health Diet. New York: Scribner

Hartwig, Dallas and Melissa. 2012. It Starts With Food. Tuttle Publishing

Kendrick, Malcom. 2007. The Great Cholesterol Con. John Blake Publishing Limited

Lustig, Robert. Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar. London: Foruth Estate

Note: A documentary about the ill effects of artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, can be watched in full length on youtube.

Sweet Misery

Lutz, Wolfgang. 2007 (16. ed. first published in 1967) Leben ohne Brot. INFORMED.

This is the only German book I have started reading. I was quite shocked to find that Dr. Lutz (an Austrian) already took a critical stance toward grain carbs in 1967. He warned against an overconsumption of grain products and against the demonizing of fat as it occurs naturally in foods (not industrially processed fat like margarine, transfats, vegetable oil etc.).

Moore, Jimmy (with Eric C. Westman, MD). 2013. Cholesterol Clarity. Victory Belt Publishing Inc.

Nakazawa, Donna J. The Autoimmune Epidemic. 2008. Siman and Schuster, Inc.

Pollan, Michael. 2006. The Omnivores Dilemma. Penguin Press HC

Shanahan, Catherine and Luke. 2008. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Big Box Books

Scrinis, Gyorgy. 2013. Nutritionism: The Science and Politics of Dietary Advice. Allen & Unwin.

Note November 2014 In the mean time I have consulted another German source, though thus far only on the internet. One of the leading proponents of a low(er) carb diet that includes more natural fat and proposes foods low on a glycemic index is

Dr Nicolai Worm.

He refers his concept to the socalled LOGI Method developed in Harvard. Check his internet page under the link above.

Further Literature

A book I have specifically ordered for this course is:

Gable, Judy. 2005 (4th reprint). Counselling Skills For Dieticians. Blackwell Publishing.

I have ordered an additional copy for the school to keep, especially in case we run out of time.

The advice on communication matters is sound, but because the book is a little older some of the dietary advice given in the dialogue examples seems a little outdated (e.g. the authors still adhere to the low fat paradigm).

There has been or seems to be a paradigm shift (or several) that is slowly taking on, at least in professional circles (I don’t know about doctors in general, as I keep reading that doctors learn little to nothing about nutrition in their medical studies.)These shifts include a changing attitude towards those mantras that have been preached over the last 40 years, e.g. fat makes you fat, or to lose weight reduce calories (see e.g. Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories).

From a historical, sociological, epistomological and linguistic point of view the whole issue surrounding what some call the Cholesterol Myth is quite fascinating and would deserve an investigation on its own, regardless which side of the debate is correct.

I have tried to find out where the cholesterol-heart disease link originated, but that is not so easy. Some sources claim it goes back to Ancel Keys, but according to a quote found in Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s book and elsewhere Keys does seem to have been the first to connect saturated fats with heart disease. Keys does not, however, claim a link between dietary cholesterol and cardiological problems. (I also find it fair to note that Ancel Keys died age 100).

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