An Apple a Day is a scientifically curated book by Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D. that brings the much needed clarity to the myths, misconceptions and truths about the foods we eat today. The author’s voice gains respect as he communicates the problem solving skills of his Ph.D. in chemistry through this clear and matter of fact compendium of current research in food and health.
The book An Apple a Day as a well-written balancing act attempts to solve the contemporary confusion in nutritional guidance. This book is desperately needed for the sake of our wellbeing. In the world when contradictory recommendations often emerge in the popular press, with the internet just further stirring the toxic sewage of dubiously credible information, we need to clean the murky waters of the dietary rough ocean of money-to-be-made from products and consultations.
Increasingly today the who-knows-where certified health coaches mushroom in our proximity, so we need a stable, well-rooted trunk to grasp for, and with it to embrace fully the well of our health. An Apple a Day can be the sturdy, rough winds and currents withstanding oak tree that will keep you grounded. Schwarcz scanned the peer-reviewed literature and fused the mutually agreeing results of research in a trustworthy, more probable ‘truths’ about the foods, nutrients and other substances we consume. Whether present in our food, exposure through its packaging, the method of cooking or the air we breathe, the “chemicals” of natural or manmade origin interact with our body in a positive or harmful manner, some to some extend on both ways. Nutrition is not black and white, it is colourful.
The author, warns “be wary about putting too much emphasis on single studies, they rarely produce giant leaps in science”.
If you are unsure about the answers to some of the following questions, then An Apple a Day is a must read for you:
Why we need bacteria for health?
How much, if any meat we need to eat?
Why detox is just a current money-making fad that your own body can do naturally for you?
Is our tap water good to drink? The issues with added fluoride.
Which food additives were proven safe and which not? Antibiotics, acrylamide, hormones, BPA, benzene, nitrates and nitrites, trans-fats, dioxins, …
Do I need a supplement or is it money-thrown-out-of-the-window?
Is organic food a trend or a necessity?
Is sugar an innocent treat? Organic cane sugar VS artificial low calorie sweeteners VS “healthy natural” sweeteners
Why dietary advice by some government organisations differs globally?
What’s is gluten’s potential mischief for non-celiacs?
Are there any miracle foods? What are these and are they worth your money? Açai or blueberry? The benefits of fish oil?
Some food dilemmas emerge throughout the book: cheaper food for all, but at what cost to our health? Another dilemma dwells on the axe of evil – are GMOs the saviours for growing global population and its need to eat or are the genetically modified organisms potential scavengers of the natural balance? Schwarcz, next to other interventions into our food, sees the potential of GMOs for removing gluten from wheat, increasing vitamins and needed nutrients in some plant foods, and more.
- olive and canola oil
- green tea
- Snacks: nuts, high quality dark chocolate and a colourful rainbow of fruits and vegetables – thoroughly washed
- eggs and low fat dairy to improve our absorbable calcium intake
- an occasional treat – whether it’s a croissant, donut, Wiener schnitzel or a burger
- overall balanced calorie intake and expenditure – move a lot
He disproofs of:
- processed foods high in added salt and hydrogenated fat
- nutritionally meaningless or sugary soft drinks
- frying and bbq
- red and processed meat
- any “miracle” foods or beverages that are advertised so
- alkaline diet or alkalising foods
The author also brings to the reader’s attention the reality of individually varied nutrient absorption in the complex human body as well as the hard to totally predict potential of substance interactions. Think twice when you drink that grapefruit juice when taking certain drugs. In such, his research spans beyond the well-published health claims. Uprooting fads is just the catchy suggestion of the title, but there is much more to be found in the book in terms of healthy lifestyle changes.
There are no images inside, but the chapters are concise and read well allowing for one new insight and/or knowledge per moment.
The cherry on the cake for the time-constrained awaits in the final chapter. On just little over two pages, Schwarcz sums up and brings “a solution to the confusion” in a straightforward dietary advice of what you should eat and how to adjust your lifestyle to enhance or maintain your health. Despite the considerable effort to demystify food, the author asserts that “a single meal can flood the body with thousands of compounds, many of which have never been isolated or identified”. All these “chemicals”, be these natural or lab-made, can behave differently in the complex organism of the human body.
And finally, do you want to know where oregano scores over the apple in terms of health benefits? Read this book.