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Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical ...

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating

  • ISBN13: 9780743266420
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As seen on the Today show! The National Bestseller Based on Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health Research…A Revolutionary Guide to Healthy Eating That Topples the USDA Food Pyramid In Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, Dr. Walter Willett explains why the USDA guidelines — the famous food pyramid — are not only wrong but also dangerous. Debunking current dietary myths such as the evils of eggs and how high milk consumption does a body good, Dr. Willett sets an all-new nutrit

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5 Comments for “ Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical ...”

  • Professor Donald Mitchell says:

    Review by Professor Donald Mitchell for Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
    Review Summary: You would have a hard time finding someone in a better position to write this book. Dr. Willett is chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and he heads some of the most important long-term studies of how nutrition affects health. In this up-to-date book, you will learn what the latest research shows about how eating, alcohol use, exercise and not smoking can help you avoid some diseases and birth defects. The book also explains how to read the latest health headlines and interpret the studies they are based on in the future. The lessons are summarized into a Healthy Eating Pyramid that you will find easy to understand, apply, and remember. The book contains a lot of helpful information about how to shop for more nutritious and healthful foods, and easy-to-follow recipes. I was particularly impressed with the summaries of the data on how weight and eating relate to various diseases. The book’s only obvious flaw is that it does not attempt to refine the overall research into subsegment groups like those with different blood types, different genetic tendencies, age levels, and so forth. Review: Like Sugar Busters! this book takes a serious look at overcoming the tendency for having too many fast-absorbed carbohydrates (whether as baked potatoes or as a soft drink) overload your blood with sugars and depress your metabolism. Unlike the “avoid fat at any cost” diets, this one says to avoid bad fats (especially trans fat and saturated fats) and to use helpful fats (like unsaturated fats that are liquid at room temperature). You are also encouraged to seek out nuts as a source of vegetable protein. There is also a good discussion of the healthiest ways to acquire your protein. The beef v. chicken v. fish discussion is especially helpful. He is skeptical about the need for much in the way of dairy products (I was shocked to realize how much glycemic loading, creating sugar in your blood, is caused by skim milk), but favors vitamin supplements as inexpensive insurance. He shows that calcium supplements may not do as much as you think to avoid fractures. Exercise and not smoking are encouraged. Raw foods and ones that are slow to digest (whole wheat, for example) are encouraged among the fruit and vegatables, in particular. The pyramid is contrasted to the one that the USDA adopted in 1992, which seems to be almost totally wrong. Apparently, it was developed based on a very limited research base. Since then, much has been learned. I enjoyed reading about all of the long-term studies being done now to understand the connections among eating, lifestyle, and health. The next 10 years should radically revise the lessons summarized here, as Dr. Willett is quick to point out. The conclusions in this book, for example, are based on individual studies of eating, drinking, exercise and health rather than the long-term studies that he supervises and follows. So even those studies may show new things. In one part of the book, he discusses the pros and cons of some of the popular diets. Some simply have not been tested for health effects, and he is candid in sharing what is not known as well as what is. This book will be especially valuable to those who like to get their information from highly credible sources, especially from within the medical community. I think I’ll give a copy to my physician, who has been advising me to reduce fats in the wrong way!Although I don’t consider myself very helpful in shopping for or preparing food, I learned a lot from the book about how our family can acquire better building blocks for a healthier diet. After you finish reading this book, think about where else in your life you may be following outdated information. How can you check? A good example is probably related to what you think it costs parents for children to go to graduate school and get a Ph.D. In many schools, all the costs are subsidized, and the students even get a living wage. How does that change your plans for encouraging your children’s education?

  • George Webster, Ph.D., says:

    Review by George Webster, Ph.D., for Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
    This book is a breath of fresh air among a noxious swarm of books that claim to know how we must eat in order to be healthy. They recommend a bewildering variety of diets, megadoses of vitamins and minerals, herbs, extracts, and heaven knows what else, all guaranteed to make us healthy. Some even peddle the nonsense that they can stop, or even reverse, aging.

    In contrast, Walter Willett’s book is based on solid science, obtained by careful research involving, in some cases, more that 100,000 persons. There is no intuition here. The recommendations are based on facts. And mighty interesting facts they are. We see that the famous, heavy-on-carbohydrate USDA food pyramid has little evidence to support its role in health. Instead, it appears to support the income of the food industry. He presents his own pyramid, based on daily exercise and weight control. Sitting on this base are whole grain foods, vegetable oils, fruits, vagetables, nuts, legumes, fish, poultry, and eggs. At the top of his pyramid are small amounts of dairy products, and even smaller portions of red meat and carbohydrate. He presents evidence to support his pyramid, and the result is impressive. He leads us through things that we should know about fats, carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. We even get recipes. For me, a biochemist, the book’s strong point is its lack of the unsustantiated claims that I see in so many of the popular books on nutrition. Walter Willett is one the persons best qualified to write an outstanding book on this subject, and the result is excellent.

  • B. Marold says:

    Review by B. Marold for Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
    This book by Dr. Walter C. Willett is the second of two very good books on nutrition I am reviewing. The first was `Nourishing Traditions’. Both works have fairly impressive documentation for their claims from scientific literature. I just wish they would agree on all major points. The irony of the disagreement is that both appear to be railing against the same establishment that is based on endorsing a diet heavy in empty carbohydrates and demonizing fats.Dr. Willett differs from Ms. Fallon and co-authors in his recommending as small as possible an intake of animal fats from butter, eggs, and meat. The basis of their difference lies in the effect of dietary intake of cholesterol (in contrast to cholesterol manufactured by the body) and in the nutritional value gained from both animal proteins and fats. Dr. Willet’s position, backed up by the authority of the Harvard School of Public Health seems more in accord with today’s conventional wisdom. Oddly enough, Ms. Fallon’s principle demon is another Harvard professor pictured as being in the pay of major American food processors.The two authors agree on most other things, especially in endorsing whole grains, mono-unsaturated oils, and fish for their omega-3 fatty acids. They also agree on the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Dr. Willett goes further to clarify this issue by pointing out that it is not enough to concentrate on any regionally based diet. The Mediterranean diet happens to be healthy due to the conjunction of olive culture, seafood, and grape culture. Those Italians and Greeks just lucked out, I guess. I can confirm this observation by mentioning that two ethnic American diets, the Gullah diet of the Carolina islands and the Pennsylvania Dutch diet appear to be particularly unhealthy due to the high concentration of animal fat, butter, processed flour, and processed sugar in these diets.While I have an enormous respect for Ms. Fallon’s book and I would probably adopt it’s recommendations wholeheartedly if I lived alone, the recommendations in Dr. Willett’s book appear to be more conservative and easier to follow. Given the great complexity of any reasonable model for human nutrition, in a world of less than perfect knowledge, the simpler course certainly seems to be the more preferable. Happily, both authors agree that one secret to good nutrition is variety. While Willett doesn’t say this in so many words, he comes close to characterizing the great American meal of red meat and potatoes as a step removed from poison.Willet’s great adversary is the US Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid that he says, quite correctly, I believe, is simply wrong. The three greatest sins are:Placing carbohydrates at the broad base of the pyramid with no distinction between valuable whole grains and nutritionally empty processed wheat and sugar.
    Placing oils at the top of the pyramid with no distinction between harmful fats and healthy olive oil, fish oils, and other healthy lipids.
    Placing potatoes, another source of empty carbohydrates in the large stage near the bottom with other, much more healthy vegetables.The scariest thing about processed carbohydrates is not only do they provide no value, they actually steal things from your body and create dangerous situations. The author balances this warning with a wealth of information on alternate grains, starting with whole wheat and covering the entire repetoire of ancient grains such as spelt, millet, quinoa, flaxseed, and buckwheat.In place of the USDA pyramid, Willett and allies create a new pyramid correcting these errors. It also adds a strong recommendation for exercise, an endorsement of a multivitamin, and a confirmation of the beneficial properties of small amounts of alcohol, primarily red wines. More of that Mediterranean thing!As someone who has always been fond of both bread and pasta, my biggest puzzle over these recommendations is that how can, for example, the southern Italian diet be seen as being so healthy when it is literally loaded with these two sources of carbohydrates. I suspect the answer lies very much with portion size and the wisdom of several courses spread out over a longer time at the table than most Americans seem to afford.Please read this book and consider its recommendations very carefully. I suspect some of these recommendations will change as science moves on and I hope the prospects for animal fats improve. But meanwhile, this is as good as it gets for recommendations on nutrition.

  • eddie vos says:

    Review by eddie vos for Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
    This Harvard / Willett book redresses some of the major errors in the USDA food pyramid which failed to actually promote people’s health. STEP 1 FORWARD: This book steers you away from the high “glycemic index” sugar and starch foundation of the old pyramid which helped promote adult diabetes, blood circulation problems and heart disease. Instead, vegetables, fruits, whole grain foods and some oils become part of the new foundations of the proposed food pyramid.STEP 2 FORWARD: The new pyramid includes “Multiple Vitamins for Most” and Alcohol in Moderation (unless contraindicated). STEP 3 FORWARD: Harvard’s new pyramid rehabilitates an oil based diet by making mono-unsaturates (olive and canola) and OMEGA-3 poly-unsaturates keys to good heath. ALL scientists having studied OMEGA-3 oils (of which fish, canola, flax and unhydrogenated soybean are main sources) DO AGREE with the need to increase this healthy oil which appears, at the very least, to lower sudden heart deaths and that may well reduce inflammation (arthritis, etc.) and possibly cancers.BACKWARD 1 STEP, and this is extremely unfortunate since most fat-scientists also agree about this point: an excessive intake of the other poly-unsaturate, OMEGA-6 linoleic (found in corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and again in soy) may well promote inflammatory (arthritis, heart) diseases, and cancer. I’d refer the reader to the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids, ISSFAL ( […]) recommending a maximum intake of omega-6 linoleic of only 6.7 grams �as the average American and most Europeans already get twice that much. While Willett ([…]) report on this potential danger of omega-6 (page 77), they nevertheless include corn and sunflower, some main offenders, in the very base of their new pyramid. Not only that, they propose that reducing omega-6 oils from current amounts “is likely to wipe out many of the gains” in preventing heart disease… This omega-6 position has Harvard relatively isolated since it is without the support of clinical trials. The blanket recommendation of all polyunsaturated oils, if ISSFAL is correct, may well violate the medical principle of “first not to do harm”. This, and the continued blaming of saturated fat and cholesterol [also without clinical evidence in support] is truly a superb opportunity missed to incorporate the important last decade of research about fats.This is one problem with statistics and not biology based nutritional advice. With those comments in mind and considering that a high intake of omega-6 poly-unsaturates like corn and sunflower oils may be dangerous [and don’t raise good cholesterol; HDL, page 61], this book is a worthwhile read that makes an important contribution to healthy eating and to the battle against diabetes and industrial hydrogenation [trans fats]. ([…] )

  • Anonymous says:

    Review by for Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating
    I had always thought that what you should and shouldn’t eat was simply common sense until I read this book. The best chapters are the ones about good carbs/bad carbs, and good fats/bad fats. Dr. Willett explains that highly processed carbs such as white bread, white rice, pasta, instant oatmeal, and potatoes cause sharp spikes and then sharp drops in blood sugar. The sharp drops trick the brain into thinking you need to eat, so it sends out hunger signals despite the fact that there is plenty of food in the system. This can lead to overeating. Over time it can also lead to diabetes. Willett also explains the concept of glycemic load. Foods with a low glycemic load raise and drop your blood sugar slowly, so you feel full for longer and have more energy. I have switched to eating whole grain breads, old fashioned oatmeal, Uncle Ben’s converted rice, and bran cereals, all of which have low glycemic loads. I used to always feel fatigued (even though I’m in my early 30s). Now my energy level has improved dramatically.The author is opposed to low fat diets. Willett talks about a study in which participants who had diets high in unsaturated fats had significantly fewer heart attacks than participants on low fat diets. This is because unsaturated fats raise good cholesterol. I also found out how to recognize trans fats when I look through lists of ingredients. The author explains the importance of getting many different colors of fruits and vegetables per day. So, everyday I fry a medley of five or six different kinds of vegetables for dinner, and lunch the next day. This is easy to do if you buy frozen vegetables.My one complaint is that the book did not mention high fructose corn syrup. This is a sweetener that is in many breads, yogurts, crackers, juices, and breakfast cereals. It is man-made and the metabolic system has a difficult time processing it. HFCS actually slows your metabolism when you eat it, which is ridiculous considering that we eat food for energy. I was the same weight for about 5 years. Less than two months after cutting out HFCS, my weight went down 10lbs without any other changes in diet or exercise. I wish Dr. Willett had discussed this because it would have been extremely helpful information for his readers. Other than that, this is an excellent and life-changing book. I am following everything the book suggests (except drinking alcohol in moderation because I don’t drink and never will) and I definitely feel better. Forget the Atkins Diet. Follow the simple instructions in this book and you will be both healthier and thinner.

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