Monday, August 22, 2011

Review of Joy Bauer's Food Cures


At first glance, Food Cures by Joy Bauer, the food expert for The Today Show, looks like an standard, overwhelming nutrition book. But actually, in its 486 pages Joy Bauer gives simple dietary intervention recommendations for chronic health issues. In the thoughtful introduction Ms. Bauer observes
"Most of us have more information than we know what to do with. Literally. Many of my clients have such sophisticated vocabularies that they sound like third year nutrition students."
The problem is, according to Joy Bauer, that people don't know how to combine all the disparate pieces of information about healthy eating and diet into a cohesive plan.

The simplicity of Joy Bauer's Food Cures program is a real strength of the book because we are inundated with information about diet and when people try to use diet to address a specific health issue they are often too overwhelmed to make any changes. Each health issue is given a chapter with an overview of the problem as well as a specific four step program which includes Step 1...Start with the Basics, Step 2...Your Ultimate Grocery List, Step 3...Going Above and Beyond and Step 4...Meal Plans. Her college textbook sized book covers everything from losing weight and looking great as well as many diseases that people face today including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, IBS and celiac disease.

For instance, the chapter on Celiac Disease (CD) contains an eight page overview. If you don't have the time or the interest to read Dr. Greene's authoritative book Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, Food Cures efficiently covers the most important information you need to know in order to have an understanding of celiac disease and how to follow a gluten free diet. I was actually impressed that Ms. Bauer covers so much in so few pages and It would be a book I would give to anyone who needed to get a quick but thorough understanding of celiac disease.

In each section, Food Cures also recommends supplements to take for each condition. In the chapter for people with celiac disease she says "People with celiac disease should seriously consider taking supplements to help them get the nutrients they need but won't get in a gluten free diet." Then she goes on to recommend to recommend a multivitamin, Calcium plus Vitamin D, and others as directed by a physician noting that people with celiac can have "multiple nutrient deficiencies before their disease gets under control" and "you might overlook a different problem if you start popping supplements on your own."

I love that Ms. Bauer is so specific when it comes to supplements (She recommends Centrum Performance as a multivitamin for celiac disease which contains 300% of DVI of B vitamins and 100% of folic acid.) So often, books will recommend a multivitamin without specifically mentioning brands which leaves people feeling overwhelmed having to choose their own brand. With multivitamins, often the formulas vary so much that to just recommend "a multivitamin" is really leaving people without enough information.

Food Cures also impressed me in the chapter on celiac disease by thoroughly addressing "The Oatmeal Question." In "Step 3...Going Above and Beyond" it recommends people following a gluten free diet: "Add oats only after your health has stabilized on a gluten-free diet, and only with your doctors okay. Choose McCann's Irish Oatmeal, which is processed in a dedicated oats-only mill...or ask your doctor for a brand recommendation." And, "Never order order oats when you are out...And don't buy prepared or packaged food with oats" This is an impressive synopsis of a complicated issue, but Food Cures manages to simplify all the information in a few bullet points.

Often a person's greatest genius is also their weak point; Food Cures might be too much of a step by step manual for people who are already well versed in the health problem they are dealing with. But, I would recommend it as a great mainstream book that can be an everyday resource for families and individuals who want to address their health issues through diet.

Strengths:
• Overall great resource with suggestions for the most important supplements for chronic problems.
• Specific meal ideas for each health issue give the reader help with menu planning.

Weaknesses:
• Some recipes contain processed foods-- one recipe contains margarine(?!?) as a ingredient and a turkey taco recipe contains taco seasoning. A better alternative would be a taco recipe made with spices.
• Recipes should be in section on their own and not buried in the middle of the book.

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