Jason Fung The Obesity Code (2016) and The Diabetes Code (2016), both by Greystone books.
Jason Fung is a nephrologist at the University of Toronto and founder of the Intensive Dietary Management Program based there. He has shown the critical role that the hormone insulin plays in both obesity and type 2 diabetes, a disease of insulin resistance. Along with a healthy Mediterranean style diet consisting of healthy fats, adequate protein and low carbohydrate, he uses fasting to achieve low insulin levels to reverse these conditions. These are the two most important books for weight loss and reversing diabetes. They have changed my medical practice. Eating three meals a day is cultural, not part of a healthy lifestyle.
Daniel Amen. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Harmony Books, 2015) and Memory Rescue (Tyndale, 2017).
Daniel Amen is a psychiatrist and founder of the Amen Clinics. He has been using healthy nutrition and lifestyle to treat mental health problems for decades. He knows that a healthy body is critical for a healthy brain, and that what we feed our gut is a major determinant of brain health. His books are clear and loaded with practical information.
Dale Bredesen. The End of Alzheimer’s (Penguin, 2017)
This may be the most important book to show the power of healthy nutrition and lifestyle. Bredesen is an academic neurologist at UCLA and founder of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. After failing for more than 20 years to find a “magic bullet” for treating Alzheimer’s disease, he turned to nutrition and lifestyle and demonstrated that these could reverse cognitive decline. He also shows how the typical American diet and lifestyle are a recipe for getting Alzheimer’s disease.
William Davis, Wheat Belly (2011) and Wheat Belly Total Health (2014). Both by Rodale.
Dr. Davis is a cardiologist who got me started on a new way of eating after I read Wheat Belly in 2013 and became free of grains. His books are well referenced and he is the champion of a grain free lifestyle. Dr. Davis reversed his own type 2 diabetes and developed extraordinarily healthy lipids from following this approach to eating. He is a modern day Robert Atkins, another cardiologist who healed himself before healing others.
David Perlmutter, Grain Brain (2013) and Brain Maker (2015). Both by Little, Brown & Co.
Dr. Perlmutter is a neurologist with an advanced degree in nutrition. Grain Brain built off of William Davis’s Wheat Belly and emphasized how high blood sugar and the inflammatory effects of grains cause a host of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease. Brain Maker is a breakthrough book bringing the emerging science about the crucial role of the gut microbiome in health and disease, a new “organ” that totally depends on what we eat. An unhealthy gut microbiome, induced by grains, causes leaky gut and most auto-immune diseases and neurodegeneration.
Daniel Lieberman, The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease (2013). Vintage Books.
This Harvard evolutionary biologist knows more about health, nutrition and disease than most physicians. He describes in detail how the nutrition of our paleolitihic ancestors was much healthier than our processed foods today. Most modern processed food is “mismatch” with our evolutionary body and he described how we are in a state of “disevolution”. This is a powerful call for revolutionary change by a brilliant academic.
Terry Wahls. The Wahls Protocol (2014). Avery (Penguin Group.
Terry Wahls is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa. At the peak of her career she developed disabling multiple sclerosis (MS). After failing to improve on both standard and new experimental medications, she sought relief through healthy nutrition and lifestyle. An anti-inflammatory low carbohydrate paleo diet reversed her disease and she is back at work and lecturing widely (see her TED talk and YouTube presentations). She has an ongoing clinical trial helping others to reverse MS and other auto-immune disease. Anyone suffering from such problems, or even persons wanting to avoid such diseases, should read this book and follow the protocol. She has three levels of diet depending on how intense a person wants to be with their nutrition.
Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney. The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living (2011) and The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance (2012). Both by Beyond Obesity, LLC.
Jeff Volek, RD, PhD is an academic nutritionist at The Ohio State University and Stephen Phinney, MD, PhD recently retired from the Food Science Department at the University of California, Davis. They provide the hard science behind the benefits of low carbohydrate nutrition. In their book on performance, they describe how great endurance athletes such as the tennis player, Novak Djokovic, excel without eating carbohydrates except for what is in whole foods. Being a fat burner during long athletic events results in a steady blood sugar and steady performance compared with athletes that get tired, dizzy or cramp when they bottom out their limited supply of carbohydrates.
Mark Hyman. Eat Fat, Get Thin (2016) and Food: What the Heck Should I Eat (2018), both by Little, Brown and Company.
Mark Hyman is a family physician and the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine. With Eat Fat, Get Thin Hyman puts a positive spin on healthy nutrition by discussing what we can eat rather than what we must give up. A clue to the book is on the cover, with an avocado, tree nuts, olive oil and dark chocolate, not bacon.
In his latest book, Hyman reviews what is known about the different good choices and offers practical guidance for eating a healthy diet.
T. Colin Campbell & Howard Jacobson. Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition (2013). BenBella Books.
Colin Campbell is a distinguished nutrition scientist at Cornell (now emeritus). His research focused on nutrition and cancer and he conducted the largest epidemiologic research in the world showing that cancer and animal protein are strongly associated. He is a champion of a whole food plant-based diet (vegan). He first published The China Study in 2006 and Whole summarizes those findings and provides a critique of how most nutrition science falls short in providing the information we need due to attempting to study single nutrients rather than whole foods. He also describes how the food industry in America is suppressing vital information about healthy and unhealthy foods.
Rick Warren, Daniel Amen & Mark Hyman. The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life (2013). Zondervan.
Rick Warren was an overweight pastor in Orange County, CA and decided he had better lose weight and become healthy. Rather than do that himself he challenged his congregation to join him. He enlisted the help of two physicians, Daniel Amen, a psychiatrist who has shown through imaging studies that the higher the blood sugar the more rapid the brain atrophy, and Mark Hyman, a family physician who advised Bill Clinton on becoming healthier by giving up grains and processed food. This book covers how in 40 days the congregation of Warren’s church lost over a hundred thousand pounds. Rick Warren provides spiritual advice while the doctors advise on healthy nutrition.
Denise Minger. Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health… and How to Reclaim It (2013). Primal Blueprint Publishing.
Denise Minger is a super-smart self-taught data junkie and in this book lays bare food politics in America and what is healthy nutrition. She dissects each of the recommended diets in America from the four food groups through the pyramids. She also reanalyzed the data from Colin Campbell’s The China Study showing that, among other things, fish from wild sources also was associated with lower cancer rates.
Scott Jurek. Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness (2012). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.
Scott Jurek is the first male star performer of ultramarathons. He is also a vegan. This book is his life story from his childhood near Duluth Minnesota to setting new records in the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run winning it six years in a row. His journey of being lean and fit is inspiring and he continues to break limits just setting a new record for completing the Appalachian Trail in 46 days.
Dan Buetner. The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People (2015). National Geographic Society.
Who can argue about the food ingredients of the healthiest people on Earth? What I find fascinating about the nutrition of the Blue Zone populations is that they are mostly very healthy and the people are lean and fit and relaxed. Most do eat some of the toxic carbohydrates such as breads. They live an average of eight years longer than other populations. I wonder how long they would live with optimal nutrition without the inflammatory foods?
Justin Sonnenburg, PhD and Erica Sonnenburg. PhD. The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long Term Health (2015) Penguin Press.
This husband and wife team are both microbiologists at Stanford University and are leading researchers in the human gut microbiome. They wrote this book for the general public in order to spread the word about the importance of the gut microbiome in human health. Their lack of medical training gives the book some limitations, however they provide lots of important information and validate the academic credibility of work in improving the gut microbiome, a critical “organ” for human health.
Gerard Mullin, MD. The Gut Balance Revolution: Boost Your Metablism, Restore Your Inner Ecology, and Lose the Weight for Good! (2015). Rodale, Inc.
Dr. Mullin is a gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He tells his childhood story of being embarrassingly fat once weighing over 300 pounds. He studied nutrition to lose the weight and as a medical scientist learned the critical importance of how human nutrition feeds the gut microbiome to not only help us lose weight, but also to be healthy overall. His largely self-developed diet plan is mostly consistent with what is presented in this book. However, he is not fully grain free in his recommendations, a limitation that can be overlooked by the strength of his overall recommendations. Being from one of the world’s most prestigious medical schools, he provides academic credibility to what is presented here.
Robynne Chutkan, MD. Gutbliss (2013) and The Microbiome Solution (2015). Both by Penguin Group.
Dr. Chutkan is a gastroenterologist specializing in women’s health. She uses nutrition to correct both common and uncommon GI problems such as bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). While her recommendations apply to men and women, her writing style and testimonials will resonate very well with women.
David Ludwig, MD, PhD. Always Hungry? (2016). Grand Central Life & Style (Hachette Book Group).
Dr. Ludwig is a pediatric endocrinologist at Harvard with impeccable academic credentials. His new book for the public reinforces the problems of excess carbohydrates and processed foods. He gives the low carbohydrate approach to nutrition solid academic credibility and also provides practical solutions. Many will like his maintenance diet but I consider it too high in carbohydrates (50%). He also only addresses weight and does not consider the role of inflammatory proteins such as in grains.
Robert Lustig, MD. Fat Chance (2012). Penguin Group.