In an era characterised by the relentless pursuit of technological advancements and scientific breakthroughs, one fundamental truth remains unchanged: the food we consume has an immense impact on our health and well-being.
While the intricacies of nutrition have fascinated researchers and health enthusiasts for decades, the best-selling book ‘Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food’ by Dr. Catherine Shanahan has reignited the conversation about the profound significance of nourishment in shaping our lives. Through this understanding, we can pave the way for a healthier, more vibrant future – one that is anchored in the transformative power of optimal nutrition.
Catherine Shanahan, M.D., is a board-certified family physician. She trained in biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University before attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
She practised medicine in Hawaii for a decade, where she studied ethnobotany, as well as the culinary habits of her healthiest patients. She currently runs a metabolic health clinic in Denver, Colorado, and serves as the director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition Program.
Luke Shanahan, Catherine’s husband and co-author, is a multi-talented writer with expertise in lecturing, and culinary arts. He is a graduate of the esteemed Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa and has a deep passion for literature, art, and cooking.
What is the book about?
Dr. Shanahan’s book, ‘Deep Nutrition’, aims to inspire and motivate people to make positive changes for their health. She provides a comprehensive view of human health, incorporating insights from various fields such as genetics, sociology, nutrition, and obstetrics.
The book starts by highlighting the remarkable nutrient density of self-sufficient cultures, which exceeded current dietary recommendations by up to fifty times. These cultures enjoyed robust health, resistance to diseases, and increased longevity.
Dr. Shanahan emphasizes that food is more than just sustenance – it is information. By understanding our relationship with nature through the foods we choose, we can make better choices for our well-being. She encourages readers to adopt a chef’s perspective, considering factors like sourcing, cooking methods, and flavour enhancement.
The second half of the book delves into the scientific evidence supporting some controversial claims. For example, Chapter Eight challenges common beliefs about fats, advocating for a return to traditional fats like butter and bacon grease instead of refined oils. Chapter Nine explores the impact of sugar on cellular health, uncovering hidden sources and discussing preventable symptoms. Chapter Ten addresses the potential of fat cells to transform into muscle and bone cells, and the final chapter delves into optimizing collagen for healthy skin and joints.
Key takeaways from ‘Deep Nutrition’
1Your nutrition impacts your genes expression
‘Deep Nutrition’ explores how our diet and lifestyle choices can influence the expression of our genes, affecting our health and the health of future generations. It delves into the concept of epigenetics and how nutrition can play a role in modifying gene expression.
2Dietary choices can greatly impact chronic diseases
Dr. Shanahan explores the connection between nutrition and various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. She provides insights into how dietary choices can either promote or prevent the development of these conditions.
3There are ‘Four pillars of the human diet’
Dr. Shanahan introduces the concept of the ‘Four Pillars of World Cuisine’ as a framework for healthy eating. These pillars include fresh, whole foods such as meat and organs, fermented and sprouted foods, meat cooked on the bone, and organ meats.
4Not all fat is the enemy
‘Deep Nutrition’ challenges the misconception that fats are universally bad for health. It explains how certain types of fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids and fats found in animal products, are essential for optimal cellular function and overall well-being.
5Stay away from processed foods as much as possible
Dr. Shanahan highlights the detrimental effects of processed foods on our health. These foods often contain harmful additives, unhealthy fats, excessive sugars, and refined grains, which contribute to chronic diseases, inflammation, and obesity. The book also addresses the role of environmental toxins in our health and emphasizes the importance of consuming foods free from pesticides, hormones, and other harmful substances. It also highlights the significance of a clean and toxin-free environment for optimal well-being.
6Choose foods with nutrient density
The book emphasizes the importance of nutrient-dense foods and encourages readers to choose high-quality sources of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. It explains how nutrient-dense foods provide the necessary building blocks for cellular repair, growth, and overall vitality.
7Diversify your cooking techniques
‘Deep Nutrition’ discusses the importance of traditional food preparation methods, such as fermenting, sprouting, and slow cooking. These techniques enhance the nutrient availability and digestibility of foods, optimizing their health benefits.
Table of contents
- Author’s Note
- Part One: The Wisdom of Tradition
- 1. Reclaiming Your Health
The Origins of Deep Nutrition
- 2. The Intelligent Gene
Epigenetics and the Language of DNA
- 3. The Greatest Gift
The Creation and Preservation of Genetic Wealth
- 4. Dynamic Symmetry
The Beauty-Health Connection
- 5. Letting Your Body Create a Perfect Baby
The Sibling Strategy
Part Two: The Dangers of the Modern Diet
- 6. The Great Nutrition Migration
From the Culinary Garden of Eden to Outer Space
- 7. Good Fats and Bad
How the Cholesterol Theory Created a Sickness Epidemic
- 8. Brain Killer
Why Vegetable Oil Is Your Brain’s Worst Enemy
- 9. Sickly Sweet
How a Carbohydrate-Rich Diet Blocks Metabolic Function
Part Three: Living the Deep Nutrition Way
- 10. The Four Pillars of the Human Diet
Foods That Program Your Body for Health, Brains, and Beauty
- 11. Beyond Calories
Using Food as a Language to Achieve the Ideal Body Weight
- 12. Forever Young
Collagen Health and Life Span
- 13. Deep Nutrition
How to Get Started Eating the Human Diet
- 14. Frequently Asked Questions
Epilogue: Health Without Healthcare
Carb-Counting Tool: Simply Counting Carbs
Protein-Counting Tool: Simply Counting Protein
Doctors in Your Area
About the Author
Overall rating & strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews
The author skillfully employs scare tactics, dramatization, and anecdotal evidence to support her recommendations consistently.
The book provides a comprehensive analysis of PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fats), their origins, the motives behind their promotion (which, hint, are largely financial), and their detrimental effects on our muscles, heart, brain, fertility, genetics, and overall well-being.
There is an excellent explanation of epigenetics and its significance in terms of eating right for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
The author appears overly preoccupied with beauty, whereas some readers’ primary interest was in learning about the health benefits of traditional diets.
The book overlooks the importance of protein, stating that around 50g per day is sufficient, regardless of whether it comes from plants or animals.
Despite condensing a vast amount of research into one small book, it may have resulted in a lack of in-depth exploration of certain topics.
Best quotes from ‘Deep Nutrition’
“What’s happening on our plates is the inevitable consequence of what’s happening on the planet: diverse ecosystems, both in the wild and in the form of small family farms, are being replaced by an ever-expanding undifferentiated lawn of high carbohydrate monoculture crops like corn, rice, and wheat. And because high-carb foods are cheaper than more complex foods with higher nutrient content, these are the foods that are pushed in the grocery store and restaurants. Restaurants bring you free bread before a meal; I don’t know any that bring free lobster.”
“If you’re overweight, your body is almost certainly suffering under a constant state of low-level inflammation. This inflammatory chemical static is so powerfully disruptive that it can interfere with some of the most important signals in the biological world, those that the next generation depends on.”
“Since so many people with blood sugar problems have parents with the same condition, they naturally assume it’s hereditary, and therefore inevitable. But that’s not the case. If anything is being passed from parent to child here, it’s bad eating habits. If you can take control of your habits, you can escape the vicious cycle normalize your blood sugar, and even cure diabetes.”
‘Deep Nutrition’ by Dr. Catherine Shanahan is a thought-provoking and informative exploration of the profound impact of nutrition on our health. The book’s strengths lie in its ability to bridge the gap between scientific research and practical application, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of the ancestral approach to nutrition.
Dr. Shanahan’s emphasis on nutrient-dense, whole foods and the Four Pillars of World Cuisine offers valuable insights into optimizing our well-being. Additionally, the book highlights the critical role of fats and the significance of food preparation techniques. However, a potential weakness of the book is its limited coverage of certain dietary preferences or restrictions. Nevertheless, the key takeaways from ‘Deep Nutrition’ are: the importance of embracing ancestral diets and traditional food preparation methods, the impact of nutrition on gene expression and long-term health, and the understanding that our dietary choices have the power to shape not only our own lives but also the lives of future generations. By heeding these takeaways, readers can embark on a transformative journey towards optimal health and vitality.
Where to buy
You can purchase ‘Deep Nutrition’ at Amazon.com for the best price. It’s available in paperback, hardcover, Kindle and audio formats.
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