The husband and wife authors, Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet of the
“Perfect Health Diet” (2010) are two doctorate-level scientists, (Paul a physicist and Shou-Ching a vascular biologist), who believe that conventional dietary advice is largely mistaken. As is the case with most authors of diet books, they experimented with the diet in their own lives; found it successful for them; and then wrote a book sharing what they learned.
The primary premise of the book is that disease and ill health are caused by three inter-related factors: food toxins, malnourishment, and chronic infections by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa; and that all three factors must be addressed by diet.
The Perfect Health Diet is based on “nutrient-rich superfoods” like egg yolks, liver and other organ meats, bone and joint soups, brain and bone marrow, seafood, seaweed, green leafy vegetables, and fermented vegetables. It includes a number of other meats, fats, oils, and “safe starches” to provide sufficient protein and calories
The Perfect Health Diet is approx. 65% fat., 20% carbs and 15% protein by calories, and by weight is approx 65% plants and 35% animal foods. It is a low-carb diet, but not a low-plant diet. Most of the carb calories come from what they call “safe starches” while most of the plant material consists of low-calorie, low-carb vegetables, and a small amount of fruit.
The authors are opposed to “calorie-reduced” diets, and rely on the body and foods eaten to naturally regulate calories without conscious restriction. They believe that a “nutrient-dense” diet reduces appetite. They also recommend Intermittent fasting for weight-loss, such as a 23 hr fast from dinner to dinner; or confining food to an 8 hr window daily with 16 hr fasts between eating periods.
The Basic Keys to the diet are:
*The diet should consist of: by weight, about 2/3 plant foods, 1/3 animal foods. Based on a “standard” 2000 calorie diet, daily fat intake should be 65% of daily food intake, or 1300 calories. Daily carbohydrate intake should be 400 calories, primarily from starches (e.g., rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro), fruits, and berries, as well as a variety of low-calorie vegetables. Daily protein intake should be about 300 calories.
* Do not eat toxic foods such as:
* Do not eat cereal grains — wheat, barley, oats, corn — or foods made from them — bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, oatmeal. The exception is white rice, which count as “safe starches.” Rice noodles, rice crackers, and the like are fine.
* Do not eat calorie-rich legumes. Peas and green beans are fine. Soy and peanuts should be absolutely excluded. Beans might be acceptable with suitable preparation, but it is recommended to avoid them.
* Do not eat foods with added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Do not drink anything that contains sugar: healthy drinks are water, tea, and coffee.
* Polyunsaturated fats should be a small fraction of the diet (4% of total calories). To achieve this, do not eat seed oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, or the like. The best cooking oils are coconut oil, clarified butter, and beef tallow; palm oil, lard, olive oil, and avocado oil are next best. Nut butters are another possible source of fats.
* Eat nourishing foods such as: liver, egg yolks, seaweeds, shellfish, vegetable and bone broths. Make sauces from an acid (lemon juice, vinegar), an oil, and herbs. Get sufficient salt.
Overall, the Perfect Health Diet is an good introduction to the world of traditional Paleo eating. It is well referenced and well reasoned. The content ranges from practical to technical. Some of the more technical sections might be intimidating to someone who just wants to be told what they should eat. However, readers with an interest in nutrition or another science will probably find the book interesting.
The Jaminets provide an excellent discussion of the interconversion of different macronutrients which should certainly shake almost anyone out of a fat-phobia, once they realize how any excess carbs eaten are just turned into fat anyway.
Three concepts that are developed throughout the book are:
1. The concept of “Economics of Nutrition”, which is a discussion on food toxicity. With nutrition, the greatest benefit comes from the first amount eaten of any nutrient; each additional amount provides less benefit until eventually the benefit equals zero. Beyond the “plateau range”, a nutrient can become toxic, with increasing amounts becoming more and more toxic.
The authors evaluate the “marginal benefit curve” for carbohydrates, protein, and fats with numerous references to scientific literature.
2. How food is transformed by the body. In other words, what goes in the mouth is not the same as what it becomes in the body. Similarly, different foods produce different by-products after the digestion process. Some foods they address are wheat (and all grains), soy (and all legumes), sugar, and polyunsaturated fats (especially Omega 6s).
3. Mammalian dietary strategies (omnivores, herbivores, carnivores) that have evolved over time, how humans are similar and where humans differ in dietary needs.
In conclusion, the Perfect Health Diet is similar to the Paleo Diet but with several important differences. The protein intake is lower and certain “safe starches” are a major part of the diet. This makes the macronutrient ratio comparable to that of Pacific islanders. This book provides a lot of information on micronutrients, however, guidance on how to implement the diet on a practical basis is probably insufficient for the majority of readers.
I found the book interesting, enjoyed reading it, and think it is a valuable reference book for a high-fat, low-carb, minimum protein …” way-of-eating”, “diet”, or “lifestyle”.
Am I going to personally experiment with this specific diet? I would probably do so BEFORE Hell froze over, but certainly not until AFTER I've exhausted the possibilities of a multitude of other diets that I find more compatible with my own food taste preferences.
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