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Book Review of Metabolical by Dr. Lustig

The book Metabolical by Dr. Lustig is a lot like other books on the topic of how nutrition and diet affect our health. He dives a little deeper into the biochemical pathways and points out how the food system in the world isn’t always build to support our health.

His stance is that we can’t just call everything food. In order for it to be considered food it has to help our body, not harm it. That makes sense – it’s the same advice one could give about exercise.

Big Systems

From big pharma to big food and even the regulating agencies meant to protect the public there has been a shift away from upstream disease prevention. Instead, these groups seem to use their own version of research and science to create diseases in the population and then create treatments to fix them.

Not all of these systems are out to harm us but the truth is that creating poor quality foods is more profitable than good quality ones. And if the government doesn’t choose a side then they cannot support the individual citizen in that country.

The answer here is to decide for yourself what is real food and what is ultraprocessed garbage that belongs nowhere near your body. He offers little exceptions here.

Chronic Diseases

Here at DNH, we’re all about disease prevention. Dr. Lustig believes that the current food system explains the rise in cancer, dementia, diabetes, and heart disease.

The excess of sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined carbs drive chronic diseases. His message is obvious but he does an even better job explaining how we ended up in a food system where it’s much easier to eat unhealthy than healthy.

He spends a good amount of time talking about cholesterol and saturated fats. Specifically, why some saturated fat is worse than others and how to interpret LDL-C results. I found this bit informative though it’s tough to find the right studies to fact-check everything he stated. In practice, however, it certainly seems true in my patient population.

A Healthy Diet

At Digital Nomad Health we don’t have a go-to diet that works for everything. Each person needs to eat what suits their body best. Dr. Lustig recommends a healthy dose of vegetables, a small amount of fruit, whole grains instead of processed flour, lean meats, fatty fish, unprocessed dairy, eggs, avocado, olive, and seed oils and legumes and nuts.

In general, avoiding processed foods is at the heart of his message. While he criticizes government and the healthcare system for encouraging unhealthy diets he places the onus on the individual to choose better food options when possible.

What’s New

Dr. Robert Lustig’s message in “Metabolical” distinguishes itself from other nutritional advice and books by focusing on the identification of processed foods instead of worrying about macronutrients (carbs, fast) or specific diets (vegan, keto).

In Metabolical, Dr. Lustig focuses more on insulin and leptin as important drivers of disease as opposed to sugar. That’s why the overall endocrine and mitochondrial health of a person is critical to avoid disease.

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