»Not all plants are equal: some have much more polyphenols than others, and as a general rule bright or dark colours are a good sign, including a wide range of berries, beans, artichokes, grapes, prunes, red cabbage, spinach, peppers, chilli, beetroot and mushrooms.«
In the course of research, Tim Spector has been shocked to discover how little scientific evidence there is for many of our most deep-rooted ideas about food. Is salt really bad for you? Is fish good for you? What about coffee, red meat, or saturated fats? Can pregnant women rely on their doctor’s advice about what to eat? Does gluten-free food carry any health benefits at all? Do doctors know anything about nutrition?
In twenty short, myth-busting chapters, Tim Spector reveals why almost everything we’ve been told about food is wrong. He reveals the scandalous lack of good scientific evidence for many medical and government food recommendations, and how the food industry holds sway over these policies. These are urgent issues that matter not just for our health as individuals but for the future of the planet.
Spoon-Fed forces us to question every diet plan, government recommendation, miracle cure or food label we encounter, and encourages us to rethink our whole relationship with food.
First of all, what a well written book. Last year, I read Spector’s Diet Myths and the book opened my eyes and inspired me to make changes to my diet and that of my family.
I’ve been interested in the subject of healthy eating because I’ve been suffering from GI problems since childhood and therefore always on the lookout for well researched advice and guidance backed by science. Spector offers exactly that and his latest book is no different. I would actually go as far as saying that if I were in charge of mandates, reading his books should be and this before any other mandates. It would be fascinating to know how many diseases, mental health problems and drug dependencies would disappear if from the outset we were fed real food without pesticides and herbicides, no excess sugar or chemicals added that have not been tested for long term side effects.
This book shows that what we put into our mouths is crucial to our development and later adult health and is a great guide for everyone before you go for your weekly grocery shop. It helps you navigate the deceptive marketing and clever yet misleading labelling of so called ´healthy foods’, and latest low calory foods that replace what is not only perfectly fine for us (i.e. butter) but offer poor quality instead. Spector advises we choose organic plants where possible, exclude all ultra-processed foods. He describes us the research he has done and the evidence for the veracity or inaccuracy of common claims and debunks alleged consequences on our well-being.
Each chapter takes on a specific subject (fish, veganism, meat, water, exercise, obesity etc) easy to read and all the while pointing out that there is no one fit all type of diet, that we are unique because of our individual microbiome. This means that the average person is a myth when it comes to food, each of us having our sensitivities and needs, all the way down to identical twins (this was particularly interesting for me as I have an identical twin).
Further, there are no set rules for all when it comes to mealtimes, when to fast nor is there a miracle diet applicable to all. However, what is relevant to all is that weight loss is not guaranteed through low calory foods, nor exercise or specific exclusion diets but evidence shows that a rich, mainly plant-based Mediterranean diet is the best place to start from. Much of what you’ll read will go contrary to what health guidelines issued by governments want us to believe which makes this book the more important. Staying critical in the face of slogans and new diet trends is not easy but Spector’s tips would ring true in my grandparents’ ears, a generation who grew their own vegetables, herbs and berries in the garden and only ate animal protein once a week. There was very little processed food on my grandparents’ table when I spent summers at their house as a child.
In a nutshell, eating diversely and broadly (ideally organic and choosing dark and vibrantly coloured fruit and veg) creates a healthy gut that leads to weight-loss, a strong immune system and overall well-being (mental and physical).
The book is one of the most important books you could read right now especially if you consider the shocking lack of any information of this kind in the media. I would have said that improving people’s health during a world pandemic should be top priority because more than ever we seem to need a strong immune system offered by a healthy gut.
Further the book is also offering fascinating insights on why a more plant-based diet does not only support our health but our planet’s as well. It is clear that the environment in and outside of our gut would benefit from the advice this book has to offer.
If you only read one book this year, read this one!
The Book in three words: eye-opening, urgent and well written
I’d love to know your thoughts on the book if you’ve read it!
About the author
Tim Spector is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College, London and Director of the TwinsUK Registry, which is one of the worlds richest data collections on 11,000 twins. He trained as a physician with a career in research, which since 1992 has demonstrated the genetic basis of a wide range of common diseases, previously thought to be mainly due to ageing and environment. Most recently his group have found over 400 novel genes in over 30 diseases, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, melanoma, baldness, and longevity. He has published over 600 research articles in prestigious journals including Science and Nature. He coordinates many worldwide genetic consortia and is currently at the forefront of research with a highly competitive European Research Council Senior Investigator award to study Epigenetics – a new exciting research area into how genes can be altered. He is the author of several books for the scientific and public communities and presents regularly in the media.