In the first of a new semi-regular series, we introduce you to a new book that we think could be transformational in health terms. But, instead of an in-depth review – and with a nod in the direction of the UK Guardian newspaper’s Pass Notes format – we bring you our first Book Bite: all you need to know to investigate further, in a handy short format.
Eat To Get Younger? Sounds too good to be true. Tell me more. This is a ‘recipe book with a difference’, written by two well known UK-based nutritional therapists. Lorraine Nicolle is also a teacher of nutrition to the public, healthcare professionals and university students, while Christine Bailey is also a chef, food and health consultant, cookery writer and nutrition lecturer.
Busy people indeed. So what makes this recipe book different from the million-and-one others on the shelves? For a start, it’s not just a recipe book! In fact, less than 100 pages out of nearly 400 feature recipes – the rest consists of clearly written, scientifically sound, clinically validated nutritional advice from our expert authors. The first two chapters contain the core dietary principles, including the “Eat To Get Younger low glycaemic load (low-GL) diet and the ideas for incorporating special foods that are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and alkalizing”. Then, according to your particular interest – whether you want to control your carb and sugar cravings, for example, or boost your mind, memory and mood – you can follow the advice from the remaining eight chapters. So if you want to lose a few pounds and halt the slide toward type 2 diabetes, sharpen up your memory, boost your skin condition or ease the menopause, there’s a plan for you.
Kind of the world’s healthiest pick ‘n’ mix, then? You said it.
Are you sure it’s not one of those puritanical diet books – nothing but seed sprouts and green smoothies? Green smoothies are definitely involved, but seed sprouts aren’t because their high lectin content will do you few favours. And do these recipes sound puritanical to you? Superfood fudge. Almond chocolate chip cookies. Grain-free pizza. Macadamia dukkah-crusted sea bass with green beans and rocket. Super greens mint chocolate chip ice cream…
Dukkah? What’s that? And ice cream? Now you’re talking. Dukkah is an Egyptian mix of herbs, nuts and spices. And I get the impression those recipe examples, few as they were, have snagged your interest. The authors also point out that, “You don’t have to adhere to your new dietary principles all the time – 80 per cent of the time will do”.
You nearly had me there, but now I know you’ve got to be kidding. Food that sounds absolutely delicious, I can eat what I want every now and again and it’ll make me younger? You’ll be trying to sell me a bridge next. Maybe a little science will convince you. The foundation of the Eat To Get Younger philosophy is inflammation and insulin resistance – that our inappropriate carbohydrate intake is causing the levels of insulin and glucose in our blood to go haywire, and that this in turn leads to cell, tissue and organ damage. Switching to a low-GL diet, by avoiding added sugar, eating naturally low-GL, organic whole foods like meat, poultry, eggs, nuts and vegetables in place of white starchy foods and limiting the latter to one or two portions a day, cuts off this problem at the root. Add in plenty of healthy fats – omega-3, 6 and 9 fats in the right ratios, moderate saturated fat and minimal trans- and oxidised fats – fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha, an overall alkalising diet, heaps of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods, superfoods and sufficient hydration and you’ll be well on the way to a longer, healthier life.
Sounds like the Paleo diet to me. Eat To Get Younger certainly adopts a lot of Paleo principles, but with crucial differences. For one, the authors don’t forbid all grains and grain products, preferring the route of low-GL whole foods and avoidance of refined carbs. They are also big fans of the health benefits of fasting, while strongly cautioning against eating burnt or blackened foods, excessive stimulants, toxic additives and excess alcohol. And all of this, don’t forget, is just in the ‘get you started’ beginning section of the book! Combine all this with the wealth of information in the ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ chapters and you’ve got a personalised design for eating that goes way beyond most conceptions of Paleo.
OK. I have endless gut problems – some would say as a result of my endlessly quibbling nature. What advice do Ms Nicolle and Ms Bailey have for me? Nice try, but you’ll have to buy the book for the full details. These brief tips should help though: remove irritants and toxins from your diet – things like pharmaceutical drugs, processed foods and fermentation-friendly sugars and starches and actual food allergens – make sure you’re eating enough fibre and foods that boost digestive secretions, ensure a healthy balance of gut flora, fix your gut lining and sort out your stress.
Very interesting. One final question: what do people say who’ve actually used any of the recipes in the book? Oddly enough, the chap that heads up ANH, Rob Verkerk, is himself a keen cook. As, apparently, are most of the rest of his team. Don’t sound surprised: these people have known that food is medicine for a long time. This is what Rob had to say: “Last night, my kids and I took one of the recipes, the Vietnamese chicken salad with chilli lime dressing, and we adapted it. We replaced the chicken with slow-cooked, turmeric-dusted sea bass (see picture below). It went down a storm and immediately secured ‘meal of the month’ status for June, despite it being 1st July! The Chinese and Indians, in particular, have had medicinal recipes targeting particular conditions and life stages for millennia, but it’s great to see something that’s applicable to the contemporary Western palate that now indulges in numerous international cuisines. Read, assimilate, prepare and devour – and enjoy!“
Vietnamese-style sea bass salad with chilli lime dressing, adapted from recipe on p. 293 of “Eat to Get Younger” (2014)
Authors: Lorraine Nicolle and Christine Bailey
Title: Eat to Get Younger: Tackling inflammation and other ageing processes for a longer, healthier life.
Publisher: Singing Dragon, London and Philadelphia (www.singingdragon.com)
Date of publication: 2014
eISBN: 978 0 85701 125 1