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Gillian McKeith's Food Bible: How to Use Food to Cure What Ails You

Book Review

Gillian McKeith's Food Bible: How to Use Food to Cure What Ails You
By Gillian McKeith
Penguin Group (2009)
Reviewed by Christine Gerbstadt, MD, MPH, RD


Holistic nutritionist Gillian McKeith offers a comprehensive and fully illustrated guide to the health effects, uses and benefits of the foods we eat and how nutrition affects our general health, aging, ability to fight disease and overall quality of life. The book features food-based treatments for common illnesses and diseases, from arthritis to diabetes and chronic fatigue syndrome to migraines.

Synopsis of the Diet Plan

Food Bible is divided into two sections: the first is McKeith's comments on key health factors, such as immunity, digestion, food sensitivity, heart, mind, hormones, stress and McKeith's foundations of a healthy diet, such as fluids, fiber, nutrients, minerals and vitamins. The foundations section is basic nutrition principles and adequate for any reader with little knowledge of how to plan a healthy diet. The "plan" does not include menus or specific food plans, but rather suggests a plant-based vegetable diet (30 percent to 35 percent) with fruits (15 percent), pulses and seaweed (15 percent), whole grains (20 percent to 25 percent), nuts and seeds (10 percent) and small amounts of fish, eggs and lean, white meats (5 percent). There are no dairy foods in McKeith's Food Pyramid. McKeith passes through the stages of life, from fertility to older age, offering food advice. The second section is an A to Z listing of conditions, such as alopecia, Alzheimer's, anemia, continuing through the alphabet. Each "condition" has the following format: characteristics, potential underlying causes and an action plan consisting of what to eat and drink, what to avoid, herbs and supplements and extra tips.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

The protein content for a 2,000-calorie diet would be around 20 grams per day using one serving of pulses and 5 percent of animal protein in McKeith's Food Pyramid. This diet, although vitamin-rich, would be deficient in calcium and protein at any calorie level.

Additionally, McKeith's book contains more than 90 percent of the "conditions" content of Winnie Yu's What to Eat for What Ails You How to Treat Illnesses by Changing the Food and Vitamins in your Diet. The lists of what to avoid become redundant and by the third condition, you realize nearly every condition lists sugar and refined carbohydrates, processed, damaged and saturated fats, caffeine and alcohol. This information is also contained in the highly editorialized introduction and first section.

There are specific suggestions for foods to eat that make scientific sense as well as nutritional sense. Insomnia, for example, lists lettuce, chamomile tea, green vegetables, tryptophan-rich foods, complex carbohydrates, oats, niacin-rich foods and omega-3 fat-rich fish.

Bottom Line

If you have read Yu's What to Eat for What Ails You, don't bother with this book. McKeith adds little new information and recommends a low-protein diet in contradiction to the USDA MyPyramid, although the food pictures are beautifully artistic. If you want a book of this type with reliable nutrition science, choose Yu's book.