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The Bad Food Bible  By  cover art

The Bad Food Bible

By: Aaron Carroll MD
Narrated by: Jeff Cummings,Kate Rudd
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Publisher's Summary

Physician and popular New York Times Upshot contributor Aaron Carroll mines the latest evidence to show that many "bad" ingredients actually aren't unhealthy, and in some cases are essential to our well-being.

Advice about food can be confusing. There's usually only one thing experts can agree on: some ingredients - often the most enjoyable ones - are bad for you, full stop. But as Aaron Carroll explains, these oversimplifications are both wrong and dangerous: if we stop consuming some of our most demonized ingredients altogether, it may actually hurt us. In The Bad Food Bible, Carroll examines the scientific evidence, showing among other things that you can:

  • Eat red meat several times a week: The health effects are negligible for most people, and actually positive if you're 65 or older.
  • Have a drink or two a day: As long as it's in moderation, it will protect you against cardiovascular disease without much risk.
  • Enjoy a gluten-loaded bagel from time to time: It has less fat and sugar, fewer calories, and more fiber than a gluten-free one.
  • Eat more salt: If your blood pressure is normal, you should be more worried about getting too little sodium than having too much.

Full of counterintuitive lessons about food we hate to love, The Bad Food Bible is for anyone who wants to forge eating habits that are sensible, sustainable, and occasionally indulgent.

©2017 Aaron Carroll (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved. Foreword © 2017 by Nina Teicholz

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I love the smell of evidence in the morning

I was drawn to this book after watching Dr. Aaron Carroll's Youtube episode of "Healthcare Triage" on the myth that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Rare it is when you find a medical practitioner who doesn't just parrot the standard "wisdom" of all our food rules. He is by no stretch "body positive," and so some of the weight rhetoric in the book might be triggering to anyone sensitive to that. Having said that, his expose of the complete disregard for rigorous science in marketing, media, governmental guidelines, education, and, yes, research, surrounding nutrition is both refreshing and enlightening. Further, he advocates mainly to eat fresh, whole food most of the time, enjoy it well-seasoned, and not worry too much about the rest: a message that I don't have any problem with.

I wish he added one more chapter, to go right after debunking salt-is-bad-and-we-all-eat-too-much: WATER. I'm seriously out of patience for the ignorance on this subject. (Just the other day on a webinar given by Vitality, a person who had lost a bunch of weight advocated that everyone should drink 10 glasses of water a day. I was a little shocked that that statement wasn't addressed at all by the announcer - maybe he was caught off guard. But he's a health educator. No excuses.)

The only thing in the book that gave me pause: he misdefined BMI, apparently forgetting that "I" stands for "index" - a statistical way to measure a population, not an individual - and seemingly misattributed it to health rather than insurance. But this could have simply been due to not wanting to go off on that particular tangent in his citation of a particular study. Or maybe it's a footnote in the written text. Or maybe the editor cut it. Whatever. Truly I believe he understands that it's pretty much garbage, because the integrity of Dr. Carroll's message is there in everything else.

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classic Dr Carroll more in book form !!!

lengthy introduction, but good listen. somewhat repetitive, but important information irregardless. Dr Carroll goes over research at length. TLDR nutrition research is hard and expensive because results don't come immediately. Processed food is worse, and sometimes inevitable, but avoid them as possible. Worry only in accordance to amount. Leave morals aside and be pragmatic about it.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent and fair minded

I never read diet books, but made an exception for this one because I’m a fan of his videos. Also, I have a PhD in animal nutrition and have a deep frustration with the way human nutrition is conducted, interpreted and discussed.

To sum it up in a single word, this book was “refreshing”! An honest accounting of the data, or its lack, on numerous topics of particular attention in the popular press on nutrition. Areas where they have consistently gotten things wrong. Coupled with “common sense” strategies for eating. (Common sense is in quotes because this is common sense if you understand how digestion works, but is by no means the conventional wisdom if your nutritional knowledge is based largely on diet books or popular press headlines).

An excellent read, and I found myself nodding along almost the entire time. If anyone were to ask me what one book they should read about nutrition, it used to be the excellent “Big Fat Surprise”, but now I’d recommend this one first.

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Excellent

Great advice! I love all of Aaron's work and also follow him on YouTube. It's good to be relaxed and mindful.

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A gastrophile,s nightmare....

the truth shall set you free ... let this book go viralon the food network.

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Sorely needed and remarkably freeing!

I am so glad to have been shown that a lot of my own concerns about food were loosely grounded. I thought I knew what I was talking about after reading How Not To Die and am happy that I opened myself up to something that I may have thought contradictory to what I previously believed!

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Author's huge ego doesn't fit in the book

First chapter you will hear only "I, I did, I think, I am, I I I..."
Then he starts to talk about different types of food, and how well they were researched. But he didn't give you any facts or useful information, all he does is bitching how shitty are those scientists and how stupid people that believe them. That's it. All his assumptions are nonsense, no logic, even logic upside down. I've never read a funny fiction book as this one.
I'll give you an example. He says that Americans are not getting more fat for decades, actually the opposite. But come on, look around, just simply Google, and you'll find that Americans are getting more and more obese. Even airlines are changing the average passenger weight to almost 200 pounds!
This book has nothing to do with science.

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Some sensible, some cherry picked information

Some of the information is sensible and logical, and some is cherry picked to fit a specific narrative.
That narrative is “everything is fine in moderation”.
Bad things do not become good in moderation.
Is smoking fine in moderation? How about cocaine use, is that ok in moderation?
Some things ARE bad, no matter how well marketed or promoted. And some things are bad for specific people, each person has their own health and nutrient needs.

An example: Toward the end the author talks about conventional/industrial farming and food vs organic farming. He points out the difference between the pesticides used on an industrial farm vs. an organic farm and then compares the nutrients based upon this pesticide usage. His conclusion is that they are basically the same and money is wasted on any specific type of farming.
What the author completely leaves out is that animals (for example chickens) raised on pastured, well fertilized fields who are able to eat bugs and get fresh air and sunshine have a higher quality product than chickens raised in industrial coops with no room to move and who are so stressed they pick their own feathers off until they bleed.
Eggs from pastured chickens provide more nutrients than industrial raised chickens.

At the end he says to always “ask your doctor” before making any dietary changes - yet doctors have less than 1% of their medical training in food or nutrition so that would be the wrong person to talk to about this.

All that said, I do think that many have so many food rules that are not based in health (especially the “low fat/heart healthy” fad diets) that lightening up those rules is a good thing.

I would not recommend this book to anyone looking to improve their health. It is written in a way that makes one feel good about eating an average diet in moderation… not one for real health changes.

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Good Info

Info here is good, but I actually knew most of this. If you regularly read nutrition books, you might have come across this info. If not, it's a great place to begin.

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thank you!

this book brought as much evidence and sense that possibly could be applied to nutrition. I appreciate the nuance and practical application suggested. thanks so much Aaron.

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  • 03-01-19

A diet aid for nerds

I enjoy the authors YouTube channel (healthcare triage) and this is largely a summary of the information contained within previous videos but with some updated extras.

Dispels a lot of myths and our over obsession with certain foods being good or evil. It then replaces these beliefs with good science.

Consider it an antidote for all the media stories about how everything we eat is poison