Monday, June 29, 2009

The Unhealthy Truth - Part I

I've been reading a book called The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien (foreword by Dr. Kenneth A Bock). There's a lot of information in the book, so I'm going to do a multi-part book review discussing the book and it's information. For this first part, I'll discuss the Foreword up to partway through Chapter 3.

The author, Robyn O'Brien is a mother of four and a Houston native. She started researching childhood allergies when her youngest daughter had a severe allergic reaction to eggs. As she continued researching, she found more and more information that she thought should be shared with everyone, particularly parents of people with allergies. She admits to not being a scientist, but she's certainly shown a passion for research and is the founder of the AllergyKids website.

The book starts out with a very strong message that the world is changing, and environmental changes are causing numerous ailments in today's children - including autism ADHD, asthma, and severe food allergies. They make a compelling argument that improved diagnostics is not the only reason for a dramatic increase in rates of autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies since adults are not showing the same statistical increase, only the children. Throughout the book they mention that since children are more vulnerable to toxic environments, they are acting as our canaries in a coal mine, and that we should be paying attention to what their ailments are telling us.

These first few chapters are focused on telling the author's story, and how she started researching food allergies. A fair amount of time is spent on the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) as one of the largest not-for-profit organizations. The author's dismay at finding the amount of funding received, but not publicly disclosed, by FAAN from Big Food and Big Pharma companies comes across clearly. Eventually the author decided to start the AllergyKids website to try and share her findings with other parents (and run it as a for-profit business with the proceeds dedicated to funding research into food allergies). Eventually the author starts to discuss food, and what really is the unhealthy truth. This section closes with The Hidden Side of Soy which discusses the fact that soy is a double-edged sword with all of it's isoflavones. Here are a few of her points:
1. Soy is rich in phytic acid, which blocks absorption of essential minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, iron, and zinc.
2. Eating soy boosts estrogen, for women this could cause estrogen to be too high during pregnancy, resulting in a variety of health risks for both her and the baby.
3. Infants being fed on soy formula had up to ten times higher blood levels of isoflavones than adult women who were taking soy as medicine
4. Monsanto is responsible for producing over 80% of the world’s soy in the form of a widely used genetically engineered soybean

In the next section of the book, she'll be looking at genetically modified foods, and hopefully getting into how she thinks diets should be modified (she guarantees it'll be easy and inexpensive). So far it's an interesting read, and written so that the points are easy to understand. I'm looking forward to the rest of the book. Look for Part II of the review next week!

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