14 June 2009

Oh, So BPA Won't Strike Me Dead?

Since this blog is all about being a well-read kind of gal, I guess I will start with some praise for a great book I just read.

An Apple a Day: The Myths, Misconceptions and Truths About What We Eat by Joe Schwartz, PhD. This book is a must read by anyone who eats, that is pretty much all of us, and for parents who are endlessly weeding through “new information” about what to feed our kids. Dr. Schwartz does an amazing job of evaluating all the trendy food concepts that so many of us are trying to process.

The author addresses many topics ranging from the dreaded BPA in plastics, to “super foods“ and “cure-alls“, looping back to organics and rounding out the experience with a simple set of guidelines for actually eating. For each chapter Dr. Schwartz presents the hype, the complicated technical truths and the “real” conclusion that science indicates. The technical aspects are well explained at a level that, not to be insulting to our intelligence, anyone can understand. I have a pretty strong background in biological and health sciences, but still I am full of chemistry fail. No problem, when Dr. Schwartz explains it, even I get it.

The most interesting points, to me at any rate, were those that really helped put all the hype in context. People freak out about chemicals, as it turns out, everything, including people, is made out of chemicals. I know its seems so obvious when you just say it like that. Effects of chemicals are dose related. A rat consuming the equivalent of 1000 servings of any food per day is very different from how much exposure the general population gets. Finally, most of the "toxins" that people fear and associate with specific sources, are actually found in higher concentrations in many foods and items that are considered healthy. Go figure!

Without giving away too much, it was an enjoyable read and I walked away feeling way more prepared to make educated decisions about what my family eats. I will say that the end result is that no matter how much research and media frenzy we may see, the cold hard truths of eating well remain the same. Eat your fruits and veggies, go for whole grains, choose your fats carefully and well, don’t believe everything you see in the media. As it turns out, most reporters and self-proclaimed health gurus are not trained clinicians…..who knew? While the conclusions about diet are nothing new, the explanations of the science behind what it is about food that makes it good, or bad, for you really helps to simplify the choices we have to make everyday.

PS I just HAD to come back in and do a quick follow-up note. If you read the reviews for the book on amazon.com, you get a pretty good idea of just how concepts of nutrition and food risk have been, occasionally, blown out of proportion. Obviously everyone has their right to an opinion, and most opinions are perceived by the beholder as educated. That is kind of the point. Everyone read the information and choose for yourself, but just yourself. I will make my choices, my neighbor will make hers, and we can all just live our lives.

So, my recommendation is this: read the book and see what you think.