Metabolical by Robert Lustig [7/10]

A sad reflection on the global food sector and the science (for what it is worth) of diet is the number of books pumped out claiming to “reveal the truth.” The truth is that nothing about food is incontrovertibly proven and all is distorted by governments, corporations, and individuals acting on self interest. My rant arises from the fact that I read way too many books offering solutions and advice; most of them, these days, get short thrift from me. But “Metabolical: The Truth About Processed Food and How It Poisons People and the Planet“,” by American doctor and activist and prolific writer Robert Lustig, strikes me as scientific as can be. Essentially, Lustig’s thesis (one echoed by many these days) is that the ultra-processed carbohydrates fed to us by the modern food system mess with our evolutionary bodies to our peril. Processed foods lead to all the modern health epidemics. Lustig takes care to not point the finger at obesity (according to him, some technically obese people do not need to lose weight, while some technically thin people dice with dietary death). He slams governments, the health profession, medicine, pharma, agriculture, and, of course, the food “manufacturers.” His answer is twofold: “protect the liver” and “feed the gut,” which he explains well but perhaps too briefly for the average reader (I am not sure I came away with clear notions on how to follow his rules). Overall, Metabolical is timely, well written, and an up-to-the-minute mix of science and polemic.

4 Replies to “Metabolical by Robert Lustig [7/10]”

  1. Most probably the book stated processed foods should be avoided or eliminated, and that unprocessed foods include animal proteins, animal fat, avacado, olive and coconut oils ant fruit and veg.
    He has been saying this for years, I am surprised it is not clear enough for a college graduates to understand. Implementing is more difficult because of addictions and bias. Giving up the SAD is hard, however, once implemented it becomes easyy and the physical and mental wellbeing are spectacular.

  2. Lustig’s earlier works, like his ultra viral video, sometimes seemed to suggest that the greatest problem by far was fructose consumption. This book seems to a broader, more powerful critique of ultra-processing generally, moving beyond the narrower emphasis on fructose, though fructose remains a major concern.

  3. Doctor Lustig’s book Metabolical is an eye opener. Having practiced medicine for over 40 years both as a family physician and as an emergency physician, none of his news is particularly new. Moreover, I have read the negative critiques of the book, and finding them disturbingly humorous. Few critics attack his veracity, but rather his political views and cynicism. For me to avoid being cynical is a very difficult task, I have watched the gradual degradation of the standard American diet to the point where I believe it is imperative that physicians speak out, regardless of whether they are viewed as Bing viewed as polemic or not. I have a financial interest in reversing the course of chronic disease: I do not want Medicare and Social Security to become bankrupt at the very time I’m needing it.

    1. Rob, my reading of Lustig’s book was a while ago now, and I’ve modified my diet remarkably, not as a direct consequence of Metabolical, but doubtless due to its influence. Reading your comment inspires me to revisit the book.

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