Cover Image: Fat, Stressed, and Sick

Fat, Stressed, and Sick

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Member Reviews

Fat, Sick, and Stressed was a thought-provoking read!!!

I found the extensive research that Katherine Reid compiled after receiving her daughter’s autism diagnosis to be accessible, even as a scientific layman. Not only did Reid manage to provide ample scientific data, but she was able to explain her findings in simple terms. What could have easily been a dense, difficult material turned out to be anything but!

While I am sure some of the content in the book could be seen as controversial by some readers. However, it opened my eyes to how important it is to know what we are consuming on a daily basis. I will definitely be changing some of my lifestyle habits after reading this book.

Special thanks to Netgalley, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, and Katherine Reid for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

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I read a lot of evidence-based books on nutrition and its impact on public health, and they're usually quite good, but I was quite disappointed by this one. It read more as a collection of scare tactics against MSG than an actual, research-based health and wellness book. Making experiments in your own home is all well and good, but a sample size of one - unfortunately - does not prove anything.

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This is going to be a hard one to review because I am not sure that the scientific data is there to support several of the cases the author is making. Yet I feel strongly that processed foods/ultraprocessed foods are indeed behind a lot of the problems we are experiencing in health in the Western world. I am intrigued by the points the author is making.

The focus of the book is on how glutamates affect Autistic children, with the author using her daughter as her case study. Assertions are made about Glutamates (such as the most widely added glutamate in our food supply - MSG) with connections to other diseases as well but for the most part, the author makes some interesting case points that eliminating MSG/glutamates from the diet can help autistic children find more normalcy.

The author describes the history of glutmates, why they are used so much currently (they make food taste better), and some of the areas where you will find them (e.g., protein powders, cheese, supplements, processed foods). She also discusses their affect on the microbiome, inflammation, and connections to a variety of chronic ailments. The end features meal plans that are low in glutamates, gluten, dairy.

So the question I had to ask myself is if this is an 'anti-vaxxer' type of low science illogical conclusion based on a few examples or is there science to back this up? The author makes compelling arguments but also has to admit that the science isn't there - at least not now. There is the usual discussions about corporate hush ups since most food corps would prefer to keep the msg in the food to make it more palatable and addictive. We know that occurs and isn't a paranoid fantasy. But the problem is that while rodent studies show causal relationships, actual case studies on humans aren't showing that result (e.g., a recent study in China that could not find a link between diabetes and MSG consumption).

I don't agree with the author that those studies won't appear in the future. Autism especially is hitting hard in Western Countries and the demand will be there to find out more. But until then, it certainly cannot hurt to eliminate the glutamates since they are not a nutritional requirement and we don't have the studies that show conclusively that they don't hurt us. Certainly, reducing and eliminating processed foods will provide a wide range of benefits until we find out more definitively.

There were a few detractions for me with this book. First, the author seems to be on a mission to shame an ex husband who wasn't supportive. This bashing was pervasive, unnecessary, and made the book feel more like a petty revenge piece. It destroyed some of the credibility of the author and made it feel like she was trying to hard to pound a square peg into a round hole to prove she was 'right all along.' I wish all references to the ex had been removed. Second, there are statements such as MSG being fed to rats to cause them to get diabetes. This seemed odd to me because I have read in many places that fat is fed to rats in order to induce insulin resistance and cause diabetes. So I also had question marks about several statements in the book feeling like the author was drifting too close to hyperbole in order to make an argument.

All said, this is an intriguing book. I do not have a child with autism nor know anyone who does - I read this book to research more about health and nutrition. I will be watching closely in the future for more research to come out about MSG/glutamates and also to see more case studies from the author. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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