Nature Wants Us to Be Fat

The Surprising Science Behind Why We Gain Weight and How We Can Prevent--and Reverse--It

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Pub Date 08 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 03 Apr 2022

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“It is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Health/Medicine collections.” —Midwest Book Review
Nature puts a “survival switch” in our bodies to protect us from starvation. Stuck in the “on” position, it’s the hidden source of weight gain, heart disease, and many other common health struggles. But you can turn it off.

Dr. Richard Johnson has been on the cutting edge of research into the cause of obesity for more than a decade. His team’s discovery of the fructose-powered survival switch—a metabolic pathway that animals in nature turn on and off as needed, but that our modern diet has permanently fixed in the “on” position, where it becomes a fat switch—revolutionized the way we think about why we gain weight. 
In Nature Wants Us to Be Fat, he details the mounting evidence on how this switch is responsible both for excess fat storage and for many of the major diseases endemic to the Western world, including heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Dr. Johnson also reveals the surprising link between the survival switch and health conditions such as gout, kidney disease, liver disease, stroke—and even behavioral issues like addiction and ADHD. And, most important, he shares a science-based plan to help readers fight back against nature.
Guided by ongoing clinical research—plus fascinating observations from the animal kingdom, evolution, and history—Dr. Johnson takes you along on an eye-opening investigation into: 

   What you can do to turn off your survival switch
   What we have in common with hibernating bears, sperm whales, and the world’s fattest bird
   Why it’s fructose (not glucose) that drives insulin resistance and metabolic disease
   The foods we eat that trigger the body to make its own fructose
   The surprising role salt and dehydration play in fat accumulation
   The surprising link between the survival switch and health conditions such as gout and liver and kidney diseases, and even behavioral issues like addiction and ADHD
Dr. Johnson not only provides new recommendations for how we can prevent or treat obesity, but also how we can use this information to reduce our risk of developing disease. Nature wants us to be fat, and when we understand why, we gain the tools we need to lose weight and optimize our health.
“It is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Health/Medicine collections.” —Midwest...

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Average rating from 11 members

Featured Reviews

This was a fascinating book, one of my favorite science/health books that I've read in a while. Johnson talks about how animals in nature use fructose in order to trigger the "survival switch" that tells their bodies to slow their metabolism and put on weight to prepare for hardship, starvation or emergencies. Bears gorge on berries to prepare for hibernation, hummingbirds eat so much nectar all day that they end each day in a diabetic state in order to survive until morning, and so on. The problem is that our modern diets are extremely high in fructose through things like high fructose corn syrup and also that we can easily convert refined carbs into fructose to trigger our survival switch, so we have developed eating styles that keep us with our survival switches permanently switched on. He also talks about some other things that trigger it, such as being dehydrated and taking in too much salt.

One thing I love about the book is that Johnson and his colleagues have been doing numerous scientific studies on this stuff for years. They have done studies on mice, fruit flies and people in order to study exactly how things like fructose, glucose, levels of uric acid, dehydration, etc. affect whether we put on weight, enter states of metabolic disorder, and so on. It's rich with science that is accessible, interesting and thought provoking.

The last third of the book is Johnson's specific advice about what to eat and supplements that can help. He also talks about how we can create new mitochondria through vigorous exercise, how to go back to previous weights, how various diets like keto and paleo compare in terms of the survival switch, and more. His recommended diets are very doable in my opinion, but I happily follow a clean, plant-heavy keto diet so I may have different opinions about how easy it is to follow diets. :) His switch diet is easier than a traditional keto diet (there are similarities), and you don't have to worry about counting calories or any of that with it (as with keto).

I read hundreds of books a year with a special interest in science and health. I always know I'm reading a good one if I end up rambling all about its ideas to my family members. My husband and several of my kids have heard all about this one. :) Well recommended.

I read a digital ARC of this book via Net Galley.

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This is an interesting book! There's a lot of information I haven't seen elsewhere. I was easily able to maintain a size 6 until I hit my 40s. I haven't seen size 6 since entering my 40s, so I thought I'd read this book. I plan to read through it a second time because there really was a lot of thoughtful information to digest (pun intended!).

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Outstanding book! In his book Nature Wants Us to Be Fat, Dr. Richard Johnson explains why we gain weight and what we can do to reverse this weight gain helping us to become healthier. Based on research, this well written easy-to-understand book is a groundbreaker. I highly recommend this book for those who care about their health and want to feel better.

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This is one of the top 10 health books I've read all year! It clearly explains how and why our bodies react the way they do, and the connection between fructose and weight.

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I don't think I've ever read a non fiction book that kept me on the edge of my seat like this book! As the author slowly explains the main reason people are locked into obesity and bad heath, I kept wanting to know more. This book is a must read for anyone!

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A useful book that is different from many of the others out there, and makes you see diet and fitness differently. Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Dr. Johnson draws upon various observations from our development as a species over the millennia and how our genetic code got changed and written over those years. He dissects the conditions in which we survived as a species and how each of those battles for survival shaped our metabolic system.
He also looks at various other surviving mammals and how they live and exist in the wild. He examines how their bodies turn on a energy saving switch and how they can turn off the switch. What happens before the switch is turned on and how is it that this fat switch is turned off.

The author quotes extensive research to present his understanding on how we accumulate fat and then provides a solution to reverse these conditions based on actual data. For those who like to dig deep, he goes a step further that quoting research papers and explains each of the experiment in an easy to understand language and leaves it open to interpretation.

He also warns you that his approach is just an hypotheses and the research data comes from experiments on animals in a lab. He understands that these may not be right a hundred percent when it comes to humans, but he is confident that it holds true.

For those who have never bothered to think about losing weight and are only just now worried about diagnoses like Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, Hypertension and other lifestyle diseases, the book is an excellent resource to begin your journey to health the right way.

The author compares various diets, their pros and cons and which ones work the best.

For those who have tried a few and dropped the ball only a few months later, the author proposes The Switch Diet that can keep you on track with little cravings and still help you achieve your goals. Author gives you concrete numbers about what is really bad, how much of what you can consume, and the best way to consume what you shouldn’t if you must.

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