A Thumbs Down Book Review
Body By God: The Owner’s Manual for Maximized Living
By Dr. Ben Lerner
Review by Maria Atwood
Using the Bible as his forum, Dr. Ben Lerner’s book, Body By God, does a good job in presenting to the spiritually and physically unmotivated some guidelines for improvement. Nevertheless, his shortsighted view of milk and dairy in his “Undiet” was disconcerting to say the least.
As you read the book you realize he has made himself God’s new spokesperson and leads us to believe he knows exactly what God wants us to eat and what God does not want us to eat. He states that as a trained nutritionist, having tried and failed early on in his career, he finally created an easy, loving way to help people and is now referred to as the “Food Prophet”!
It did not surprise me as recently I, too, finished my nutritional studies and received my certification. Unfortunately what many of us are still being taught are the tired old myths about the dangers of milk, meat and a high-fat diet.
I wondered whether he has prayerfully asked himself why milk and dairy, having served for thousands of years to preserve the human race, now need to be replaced with rice and almond milk from our local health food store! Did Abraham and Jacob get almond and rice milk from their flocks of cattle and goats?
Also, what would Dr. Lerner manage to do with the milk-producing animals God created when we all take his advice and stop using milk?
Last but not least, why as nutritionists are we not curious about the fact that humans intuitively continue to crave and drink milk and foods made with milk. So much so, that many even persist in drinking it despite the fact that they know how unhealthy store-bought milk that is pasteurized, homogenized and tainted with antibiotics and hormones really is?
Add to that the millions who are now pretending to drink milk by using unhealthy choices like soy, rice and almond so-called milks, which are primarily composed of sugared water. Does it not cross our minds that it might be because God actually intended us to drink real milk and eat dairy foods? Or did this infinite, all-knowing Being actually make a mistake?
Dr. Lerner devotes an approximate 68 pages to the “Undiet” and on page 62 gives us this very small bit of really good advice: “If you choose to use dairy products, buy raw, organic items from a farm, health food store, or special service,” if possible. He quickly goes on to cancel that good advice by adding that fortunately rice and almond milk make excellent replacements for cow’s milk. That they are natural, taste sweeter than milk and can be found in health food stores!
I was truly dismayed when I realized the good he could have done by expanding on the small mention he made regarding raw milk.
I finally closed the book and walked away shaking my head when I read his interpretation of what milk is designed for, and I quote from page 62 of his book:
“The milk from a cow is designed for the specific purpose of adding several hundred pounds to the size of its offspring in a short period of time. In order to accomplish this enormous task, ‘calves milk’ is made up of a high percentage of proteins, and the size of these proteins is extremely large. Contrary to that, human breast milk was created with the goal of adding only a couple of dozen pounds to children in a similar period of time. Therefore, human milk has a much lower concentration of protein, and the size of the proteins are much smaller by comparison.” Unfortunately, he’s got his facts wrong. Human milk has a slightly lower protein content than cow’s milk, but the size of the protein molecules is the same.
He continues: “As you get older, you [are] less equipped to break down milk. It appears that God did not design adult humans, or any other mature animal for that matter, to consume milk. This makes sense, because as you grow it gets harder to stick your head under a cow.” Well, after I read that and before I grow anymore, I think I will go stick my head under a cow!
Lerner’s aversion to dairy foods is especially troubling because his other main prohibitions–shellfish and pork–are based on biblical dietary laws. Yet nowhere in the Bible is milk, cheese and butter proscribed. On the contrary, these foods are singled out as particularly healthgiving.
Without butter, the fats in Lerner’s diet are olive oil, coconut oil, fish oil and the fats in beef, egg yolks and chicken. He says “No” to processed foods but allows two exceptions–almond, oat and rice milks to replace milk, and as a replacement
for butter. . . Butter Buds!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2005.