By Ira Edwards
Trafford Publishing, 2006
The subtitle of this book sums up the situation well: “A descent into the Ocean of Nutritional Prattle, and Coming Up for Air.” This book will leave you with a good feeling for how much prattle is out there, if you didn’t already know. Ira Edwards surveys the prattle on just about every conceivable nutritional topic, including political and economic issues. The author’s stand on political and economic issues can be summarized by saying more government is not the answer. It always warms the cockles of my heart to read that.
Before we get too deep into the book, there are some great definitions. When speaking of drugs, “safe” means the FDA hasn’t taken it off the market—yet. It doesn’t mean the drug hasn’t killed thousands of people. When talking about herbs or supplements, “unsafe” means someone, somewhere might have suffered some adverse reaction at some point in history. “Unproven” almost never applies to drugs and surgery but otherwise means no one has shelled out one hundred million dollars to get FDA approval.
These are followed by a top ten list of popular, mostly false claims. The first is, “If you are overweight, all you need to do is exercise more and eat less.” Edwards correctly states that this is not only false but insulting. He goes on to talk about common bad advice and the medical-pharmaceutical establishment. For example, by FDA rules, any product must be proven effective when used alone. This unfortunately rules out the many cases where a proper balance of several things can be very beneficial.
As we descend into the ocean, we pass through schools of supplements. There are several pools of information floating throughout the book on specific supplements for specific ailments or to prevent specific things. While this book doesn’t suggest you need more medicine, you may need a bigger medicine cabinet to hold all the recommended supplements. If you take them all consistently, you may find you also need a bigger stomach if you want any room for real food.
We continue our descent into fats and heart disease. The coverage of heart disease is far better than the usual murky muddle. He even covers the concept that many if not most heart attacks are not caused by clogged coronary arteries but by overly acid conditions that can be reversed with strophanthin. When we plunge into the details on fats, however, it gets a little cloudy. He states that saturated fats get undeserved blame and that coconut oil is healthful, but recommends animal fats only in “moderate amounts.” He notes that calcium is poorly absorbed without saturated fats. He wrongly asserts that arachidonic acid is inflammatory—that it is good for infants but not for adults. And he gives a favorable recommendation to canola oil. He could have gotten these details right with just one visit to our website. The advice on soy is good for the most part, but there is a list of supplements we are encouraged to choose from that includes soy isoflavones. I personally won’t be choosing that one. As for supplements in general, I have tried a vast array including many that are favorably mentioned in this book, and I have been generally underwhelmed by the results.
This book is different from other books about everything you want to know about nutrition. The author says more than once that while he has sorted the facts as best he can, he might be wrong. I do believe Ira Edwards is being honest as the title suggests, if not always consistent with WAPF principles. I do like the author’s general attitude. The final decision on which way to go with this book isn’t easy. It is easy to argue for the thumb to point either way. As I come up for air my thumb is pointing down, but I might be wrong.
Ira Edwards also wrote a companion book called Pre-Pain. Again, there are some very good sections, but there are enough points that are not consistent with Weston A Price Foundation principles to keep the thumb down for that one too.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2010.