A Thumbs Up Book Review
The Maker’s Diet
By Jordan Rubin, NMD, PhD
Review by Sally Fallon
At the age of 17, Jordan Rubin went to Florida State University on an academic and athletic scholarship. Less than two years later he had dropped out because of a serious digestive disorder. Diagnosed as Crohn’s disease, the illness manifested as chronic diarrhea, weight loss, nausea, “cottonmouth” and fatigue. Rubin begins The Maker’s Diet with a graphic and often humorous description of his ordeal as he planned his life according to the proximity of bathrooms, tried one supplement after another, and traveled to various health clinics, including a Brueghelesque spa in Germany, seeking a cure.
What turned him around was a twofold approach involving traditional whole foods that emphasized animal products and minimized grains, and soil-based organisms providing beneficial bacteria for his digestive tract.
The highlight of The Maker’s Diet is his chapter on digestion. Rubin summarizes current research showing that the digestive tract functions as a “second brain,” possessed of complex neural circuitry and governed by the same natural opiates as the brain. The gut is richly endowed with receptors for a whole range of psychoactive chemicals that help us feel satisfied and happy. This is why digestive disorders are often accompanied by depression and why eating rich and nutritious food makes us feel good.
Rubin also addresses the double-edged sword of hygiene. Rudimentary hygiene is absolutely necessary for good health and longevity; however, overemphasis on avoiding dirt and germs results in weakened immune systems. Rubin makes a strong case for letting children play in the dirt as a way of stimulating and strengthening the immune system, and for soil-based organisms (either as a supplement or in fermented foods) to colonize the gut with symbiotic, friendly bacteria.
While some may quibble about a few of Rubin’s ideas–avoidance of shellfish and pork, for example, or the superiority of goat milk over cow’s–we all owe him a debt of gratitude for getting our basic ideas into the mainstream. In reviewing Rubin’s book, Newsweek, the Enquirer, the Washington Post and even The Good Morning Show, have let the public know that animal foods and saturated fats are not the enemy but vital for good health. Jordan also addresses many health issues that have had trouble getting a public airing: the importance of natural sunlight, regular sleep and good healthy sweat, and the dangers of megavitamins, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, chlorinated water, immunizations, strong electromagnetic fields, commercial skin and hair care products, amalgam fillings, non-organic food, plastic for food storage, synthetic fabrics and modern building materials. Jordan even takes on the modern sibboleth of aerobic exercise, pointing out that high-intensity vigorous exercise such as jogging or running on hard surfaces is essentially unnatural to the body and can lower the immune response. He notes that human beings in virtually every culture typically engaged in anaerobic functional exercise common to regular labor or work functions on the farm, at sea or while hunting wild game, punctuated by occasional bursts of intense activity.
Finally, readers of The Maker’s Diet, many of them new to the connection between diet and health, will learn about the importance of cod liver oil, soup stocks and fermented foods. Bravo, Jordan!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2004.