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Carbs from Heaven
Carbs from Hell


Dr. James D. Krystosik

Square One Publishers; NY11040, USA, 2004. 272 pages, $16.95.

 It is a brave man who takes on the low carb fad and Dr. Krystosik meets it head on. He picks apart the Atkins diet and exposes its terrible health consequences.

Corrupt Medical Profession
Not satisfied with that he brutally exposes the medical profession’s institutionalized prejudice against any treatment that does not fit into their orthodox paradigm.  A paradigm which, seemingly, abandons Hippo­cratic ideals (see “Opinion” this page).

He excoriates the American Medical Association for carrying out a systematic dirty tricks campaign to discredit alternative, yet scientific, practices. (see Quotes, page 1) To be fair, many good medical doctors quietly practice ‘integrat­ive medicine’, which incorporates neighboring sciences such as nutrition.

Alternative Food Pyramids
Dr. Krystosik comprehensively dem­on­strates the foolishness of the USDA food pyramid. In its place he sets out alternative pyramids, each based on an ethnic diet that has a healthier profile: Latin-American, Asian and Mediterranean.

Carbohydrates from Heaven
So what is a “Carbohydrate from Heaven”? If you ask Joe Blow, “What food-groups do fruits and vegetables belong to?”, he would be hard put to tell you. In fact they are carbo­­hydrates and most of Dr. Krystosik’s ‘carbs from heaven’ are indeed fruits, salads and vegetables.  However, seduced by his ethnic pyramids, he also includes whole grains, potato and beans.

Carbohydrates from Hell
Dr. Krystosik’s ‘carbs from hell’ are refined, processed grains, French fries and sugars. However,  Dr. Krystosik admits, even heaven­ly carbs can become ‘hellish’ if they give you illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, gluten sensitivity, leaky gut, gas, allergies, behavioral disorders, migraines, and hidden food intoler­ances. Dr. Krystosik leaves silent the fact that these maladies are almost always triggered by grains, potato and beans (rarely by fruits, salads and vegetables).

Blood Sugar Control
The problem of blood sugar control is well explained and the glycemic index (G.I.) of foods is tackled. This is a brave move: inconveniently whole grains and potatoes have glycemic indexes as bad as sugar. Dr. Krystosik tries to exonerate them by claiming, incorrectly, that: “The glycemic index does not take into account the positive effects of fiber.” On the contrary, these foods are tested with all their fiber intact.

Dr. Krystosik invokes another notion: that anyway, the effect on insulin levels is what is really important. However he does not mention that in this case, potato comes off even worse: it raises insulin 25% more severely than even white bread.

In fact Dr. Krystosik is valiantly trying to defend a position that is too exposed and it leads him to say some unwise things. For example he claims: “during the Ice Age, people only lived into their mid twenties”. This is not only wrong but counter-intuitive. If parents died off while their children were still toddlers, it is hard to imagine the tribe surviving very long.

Composite Diet
At the end, we find out why Dr. Krystosik is so keen to defend his version of ‘carbs from heaven’ (which include those pesky unrefined grains, beans and potato). He has created a new diet from a composite of the ethnic diets, which he calls ‘The American MediterrAsian Diet’.

There is no doubt that Dr. Krystosik’s new diet, even with our quibbles, is a vast improvement on the average American diet.

Dr. Krystosik does not shy away from the main difficulty that all of us have: how to actually DO all the sensible things we are being told.  So he advances some interesting and unusual strategies for effecting change. One example is to find a ‘wellness’ coach -- maybe just a buddy -- who acts as your conscience and keeps you on track. 

Worth Reading
This book is worth reading too for the many other robust and interesting insights that Dr. Krystosik brings to the food, diet and health industries.