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Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  3,535 ratings  ·  351 reviews
Deep Nutrition illustrates how our ancestors used nourishment to sculpt their anatomy, engineering bodies of extraordinary health and beauty. The length of our limbs, the shape of our eyes, and the proper function of our organs are all gifts of our ancestor's collective culinary wisdom. Citing the foods of traditional cultures from the Ancient Egyptians and the Maasai to t ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 14th 2008 by Big Box Books
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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 ·  3,535 ratings  ·  351 reviews

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Christy Peterson
I almost gave this 5 stars but decided that the disagreements I had with it were just big enough to justify the demotion. I was about ready to put it up there with Nutritional and Physical Degeneration and Nourishing Traditions.

The books starts with great information on genetics and how diets turns genes off and on with epigenetic tags. I wished more of the book stuck with this line of information, as that is what I was expecting from the subtitle.

Next the author talks about beauty, mathematic
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Another entry in my ongoing quest to find out why I feel like crap 80% of the time and why my hormones are all over the place. This is a good book - meticulously researched and totally eye-opening. I've been trying to add foods from the Four Pillars to my diet since I read this - it's not that hard, though I find fermented foods a bit of a challenge (not much of a fan of sour or sharp tasting foods). Bubbie's Sauerkraut is pretty good. I think I'll have to go back and read this again soon, becau ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Easily the most important book I've ever read, and as a UC Berkeley English major, former bookseller & former vegan - that's saying a lot. I wanted to run out and buy this for everyone I know. My boyfriend (a personal trainer) began eating according to the Four Pillars and his seasonal allergies DISAPPEARED. We couldn't believe it. This book kindly (and gently) showed me that everything I'd studied about nutrition and weight loss was wrong. Dead wrong (pun intended). As a health writer, I take t ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
The overarching themes (no vegetable oil and no sugar) were interesting and helpful take aways. However, the rest of my opinion is, unfortunately, not positive. The author consistently uses scare tactics, dramatization and anecdotal evidence to lay claim to her recommendations. They were so prevalent that I checked the book out (was listening on audiobook) to check references but ditched that effort and moved on another diet/food author. I would have taken her more seriously if she cut the fluff ...more
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing read on nutrition, genetics, anthropology, history, medicine, metabolism, and traditional food preparation.

It explains why what you eat changes your gene expression and that most diseases are caused by faulty gene expression, NOT permanent genetic changes and that what you eat (or don't eat) can affect your family's genes for generations.

The basic food advice is the same as on the Weston. A Price website mostly, for anyone that can't afford the book. But this book offers
Jan 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Abandoned this book. This should be titled "Deep EFFECTS of nutrition (the specifics of which won't be discussed)". So far she's just spent half the book rambling about facial symmetry, aesthetics, baby development in the womb, etc. and argues how these can all be affected by poor nutrition (no shit...). Zero information about what constitutes good/bad nutrition has been provided aside from generic tidbits like "avoid vegetable oils" and "avoid processed sugars" (again, no shit...).

She might get
Mar 19, 2012 rated it liked it
As I'm finding with many of these books promoting particular eating plans (Atkins, Paleo, Good Carbs/Bad Carbs, etc.), the authors interpret research to support the theory they are discussing, with a few too many anecdotal and/or personal stories to illustrate the point. For example, I don't buy the fact that one of the authors' bad diets led to a chronic knee infection, which would not have happened if she had received better food as a child. Maybe yes, maybe no, but it is all supposition from ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2017-read
Nutrition has enough confounders that books like this can exist. There is enough in this book that sounds like a good idea to follow for a healthy lifestyle (i.e. eat fermented foods found in many cultures around the world - sure, go for it, especially if you like it) mixed in with the author's own personal beliefs and offensive suggestions (i.e. your baby is ugly because you didn't eat enough bone broth while pregnant - are you kidding me?) that should have died out with the racist eugenics pro ...more
Oct 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction-food
Thoughtful, thought-provoking and approachable, Deep Nutrition presents a universe of ideas that possess the rarest of qualities: obvious and eye-opening at the same time. Cate and Luke delve into concepts of food as information for our genes, the relationship between the health and beauty of our bodies and the health and beauty of the environment in which they function, disease and nutrition, and the collective wisdom (which they term the Four Pillars) contained in traditional cuisines to deliv ...more
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished-in-2012
This is one of the most common-sense books about nutrition and how to eat for health that I've read. She cites studies, explains how certain cells work, and then includes real-life examples of patients she's worked with.

It's also one of the more compelling reasons to not be vegetarian, and it offers a solution to why many (including me) became vegetarian in the first place. I wanted to be healthy, and I knew that something was terribly wrong with the "meat" offered at so many meals and restaura
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
If you're looking for a good excuse to eat fatty foods, try this. But be warned that the trade-off is NOT eating sugar -- and that means all sugar, honey, most fruits etc. -- and vegetable oils, especially canola.

So there's some good information in this and a lot of medical nonsense. I suggest reading with a touch of skepticism. Look out for when the author is blaming diseases and lack of beauty (no, not kidding) on forbidden foods eaten in even small amounts or failure to eat the full-fat versi
Jul 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I actually didn't finish the book. I gave up out of frustration and annoyance. While some of the information in this book is good most of what I read is anecdotal or based on the highly questioned and disputed research of others. The author was also very obsessed with beauty and I was much more interested in the health benefits of traditional diets rather than whether or not eating like a Maori would have made my skin perfect and my teeth come in straight. ...more
Jacki Myers
Jul 15, 2013 rated it did not like it
reads like a eugenics handbook. lots of the typical victim blaming and very poorly drawn conclusions.
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blue
Dr. Catherine Shanahan is a woman on a mission. She writes with a proselytizing zeal that dances on the edge of, but never quite falls into being, off-putting. When I picked it up in the bookstore and started flipping through it, I came within a hair's breadth of putting it down more than once. But, I was fortunately in the sort of mood where I thought it a good idea to read something that is a bit challenging to my beliefs. I have been a vegetarian for over three decades now, and Shanahan is ve ...more
Georgia Thomas
May 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Thos book has a some interesting points to make about sugar and vegetable oil that I found illuminating. However, the author lets herself and the reader down by making grand statements that are totally unsupported by peer reviewed research. The reference list is 80% books (therefore not peer reviewed) and a lot of it was old and outdated anyway. The authors husband is also randomly mentioned through out and is noted as an author too- despite having no health professional or academic credentials. ...more
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can definitely say this book has easily changed my life. I cannot overstate the importance of the information within this book. I knew some of what is in this book before reading it, but I wasn't aware how damaging and important it was.

What you need to know:

1. Avoid consuming PUFAs (Polyunsaturated Fats)
Oils that qualify as PUFAs are:

- Vegetable Oil
- Walnuts Oil
- Canola oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Corn Oil
- Peanut Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Margarine
- Flaxseed Oil

Why? - PUFAs a
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good read for those truly wanting to make a dietary lifestyle change and want more than a simple step by step guide. Cate Shanahan gets way into the science—sometimes too far for me to follow— of health and why we are genetically wired to eat a certain way. For those looking to get on a Keto or paleo diet this would be a good place to learn the science behind it.
Oct 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: nutrition
A big disappointment. The book has "genes" in the title only as a buzz word, for marketing reasons. In fact, this is just another personal opinion based diet backed up by carefully selected (unlikely peer reviewed) research data and personal anecdotal evidence.

In summary, author describes how terrible vegetable oil is for health (ok, agreed), how bad sugar is for your health (ok, sure), how even complex carbohydrates are bad for you, how fruits are bad for you because of sugar (uh... how much f
Justine Apostol
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Dr. Cate Shanahan is not only an author but also a board certified family physician who received her BS in biology from Rutgers University and trained in biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University graduate school. Shanahan attended Robert Wood Johnson School medical school before practicing in Hawaii for 10 years, where she studied ethnobotany. Shanahan used her learning experiences and applied it to her book Deep Nutrition: Why your genes need traditional food?. Multiple media outlets such ...more
Bastard Travel
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A cute doctor's lengthy exposition about how eating actual food will make you healthy and cute.

Well, maybe not cute, she clears that up in the beginning of the book when she talks about how she was a lanky teenage distance runner who subsisted entirely on spaghetti. It worked well enough to keep her crossing finish lines, right up until it didn't, and her leg fell apart. Bedridden and busted-ass, she started tweaking her diet and noticed the more real food she ate - meat, vegetables, cheeses, t
Rob Thompson
About the book: Deep Nutrition is about modern diets and how they’re making people sick. These blinks explain the danger of industrially produced food, what it’s doing to our bodies and how we can return to an earlier way of eating that will keep us healthier for years to come.

About the author: Catherine Shanahan, M.D is a certified family physician who has practiced medicine in Hawaii for over a decade after receiving her education at Cornell University and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Schoo
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
I liked the epigenetics part of the book - it almost made me put down my Christmas cookie to save my unborn children a lifetime of braces, poor stature and eyes too close together. Yes, I'm being a bit facetious - I truly enjoyed the connection of dentition to overall health, as a dental student after all. The author jokes with the reader, references her husband by name and talks about her experiences with the Filipinos in Hawaii - it made me feel like I was talking to an older sister or a well ...more
Julie Gillies
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
An eye opening book written by a molecular biologist turned M.D. on how the foods we eat effect our bodies on a cellular level. Dr. Shanahan reveals that traditional foods (butter, whole milk, and...gasp!...meat) are exactly what our bodies need. By simply removing two things from our diets (vegetable oils such as canola oil and margarines, and sugar), and adding back traditional foods (like home made stocks, meats, dairy, soups, and fresh, local produce) we can strengthen our immune systems and ...more
Cindy Rollins
Aug 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me by a good friend who used its principles to help with a bipolar diagnosis. She did warn me that there were a few weird things in it most especially the evolutionary take on beauty.

So bearing that in mind, I think there is a lot of good information in this book and it has encouraged me in moving away from calorie restriction, which is sometimes appealing to me because I can eat more carbs, and towards a higher good fat diet, which I have found to be successful aft
Angela Boord
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diet-and-health
I really wanted to give this book 4.5 stars, because after a while the emphasis on making "perfect" babies and regulating births (albeit naturally) began to bother me. Her main point is well taken, though: the way that mothers eat directly influences their children's bone structure, including their teeth and the bones of the face (what we call beauty). Using Weston Price's anthropological research and current epigenetic studies, she provides an accessible analysis of why the modern diet is not j ...more
Amelia Bitonte
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Love. Dr. Shanahan takes a medical, biological and anthropological approach to why we should be eating certain things and not others. She gets into some pretty complicated ideas about genetics but explains them in such a way that a person without a background in genetics can comprehend the points she is making. There are so many things we take for granted as being "healthy"; she challenges these ideas and makes a good case against them. I purchased this book for my parents after reading it and t ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5-3 stars? I thought it was ok, there were some good chapters that intrigued me. I felt like the first few chapters were engaging, about nutrition and epigenetics, genetic wealth, and then after that about a third into the book I disagreed with alot of it. The one about vegetable oils and low carb diets kind of rubbed me the wrong way. It was interesting and made me think about reducing the consumption of both, but as prior student in nutritional science, I did not agree with all of her though ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you are thinking about having children, read this book. It was absolutely fascinating and original from start to finish. I had to go back and read a couple chapters twice because I wanted to remember certain portions better so I could explain it to other people. It deals with subjects that are a little uncomfortable, but from a new perspective. Also, the writing was fantastic. It's told in a way that makes it easy to read what could have been a real bore. ...more
Doctor J
Nov 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is a bad book. Full disclosure: I only finished the first chapter. However, that was more than enough. Life is too short to waste it reading bullshit. When I encounter nonsense like this, I sometimes wonder whether the purveyor is simply a dishonest con, or a misguided true-believer. I suspect that this author is the former. Although the book is loaded with references, when one actually looks them up, they are often NOT what the author claims.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! This was my first book I read that opened up the world of epi-genetics. It has helped me to look at nutrition in a whole new light.
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Catherine Shanahan is a board-certified family physician specializing in the promotion of health and reversal of disease using traditional food as a first line of treatment. She has studied biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University and ethnobotany at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai, Hawaii.

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