"Nutritional Grail" (Book Review)
At this point, there are hundreds of books out there explaining the benefits of an ancestral, paleo, or primal approach to diet and general health. If you’re looking for a book that offers a unique and scientifically-grounded perspective on this increasingly popular way of eating and living, I highly recommend Christopher James Clark’s new book, Nutritional Grail.
About the Author
Christopher James Clark draws from his previous experience as a business analyst, professional chef, and nutrition consultant to help in his latest endeavor as award-winning author. In Nutritional Grail, he explains how his previous paths in life led him to discover the benefits of an ancestral approach to eating. His approach is based on seven foundational pillars, which he outlines in the beginning of the book:
- No Dogma
Moving from these foundational principles, Clark advocates a diet that minimizes consumption of processed foods, genetically modified products, and chemically refined fats, as well as all artificial sweeteners, flavoring agents, and preservatives.
A Philosophical Approach
As a former liberal arts student, I appreciated the literary and philosophical anecdotes that stand out throughout Clark’s book. You’ll find he cites philosophers, history texts, and literature almost as much as he does scientific studies. The title of the book is inspired by the story of Perceval and the Fisher King, which Clark uses to illustrate the need for consumers to ask the question, “Whom does this food serve?”
Clark’s approach is based on questioning what the nutrition experts say through research and self-experimentation. In his book, he succeeds in challenging the reader to think through presuppositions and naïve beliefs about the food we eat on a daily basis. This individual questioning has a ripple effect that expands beyond each person and into society as a whole. As Clark notes, “By seeking the grail – by asking the pertinent questions – we raise the collective consciousness of humanity regarding food and health.”
Grounded in Science
Although Clark's book certainly has a philosophical bent, your inner research geek will be thrilled at the long list of studies and other references at the end of every chapter. Research is clearly another of Clark’s strong suits, and all the amusing stories and interesting facts he notes in each chapter are explained more fully in his resources. I have a long list of new books to check out that I discovered while reading Nutritional Grail.
However, despite being dense in terms of the vast amount of research and references, Clark’s writing is clear and easy to understand. Occasionally he includes charts, tables, and diagrams for visual reference as well.
Nutritional Grail succeeds in covering all the basics when it comes to getting started with ancestral eating. Clark has included chapters on each macronutrient, as well as a chapter devoted to detoxification and another that goes into great detail about water. If you don’t have a solid understanding of basic nutrition before you read this book, you will when you finish, and you won’t be scratching your head all the way through the book.
But the real practical value comes into play in the final two chapters, entitled, “Implementation” and “Recipes.” In the Implementation chapter, you see the inner chef come out as Chris details the best choices in cookware and cooking methods. In the Recipes chapter, Chris provides over ninety recipes that are simple to prepare and that use delicious, whole food ingredients. I’ve tried most of the Thai-inspired dishes, and they were all delicious and easy to prepare.
If you follow a strict paleo diet, keep in mind that this is not a strictly paleo book. You will find recipes that include legumes, quinoa, and buckwheat. However, all the recipes use traditional preparation methods, and fit well into a Weston A. Price or primal eating template.
Overall, Nutritional Grail is like a well balanced diet – packed full of all the best things to help you achieve optimal health. I highly recommend Christopher’s book to anyone who wants to learn more about ancestral diets and how they can be made to fit into our modern lifestyles.
Nutritional Grail is available for $16.20 at Amazon.com.