When asked to read Digestive Health with REAL Food, by Aglaee Jacob, I jumped at the opportunity. This was for both personal and professional reasons. As a nutritionist who deals frequently with clients who have gastrointestinal issues, I feel there are not enough good resources out there on the subject matter.
I have read Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mcbride and have struggled to find another source. Most books on digestive health focus on one single area. Some books blame everything on gluten, others sugar, others wheat, and some FODMAPs. This may help some people, but there are others who still suffer from uncomfortable symptoms after implementing suggestions on these books. Digestive Health with REAL Food changes all of that.
The Factors Impacting Digestive Health
Aglaee Jacob does a great job of explaining how all of the factors listed above can affect digestive health. The book is easy to understand, even for readers who have no background in nutritional biochemistry. She continues to repeat important information throughout the book that also helps to expand the learning process.
Throughout the book, Jacob utilizes easy-to-read charts and diagrams to further the learning process and also to help the reader distinguish his or her digestive symptoms. She even goes as far as putting a poop chart in the text to help the reader determine where they are in terms of digestive health.
I also found the pictures of the intestines to be extremely helpful. The pictures show the stages of how the intestines lose surface area over time, leading to an increase in symptoms and an increase in food intolerances. This gives the reader a good visual image of what is happening inside of their body. It may also provide some extra motivation to adhere to a pretty restrictive regimen.
A Plan for Healing the Gut
While Jacob succeeds in explaining the mechanisms of how digestive foods can affect health, she does an even better job at laying out a plan. She explains the reasons behind every decision you will make on the elimination diet that she prescribes. She also lays out recipes and meal plans to give you all of the tools you need to rid yourself of digestive symptoms.
This is an extremely restrictive protocol. Jacob states that some people may need to adhere to a strict diet for two years or so to see a total improvement in digestive health. This is similar to what Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mcbride states in the GAPS diet. The education that the book gives the reader makes this protocol easier to follow.
In my professional experience, when you educate a client as to why they need to make these decisions, they are more likely to adhere to them. This is exactly what Jacob does in her book. Through pictures and easy-to-understand writing, the reader can become an informed patient. The book also gives suggestions on ways to help keep you on track. For example, Jacob encourages you to make a list of your digestive symptoms and pull it out when you are struggling with cravings. I have seen this advice work with a number of clients. This is a difficult process, and Jacob understands that and arms the reader with a valuable education.
Our Lifestyles and Our Gut Health
What really sets this book apart is the focus on other lifestyle behaviors that may negatively affect gut health. The book covers topics such as how stress can be negatively affecting gut health. Not only does Jacob explain how stress can negatively affect you, but she also gives suggestions on various stress management techniques to help you overcome your stress.
Jacob understands that health and disease is a combined effort of many lifestyle choices. The specialization of Western medicine often misses this. Most nutritionists or dieticians think that changing eating will solve all issues, but if other areas such as stress, sleep, vitamin D, and adequate social situations are not addressed, optimal health can be difficult to achieve. It is nice to see a registered dietician taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. In this sense, the field needs more people like Aglaee Jacob.
The recommended diet is extremely restrictive. It removes all grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, starches, some fruits, nuts, seeds, some vegetables, and processed foods. Now I am a paleo guy all the way and agree with removing a lot of the above, but it leaves people with very little left to choose from. A restrictive diet like this is important for someone suffering from major GI issues, but for the average person suffering from some typical digestive symptoms, this may just be too difficult to follow. In most of those cases there are less restrictive treatment plans available.
The suggested retail price for the book is $34.95, but you can find it for $23.03 at Amazon. I feel it is well worth this price if you are suffering from major digestive issues. It is much cheaper than visiting a healthcare practitioner who may not be able to identify what is the root cause of your issues. It is also worth the money to support an RD who focuses on a holistic approach and real foods to help make people feel better. We need more people in the field like Aglaee Jacob, and I look forward to seeing more from her in the future.
“Digestive Health With REAL Food” is available for $23.03 at Amazon.com.