THE JUNGLE EFFECT by Daphne Miller, M.D.


      I am recommending another “must read” for anyone interested in healthy eating. Dr. Miller’s premise is that there are “cold spots” in the world where certain diseases are non-existent and that this is due to the indigenous diets of the local population. She travels to Cameroon which is a cold spot for bowel trouble and to Copper Canyon Mexico which is a cold spot for diabetes. Crete in Greece is a cold spot for heart disease and Okinawa Japan is the cold spot for prostate and breast cancer. And she also reveals how Iceland, the darkest country in the world, is the cold spot for depression. Dr. Miller is meticulous as she proves the connection between diet and health. She takes her reader on a fact finding journey to nutritionists, epidemiologists, elders from that culture, doctors, and other specialists who provide her with the pieces to the puzzle.
    Once in a while we find a book that we don’t want to finish because each page is so captivating. This is “that book” for me.   Each chapter begins with a personal story of a patient who is struggling with a health issue which was non-existent in the lineage of that person one or two generations earlier. Dr. Miller then takes the reader through her thinking process as she makes the case that diet is the major factor in disease prevention. By the end of the chapter she has made a convincing argument and provides a step by step prescription for how the reader can adopt the essential dietary features of that culture. The book ends with a section of authentic recipes from each cold spot region. 
Along the way are several side excursions that offer fascinating information:  
  • Toxins in fish and which ones to avoid,
  • Glycemic indices of potatoes and how much the index varies depending on the type of potato and how it is prepared;
  • Unraveling the mystery of the soy beans and breast cancer connection
  • The importance of caloric restriction which turns out to be one of the essential rules of the Okinawans. They have a saying: “Hara Hachi Bu” which translates to: “Eat until you are eight parts full”.
  • When to buy organic food, and
  • The health benefits of eating local foods.
There are many such side bars of extremely well articulated explanations, some of which sort out confusing and controversial dietary theories.
This book is well written, terrifically interesting and applicable to anyone who eats food. If you liked Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollen, you will love this book as well. He, by the way, endorses “The Jungle Effect” on the front cover of the book.