Recommended reading/viewing

Evolution of Mediterranean Diets and Cuisine: concepts and definitions, by Sue Radd-Vagenas et al.

(Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2017;26:749-763)

Ever wondered about the meaning of the Mediterranean diet?  What was it in ancient times?  And what are the characterising foods of the traditional dietary pattern, which has been researched?  

The traditional Mediterranean diet is the only diet in the world protected by UNESCO, to preserve its important heritage.  It’s not only delicious, but has been linked with a reduced risk of premature death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, dementia, asthma and other preventable conditions common in the modern world.  In fact, dietary guidelines now recommend it as a very healthy eating pattern.  The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners promotes its use as a treatment for primary and secondary heart disease, because of the high level of evidence (Grade 1, NHMRC) attesting to its efficacy.

Download your free copy of this fascinating scientific review by Sue Radd and colleagues to learn more about the elements of this plant-based dietary pattern that you could adopt and enjoy life more!

Live More Active, by Darren Morton

(Signs 2013)

This book is for everyone who needs to move more but is looking for motivation or ‘know how’ to start. Science is clear that the human body was made to move. Unfortunately, our sedentary lifestyles have made this difficult. In busy cities most residents drive at least 1-2 hours to and fro work and sit between 8-10 hours at a desk job - resulting in 10-12 hours sitting routine each day! Yet sitting is killing us. In this book you will learn why inactivity now kills more people than smoking.   The author gives you practical tools to develop an easy and enjoyable exercise routine, which can fit into your lifestyle. Why not also get tips on how to increase your steps in the workplace, while travelling and, even at home? Just like healthy eating, physical activity can be a key to alleviate your ills if you choose to make it a priority. A regular exercise routine will not only help you manage your waistline, but boost your energy, lift your mood, increase your confidence, improve your sleep, slow down ageing and add life to your years! We also like this book because it’s easy to read, has great illustrations and includes a CD with demo exercises. Get your copy from or

Bump to Baby Diet, by Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, Dr Kate Marsh and Professor Robert Moses

(Hachette 2012) 

Know anyone that’s looking to get pregnant?  Or is already a mum-to-be?  The Bump to Baby Diet, Low GI Eating Plan for Conception, Pregnancy and Beyond is an essential maternity guide and another in the low GI diet series by leading experts in this field.  This includes Professor Jenny Brand Miller from Sydney University who is the person responsible for spearheading and overseeing analysis of literally hundreds of Australian foods. 

The book highlights how nutrition is important for both mother and developing baby as “there is now irrefutable evidence that the quality of your diet during pregnancy, affects your child’s future health, long after they leave the womb.” It discusses ways that a low GI diet can benefit you for a healthy pregnancy and reduce your risk of gestational diabetes.  We give it a big thumbs up, especially because it also includes practical meal ideas and recipes to help you put the theory into practice. 

Becoming Raw, by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina with Ryan Berry

(Book Publishing Company 2010)

While raw food diets have been promoted since the 1800’s, their popularity has surged in recent times with the launch of trendy raw food cafes and publication of mouth-watering cookbooks.  But what are the risks and benefits to your health?  And do you need to go raw full time?  

Well known Canadian dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, have scoured the scientific literature to bring you the facts without the hype, in consumer language, so you can make up your own mind.  If you have any interest in getting more fresh or uncooked foods into your diet, this book will be a valuable resource.  It objectively reviews the evidence for nutritional and health benefits and provides lots of useful charts such as composition of fatty acids and phytonutrients in various plant foods.  It is destined to become the authoritative ‘go to’ source on raw food diet facts and gets a thumbs up from us.

Vegan for Life, by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina

(Da Capo Press 2011)

Considering going vegan? Here is a book written by experts in the field that can answer all your questions about being healthy without eating any animal products. You can dip in to any chapter and get the detail on important nutrients such as protein, B12, calcium and vitamin D. More importantly, you can find helpful guidelines for various stages of the lifecycle such as how to raise vegan kids and teens. If you wish to avoid or better manage a medical condition like diabetes, additional sections also cover how a total plant diet could help you.

Some nutrition and health books simply deal with the theory but this little gem also lists many valuable vegan resources and includes a quick guide to cooking grains, beans and vegetables. Perhaps the most illuminating reading, 'why vegan?', is to be found at the back. It paints the picture of animal life on the modern farm - something closed to most people - covering egg-laying hens, pigs, dairy cows, veal calves, beef cattleand more. It should open the eyes of all compassionate people to consider sourcing more of their protein from plant based sources.

Food Intolerance Management Plan, by Dr Sue Shepherd and Dr Peter Gibson

(Penguin Viking 2011)

Do you struggle with excess bloating, distension, abdominal pain, wind, diarrhoea or constipation? You may have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The good news is scientific research has proven a low FODMAPs diet (which restricts poorly digested carbohydrates) will relieve symptoms in three quarters of IBS sufferers - people who previously had little hope as there is no medication to cure this condition.

Written by top Australian experts in the field, this book provides enormous amounts of valuable information to help you follow a low FODMAPs diet. From lists of high and low foods in each FODMAP category, to baking tips and menu plans for general, vegan, low fat and dairy free low FODMAP diets. Dietitian Sue Shepherd's ground breaking research initially led to the development of this dietary management approach and it has revolutionised the management of IBS.

Our only disappointment is that while the delicious sounding recipes are low in FODMAPs, some processed meats are used, which are known to be linked to bowel cancer. Also, there is the appearance of some ingredients high in saturated fats such as butter, cream and cream cheese, which most people could do without especially if wanting to avoid or better manage common chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood cholesterol. Otherwise, this book is a valuable investment on its own or in conjunction with personalised dietetic intervention to help take you through the FODMAP challenges, which can be daunting, and identify those FODMAPs that trigger your symptoms.

What to Eat, by Marion Nestle

(North Point Press 2006)

If you’re looking for an encyclopaedic volume that takes you through the aisles of the supermarket and critically reviews product categories, this is for you.  Written by leading American nutritionist and dietitian, ‘What to Eat’ covers topics as diverse as the PCB content in farmed fish and the chlorine compounds used to bleach flour to why you should care about the acidity level of olive oil.  Although not a light read, and some information is US specific, this book is an excellent resource you can dip into as you think of specific questions.  It will also give you direction for more research if you care about the quality of your food.

Medicinal Seasonings: The Healing Power of Spices, by Dr Keith Scott

(Medspice Press)

This little book is a valuable synopsis of the available scientific evidence on the potential medicinal power of various herbs and spices.  These plant substances contain numerous phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties, among others, lacking in western diets.  The author states that the average person on a typical western diet probably consumes no more than one gram of spices per day whereas a person living in India gets about 10 grams from their daily meals.  In essence, if you’re eating a modern diet you should consider ‘spicing up your life’ as one easy way to stay well and better manage various chronic conditions.  

Food, Inc., A Robert Kenner Film, 2010

(Roadshow Films 2010)

How much do you really know about the food you buy at the supermarket and serve to your family?  This eye-opening American documentary promises, “you’ll never look at dinner the same way again”.  The way our food is produced has changed more in the last 50 years than it has in the last 1000.  And the film aims to lift the veil off “this world deliberately hidden from us”.  For example, meat factories have replaced farms and a small group of companies now control everything from seed to supermarket, but who knows?  Farmers that fail to get in line are pushed out of business and face fines for patent infringement if they save Roundup Ready soybean seed.

The quest to produce cheap food and continually drive profits has meant that food quality and animal welfare has suffered.  As farmer Joel Salatin states in the film “If we put glass walls on all our processing factories we would have a different food system”. 

While it used to take 3 months to grow a chicken in the 1950’s it now takes only 48 days and most chicken houses in the US are ‘dark tunnel-ventilated houses’ with no windows or natural light.  The chickens grow quickly and are so heavy – bred for more breast meat - they can’t take too many steps.  Most beef are lot fed with corn (in Australia, most cattle are still pasture fed but lot finished), which changes their gut flora so they host more dangerous bugs like E. coli, which has been responsible for food borne infections and even deaths.  In such a globalised system, it’s difficult to know where, what you are eating comes from.  Next time you bite into a burger, remember, you are probably eating thousands of cattle ground up!

The good news is that by being better informed, you can vote with your knife and fork.  Go see this film.  It will inspire you that ‘you can change the world with every bite!’ 

Signs of the Times magazine

(Signs Publishing Company 1886 - present)

This is an easy read contemporary Christian magazine that promotes positive relationships, a healthy lifestyle, family values and Bible-based teachings. Sue Radd has been writing a column for this magazine, for over 13 years. It is available by subscription and distributed in Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific islands, and as far afield as Africa, Asia and Europe.

Spanning a 120 year history, Signs has won accolades for both editorial content, individual articles and creative illustration. Check out the website:

In Defence of Food - The Myth of Nutrition and The Pleasures of Eating, by Michael Pollan

(Allen Lane 2008)

In this thought provoking book about the integrity of food and how it is grown, produced and marketed in modern times, Pollen warns about the dangers of ‘nutritionism’ - an ideology fostered by the food industry, some nutrition researchers and journalists, which all stand to gain in making you feel like you should be eating according to the latest nutrient fashion. He explores the limitations of looking at foods in a reductionist way i.e. simply by virtue of their high or low nutrients, which don’t necessarily predict health outcomes. For example, a high iron food like red meat may help you more easily meet the Recommended Dietary Intake for iron (a best estimate of what scientists believe is required, which keeps changing) but it will also promote more oxidation in the body, now linked to premature ageing, colon cancer and heart disease. We like Michael’s simple and sensible eating advice to escape the evils of the western diet. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr MD

(Avery 2007)

I love this book, as it shows using everyday language and tasty recipes just how powerful diet can be to reverse advanced heart disease. The diet recommended by this pioneering surgeon-turned-preventative-physician – low fat and totally plant-based - might be seen as radical by some, but as the famous cardiologist Dr Dean Ornish states ”I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open.” The advice is supported by the striking results (and radiographic evidence) from Dr Esselstyn’s 12-year study, which has been published in medical journals but is not well known among the public (and even many doctors). The approach clearly shows that unlike surgical interventions such as angioplasty and bypass, which are only aimed at alleviating symptoms but don’t cure the disease, good nutrition not only stops coronary artery disease from progressing but can cause significant reversal to occur of previously damaged arteries. This offers hope to all those who wish to avoid the knife or for whom conventional medicine has nothing left to give.

The Ethics of What We Eat, by Peter Singer and Jim Mason

(Text Publishing 2006)

If there is one food book you should read this decade, this is it! Ethicists, Peter Singer and Jim Mason visit three families with distinctive eating habits and trace back the origins of their foods. The accounts, in some cases gruesome and shocking, jolt the reader to think twice about consuming animal based foods such as hamburgers, battery eggs and veal. From details of debeaked hens, crowded in cages and exposed to artificial lighting so they will lay the maximum number of eggs all year round, to stories of male dairy calves, confined in semi-darkness for 16 weeks in bare wooden crates and fed only ‘milk replacer’ (a low iron feed) so they will develop subclinical anaemia and have pale pink flesh - this is a no holds-barred review of factory farming used to produce cheap food. Apart from animal welfare issues, the authors also discuss the environmental impacts of our food choices and challenge us to ponder how we could all make more ethical food choices. The benefits of going organic, eating locally and fair trade are also covered.

The China Study, by T Colin Campbell & Thomas M Campbell II

(BenBella Books 2005)

Dr Campbell, a highly respected researcher for more than 40 years and now Jacob Gould Shurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, was involved in directing one of the most important diet and health studies ever conducted - The China Study. This study produced more than 8000 statistically significant associations between various dietary factors and disease and taught us a lot about how to eat better. In his new book, written in collaboration with his youngest son, Dr Campbell provides an expose of the research and medical establishment and challenges popular approaches, such as high protein diets, which he found to be associated with an increased risk of cancer. Having started life as a meat-loving dairy farmer, Dr Campbell had no preconceptions about diet. However, after decades of research and careful examination of the evidence, he decided to dramatically change his own eating habits 15 years ago and provides the following prescription for good health: “there are multiple benefits of consuming plant-based foods and largely unappreciated health dangers of consuming animal-based foods including all types of meat, dairy and eggs”. He strongly argues the case that a good diet is the most powerful weapon we have against disease and sickness. If you need inspiration about how diet can make a real difference, this book is well worth a read.

Fast Food and No Play Make Jack a Fat Boy, by Andy Griffiths, Jim Thomson & Sophie Blackmore

(Pan 2005)

A humourous and engaging story about a typical Aussie family and their efforts to make lifestyle changes to lose weight and improve health. It highlights the significant contribution of parental role-modelling, the impact of frequent take-aways and junk foods as well as the social aspects of being an overweight child at school. The story is sprinkled with practical pointers and expert advice from a nutritionist and personal trainer. Well worth a read by any family who may be struggling to assist their child prevent excessive weight gain.

Salt Matters - a Consumer Guide, by Dr Trevor C Beard

(Lothian Books 2004)

An expert guide on how to cut salt to effectively lower high blood pressure, improve PMT, manage Meniere's Disease and other conditions. Written by an Australian GP who developed the Salt Skip program, this book will help you avoid or reduce medication, saving money and eliminating side effects. Seventy five per cent of the salt people eat is found hidden in processed foods. This book highlights the need to choose low salt staple foods, such as bread, in order to adequately lower sodium and provide a therapeutic result. Highly recommended.

Eat, Drink and be Healthy, by Walter Willett

(Simon & Schuster Source 2001)

This book provides a critical review of the USDA Food Pyramid. Willett presents a new pyramid based on scientific research and promotes eight guidelines:

  1. Watch your weight
  2. Eat fewer bad fats and more good fats
  3. Eat fewer refined grain carbs and more wholegrain carbs
  4. Choose healthier sources of proteins
  5. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, but hold the potatoes
  6. Use alcohol in moderation
  7. Take a multivitamin for insurance

My only criticism is the apparent lack of knowledge of the broader soy field and therefore an unnecessary cautious approach, which is inconsistent with population findings about the safety and health benefits of soy when used as a human food. Also, Willett seems to have a leaning towards coffee, welcoming up to 4 cups per day of unfiltered coffee for general use. This type of coffee can raise blood cholesterol and homocysteine levels, increasing the risk of heart disease. The recipes sound delicious and illustrate the use of a variety of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. Overall, an informative book that is easy to read.

HawaiiDiet, by Terry Shintani

(Pocket Books 1999)

Based on the traditional Hawaiian diet experience, Dr Shintani presents a sustainable way to lose weight without counting calories. The message is: switch to unprocessed whole foods and eat to satisfaction as the native Hawaiians used to do when they avoided obesity and other health problems. A useful feature is the Shintani Mass Index (SMI), which will help you pick those foods that allow you to eat more but weigh less. Although some recipes feature native Hawaiian ingredients such as taro, there are plenty of other ideas for whole foods such as brown rice, barley, beans and sweet potato which are more familiar to the western palate.

China Doctor – The Life Story of Harry Willis Miller, by Raymond S Moore

(Harper & Brothers 1961)

An extraordinary biography of a famous medical missionary and surgeon who treated US presidents, royalty and the poor in China and introduced soymilk to Asia to combat malnutrition and provide an alternative to dairy milk for those who could not tolerate dairy. In his early career, Dr Miller worked at the Battle Creek Sanitarium under the leadership of Dr John Harvey Kellogg. A tireless life of service for his fellow man with a focus on disease prevention, he practised frugality, rose early and was a vegetarian. He performed more than 6000 thyroidectomies.