Thursday, May 21, 2015

Book Review: The Carbohydrate Addict's Healthy Heart Program

Title: The Carbohydrate Addict’s Healthy Heart Program
Authors: Richard F. Heller, Rachael F. Heller, Frederick J. Vagnini

Authors' (surprisingly diverse) web site:
Date: 1999
Publisher: Ballantine
ISBN: 0-345-42610-X
Length: 314 pages of text, 25 pages of references, plus index
Quote: “When compared to other risk factors, insulin levels were the most statistically significant predictor of heart attack risk.”
If you’re not diabetic, do you really need to think about insulin and blood sugar? Some medical studies suggest that you do. Blood sugar reactions can produce emotional mood swings, or the kind of loss of energy that may keep you from passing a test or doing a good job. Insulin’s interactions with other hormones may affect your ability to have children. Insulin reactions can create a predisposition to weight gain and cardiovascular disease. Adult-onset diabetes is part of some, not all, cardiovascular disease complexes...but, whether you’re genetically predisposed to become diabetic first or have a heart attack first, some of the same lifestyle choices may extend the time before either of those things happens.
This book is not written for people who are diabetic. It outlines a program that may prevent diabetes but is not precise enough to treat or cure diabetes.
The bad news is that much remains to be learned. The Hellers present one program for preventing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, sterility, and possibly even senility. The McDougalls, also in the 1990s, presented a different program for preventing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, immune dysfunctions, sterility, possibly senility, and possibly even cancer. Both programs seem to have worked for some people, long enough that we can say that they’re viable approaches for baby boomers who want to enjoy being mature, but not “old,” for as long as possible. But how do you know which one’s for you? And what about the Sinatra program, which seemed to be working for my husband and me...until he reached Stage IV of (previously unsuspected) cancer. The Hellers suggest that genes may determine which of the cardiovascular programs will work for you. However, DNA testing has not yet reached that stage.
The Hellers provide a short quiz to determine whether you might be a “carb addict” who can benefit from their program. The test isn’t perfect yet. Basically, if you’re middle-aged and not conspicuously skinny and hyperactive, the Hellers seem to think you should probably try their program.
The good news is that, despite their differences, the Pritikin, Heller, McDougall, or Sinatra programs have enough in common that any of them is likely to do any body some good. Even if you’re genetically predisposed to get less than ideal results from the cardiovascular health program you might try first, you will get better results from working even that program than you would from a “junkfood, beer, and TV” regimen. However, since the Heller program is based on a higher-protein diet, it may be harder to tweak than the other programs if you need to avoid certain kinds of protein.
Otherwise, following the Heller diet may be easier than following the others. There’s no prescribed menu plan. To keep insulin levels down, you eat high-carb food during one hour of each day; you get to choose which hour that will be, and it doesn’t have to be the same one every day. During the rest of the day you eat enough high-fibre, low-fat, low-carb foods to prevent that starved feeling from setting in. If you’re not a true carb addict this will be easy and will not produce dramatic results. If you are a true carb addict you can expect to feel better, and start losing weight, in a few days.
I can’t say that I know anyone for whom this program has worked wonders. I can recall that, while I was still eating wheat and was therefore skinny, flabby, and dyspeptic, I got very dramatic results from using a more restricted “elimination diet” that consisted of, basically, rice at breakfast and strictly fruit and vegetables for the other meals of the day. Having been skinny (and very young) when I started this diet, I actually weighed a little more at the end of the six-week regimen than I had at the beginning...but I went from a flabby, sallow 34-24-34 to a sleek, tanned 35-19-32 and had so much energy that I became annoying, bouncing out of bed to go for a run at dawn. I'm not a carb addict now but suspect I was one, or was on the way to becoming one, back then. If you are a flabby, tired person, especially if you’re the sort of “grazer” who’s always nibbling and always feeling hungry, I can recommend trying the Hellers’ idea of limiting carb consumption to one hour of each day. If looking like Jack LaLanne, Victoria Principal, Marla Maples, or some other  “impossibly” fit-looking celebrity is within your genetic potential, this is the way to get there.
The Carbohydrate Addict’s Healthy Heart Program seems to be designed to appeal to audiences over age 40. I see no reason to underestimate its value for the young. If you’ve gained “the freshman fifteen pounds” in college, think of it as a way to save the cost of a new wardrobe and boost your test scores. If you’ve done some modelling and would like to do more, here’s a way to make yourself look more interesting than the starved and/or steroidal competition.

The Hellers are still living, and very active (y'gotta check out their web site!), so this one is a Fair Trade Book. Send salolianigodagewi @ $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping (yes, that means $15 for two copies, $25 for four copies), and we'll send $1 per book to the Hellers or a charity of their choice.