Recommended Books on Understanding Food

Matthew Capowski

Staff member
Todd Caldecott's Food as Medicine is probably the first book most people should start with: (Todd's Food as Medicine website: )

This is a review of Todd's book I wrote in 2011:

If I could only give one book on the subject of health to a loved one, Todd Caldecott’s ‘Food As Medicine’ would be it. What makes this book unique is that the author was able to synthesize the various traditional systems of health and lifestyle along with findings from modern medicine and other scientific disciplines in a highly accessible manner. This kind of synthesis has been attempted before, but I’ve never encountered an author who has pulled it off as successfully and accurately as Todd Caldecott has.

With an emphasis on the system of health and lifestyle from India called Ayurveda this book explains subtleties and nuances to food that affect us massively yet we are mostly unaware of. Examples of subtleties discussed include the constitution of the body and how that effects the need for food, how the different tastes of food effect health and digestion, what order food should be eaten in and how it should be combined, the various qualities and natures of different foods and food types, the merits and history of different kinds of diets, what kind of cookware to use, detoxification, how to prepare food, how to spice food, and so forth. These topics have been covered before elsewhere, but never by someone as eminently qualified and multidisciplinary as Todd Caldecott.

This book concludes with a very useful section of medicinal recipes and therapeutic diets followed by a list of 277 references. As I cannot emphasize enough, the quality of the information and recipes in this book in unparalleled as it’s rare we have someone this familiar with Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, palaeolithic diets, clinical herbology, medical research, etc. writing an accessible book on food and health. Highest recommendations.

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is also a popular book on the subject of traditional diets and eating:

From the publisher's website (linked to above):

This well-researched, thought-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: Animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper funciton of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Sally Fallon dispels the myths of the current low-fat fad in this practical, entertaining guide to a can-do diet that is both nutritious and delicious.

Topics include the health benefits of traditional fats and oils (including butter and coconut oil); dangers of vegetarianism; problems with modern soy foods; health benefits of sauces and gravies; proper preparation of whole grain products; pros and cons of milk consumption; easy-to-prepare enzyme enriched condiments and beverages; and appropriate diets for babies and children.