Monday, March 16, 2009

First review of The Asian Diet

The Asian Diet:
Simple Secrets for Eating Right, Losing Weight, and Being Well
by Jason Bussell, MSOM, L.Ac.

Book review by Michael Abedin

A long time ago, humans found themselves here on the planet. A couple of hours later, they found themselves here and hungry, so they started eating things…
Jason Bussell, The Asian Diet

Imagine a system of healthcare in which you paid your doctor a monthly fee to keep you healthy, one in which you’d stop paying him if you got sick, and might even get a refund. The Chinese came up with that idea a few millennia ago, and it served them pretty well until the Communists came along. By the time of the Cultural Revolution, though, Chinese medicine had about a four thousand year foothold, and most of its principles survived – including the notion that the first thing a physician should do before reaching for herbs or acupuncture needles is to restore balance, especially in lifestyle and diet.
In fact, lack of balance in lifestyle, diet, and attitude is one of the biggest pathologies in Western culture from the point of view of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (Bussell calls it Oriental Medicine, which has a cooler abbreviation – OM.)

Are you nuts?
Bussell had a degree in psychology and worked in psychiatric wards before he decided to become a full-fledged doctor, and it paid off – based on everything he heard, it seemed like he’d have to be crazy to be a doctor in the American healthcare system. That’s when he discovered OM, and he’s now an acupuncturist and herbalist, a self-proclaimed white guy practicing Oriental Medicine.
The Asian Diet is what its subtitle says – simple secrets about health based largely on diet, not a collection of magic bullet cures. Some of the secrets won’t be anything startlingly new to anyone who’s spent any time learning to eat a healthy diet:
• Balance and moderation are good in all things, including diet.
• Dairy isn’t such a good thing, although not just for the reasons you’d think – it can actually reduce calcium levels in your bones. (Eggs, by the way, aren’t dairy products.)
• Simple foods are better than processed.
• Exercise every day (not too much) and don’t get stressed.
• Vegetables are good.

Other secrets, however, may border on heresy for anyone who’s made the search for a pure and perfect diet into a substitute for the religious upbringing that they thought they’d cast aside years ago:
• White rice is better than brown, and shouldn’t be lumped with white flour and white sugar as part of the Evil Triumvirate of White Foods. (The brown rice craze started with the original Japanese macrobiotic movement, which used rice with most of the hull removed.)
• Vegetables are better than fruit, and fresh fruit is better than juice. Juice is actually kind of thick and sticky in the body, just like it is outside of the body.
• Cooked foods are better than raw – even vegetables. Digestion is more important than nutritional value, and cooking actually starts the digestive process. Fermentation (pickling) is a form of cooking, prominent in Asia.
• Fill your tummy about half full of solids and a quarter full of liquids (water or green tea) with each meal.
• The biggie? Eat animals – ones that had a pretty good life before they became food, like everything eventually does. Don’t just eat muscle tissue, though, eat all the parts, and eat small amounts of mammals, not just fish and chicken. Think of it as sort of homeopathic, if you need to – and remember that moderation and balance are the keys.

Like any book about food, The Asian Diet has a section at the end with recipes
and the benefits of different foods, and this is where Bussell will most likely open up a whole new market for the idea of a healthy diet from the mysterious East.
Alcohol, it seems, is good for treating hemorrhoids.

The Asian Diet is published by Findhorn Press, a prestigious publishing house that had its origins in a spiritual community in Scotland in the early 1960’s, and is available at bookstores,, and

Michael Abedin is publisher and editor of Austin All Natural, a print and online publication in Austin, TX. (512) 803-0721,

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