THE GOOD: Henner's Total Health Makeover is truly that -- an extremely thorough compilation (almost excessive) covering every imaginable aspect of health. Food is obviously
a main component of this plan, but the author also touches on stress reduction,
body image and the importance of sleep (to name a few). The plan encourages
healthy habits such as limiting caffeine, sugar and alcohol and not smoking.
Henner states that breaking a sweat every day for at least 20 minutes was the
missing piece of the puzzle for her, and encourages exercise for cardiovascular
health and increased bone density. For readers who enjoy "everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask" info, Chapter 17 is titled "What's the Poop?" Seemingly every arena of the topic is addressed, and the chapter concludes with benefits of a high-fiber diet along with a great listing of fiber-rich foods.
THE BAD: Food combining is "the winning combination" in Henner's Total Health Makeover. However, research does not support claims that specific food combinations promote weight loss or improved health. The author recommends that dairy and meats be totally eliminated from the diet. Fruits are divided into four categories (acid, sub-acid, sweet, and melons) and cannot be eaten with any other foods. Interestingly
enough, Henner forbids eating protein and starch together, yet color photos in the book feature meals including chicken with rice and turkey with tortilla (both protein-starch combinations). Many passages reveal the author's misunderstanding of digestion and metabolism, and unfortunately provide completely false information. In a chapter focusing on sugar, Henner claims that sugar depletes the body of all B-vitamins and leaches calcium from hair, blood, bones and teeth. The text goes on to state that sugar ferments in the stomach, stops the secretion of gastric juices and inhibits digestion. Another statement that "sugar is not partially digested in the mouth by saliva" is untrue; in fact, sugar and starches are the only foods for which digestion begins in the mouth.
THE UGLY: Besides the many mistruths scattered throughout the book, an entire chapter is devoted to an "Anti-Milk Manifesto." This chapter, titled "The Miracle of Dairy-Free," is filled with assumptions and gross generalizations with absolutely no scientific basis. Among Henner's claims are that cow's milk contributes to "the abnormally increasing body size of humans" (weight and height) and that consumption of dairy foods is linked to development of cancer, diabetes, even osteoporosis. Worst of all, Henner states that dairy is a poor source of calcium and that citrus foods leach calcium from the bones. In fact, dairy is among the best sources of calcium, and vitamin C (found in citrus foods) promotes calcium absorption. In an attempt to drive home the point, Henner writes "You
don't have to drink milk to make milk!", arguing with recommendations that nursing mothers drink lots of milk. Any nutrition professional would agree, encouraging milk intake in pregnant and nursing moms is to promote a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, not actual milk production.