Portland cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Rosenblatt helped Jennifer Babich write the newly released plant-based nutrition book “How to Use Your Pie-Hole: An Uncensored Food Guide for the Nutritionally Challenged,” but he’s not recommending it to many patients or sharing it with colleagues. In fact, he had to overcome his initial skepticism about the project before he agreed to be part of it.

What ultimately got him on board? The fact that 20- and 30-year-olds are now experiencing heart attacks.

“We have to realize that heart disease remains the No. 1 killer,” Rosenblatt said. “Hospitals are exploding with no available beds, and people are being choppered in (with heart attacks). And it’s not just the 50- and 60-year-olds, now it’s 20- and 30-year-olds.”

Before he came to the conclusion that the book – a provocative and in-your-face guide aimed at the millennial generation – could help younger people, he “really had to wrestle with” whether he would contribute as the book, he said, is “a shocker for those of us who do traditional writing.”

He found the informal language and regular f-bombs off-putting, yet he recognized “there were things in there that were very exciting and informative.” At the top of the latter list was the way author Babich makes complex and nuanced nutrition information accessible and easy to understand.

Babich is a former Mainer (she still owns a house in Freeport) who splits her time between New Zealand and the United States, working with clients as a personal trainer and a nutrition coach.

Their questions inspired the book, she wrote, adding that people often told her they felt great “but in reality they had no idea what it was like to feel great because they had literally never felt great before.”

After Babich gets clients eating a diet centered around whole plants, they become “super-ninjas and are ready to take on the world,” she wrote.

In contrast to her exuberant prose, Rosenblatt’s writing is much more measured in the forward and the chapter he contributed to the book. He also reviewed the full text for medical accuracy.

The book’s style follows in the footsteps of vegan best-sellers “Thug Kitchen” and “Skinny Bitch,” which use straight talk, raw language, profane writing and humor to appeal to those outside of the health food set. But its content is serious and science heavy.

Now that the self-published book has dropped, Rosenblatt has discovered that “when I show it to 20- and 30-year-olds, they don’t look at it the same way I do. They say, ‘This is cool. This is neat. I want to read this.’ ”

Rosenblatt, who does regular rounds on the cardiac unit at Maine Medical Center, blames the general lack of nutrition knowledge on food industry misinformation and a medical community focused on disease management rather than disease prevention.

In his contributed chapter, “Frankenstein Medicine and the Metabolic Syndrome,” he defines metabolic syndrome as a “precursor to most diseases” and writes that its symptoms and conditions include “obesity, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, diabetes, increased clotting, stroke, kidney failure, plaque build-up, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, failure to thrive, depression and premature death.”

But in Rosenblatt’s experience, hospitals promote metabolic syndrome with the food they serve sick patients.

“When I do rounds on my hospital patients who are suffering from all of these disorders,” Rosenblatt writes, “instead of helping them get better by serving them whole, fresh foods, they are actually being further poisoned by being served highly processed foods such as canned vegetables, sweetened juices, sodas, artificial flavors, white flour, sugary desserts, and burgers.”

He goes on to discuss how medical professionals are ill-equipped to dispense nutrition advice or prevent disease and instead are trained how to manage diseases using pills and procedures. The sad irony, he writes, is that “every complication, and in fact the development of the metabolic syndrome, can be completely prevented by a whole food, plant-based diet.”

His assessment is a fairly accurate synopsis of the book’s thesis. Except that when Babich is behind the pen she puts it this way: “The westernized food industry is one big (expletive) chemical cyclone that hurls people toward malnutrition faster than a prairie fire with a tailwind.”

Along with the informal tone and humorous writing, funny graphics break

up the text, including a blue ribbon for readers who make it a quarter of the way through the book and a unicorn for readers who make it halfway. Read all the way to the end and you’re treated to a line drawing of a unicorn with a blue ribbon being ridden by a carrot-wielding superhero.

Babich educates readers on ingredients (such as aspartame, brominated vegetable oil, caramel coloring and food dyes) and the herbicide glyphosate, and busts food myths (such as the high cost of eating well, the idea that all calories are equal and the belief that dieting works). The book does not include recipes.

She takes an effective look at processed foods in the chapter “Let the Games Begin.” It presents lists of ingredients and then invites readers to guess which product is made up of them. Somehow carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel color, phosphoric acid and natural flavors don’t have the same ring as Coca-Cola.

Babich holds a sports medicine degree from the University of Southern Maine, and she formerly worked as a cardiac tech at Maine Cardiology in Portland. It was there, while working with Rosenblatt and other doctors, that she realized she needed to do something different to help “all of the sick people that weren’t getting better.” She wanted to prevent them from getting sick in the first place.

As Babich writes, “Every time you eat is an opportunity to nourish or neglect your body.”

Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: Avery Yale Kamila


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