The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World--Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home

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Pizza, pasta, hamburgers, sushi, tacos, and french fries . . . whether our ancestors were born in Madrid, Malaysia, or Mexico, chances are our daily food choices come from all around the globe. Unfortunately, we have taken some of the worst aspects of our varied ancestral menus to turn healthy cuisine into not-so-healthy junk food. Where did we go wrong?

Why is it that non-Western immigrants are so much more susceptible to diabetes and other diet-related chronic diseases than white Americans? How is it possible that relatively poor native populations in Mexico and Africa have such low levels of the chronic diseases that plague the United States? What is the secret behind the extremely low rate of clinical depression in Iceland°™a country where dreary weather is the norm? The Jungle Effect has the life-changing answers to these important questions, and many more.

Dr. Daphne Miller undertook a worldwide quest to find diets that are both delicious and healthy. Written in a style reminiscent of Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, this book is filled with inspiring stories from Dr. Miller's patients, quirky travel adventures, interviews with world-renowned food experts, delicious (yet authentic) indigenous recipes, and valuable diet secrets that will stick with you for a lifetime.

Whether it's the heart-healthy Cretan diet, with its reliance on olive oil and fresh vegetables; the antidepression Icelandic diet and its extremely high levels of Omega 3s; the age-defying Okinawa diet and its emphasis on vegetables and fish; or the other diets explored herein, everyone who reads this book will come away with the secrets of a longer, healthier life and the recipes necessary to put those secrets into effect.

Customer Reviews:

  • What You Eat Can Help What You Are!
    The old cliche is true - Dr. Miller has been my personal doctor for years and proved it to me. Her approach helped my health and well-being tremendously and is so logical and common sense - it's a shame that more doctors don't use nutrition as the first line of defense and offense for good health.

    I expected it to be an interesting resource with some good recipes - but it is a highly readable and inspiring book. Worth owning and living by!!...more info
  • Life Changing Information
    I heard an interview on the radio & was really impressed with Dr Miller. Her book delivers. The book is understandable & really makes the reader think. This book is life changing. The recipes are delicious. After living low fat for a long time the recipes are so flavorful and satisfying. Hope Dr Miller has another book coming out!...more info
  • Finally, common sense in the diet arena!
    If you are interested in food, you need to read this book. It takes a no nonsense approach to diet, and studies why eating a wide variety of foods that haven't been touched by processing of any kind is really the logical way to go when making food choices. Miller's approach is very well balanced, well researched, and chock full of interesting facts. You won't be disappointed! ...more info
  • The Jungle Effect
    I absolutely loved this book. It has so much great and interesting information and it inspired me to start thinking about my food in an entirely different way. It made me get excited about my food choices and eating for better health. I also love all the recipes. They are so unique and different. I would 100 percent recommend this book if you are interested in finally being excited about the food you eat and the wonderful impact it can have on your health and wellbeing!...more info
  • Good read; makes healthy eating fun
    It's a travelogue, a nutrition advice book (complete with case studies), and a cookbook, too. Writing in the first person, Daphne Miller brings these three books together into one fun read. She's adventurous and curious, which makes a book about preventing diabetes, cancer and depression into a delight. Who'd have thought!

    Several ideas come together here: "Cold spots" are places in which chronic Western diseases are noticeably absent. Miller explores what and how people eat in the cold spots. Then she cites the research showing why a particular indigenous diet provides protection against a particular condition. She was led to the cold spots in her efforts to help individual patients who were struggling with health issues--and whose ethnic heritage is tied to the cold spot. That's another piece of the puzzle: in this fast-food world, it's not easy to maintain the ideal diet as usually presented: fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and varying advice on carbs. " But a Mexican "cold spot" diet might be easier for a Chicana patient to stick with. The foods might appeal to cultural memory, or even an individual's memories of grandmother's cooking. Sure enough, it turns out that way, as Miller returns from cold spots with traditional recipes to share with her patients. For example, a Scandinavian patient, who turns up her nose at ubiquitous California salads, turns out to love the Icelandic diet with plenty of berries, fish, and waxy potatoes. And eating the Icelandic way helps her out of a serious depression. Miller explains how it works.

    The book invites us to eat our way around the world and learn the principles of each indigenous diet. We can sample from Camaroon, Crete, Okinawa and more. The recipes look good--I haven't tried them yet-- and are written to incorporate ingredients easily available in most US towns. Miller finds out about the recipes by peeking into kitchens and cooking with locals, who are colorfully portrayed. I found inspiration for healthy eating in this book, and learned a lot about the mechanisms behind the adage "we are what we eat."

    I should tell you that Dr Miller is our family doctor. She's just as devoted to her patients as it seems in the book. And her constant scan of medical and nutrition research has helped our whole family. While I haven't made any of the recipes yet, I recognize changes we have already made based on her advice. ...more info
  • Part travelogue; part healthguide; wholly enjoyable
    Physician Daphne Miller captivated my interest during a radio interview with our local NPR/KQED Forum host Michael Krasny.

    You can listen online or download the Mp3 at this link:

    Fortunately, our library branch had the book on the shelf when I checked later that day. Great reading. Great information. Great entertainment. Dr. Miller's inspiring storytelling could coax even the most reluctant junk-food addicts into changing their attitudes.
    follow-up -- Too bad Amazon deleted the link to KQED's Forum show. The interview with Dr. Miller is an excellent introduction to the book. You can go to and search the archives for Daphne Miller....more info
  • Great info that could help change the country's health challenges
    This is a great book for those who want to avoid today's health challenges by making some moderate changes to diet and lifestyle. You don't have to go raw or become a vegetarian which is a barrier for many. Read this fascinating book and it will change your life or someone you know who struggles with health issues. A great place to start in building a foundation for good health!...more info
  • Exactly what I was looking for.
    I saw a review of this book on NPR, found it on Amazon, ordered it and devowered it upon arrival. WOW!!! Exceptional book, interesting theroies and research, well thought out follow up, AND good recipies. What more could any health consious gal want??? ...more info
  • Great book, wish there were more recipes
    Heard Miller interviewed on NPR and pulled over to order the book on my iPhone, she was that interesting. The book holds up--lots of good information collected together for someone trying to make practical changes in their diet for health. Only wish there were more recipes! What's there is good and not hard to make, but there are only 14 or so....more info
  • A Good Read about What's Good for You
    The Jungle Effect is excellent and interesting, and is having a very beneficial effect on my life. Daphne MIller,MD, effectively combines her information about the very healthy foods and lifestyles of people in the different cultures she visits because of their very low disease rates with her medical knowledge and research. She makes it all come to life with individual patients of hers who needed and used these healthy diets, and with recipes and lists of foods from each of the five areas. It's a goldmine of useful information. The book's only real shortcoming is lack of an index....more info
  • An "Easy to Digest" Book on Healthy Nutrition
    The Jungle Effect is a very well informed and well written book on healthy nutrition. Dr. Miller identifies various "cold spots" around the globe which have low or no rates of certain western diseases, and explains how the local diets are key to these statistical results. I use this book and the diets and recipes therein to plan my own diet that is tailored to my ulcerative colitis. The book is very well organized and very accessible. I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to plan an informed new whole foods diet. Try the Ndole--it's great!

    ...more info
  • Reverse and Prevent Diabetes With Slow Release Foods
    Author & Book Views On A Healthy Life!

    The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World--Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home (Collins Living, 2008) by Daphne Miller, M.D.

    Daphne Miller, M.D. author of The Jungle Effect, writes that indigenous foods, or native plants, vegetables, and fruits, are the natural prescription solution and even prevention for type 2 diabetes. Past studies of Pacific Islanders and Australian Aborigines have shown that when these peoples eliminated their own native diets, for the Western high carb diet, they quickly developed pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes. Indigenous diets include nuts, roots, and seeds like cheeky yam, black bean seed, and bush onion. Others you may be more familiar with: quinoa, barley kernels, cracked wheat (bulgur), steel-cut oats, and millet.

    Further testing of the indigenous foods showed that they were difficult to break apart and digest. Blood sugar and insulin levels rose more slowly after eating these foods, whereas Western carbs --refined flour, sugar, pasta, mass-produced corn, white rice--digest quickly, rapidly raising blood sugar and insulin, leading to diabetes.

    In The Jungle Effect: A Doctor Discovers the Healthiest Diets from Around the World--Why They Work and How to Bring Them Home, Dr. Miller gives five reasons why slow release indigenous foods are antidiabetic:

    * Slow-release foods are slowly digested--keeping blood sugar and insulin levels lower.

    * Slow-release foods are fiber-rich--extending satiety, decreasing the desire for fast-release snacks (donuts, candy, etc..)

    * Slow-release foods are nutrient-rich--unrefined grains have not lost their vitamin and mineral properties from the refining process. For example, white flour retains only 15% of its magnesium content after the refining. Dr. Miller writes that "Low-blood magnesium levels are linked to insulin resistance, poor blood sugar control, and diabetic complications."

    * Slow-release foods are free of bad fats--saturated, partially hydrogenated, omega 6. Instead they contain stanols and sterols, healthy plant fats, which lower triglycerides.

    * Slow-release foods have unique antidiabetic capabilities. Some specific indigenous foods cause sensitivity to insulin--some herbs, spices, and the prickly pear cactus.

    A wonderful example of a slow-release meal is the corn tortilla, filled with beans, accompanied by squash, jicama, herbs, spices (cinnamon, pepper, cumin, coriander), and nopales (prickly pear cactus).

    First, purchase or make tortillas that have 3 grams minimum of fiber each, have been treated with lime, are organic (if possible), and are free from hydrogenated fat and preservatives.

    If you have a choice, cook your own beans. They are usually fresher, cheaper, tastier, less salty, and digest more slowly than the canned varieties.

    Squashes, both the hard winter types and summer varieties, have been eaten in the Americas for several thousand years, says Dr. Miller. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

    Jicama, easily peeled and eaten raw, can be sliced into small slices and dressed in lime juice and chili powder.

    Look for the prickly pear in Latino/Hispanic/Middle Eastern markets. Stick to small, tender, and bright green ones.

    BackStory: "In the past 70 years, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the United States has increased over 700 percent, and the disease is slowly affecting younger and younger populations. While this is the case with people of all ethnicities, the most dramatic rise has been experienced by Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans. Furthermore, recent statistics have shown that diabetes is now taking center stage as one of the greatest health issues worldwide."--Dr. Daphne Miller

    Daphne Miller, M.D. traveled around the world investigating the diets of many native peoples. She is a board certified family physician in private practice in San Francisco and an associate professor at the University of California, where she teaches nutrition and integrative medicine.

    The Jungle Effect--I highly encourage you to read this book for better insight on your diet and health.--Kelly Jad'on

    5 Stars...more info
  • The Jungle Effect
    `The Jungle Effect` is what Dr. Miller noticed when her San Francisco practice patients went on a "native diet". Unlike typical Western diets, which caused her patients health problems, when they switched to native diets - traditional foods from native cultures - their health improved, often dramatically. To learn more about native diets, Dr. Miller visited places such as Iceland, Nigeria, Crete, the Amazon, Okinawa to discover what they are doing right. Thousands of years of human trial and error, according to Dr. Miller, have selected for the best diets for human health and longevity.

    Dr. Miller is not new in this approach. Dr. Weston A. Price in the 1930s observed the same heath giving benefits of traditional foods and today there is a large and active community of native nutritionists surrounding Price and his legacy (see Sally Fallon's classic Nourishing Traditions). However Miller's book does offer some new and interesting perspectives. She actually traveled to native regions and sampled the foods and diets, and this makes for fascinating reading in an up to date journalistic human-interest story style. She dispels the notion that genetics plays a significant role, suggesting that anyone of an ethnic background can adopt any native diet (eg. a European can benefit from an Okinawa diet). Finally, she suggests food is more than its parts, each dish is symbiotic, so it is important to eat the entire food way, not just its elements. For example olive oil is good, but best in combination with the entire Mediterranean diet. Oddly enough, she also recommends mixing and matching various native diets (she personally cooks from different regions each night).

    Dr. Miller's book is an excellent primer for anyone not already familiar with native nutrition. Her research supports and adds to the work done by the Weston A. Price Foundation, with a slightly different approach. Her field-trips make for excellent reading and reveal specific regional food-ways. `The Jungle Effect` is a valuable contribution to the growing literature, and an easy and fun to read introduction to native nutrition. ...more info
  • Outstanding !
    I really don't know what else to say without spending too much time writing a review. Just read it. If you don't you will never know will you? Unless you already know it all. What wonderful synergy contained in this book... Thank you Doctor Miller!
    ...more info
  • Everyone Should Have a Copy of This Book
    I just loved this book, too, and probably will never read another diet book again. "The Jungle Effect" is really not a diet book - it's the Occam's razor of human dietary habits, the way our ancestors have always eaten for survival. Working only a block away from Dr. Miller's office, I've been tempted to walk down there to get the book autographed and buy ten more for my family and friends. I probably won't do that, but I definitely will do my best to promote it to people I know. I've already started making changes in my husband's and my diet and it's been a joyous, life-enhancing and elegant experience.

    By comparing the sort of meals that Americans are used to eating to, say, an African meal, Dr. Miller conveys an eye-opening epiphany. It should come as no surprise that the fiber content in African meals actually prevents the development of colon cancer. It's not a big mystery, but we're always looking for complicated schemes and sophisticated medical breakthroughs for answers, when the solution is pretty darn obvious and really pretty simple.

    I think that readers will also enjoy the travel diary experience as Dr. Miller wends her way not only through remote highlands in Mexico, but the wilds of Walmart in the Central Valley. She really wants to help everyone find a solution, regardless of their status or income and to be able to do it with any and all available resources. What a wonderful book. What great medicine....more info