Every serious nutritionist should have a research based academic textbook they use as a reference book. For me, Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (Wadsworth, 2000, third edition) by James Groff and Sareen Gropper is that book (figure 1). I have a large number of academic textbooks that deal with nutrition and metabolism, but this is by far the most comprehensive and detailed book on my shelf. The book begins with a primer of cellular function and then covers energy transformations, digestion, macronutrients, micronutrients, body composition and energy expenditure, and finally the central nervous system. In addition, the book contains a number of chapters called ‘perspectives’ that cover important clinical and pathological aspects of metabolism such as antioxidants and free radicals, diabetes or protein turnover. These perspectives relate to information in the preceding chapters and aim to synthesise the material into mini literature reviews. They are a useful addition and provide insights into a number of currently relevant topics.
Figure 1. The front cover of Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism by Groff and Gropper (third edition).
This book stands out from many others on the market because although it has a great depth and can therefore satisfy the needs of those with advanced knowledge, it is still very readable and accessible to the neophyte student. One of the greatest strengths of the book is the micronutrient section, which is perhaps better than any I have seen in other similar books (figure 2). This section alone makes the book worth purchasing. However, the section on digestion is also of high quality, and the authors communicate the main information with more clarity than can be found in many physiology textbooks. Another section that continues to receive my frequent attention is the perspective chapter on free radicals, which outside of my specialist free radical textbooks, is one of the best reviews of current free radical theory I have read. Because this section covers free radical theory from the nutritional viewpoint, it gives the information a unique viewpoint often not covered by more specialised texts.
Figure 2. The micronutrient section in Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism is perhaps the strongest section in the book. There is a realisation that the recommended intakes of some of the micronutrients are too low. This is usual in a nutrition textbook and a welcome change.
The problem with many academic nutrition and metabolism textbooks is that they contain information and opinions that do not reflect the current state of the academic literature. Many contain outdated and obsolete ideas and opinions that have simply passed from edition to edition and from textbook to textbook without a reappraisal. Many such books are aimed at dieticians or the mainstream medical establishment, which explains these professions lack of nutritional knowledge. In my opinion, a test of a good book is to judge how closely the section on lipoproteins and essential fatty acids resembles the current literature. In this regard Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism scores highly (figure 3). Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism appears to be a nutrition book written with nutritionists and nutritional scientists in mind. This gives the book a different feel when compared to the plethora of mainstream medical propaganda pretending to be nutrition books. This resonated with me, which is perhaps why I like it so much.
Figure 3. The lipoprotein section in Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism mentions lipoprotein(a), a sure sign the authors have actually read the literature. Compare this to the ‘cholesterol is bad mantra’ in most mainstream medical nutrition books.