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Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Defense

I'll continue with more of my "book report" on Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food

So one of Pollan's main points is that nutritionism rules how and what we eat these days.  We're more worried about the antioxidants and low-fat labels on foods than on what the food really is.  He makes the point that these nutrients that are added to so many foods, often don't really do their job as they do in nature.  They need the relationship with other chemicals and nutrients in the food to create the benefits that they were intended to have.

And often, these "nutritional" way of eating--low-fat, for example--sometimes lead to other problems.  Pollan writes:
Like most of us, they [researchers] assumed that a bad outcome like heart disease must have a bad cause, like saturated fat or cholesterol, so they focused their investigative energies on how these bad nutrients might cause disease rather than on how the absence of something else, like plant foods or fish, might figure in the etiology of the disease.  Nutrition science has usually put more of its energies into the idea that the problems it studies are the result of too much of a bad thing instead of too little of a good thing.
Of course, other factors come into play with regard to these diseases--social class for example.  Poor people don't often have the ability to exercise or eat fresh vegetables or fish.  Many only have access or the money to buy processed foods--causing a problem of obesity even in those who are most in need of food.  This, then leads to diabetes and heart disease in many cases.

This segues into Pollan's next major discussion.  Those of us who eat a Western Diet are the ones who end up with these diseases.  Next time, I'll go into a little more about that.

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