Nutrition Perspectives

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto​ by Michael Pollan surveys the contention between mainstream-scientific nutrition perspectives (what he labels as “nutritionism”), and traditional, historic eating cultures. The author explains that while the scientific community has attempted to dissect and understand the building blocks of food, he believes that this very same community has made people more fat and sick than ever, as food has been more distanced from its original purpose. His book centers around the advice to, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Pollan, 2008).

A simple, (mostly) self-explanatory phrase, Pollan (2008) explains that this advice stands on its own merit– but he uses his book as an opportunity to explain the history of nutrition as a discipline, and the consequences that have resulted. Through examinations of each macronutrient, he debunks the hypotheses that one macronutrient in-and-of-itself is the culprit for what makes people overweight and results in more diseases. His places the blame not only on processed foods, but on the way we eat them– in the car, snacking all day, eating alone, eating fast, and not preparing foods, just to name a few (Pollan, 2008). This brings him back to “nutritionism,” and how many in the nutrition scientific community become dogmatic about what to eat and why. To illustrate, he writes:

Many of the scientific theories put forward to account for exactly what in the Western diet is responsible for Western diseases conflict with one another. The lipid hypothesis cannot be reconciled with the carbohydrate hypothesis, and the theory that a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids is chiefly to blame for chronic illness is at odds with the theory that refined carbohydrates are the key… It is only natural for scientists no less than the rest of us to gravitate toward a single, all-encompassing explanation… There is a lot more religion in science than you might expect. (p. 140).

The history that Pollan surveys is not limited to macronutrients– he also explains that the more frequently scientists break-down foods into their elemental parts, such as vitamins, minerals, types of fat, etc., people are more removed from what food is, how it is naturally “packaged,” and how to simply enjoy it. In his key phrase, to “eat food” means to eat ​real​ food– things found in nature– and to stay away from “edible food-like substances.” (Pollan, 2008).

While the author over-states many concepts and goes in circles with others, he does a good job of opening the layman’s eyes to nutrition terms, where they came from, and why people argue for or against them from a health standpoint. Though Michael Pollan does not have a professional background in nutrition (he has been a long-time journalist, notably writing for the New York Times Magazine), he seems to have done his research, and done it well. I have heard much of what he stated in other peoples lectures, podcasts, and books, so this book was considerably less eye-opening to me than it might be to others. Though published over ten years ago, the information presented in Michael Pollan’s book is still relevant today. Because most of the book is a history of food and the food industry, I suspect it will stand the test of time.

I enjoyed recognizing concepts that had been discussed in HLTH 1020, including the dangers of nutrition claims, the risks of “framing dietary advice in terms of good and bad nutrients” (p. 51), and… wait for it… the importance of eating, “vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.” (p. 10). Much of the advice given in the book is exactly what we have learned in class. This says a few things. First, his information is likely accurate. Second, it gives me assurance on what to believe about food. Third, it is an accessible resource to those who will not attend formal lectures. However, there is one key point that he explained that was completely opposite of what we learned in class, and it is about saturated fat. After explaining the low-fat trend of the 1970’s, saturated fat has, to this day, had a bad wrap. Pollan questions the validity of these fears, as statistics between heart disease and saturated fat intake are correlational and may very well be due to other factors (pp. 47-48).

When reading about the saturated fat debate, I was not too alarmed, as I have heard it before from many other reputable sources. I have a healthy dose of skepticism that saturated fat is to blame for heart disease. One of the aims of this book is to deter us from having a dogmatic view of nutrition, which I agree with and respect. It is important to always keep an open mind, as that is where development and innovation take place.

Debates aside, we can all agree that the standard american diet has room for improvement, and one of the best ways to start is to incorporate plants. Pollan’s (2008) axiom, which is to “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” describes a simple model to live by that I would like to adopt myself. I simply need to eat more plants! In all honesty, that one phrase inspired me more than his entire book.

Those things being said, this will not be the first book I recommend to people if they’re interested in nutrition. It is only mildly interesting and generally circular. The best nutrition advice I have heard thus far in my education, which is hardly, if at all, refuted, is this: to eat more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains!

Cite this paper

Nutrition Perspectives. (2021, Mar 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/nutrition-perspectives/

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out