Posts Tagged ‘the lipid hypothesis’

A Review of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”

Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food stays true to its subtitle: It justifies a no-nonsense guide to eating. The book’s seven-word slogan encapsulates Pollan’s prescription: “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Of course, “food” strays from the standard definition of food. For Pollan, what was around and recognizable as food during the life of your great-grandmother (or your great-great grandmother, depending on your age) constitutes food. Processed foodstuffs simply are not food.84

Pollan doesn’t reach this conclusion until the third part of the book. He spends much of the first two parts critiquing the science of nutritionism that has lead us Westerners to consume these deleterious processed foods. Pollan rejects the idea that when it comes to food, the whole is the sum of its parts. Injecting nutrients into otherwise unhealthy foods does not necessarily make them healthy. Nutritionism is an imperfect science, and Pollan relays study after study that show that what nutritionists initially thought was healthy actually is not: The demise of the “lipid hypothesis” is one such example. Moreover, even though micronutrients (i.e. vitamins) are added to processed foods, they usually co-exist along with harmful additives and the much-maligned corn and soybean oils. Processed food and the Western diet more generally, claims Pollan, are what have led to the spike in Western ailments such as heart disease and diabetes starting in the mid-20th century. Pollan argues that there is something about eating proper whole foods that confers us immense health benefits even if isn’t clear what exactly is causing these benefits. His seven-word mantra is his response to these facts and the gist of his argument.

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