Nutritional Science

It’s been around for a long time and we should trust it absolutely, shouldn’t we?

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading about food and nutrition is a big part of that, after all what’s the point in me sharing these recipes if I don’t have the first clue about the nutritional value, I could be recommending recipes that while they may not be toxic in the “comic book – one bite and you’re dead sense”, could very easily be missing a vital nutrient or have excessive amounts of calories or a dozen other “problems” that could lead to a slow and painful death.

So I’ve taken to trying to find out as much as I can about nutrition and nutritional science. It’s actually a lot more interesting than I thought it would be. The thing that has struck me though is how much we trust nutritionist to decide what we will eat on a day to day basis, when the science is really in it’s infancy.

It was less than 200 years ago that Liebig first discovered the make up of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, marking the start of the science of nutrition. At the time people thought that was all there was to food, no worries about vitamins, minerals etc. but then later came the discoveries of those and then that was added to what we thought was all that was important in food, then came more discoveries and those were added as well, until we get to where we are today and we think we know everything about food.

To put it simply we don’t and along the journey so far many missteps have been taken in the name of nutritional science. For example we believe that a low fat diet reduces the risk of heart disease. If so, why have we seen more and more heart disease as more and more of us move to a low fat diet?

The thing is there is a lot to be said for nutritional science as well, but the human race has tended to put far too much faith in nutritionists (in my opinion) and not enough in where we got our nutritional information from historically. This is basically those traditional recipes handed down through the generations that we have all tasted. These recipes and cuisines have survived because the people eating them have survived and thrived. If the food was killing them then they would have either changed and evolved what they were eating or simply died out.

Somewhere in the last two hundred years though we decided to ignore this obvious fact and put our faith completely in science before the science actually knew as much as our ancestors did about what we were eating.

The more I learn about nutrition the more I realise just how wise our ancestors were, they didn’t eat processed packaged foods, they ate meals cooked with fresh ingredients, that were mostly grown locally or grown wild.

The thing the science can confirm for us is that the fresher the food, the more nutrients, vitamins, minerals etc. are present but shure yer Great-Granny/Granny/Mammy could have told you that 😉

What do you think, do you trust your Great-Granny/Granny/Mammy more than the Scientists?

8 thoughts on “Nutritional Science”

  1. I do indeed trust the cooks that went before me. They cooked by the long slow method – there was no other known or available. The food was seasonal and local AND people sat to the table with regularity for three meals> breakfast, lunch and dinner. Gathering round the table was a social event in itself and people communicated. People exercised. Walking or bicycling were the means of transport from place to place so there was no need to pay exorbitant fees to join a gym. There were no couch potatoes sitting staring at a TV or computer screen while munching rubbish from a box or carton. The only exercise drink was to be found at the bottom of the well…

    Sorry, I forgot I was writing a comment and not a guest post! 😉

  2. I do. To the extent possible, I am also going organic. One of the advantages of living in India is that you can get fresh vegetables throughout the year from nearby villages of any town/city. Meat and chicken are slaughtered before your eyes and butchers give you what you want freshly cut to your specification. Though eggs and chicken are now poutry generated, we can still get free range eggs and chicken at a premium.

  3. @Grannymar take it easy on my TV viewing and computing habits :)

    @Rummuser unfortunatly, Irish food culture has become one of denial, most people barely associate meat/chicken on their plate with the living variety and even when they d,o they will do their utmost not to think about what happens in between the living stage and the plate. In my opinion this mindset is a big part of the issue with western diet and food culture in general.

    Oh to live in a culture that would accept a butcher doing their “entire” job in full view of the public, I suspect the quality of not only the meat but the animal welfare in general would increase no end if this were the case.

  4. Sorry Son-in-Law, I was speaking generally and not about anyone in particular. Am I forgiven? Please reinstate the upgrade to the nursing home! :roll:

  5. George, you have no idea what a tresure you have in your MIL. She and I know another who calls his MIL ‘the one who thinks she knows everything’. I am serious. Ask your MIL!

  6. Sorry to come in with a different point of view, but I don’t feel it is that simple (follow your ancestors diet and you’ll be fine)…. I always think: Has life expectancy (and quality of life) gone up or down for people (in general) over the generations? Variety and choice are so abundant these days, I can’t help but think that’s a good thing!
    I don’t think that what people did centuries or decades ago is necessarily better for us, I think people did the best of what they got, that seems to me to still be the case, only now we are bombarded with opposing info (and ads) about food, their nutrients and their influence on our health. And quite justly, we are not sure what to believe anymore.
    It’s easy to proclaim a local, fresh, organic, and varied diet when you live in a land of plenty. I am not sure I would have a (more) nutritious diet than my current one if I were to eat only what is produced local to me, or only organic, for example.
    Eat simple? Yeh. Eat fresh? Yeh. Eat everything and anything in moderation? Yeh. The rest… I am not so sure about…
    Food for thought…

    1. Hi Liana, Don’t apologise for having a different point of view, that’s what starts the most interesting discussions.

      A large amount of the increases in life expectency that we have seen in the last 200 years or so can be accounted for thanks to the eradication of certain diseases once considered plagues and the reduction in infant and child mortality rates, it has very little to do with nutritional science and a lot to do with medical science.

      The issue that I have with Nutritional Science is that it doesn’t know the full story, new discoveries are being made all the time and opinions have to be reformulted and changed on this basis, and that can be a very slow process.

      The best known example is the Low fat argument, in the 1970’s we were encouraged to drop butter from our diet and replace it with margerine on the basis that it was better for our hearts. then came the discovery of trans fats and the suggestion that they may be the cause for a large increase in corony artery disease as early as 1988, in 1994 it was estimated that they accounted for 20,000 fatalities (due to heart disease) a year in the U.S. alone yet they were still widely available in margerine until 2007 and they still haven’t been banned globally.

      It’s things like these that make me think we should listen to our ancestors and traditional cuisines first and wait to put our blind faith in Nutritional science.

      As for the processed Vs fresh Vs organic food discussion I’m very much on the “fresh trumps all” side of things. Processed food is too much in the hands of the Nutritional Scientists and more and more organic foods I’m seeing are being transported across countries and continents. This travel not only reduces the freshness of the food but also ofsets any carbon saving made by the lack of artificial fertilisers and pesticides used in their production. It’s a sad irony that so called organic food has become bad for our environment 😉

Comments are closed.