Eat food, not nutrients

Michael Pollan, writing in The New York Times Magazine advises, “If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

What’s this got to do with you?

“It was in the 1980s,” he continues, “that food began disappearing from the American supermarket, gradually to be replaced by “nutrients,” which are not the same thing.

Nutritionism might be good for business, but not for the rest of us.

Here’s some advice from Mr. Pollan to improve your eating.

  • Worrying about diet can’t be good for you. So, let culture be your guide, not science. Eat more like the French, the Japanese, the Italians, or the Greeks.
  • Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • Avoid food products that have health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best.
  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, and c) more than five in number.

In the great tradition of The New York Times Magazine, the article is too long, but it brings a fresh perspective to a subject that affects all of us.

1/28/07 19:36 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.