Food or Nutritents

Finally, an article about daily nutrients that makes perfect “Nonna-sense”!

In a recent academic review, a University of Minnesota professor in the School of Public Health has concluded that food, as opposed to specific nutrients, may be key to having a healthy diet.

natale-question.JPGDo you think it could be that simple? Food gurus all have different points of view: Eat low-fat; no eat healthy fat; don’t eat sugar; sugar isn’t so bad in moderation; fortified is just as healthful as natural; fast-food is healthy when you purchase a salad. Marketers and regulators focus on details: total fat, carbohydrates, and proteins. We’re given volumes of information about individual nutrients and vitamin fortification added to our food products.

David Jacobs, Ph.D, the principal investigator, and Mayo Professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota said, “We are confusing ourselves and the public by talking so much about nutrients when we should be talking about foods. Consumers get the idea that diet and health can be understood in terms of isolated nutrients. It’s not the best approach, and it might be wrong.”

Jacobs and others argue that people should shift their focus toward the benefits of entire foods and food patterns in order to better understand nutrition.

Pictured: Natalie is thinking over the question of “Food or Nutrients?”

Food synergy is the new focus or is it really new? Perhaps grandmas knew about food synergy, before it became a popular buzz word. This is the idea that health is obtained from whole foods, rather than a single food component, such as cereal fortified with vitamins and calcium added to a container of orange juice.

It seems to me that moms are concerned about balance in their children’s diets. Once we begin to understand the difference between processed and whole foods, we’re on the road to health and by default: food synergy.

Jacobs said an understanding of the interactions between food components in both single foods and whole diets opens up new areas of thinking. I take supplements and I’m certainly interested in various facts about the foods we eat. Sometimes we can make ourselves crazy with the latest information about the ORAC value of produce or the belief that all fat is bad. When most times a simple rule works: Eat a variety of whole unprocessed foods. That simple, yet life-altering step will open the door to your family’s health.

A day’s worth of vitamins can be found in a serving of processed cereal. How much better is it to eat a whole grain like old fashioned oatmeal or cream of wheat? Even a bowl of brown rice mixed with fruit is a healthier option to a box of processed cereal filled with added sugars and chemicals. Once we begin to switch from nutrient thinking to whole food thinking, it takes the guesswork out of what’s really healthy.

For a synopsis of Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater, Click Here.

One thought on “Food or Nutritents

  1. Maggie Macaulay says:

    Hi Joann! Thank you for this terrific article. I am including a link in the next issue of Parenting News, the weekly e-zine from the International Network for Children and Families ( and Whole Hearted Parenting ( We are happy to be a part of your community.

    Wishing you well –
    Maggie Macaulay, MS Ed

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