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How to Understand All of Nutritional Science

Marc David 12-17

hat sounds like a pretty big promise doesn’t it? When I think about it, it really is. But I’ll do my best to make good on that promise. In five minutes or less, I’m going to outline some important and fundamental distinctions that will help you look at the science of nutrition, and all the information that you’re constantly exposed to – in a whole new way. You’ll have more insight, clarity, less confusion, and a greater sense of empowerment. In fact, you’ll probably have more understanding of the field of nutrition in the broadest sense than many experts in the field.

Let’s get going.

First, let’s take a big picture look at the field of nutrition:

  • It’s the wild west
  • It’s a young science – meaning nutrition is still developing, and we still have our training wheels on when it comes to truly understanding the depth of the nutritional process
  • Experts disagree – and it’s okay
  • For every PhD, there’s an equal and opposite PhD – meaning we will always always always find opposing viewpoints – even when you’re not looking for them
  • No field in Science operates with universal agreement – that’s just the way it is. You need to build up your tolerance for disagreement
  • Scientists can be very passionate, very religious, and very dogmatic. Scientists are just like you and me – they’re human beings. Be patient with them, love them, thank them for their hard work and their passion, and please don’t be intimidated by them.

Nutrition is vastly influenced by personal preference – by fallible scientists. When I was in college in the 1970s I interned at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York City. I was very fortunate to be working on the most famous floor in their research laboratories. Every scientist on this floor was a well-known name in cancer research. It was an exciting time for me, I learned a lot, and I had the opportunity to be up close and personal with how some great scientific minds truly work. There was one particular scientist who I would run errands for who especially took a liking to me. He was fascinated by all the strange foods that I would eat – I’m talking about sprouts on my salad, seaweed, odd looking organic dried fruit from the health food store, and my green drinks. Actually, he was less fascinated and more amused, and he truly thought I was a nutritional buffoon, and he had no hesitation to tell me so. He was convinced that food had little to no effect on your health, and that any scientist who was studying the role of nutrition in cancer was wasting valuable money and resources. When I love the most about him was that he would pontificate about all of this while drinking about seven or eight Diet Coke’s every day. He was addicted. I could tell when he was coming down off of his Diet Coke. He’d get moody and irritable and forgetful. I’d have to go into the lobby and get another can of Diet Coke from the machine. Think about it for a moment – he had a personal relationship with food, and personal beliefs about it that dramatically impacted – and limited – his scientific approach.

Back to our important distinctions to help us understand all of nutritional science:

Today’s nutrition facts are often tomorrows fallacies – in other words, many of the nutritional injunctions you hear about likely have a brief shelf life. We used to think margarine was good for you. We thought sugar was safe. We thought that high carbs and low protein and fat was the best diet to follow. We thought that it was okay to put artificial colors in food. We thought that all protein was the same, and all fat was the same. So it’s probably helpful to not get too attached to whatever nutritional facts you believe are immutable and permanent and applicable to all people for all time.

Understand this: Humans are still growing and evolving – and so is our nutrition. So it makes perfect sense that science will continue to change because the universe, the solar system, the earth, and all its creatures and organisms are in a fantastic state of flux and unfoldment.

Next it’s also quite useful to note that innovation in the field of nutrition often comes from the outside. Meaning, most of what you practice when it comes to what you eat and the healthy foods that you purchase didn’t originate in some high-end scientific laboratory or in the hallowed halls of an Ivy league school. Nutrition and dietary innovation is largely a grassroots affair. Think of these examples – macrobiotics, Atkins diet, the Mediterranean diet,  the pritikin diet,  the zone diet, the paleo diet, veganism, raw foods, cleansing programs, orthomolecular nutrition, the use of supplements and herbs – all of these were brought to you by outsiders, some through ancient wisdom, some from people who have no formal university and scientific education, and some from doctors and experts who were considered to be on the quack like fringe.

So here’s the bottom line:

There’s a whole spectrum of nutritional systems that can work for people depending on their age, their health, genetics, environment, season, preferences, lifestyle, cultural preferences, and so much more…

The perfect diet likely does not exist, and it’s always a moving target in terms of what works best for any one person at any time

So, relax into the uncertain turf of nutrition.
Do your best to be okay about living in uncertain times.
Let the evolution of nutrition be what it is.

Stop moaning and groaning that everybody says something different when it comes to the best nutritional approach.

Welcome the craziness of it all, celebrate it, smile at it, contribute your two cents to any argument, and have yourself a meal that feels good.
I hope this was helpful my friends.


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