2

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Food science primer

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 06, 2011 at 9:28 AM

I am trying to educate myself about diet/nutrition. So, I stumbled upon the paleo diet and this site. A lot of the posts here are beyond my level of understanding (i don't even know what a carb is, except that marathon runners "carbo load" before runs). What would be a good primer? I am not interested in learning about weight-loss diets or energy-increasing diets or anything specific like that - I want something that will provide me with the basic facts and terminology about food so I can decide certain things for myself. I'm after the kind of information that Michael Pollan and Gary Taubes and Oprah Winfrey (heh, just drilling my point - i want universal truths, okay maybe not oprah, abort) would agree on.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on February 16, 2011
at 06:48 AM

Matt, did you see this news item? http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112120/the-game-changing-cookbook Some crazy rich guy wrote a 2,400-page, 5-volume book on cooking. He had his own laboratory and staff and spent four years researching. The bit in the article about re-using oil for deep frying is totally dodgy.

Bdcb2101fd3f1853cfd645094d8ad086

on February 14, 2011
at 10:38 AM

Yeah, not to start learning the basics, but to learn about cooking and the ways that the interaction of macro- and micro- nutrients impact cuisine (by which I mean, stuff you prepare and eat, i.e. "cooked" food) it's great.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on February 06, 2011
at 11:38 PM

Oh yeah, +1, that's a good call. I don't know that it would necessarily be the best absolute starting point, though definitely something to add to other resources.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on February 06, 2011
at 02:15 PM

I second Panu and the perfect health diet. When you are done, reread them too.

802fbcbd735de7af3c2c95757df607bd

(119)

on February 06, 2011
at 11:06 AM

thanks. nah i think you mis-understood the oprah thing ;p

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5 Answers

5
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on February 06, 2011
at 10:17 AM

If you want to get started on science and have access to a large library, you could try a nutrition textbook. These are often written for those who do not necessarily have heavy science backgrounds, so the presentation should be clear enough. (You'll just have to ignore all the hilarious advice about eating low-fat and whole-grain.) You should be able to find this in the QP section according to the Library of Congress classification, which is the physiology subclass. You could also try a physiology and anatomy textbook written for med students. The disadvantage there is that there would be more science presupposed, but the advantage is that the discussion of nutrition would be short and sweet. You'd find these in the QP section, too, but lower down in the numbers. Probably QP 30-something or 40-something.

Alternately, you could just try starting at the Wikipedia nutrition page, which seems like a pretty clear and quick introduction -- but of course you'll still have to keep your eye out for bias (conscious and unconscious).

If you wanted to go from there to a paleo-themed resource, I would suggest hunting at Mark's Daily Apple, since he occasionally has posts that explain things quite clearly. Check out this one on fats, for example. There are others like it: you can start at the Primal 101 page.

I still think that PaleoNu is a great way to learn about nutrition. Even if it's slightly complicated, it repays the effort you put into it. I have also found reading the Jaminets' book, the Perfect Health Diet (link is to Amazon) very rewarding. Sure, it's science-y, but they are good at explaining things.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on February 06, 2011
at 02:15 PM

I second Panu and the perfect health diet. When you are done, reread them too.

1
Bdcb2101fd3f1853cfd645094d8ad086

on February 06, 2011
at 11:00 PM

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on February 06, 2011
at 11:38 PM

Oh yeah, +1, that's a good call. I don't know that it would necessarily be the best absolute starting point, though definitely something to add to other resources.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on February 16, 2011
at 06:48 AM

Matt, did you see this news item? http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112120/the-game-changing-cookbook Some crazy rich guy wrote a 2,400-page, 5-volume book on cooking. He had his own laboratory and staff and spent four years researching. The bit in the article about re-using oil for deep frying is totally dodgy.

Bdcb2101fd3f1853cfd645094d8ad086

on February 14, 2011
at 10:38 AM

Yeah, not to start learning the basics, but to learn about cooking and the ways that the interaction of macro- and micro- nutrients impact cuisine (by which I mean, stuff you prepare and eat, i.e. "cooked" food) it's great.

1
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on February 06, 2011
at 01:02 PM

The following few sites are a good starting point for an introduction to paleo eating.

http://www.clovegarden.com/diet/paleo.html

http://www.earth360.com/diet_paleodiet_balzer.html

Gary Taubes new book is excellent. "Why we get fat"

http://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Get-Fat-Borzoi/dp/0307272702/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1296997270&sr=8-1

1
4471d4c220a53e1c6c74949e90376038

on February 06, 2011
at 09:47 AM

You came to the right place! If you want to educate yourself about diet/nutrition, you should focus primarily on evolution, anthropology, biology, culture, history, etc. Authors like Michael Pollan and Gary Taubes are very good, but forget about Oprah. She is a TV star, not a researcher. I would recomend you to start reading some fundamental authors like Boyd Eaton, Loren Cordain and Staffan Lindeberg. Many papers from these authors can be found here - http://www.canibaisereis.com/biblioteca/ Slow food is a good concept, as are all things ancestral and traditional. And it doesn't matter if you don't know what a macronutrient is, all the confusion around food started when they invented those macronutrients. They call it nutritionism and believe it's the answer to a healthier eating. Good luck with your studies.

802fbcbd735de7af3c2c95757df607bd

(119)

on February 06, 2011
at 11:06 AM

thanks. nah i think you mis-understood the oprah thing ;p

0
2193cb1eca1a0eda4b2cad910074634e

on February 06, 2011
at 12:54 PM

Because you are starting at somewhat the beginning of learning about diet/nutrition I would suggest having two screens on your computer open at the same time. One you can read an article or whatever and the second would be used to google the term that you don't understand. It will be a slow go at first but like all learning eventually you have a base built so your comprehension and understanding is more rapid. And question what you are reading!

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