The Nutrition Collection

Phil Von Heydebreck
12 Sep 2019

What should I eat? A seemingly simple question, but apparently without an easy answer. Every other species seems to know exactly what to eat without consulting a nutritionist. Koalas munch eucalyptus leaves all day, while lions prefer fresh meat from antelope, zebra and the like.  Humans are omnivorous, so in a sense, we are spoiled for choice. For hundreds of thousands of years, homo sapiens ate what he or she could gather, hunt or scavenge. Only recently has the question of optimal human nutrition become a much-debated topic. The advent of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions profoundly changed how humans live and what they eat. These changes also contributed to much longer lifespans and exposed us to the effects of old age, particularly chronic diseases like cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. These ailments are now the leading causes of death around the world and one of the key factors in preventing them is a healthy diet. 

The Nutrition Collection is the result of a multi-year obsession with the question of what we should eat to stay healthy and live a long life. It attempts to make some sense in a field rife with myths, contradictions, and ambiguity. Here, we give you an overview of the collection allowing you to pick and choose the topics most interesting to you. We also recommend a sequence in which the content could be consumed and learned, so that new knowledge can be built upon the foundation of what you previously learned. The collection is made up of six streams, each of which approaches the topic of nutrition from a different angle: 

  1. Nutrition Primer — The Latest Insights in Nutrition and Health
  2. Advanced Nutritional Mythbusting — Debunking the Most Pervasive Myths in Nutrition and Health
  3. Nutrition Essentials — The Building Blocks of Nutrition Science
  4. Who Needs Fat? —The Essential Function of Fat in the Body and Factors That Control It
  5. Battle of the Diets — Extracting Nutritional Insights from Popular Diets
  6. Fasting — The Body’s Reset Button?

Nutrition Primer — The Latest Insights in Nutrition and Health

Nutrition Primer is an introductory stream that provides a broad overview of topics that are covered in much more detail in other streams in this collection. It begins by arguing that nutrition is a key factor in health and wellbeing. The stream explores some of the challenges caused in part by bad nutrition like obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. It touches on many of the things that have caused the common Western diet to diverge from traditional diets. The main focus is on reviewing the latest insights from the field of nutrition and contrasting them with common misbeliefs. Some of the basic concepts from popular diets are introduced to explore commonalities and differences. It concludes with the recommendation that people optimize their nutrition and lifestyle in order to live a long and healthy life. 

Advanced Nutritional Mythbusting — Debunking the Most Pervasive Myths in Nutrition and Health

Advanced Nutritional Mythbusting tackles some of the most pervasive myths in the field of nutrition. It begins by exploring what makes nutritional science so difficult and why that sometimes leads to confusion. It quickly transitions to debunking five of the most common nutritional myths. Specifically, it dives into the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease, the challenges with calorie counting, common but ineffective weight-loss advice and more. 

Nutrition Essentials — The Building Blocks of Nutrition Science

Nutrition Essentials provides foundational knowledge about major terminology and concepts in nutrition science. The distinction between micronutrients and macronutrients is explained. It then puts each of the main macronutrient groups — carbohydrates, protein, and fat — under the microscope, explaining what they are and how they are used in the body. The controversy around specific macronutrients is investigated.

Who Needs Fat? —The Essential Function of Fat in the Body and Factors That Control It

Many people try to restrict their food intake or sweat for untold hours on a treadmill to keep their body fat under control. Despite these efforts, many countries are in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Who Needs Fat? takes a close look at body fat, its functions in the body and the things that can play a role in its unwanted accumulation.  It includes a deep dive into the metabolism which creates energy and maintains the body. Hormones are an important focus for this stream, particularly insulin and glucagon which regulate levels of glucose in the blood. 

Battle of the Diets — Extracting Nutritional Insights from Popular Diets

It’s hard to keep up with all the latest diet trends: Atkins, Keto, Paleo, low-carb, low-fat, Ornish, Meditteranean. There are many to choose from. Battle of the Diets makes the distinction between diet and dieting, arguing that only a long-term change in eating habits will have sustained positive effects on health and wellbeing. It highlights the many drawbacks of the Western diet characterized by the industrialized production of processed and refined food. It goes on to analyze the commonalities and differences between the many popular diets that aim to improve people’s eating habits. It attempts to cherry-pick the best insights from the different diets with the aim of assembling some simple rules for healthy eating. 

Fasting — The Body’s Reset Button?

In a way, fasting is the opposite of nutrition. Choosing not to eat for a period of time deprives the body of nutrition. But in a broader sense, fasting is an important part of the daily rhythms that are innate to human biology. The regular cycle of eating and fasting can deeply affect metabolism and health. This stream introduces the concept of Fasting and explores how eating patterns affect the body. Important concepts like ketosis and the hormonal drivers of hunger and satiety are explained. We also contrast various fasting traditions with more recent practices. 

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