15 - 2010

Food Rules 40-42: Fiddler On The Roof Edition – TRADITION!

This is my ongoing,11-week series about Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

Part II is called, “What Kind of Food Should I Eat? (Mostly plants.).” This installment covers rules 40 through 42.

Rule 40: Be the kind of person who takes supplements–then skip the supplements.

You know vitamin lovers? They’re healthy. But studies show that vitamin supplements don’t have an impact on health.

However, the people who take supplements also do other things to keep themselves healthy, like eat whole grains, eat vegetables and exercise.

Pollan says you can take supplements if you have a nutritional deficit, are over 50, or want to take a fish oil supplement if you don’t eat much fish.

For me … I take vitamins. I agree with this Harvard School of Public Health advice to take a daily multivitamin and maybe Vitamin D. I also add a bit of calcium. In a health crisis, I load up on B and C vitamins for a short time. Does it work? I don’t know. We very rarely get sick, which I think is a feat, given that our household is in daily contact with two different elementary school populations. Is it the vitamins? Maybe. Or maybe we’re just the kind of people who take vitamins.

Rule 41: Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.

Traditional diets keep people healthier than American diets, Pollan writes. And he has great advice: Heed how they eat. The French drink, smoke and eat butter, but they walk a lot, relax a lot and eat small portions.

Rule 42: Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.

Innovation is a good thing. Unless it becomes a craze that makes you sick.

Pollan points out that whole soy is a good thing, but soy has become the must-have ingredient that colors much of our diets with things like “soy protein isolate.” Now, concerns are rising that soy taken as less than a whole food, and in large quantities, might have health risks. Wikipedia’s article on soy includes a few of the benefits and risks of soy.

In short, approach modified foods with caution.

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