As I mentioned in Looking at Positives While Being Unemployed, my health has been improving since I got let go from my previous job. I knew that the one of the reasons for this improvement had to be with the change in diet that I went through. I eat more vegetables and fruits. I cook more (and I do more of them from scratch), all because I now actually have the time and energy to devote.
But what I didn't know for sure was exactly what part of this change was doing me good. I mean, I had always been conscious about what to eat. I read books like Foods That Harm Foods That Heal, and made sure that I was taking supplements. If I didn't have foods that contained, say, enough calcium, I'd take calcium supplement.
In Defense of Food demystified this for me. I guess the theory behind it - whole foods are better for you than processed foods - isn't anything new, but the details that Micheal Pollan provides in this book make it clearer why processed foods will never be competition to whole foods. He shows how following nutritionism doesn't work and how western diet (product of nutritionism) is doing some damage to us.
Nutritional science is based only on what they can measure: the nutrition has to be known and measurable. There are probably many unknown micro nutrients that simply aren't considered. In addition, nutritional science tend to focus on one nutrient at a time, rather than looking at synergy among multiple nutrients. Any food created based on this nutritionism approach would be ignoring these facts. Processed foods, with some nutrients added or subtracted, therefore, won't provide same benefits as whole foods.
There is a theory (yet proven) that a body that's starved of critical nutrients will keep eating in the hope of obtaining them, counteracting the normal feeling of satiety after sufficient calories are eaten (they suspect that this may be a factor contributing to obese). I find it very interesting because I used to feel this a lot - wanting to eat something else when I'm already full -and wondered why.
Western diet is made largely out of those processed foods. And apparently there are many studies indicating that those who are used to eating own cultural/traditional diet become unhealthy as soon as they incorporate western diet. Similarly, there are studies where going back to traditional diet reverted people back to healthier state.
I can relate to this, too, as I had always experienced a temporary improvement of my health whenever I went back to Japan and ate our traditional foods for a period of time. Nutritionally speaking (as far as ones that are known), the difference couldn't have been that big for me, but nevertheless it worked every time. I now know why.
The book gives a lot more detail, plus suggestion as to what to actually do in an attempt to leave that nutritionism approach and western diet. Why not try since we have the time?