Taxonomy of Diet and Nutrition

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.


Nutrition is a science, or at least it should be: nutrition science. Traditional nutrition, that “accepted” nutrition is really a patchwork of historical accidents. The discoveries of vitamin C and B1 were accidents (scurvy and beriberi respectively). amd [protein was thought an essential nutrient mostly because it was identified first, purely by historical accident. In our own time, Covid has taught us that we needed vitamin D3 in higher levels than was thought before. My habit already was 2,000 IU daily, and a week or two of 5,000 daily at any sign of respiratory challenge, and that’s what I did when Covid came calling (plus a few other supplements). Apparently with good results since I am here to tell the tale, but we don’t know what would happen without it, for you cannot test the alternative case. That is what statistics are for, and that is where the science comes in. By myself alone, I cannot test the alternative, but if you can compare whole groups of people it becomes easier, so the lessons were that adequate levels of D3 are in the 30-60 ng/l range – mine were 44 at my latest physical.

However, as you can see from these examples, nutrition cannot come from these accidental discoveries of one nutrient at a time. That is haphazard, inefficient, and not scientific, it means looking at the trees, and losing sight of the forest. The alternative is more of a systems view of nutrition as a whole, even following the daily recommended doses of all thinkable nutrients will never get us there. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. is a nutritional biochemist who worked his whole life on exactly that after some early experiences tipped him off that animal protein, which he assumed were a very effective nutrient, was actually stimulating tumor growth, instead of helping damaged cells heal. He had grown up on a dairy farm, and had studied traditional nutrition, but the facts on the ground showed him something he did not expect. Plant-proteins were actually more effective at allowing the body to heal itself than. Eventually, a life time of nutritional research was turned into a popular book, The China Study, published in 2007, and later he published several more books, the the most important one probably being The Future of Nutrition. His holistic approach, Whole Foods, Plant-based nutrition is essentially very simple:

  • Whole foods, not refined foods ( i.e. no refined sugar, no expelled oils, brown rice and whole grains in general)
  • Minimize processing, cutting and cooking are fine, but every form of refined food looses nutrients and should be avoided.
  • 80% of calories from unrefined carbohydrates, 10% from naturally occurring oils and fats, and 10% from plant-based proteins.
  • In general, variety is the name of the game: eat the colors of the rainbow.
  • D3 and B12 are hard to obtain from food and may need supplementation.

As a side benefit, it is a lot easier to keep your kitchen clean once you learn to cook without oil!

The Diet Way

By comparison the diet way is subject to a thousand fads, for there is always some other wild theory about an ingredient you need more of or don’t need at all and so on en the stories change all the time. Besides pure fads, there is also the factor of ethical concerns:

  • Vegetarianism is largely based on religious ethics (examples Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and some Christian sects such as the Seventh Day Adventists.
  • Veganism is largely based on secular ethics (animal welfare, planetary welfare)
  • Endless variations on various fad ideas, such has the low carb/high fat diet, such as Atkins, Paleo, Keto and other similar programs.
  • Many diets are also based on someone’s unproven hypothesis, such as Dr. D’Amato’s Eat right for your type, or the Diamond type diet.

The pattern of avoiding certain ingredients or maxing out on others has an underlying assumption that the traditional nutritional model is right, when it is nothing more than a set of historical assumptions modified every time somebody produces some research on one or a few nutrients, and it always results in new fads, but never questions the underlying model. By contrast, the whole foods, plant-based diet is based on a lifetime’s worth of peer reviewed research by T. Colin Campbell, Ph. (Nutritional Biochemistry), and it has been adopted by various medical groups, e.g. Midland County, Texas, State hospitals in NY and CA, Kaiser Permanente, and a growing list of others. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is training hundreds of doctors each year.

I have knowledge of hundreds of cases that have done jumpstart programs based on the model of Plant Pure Communities, as documented by the movies Plant Pure Nation, and From Food to Freedom. There are real breakthroughs in every group and a general patterns of 20% improvement in most biological markers. Type 2 Diabetics can often get off insulin completely in three weeks to three months. On and on.

If you stay within the guidelines above, and eat more or less the colors of the rainbow. you mostly cannot go wrong. If you want to keep track of your progress, nothing could be easier than the 4-leaf survey. You can rate yourself on a daily or monthly basis, and see exactly what you should change to stay on track. It has worked for me for seven years so far, and I am not stopping now.

This year, I changed doctors, and when I came in to discuss the results of my physical, instead of them telling me what to change, they were asking me how I did it. The end result is, I am teaching a class on #WFPB nutrition and cooking skills there this month.