Including “key” nutrients is perceived as healthier than eating food

Key Nutrients

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I admit, nutritionism is one of my workhorses. This current can also be called nutrient-centrism , an expression that makes the underlying ideology more clear. I mentioned it more or less detailed almost 3 years ago in this post and far from weakening it goes more. I spoke again about the subject after a time when the father of the term nutritionism , Gyorgy Scrinis , published a book in which he addressed its implications monographically. And as I say, every day I see more consumers victims of the fever caused by this ideology. Look how things should be that although slowly, they are beginning to make studies about it. The last, quite recent, highlights that the population attributes isolated nutrients (and not so much to the food that could contain them) a protective factor against chronic diseases .



Before continuing, and for all those who are not up to date I think it is necessary to provide a minimum description of what is meant by nutritionism . In fact it is something very easy to understand, it would be to rest in isolated nutrients general virtues on health independently of the dietary (or supplementary) matrix in which they are included. Its practice would be highlighted in those people who, for example, decide to take a folic acid supplement instead of including in their daily minutes enough foods of vegetable origin that will surely include this vitamin. Or, when a milk drink enriched with omega three is consumed instead of consuming fish in the diet with the appropriate frequency. If every day nutritionism is more fashionable … or if it conditions the behavior of consumers, it is quite evident when we take a walk through the aisles of a supermarket, or when we see advertisements for food products and supplements on television. The truth is that there is an infinite supply of this type of products enriched in whatever . And if that supply that is infinite has been occurring for at least a long decade, it is because the demand, sadly, is also infinite .

This has been highlighted as I said a recent study: Nutrient-centrism and perceived risk of chronic disease ( The nutrient-centrism and the perception of risk of chronic diseases ). In him, 114 students of psychology have been object of study and it was contrasted that for them the description of a diet in terms of nutrients (to mention the nutrients that contained a given diet) was perceived as a more beneficial element for the risk reduction of to suffer certain diseases (diabetes, cardiac pathologies, etc.) that when the same diet was described mentioning the “natural” foods that made it up. I think it’s pretty clear, but I’ll give an example.

In the same way that saying that our pipes are full of dihydrogen monoxide can have negative connotations for many people (although it is the same as saying that our pipes are full of water); in this study it was highlighted that for this sample the saying that someone follows a diet high in magnesium has more protective virtues than if you tell him that what he has is a diet high in spinach … That is, galloping nutritionism.

Which, in addition to being an error, is a major danger since for many years the food industry is bombarding us with allegedly healthy allegations (mentioning these nutrients) in products with a frankly harmful nutritional profile . In this way, not a few consumers prefer (because they perceive it as better) the salutary claims that may include the advertising of some frankfurter sausages “rich in protein and phosphorus”, than the nondescript appearance of a water-washed egg … which, it is not for nothing and from the most strict nutritional point of view, it gives enough turns to the aforementioned sausages.