Whole Food Nutrition Versus Supplementation and the Reductionist Approach

A few weeks ago, I posted a (long) article called “Are You Getting the Nutrients You Need from Your Plant-Based Diet?“, written with my friend and book co-author, Matt Ruscigno, R.D.

It was a fun post to put together (especially the infographic, which I think is pretty handy), and I learned a lot in the process, as I always do when I work with Matt.

But a few of the comments in response to that post, along with T. Colin Campbell’s new book, Whole, left me with a nagging question:

Should we even bother worrying about individual nutrients, or is it enough to say “eat whole plant foods” and be done with it?

It’s a tough one — Campbell’s book makes a compelling argument that the only reason individual nutrients like iron, omega 3’s, all the letter vitamins, and even protein are in common parlance is the green stuff … and I mean money, not kale. “Eat whole foods” doesn’t sell magazines, pills, doctor visits, or surgeries; reductionist approaches to health do.

And yet on the other hand, those of us who eat plant-based are choosing a diet that’s very different from the norm in our society. Do we have a responsibility (to ourselves, our kids, the people to whom we recommend this diet) to know that we are, in fact, getting everything we’re “supposed” to?

To dive deeper into this issue, we sat down with Matt Ruscigno for Episode 14 of the NMA podcast — you might remember Matt, by the way, from his articles on protein and iron on No Meat Athlete.

In addition to being a vegan nutritionist, Matt’s an accomplished endurance athlete with a top-10 finish at the Furnace Creek 508, a 508-mile solo bike race through Death Valley and the cycling equivalent of the notorious Badwater Ultramarathon. Following our discussion of whole foods versus reductionism, we talk about that event and discuss some new details about the progress of the No Meat Athlete book and tour (lots more info coming very soon), in this laid-back episode of the podcast.

Enjoy!

Click the button below to listen now:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Or:

As always, please leave us a rating and review on iTunes if you like the show, so that we know to keep ‘em coming!

Here’s what we talk about in this episode:

  • Focusing on whole plant-based foods or supplements for vegans and vegan athletes (4:00)
  • The B12 discussion (7:00)
  • Do mega-doses of vitamins hurt more than they help? (22:00)
  • Matt Ruscigno’s experience as an endurance cyclist (28:00)
  • Occasional junk food isn’t going to kill you (33:00)
  • Progress with the No Meat Athlete book (42:30)

Links from the show:

Books we discussed:

Thanks for listening!

3 Comments

 


Dig this post?
Spread the word!

Keep in touch:

How to Stop Sleepwalking Through Life



3DIf you're tired of watching from the sidelines as others get the results you want, then Wake Up -- a 31-day, action-oriented program designed to help you change your mindset and your results, in any area of life that you choose -- was written for you. In the course of 31 action-packed and inspired days, you'll:
  • Decide what must change and what you will no longer tolerate
  • Set massive, “unrealistic” and obsession-worthy goals (and understand why they’re the ones you’re most likely to achieve)
  • Install the habits to ensure you follow through on your plans
  • Figure out where your time is going, using the 80/20 principle
  • Break through the procrastination that holds you back
... and much, much more. Click here to learn more about Wake Up.

Comments

  1. Good points I think.
    I take Michael Pollan’s point that you can’t take the nutrient from the food, the food from the diet or the diet from the lifestyle. I think it is best to get the nutrients we need from real food which is the way our bodies are designed to use them. We just don’t know enough about the way supplements effect us and there have been trials in which patients were given supplements only to find they actually got worse and the trials had to be abandoned.
    The only exception I make is B12 which simply isn’t available in whole vegan foods unless added as a supplement anyway. Some of my thoughts about it are here http://herbifit.com/2012/08/24/or-how-i-learnt-to-stop-worrying-and-love-b12/

    Mark

  2. I’ve been an NMA reader for quite some time and am running my first ultra, a 50 miler, on Saturday. Just wanted to say thanks to Matt and the rest of the NMA contributors for all the training tips, amazing recipes and motivation that have helped me through the last six months of training. I look forward to listening to this podcast on Friday during the long drive to the race. Keep up the great work!

Leave a Comment

*