There needs to be more holistic thinking in the discussion about food and health. Instead of considering the wholeness of a particular food, people often focus on partial aspects.
Their conclusions then become misleading after analyzing the individual nutrients separately instead of understanding them as a natural combination that influences many body processes far beyond the effects of individual nutrients.
With a comprehensive, holistic approach, nutrition science can promote a better understanding of the complexity of what happens in the body after eating a specific food.
Looking at both the pros and cons of a food or a nutrition theory also helps to get a true impression. This overview of the positive and negative aspects allows a better assessment of the extent to which a particular food has a beneficial effect on health or not, and whether it should be eaten regularly.
Professor T. Colin Campbell, known for his bestseller The China Study, rejects in another book, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, the narrow focus of nutrition researchers in their approach to the study of phyto-nutrients. Professor Campbell calls this limited view reductionist.
A brief look at the media reports confirms his claim. The following are examples of a faulty, one-sided conclusion: bananas are good because they contain a lot of potassium (but also a lot of harmful sugar). Green tea is good because it contains a lot of antioxidants (but also nerve-poisoning caffeine).
Example: potatoes as seen from a macrobiotic point of view
The macrobiotic way of thinking goes beyond the incomplete, reductionist view and is truly holistic. A key principle of macrobiotics is the realization that everything has a "front" and a "back,” that is both advantages and disadvantages.
One can only understand something fully by taking both into account. The potato is a good example.
Fans of the potato often quote the alleged advantages, namely (rich in potassium and alkalizing), but what could be the disadvantages?
First of all, the potato is a nightshade plant, and one that most people like to eat often. The nightshade plants contain toxic, protective anti-nutrients, solanin and chakonin, which block the action of the enzyme cholinesterase and weaken the function of the nervous system.
Secondly, the dark side of the potato does not end there. The potato is a fiberless carbohydrate (with some fiber in the solanine-laden peel). Potato carbohydrates quickly turn into glucose and cause fluctuations in blood sugar, as do sugar and other highly refined carbohydrates.
Third, the potato contains calcitriol, which acts like a powerful vitamin D and leads to excess calcium absorption to widespread calcification of the body.
Tomatoes as seen from a macrobiotic perspective
The same macrobiotic approach applies to both the front and the back of the tomato. Who doesn't know about the "legendary" lycopene, the antioxidant in tomatoes that is said to protect against prostate cancer?
The widespread myth of the cancer-fighting tomato continues, even though there is no scientific research to prove this claim.
The flip side of the tomato begins with the fact that it also belongs to the nightshade family. The tomato contains the anti-nutrient solanine (also called tomatine).
By the way, tobacco is also a nightshade plant with a well-known relative of solanine, namely nicotine.
Another important drawback of the tomato is genetic modification, which is done on a large scale similar to the other common GMOs, rapeseed (canola) and soybeans.
Another flaw with the tomato is its potential to cause allergies. The tomato is indeed among the worst allergy triggers, together with cow milk and wheat.
The consumption of tomatoes also increases the risk of arthritis and stomach problems. Arthritis is the most common illness in the world of today.
Whether the issue is the tomato or any other food, the holistic view helps to get a clear answer to the question about whether the food is truly beneficial or not.