Recently, the NY Times featured the article "Unhappy Meals", written by Michael Pollan, a professor of journalism at UC Berkeley and author of the book The Omnivore's Dilemma (has anyone read this yet?). It's a pretty interesting piece on the idea of "nutritionism" and how it's taken over our country and molded the way we perceive food--as reduced components of fiber/vitamins/etc that we ingest to cater to specific health advantages. In this notion of eating processed foods with engineered "benefits", we fail to eat just natural foods with no flashy labels touting their health boons. The article points out that studies of diet and health are often flawed in their nature since scientists are forced to study individual components of a food and track their effects when in reality, one component simply cannot paint a full picture of the complex processes inside our bodies. Hence, purported positive consequences of a certain chemical may not perform in reality as claimed by studies. Another interesting point is that large studies of diet habits are sometimes performed via questionnaires, which inevitably risk the chance of people lying their asses off. The thought that a large-scale, biological research effort can derive its results solely from surveys is pretty disconcerting.
So what is the solution to our reliancy on processed foods? The articles suggests eating lots of vegetables and foods in their natural form. The more a food product claims to be healthy, the more doubtful one should be of its validity.
I highly recommend at least reading part of the article for yourself (since it is a bit long). Meanwhile, all this mention of whole foods and returning to nature leads me to think that if I want to extend my life, I should probably just live in a bed of vegetation and also eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Post-graduation trip to the Amazon rainforest, anyone?