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The Nature of NutritionA Unifying Framework from Animal Adaptation to Human Obesity$
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Stephen J. Simpson and David Raubenheimer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691145655

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691145655.001.0001

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Beyond Nutrients

Beyond Nutrients

Chapter:
(p.71) Five Beyond Nutrients
Source:
The Nature of Nutrition
Author(s):

Stephen J. Simpson

David Raubenheimer

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691145655.003.0005

This chapter demonstrates that the conventional categorization of food components into “macronutrient,” “micronutrient,” “toxin,” “medicine,” and so on works well from a distance, but on greater magnification, the boundaries between these categories blur. When viewed through a geometric lens, however, a new structure falls into focus, which emphasizes not the chemical identity of the food component but the target-like perspective of optimal intakes. The chapter structures its argument around three interlinked themes: (1) the distinction between “nutrient” and “toxin” is fuzzy and sometimes imaginary; (2) the phenomenon of “self-medication” in nonhuman animals can involve compounds that are conventionally classified either as nutrients or natural “medicines”; and (3) even when a compelling case can be made for distinguishing a “toxin” from a “nutrient,” the biological impacts of the toxin depend on the levels of nutrients in the food relative to the intake target for those nutrients.

Keywords:   food components, macronutrient, micronutrient, toxin, medicine, intake target, self-medication, natural medicines

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