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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

(p.71) Five Beyond Nutrients
The Nature of Nutrition

Stephen J. Simpson

David Raubenheimer

Princeton University Press

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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