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What Does What You Eat Eat?

Updated: Oct 16, 2021

"You are what you eat eats."

- Michael Pollan

This quote by Michael Pollan goes a bit further than the previous quote we had by Brillat-Savarin which essentially says that we are what we eat.

But first, who is Michael Pollan?

Michael Pollan is an American author, activist and journalist who focuses mostly on health, nature and the environment. Six of his eight books have been on the New York Times Best Seller list. Three were immediately at the #1 spot.

If you’re a health enthusiast like me, you may be familiar with some of his books: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules, Botany of Desire, In Defense of Food, Cooked, and his latest, How To Change Your Mind. His next book, This is Your Mind on Plants is set to release this year.

Documentaries have been made based on his books. Also, he was a consultant in the Oscar-nominated documentary, Food, Inc.

From his years of work in the health field, he has acquired quite a bit of wisdom when it comes to food, health and eating. I’ve shared on social media a few of his nuggets of health wisdom such as the following:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant (i.e., a factory), don’t.”

Very practical and easy to remember, right?

Basically, Pollan is saying that not only are we what we eat (which in essence is what Brillat-Savarin was saying when he said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.”), but that we should also be aware of the quality of food that our food has taken in.

There is an increasing awareness when it comes to health. More and more of us are now more mindful of making healthy food choices. We are becoming more aware of what we are putting inside our body. But have you ever thought about what you're eating ate or absorbed?

If you eat meat, think whether the animal has been fed pesticide-laden and/or GMO feed or if it was fed a diet it would have eaten if it had lived in the wild—for example, grass for cows, worms and bugs for chickens. Has it been pumped with antibiotics and synthetic hormones, as in the case of dairy cows who are given rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) to stimulate higher yields of milk production?

For produce, are your romaine lettuce and tomatoes organically grown or were they conventionally grown with pesticides? Is the corn you’re eating genetically modified?

These are questions we need to consider when buying our food because the unnatural and undesirable things that go into our food, whether vegetables or meat, will also go into our bodies and affect our health.

For example: According to the American Cancer Society, dairy cows given rBGH are given more antibiotics because of their tendency to develop more udder infections. When you drink this milk, this higher load of antibiotics can get passed on to you and interfere with the balance of the bacteria (the microbiome) in your digestive system. This, in turn, can lead to some undesirable health conditions as it has now been proven that the state of your microbiome is a major factor in immune health.

Another concern that the American Cancer Society has mentioned is that some studies have shown that rBGH might cause the formation of tumors, though more studies need to be done. The mechanism that this might happen is like this: rBGH causes an increased production of another hormone called IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor). This increase could lead to tumor formation. Again, as I said earlier, the studies have shown a 10% increase in IGF-1 in adults who drink cow’s milk BUT the causation is inconclusive and needs further studies.

So, these are just some food for thought in relation to what Michael Pollan says.

How about you? What are your thoughts on this quote? Let me know in the comments below.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


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