Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker

The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and FlavorThe Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Surprisingly good thesis about the cause of the obesity epidemic. The premise is that human (and animals) recognize and crave the nutrients they need by recognizing the appropriate flavors. So for example, strawberries have countless things we need. Therefore, they taste delicious to us. Many plants also have toxins that we tolerate well in low doses, but once we start to consume too much of the toxins our bodies tell us we're full or we stop desiring to eat that particular plant.

However, in the modern era, healthy foods have been bred for mass production and these foods have become less and less tasty. This is an accurate sign that they are also less nutritious now. We mask the lack of flavor with artificial flavors. Sometimes we add vitamins or minerals to things but it's not in the efficient balance nature provides such as in low-calorie nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, and meats.

So on the one hand, we wrecked the healthy foods- making them less healthy and less tasty. On the other hand, we made delicious unhealthy foods like the book's namesake Doritos. Our instincts tell us tasty = healthy. But now our instinct are wrong. Since our nutritional needs are not properly or completely being met we eat more and more delicious things to fill this nutritional void. But it doesn't work because the tasty things (junk food) don't contain nutrition- in fact, they make us feel worse. Also, they don't contain any of the chemicals or toxins that other foods do that signal our bodies to stop eating.

Most of this is backed up with animal and plant studies, though the author frequently states the need for more research into the science of the link between flavor and nutrition. I especially found this argument interesting because it's a partial rejection of the pure calories theory of weight gain and obesity.

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