Tag Archives: nutrition


Science-based dietary recommendations: How much do we really know?

The authors of a key, highly-cited (close to 900 times) paper on bioactive compounds [1], report that numerous bioactive compounds discovered in fruit and vegetables appear to have positive effect on health:

Bioactive compounds are extranutritional constituents that typically occur in small quantities in foods. They are being intensively studied to evaluate their effects on health. The impetus sparking this scientific inquiry was the result of many epidemiologic studies that have shown protective effects of plant-based diets on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. Many bioactive compounds have been discovered.”

The authors emphasize that “Much scientific research needs to be conducted before we can begin to make science-based dietary recommendations” and note that the list of bioactive compounds is “ever-expanding“. Nevertheless, they conclude that

On the basis of a large population database, there is sufficient evidence to recommend a diet high in food sources rich in bioactive compounds”.

Interestingly, in another study, reporting the inhibition of colon and breast cancer cell proliferation by fruits and berries [2], we read that there exists “a synergistic effect of vitamin C and other substances” that may play an important role [emphasis mine].

So the compelling questions that emerge are: How many more different compounds and complex synergistic processes that link them exist? What does our lack of knowledge mean, practically speaking, in relation to the desirable concept of ‘sound nutritional advice’? Considering the complexity of the human body, is it possible to fully grasp the complete mechanism of nutrition through the studies performed in artificial laboratory environments?

Notably, the authors of a very recent publication citing [1], which reviews current evidence regarding the relationship between vegetarian eating patterns and cancer risk [3], report that

A vegan diet, aside from its deficit of vitamin B12 activity (readily compensated by supplementation), is typically more micronutrient-dense (per calorie) than the diets favored by omnivores


Fears that a vegan diet may be inadequate in protein quality or quantity are unfounded”.

Importantly, the authors emphasize that

a broad body of evidence links specific plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, plant constituents such as fiber, antioxidants and other phytochemicals, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight to reduced risk of cancer diagnosis and recurrence”.

In conclusion, modern science may only begin to understand the full benefits of plant-based diets. It may take a lot of research to unravel the various pathways that lead to better health through nutrients-rich fresh fruit and veggies. Enough evidence indicates nevertheless that such diets may not only offer superior nutrition, but also reduce the chance of serious diseases through simple and achievable lifestyle choices.

Let us not waste time waiting until science figures it all out.


[1] Kris-Etherton P.M., Hecker K.D., Bonanome A., Coval S.M., Binkoski A.E., Hilpert K.F., Griel A.E., Etherton T.D. Bioactive compounds in foods: Their role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer (2002) American Journal of Medicine, 113 (9 SUPPL. 2)

[2] Olsson M.E., Gustavsson K.-E., Andersson S., Nilsson A., Duan R.-D. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by fruit and berry extracts and correlations with antioxidant levels (2004) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52 (24) , pp. 7264-7271.

[3] Nagarathna Purada Kattimani Matada, Mukumbayi Mulumba Philippe, Raju Koneri. Department of Pharmacology, Karnataka College of Pharmacy, Bangalore, Karnataka, IndiaA Study on Plant Based Dietary Patterns and Cancer Risk (2013) Int. J. Pharm. Sci. Rev. Res., 23(2), Nov – Dec 2013; no 45, 265-278.


Sunlight – a vital nutritive factor in life

“Sunlight is vitally important in the nutritive processes of both plant and animal life. Perhaps we cannot call it a food, but we can, at least, call it an accessory nutritive factor. Its office would seem to be somewhat like, if not identical with that of the vitamins. Take away sunlight and all life upon earth would perish. In the tropics, where the sunlight is most abundant, life exists in greatest profusion. In those portions of the earth where nights are longest and days are shortest, and where long winters prevail, life is either absent altogether or it consists of poorly developed forms.” [1]

“The evidence is clear from animal experiment and human experience that if a child receives an abundance of sunlight it will thrive on almost any kind of diet, whereas, if you deprive it of sunlight, it will not thrive well on the best of diets. Sunlight is one of the most important elements of the natural diet. Every child should have sunlight before birth and after birth. No “just-as-good” substitutes should be used.” [2]

“After due consideration of the influence of light in promoting the development of animals, Trall declared that the exposure of the whole surface of the body to light is favorable to symmetrical development and offered insolation in the open air as a means of preventing and remedying rickets and scrofulous conditions.” [2]

” If sunlight is so necessary to the perpetuation of life, and the production of normal development, it is equally necessary to the preservation of health and the prevention of “disease.” if it is as necessary to life and health as are food and air, the body must inevitably be weakened and “diseased” in its absence. It fills an important need in the organism and its place cannot be filled by anything else. The highest degree of health cannot be attained and maintained without it.” [2]


Extracted from:

Vol. III
First Edition 1934
Third Revised Edition 1950

at the Soil and Health Library

[1] The Use of Sunshine, CHAPTER XL.
[2] Sunshine In Sickness, CHAPTER XLI.