Do Doctors Need to be Taking Nutrition Courses?

Once in a while someone will come along having watched some sort of health documentary asking if its true that doctors don’t learn about nutrition in medical school. If not, they take it as a fact that medical schools are not particularly interested in nutrition or even worse are aligned with Big Pharma to push drugs.

Nutrition is Simple

I guess maybe I’m a little annoyed about the assumption that doctors don’t know much about nutrition. I assure you, it’s not that doctors don’t know enough to provide solid nutritional advice.

I’m not saying that there is not a use for more nutrition courses but does anyone seriously think the health of our population would improve if only doctors took more courses on nutrition? Here’s the truth. Nutritional advice is simple. I’m going to shorten Michael Pollen’s famously short advice to make it even easier. He said “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. But the most important part of that is: Eat food.

Food vs “Food”

In contrast when “food” contains additives, chemicals, and requires significant processing to alter its state, our bodies are often unable to properly metabolize it. Today you’ll hear a lot of conflicting advice about the best diet: keto, paleo, vegan, Mediterranean, DASH, etc. There are finer points to be made here and I do not think these are all equal (for the record, I largely agree with Pollan), but I can tell you that there is a significant overlap among these various diets. Namely, they all advise against consuming highly processed foods. Just stick with “eat food” and you’ll get a good majority of it right. The rest is fine tuning.

Take your Medicine and “Let Food be thy Medicine”


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