Eating well and understanding the nuances of food has become a complicated and often confusing experience. Virtually every day brings news about some “miracle food” that we should be consuming or some “poison” we should be avoiding. One day it’s tomatoes to prevent cancer, then flaxseed against heart disease or soybeans for menopause. At the same time, we are warned about trans fats, genetically modified foods, aspartame and MSG. Dietary supplements are often touted as the key to health or a factor in morbidity. According to some, dairy products are indispensable while others urge us to avoid them. The same goes for meat, wheat and soy; the list goes on.
This course will shed light on the molecules that constitute our macro and micronutrients and will attempt to clarify a number of the food issues using the most relevant, up-to-date science available. Other topics to be presented will include the diet-cancer relationship, the link between diet and cardiovascular disease, food-borne illnesses, food additives and weight control.
The foundations of a healthy diet
How to assess claims about food related research in the news
Some of the issues around food production and health
Hide Course Syllabus
Week 1: Introduction
This introductory week covers topics such as the link between food and health, historical views of food, functional foods, food movements, and the history of the natural food business. Think of this week as a taste of what is to come in Food for Thought.
Week 2: Micronutrients – Vitamins
This week takes a comprehensive look at vitamins. Topics to be discussed include deficiency diseases, recommended daily allowances and food sources for vitamins as well as the use of high doses of individual vitamins to treat diseases.
Week 3: Micronutrients – Minerals
Following an introduction/review of the periodic table and chemical form of minerals, you will be presented a selection of minerals that are important in the human diet with a key focus on calcium and osteoporosis.
Week 4: Macronutrients
How does the body breakdown carbohydrates? What are the different types of fats? Why are some amino acids essential? These questions will be answered this week. Plus, there is a lesson devoted to the topic of sugar and the issues surrounding high fructose corn syrup.
Week 5: Agriculture
This week you will learn how farming has changed from the discovery of the key ingredients for fertilizer in the 1800’s to the introduction of genetically modified crops in the 1990’s.
Week 6: Food Additives
What chemicals are added to preserve food and extend its shelf life? What ingredients are added to enhance the taste and look of food? This week you will explore the world of food additives. You will also have an opportunity to look at the evolution of sugar substitutes from saccharin to stevia.
Week 7: Adverse Food Reactions
This week deals with the subject of adverse food reactions touching on topics such as different types of toxins, body chemistry issues such as food allergies and microbial contamination that results in food poisoning.
Week 8: Weight Control
This week focuses on the science and non-science behind weight control, especially as it relates to the developed countries where obesity is rapidly becoming an epidemic, along with diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Week 9: Diet & Disease
This week you will learn about the risk factors for cancer and heart disease, as well as how diet and lifestyle play a key role in their development and prevention. The course wraps up with a look at the science and “non-science” of eating nutritious food.
David N. Harpp