Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

A Remarkable Title for What is No Doubt a Remarkable Book

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Not a good sign when the title of your book contains both a meaningless pseudo-modifier term “deep”, and implies that your genes somehow “need” a certain type of food. “Deep” means next to nothing when used as a fake word in the technology sphere from which it comes, when used in a totally different field its lack of meaning becomes so pronounced as to make meaningless the most meaningful thing one could say about it. Moreover, your genes do not need you to eat any certain type of food. If they can be said to “need” anything, it is only that you be alive and procreate so they may be passed on. The influence of any particular diet on the expression of any particular gene or genes has not been demonstrated. In fact, it is behavioral and environmental/socio-economic factors which play a much larger role in how any given diet might impact a person’s overall health. Things such as regular exercise, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, where a person lives, their income, etc. The effects of these factors is so great as to completely swamp out any effect(s) a gene or genes might play (which, to be clear, is so far proven to be none for the vast majority of people).

What we have here is another case of what I call the DNA determinism cash in. This is when a doctor or scientist (in this case both) writes a book claiming that DNA is responsible for X, where X is a thing which is very important to many people. Preferably it is extra important to rich people. Examples include such things as weight, physical health, mental health, relationships, sex, intelligence, etc. They are typically light on reference citations but heavy on anecdote and conjecture. The studies that are cited are poorly designed and/or do not support the argument being made. When legitimate articles are cited that do support the argument being made, the fifty other articles that refute it are ignored or glossed over. I have not read Dr. Shanahan’s book, nor do I intend to, and it could be all my criticisms here completely miss the mark. However, with a title that has as many problem’s as the one she chose I can’t even imagine the disaster that awaits inside.

Written by

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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