#518: Nutritional Geometry, Philosophy of Science & A Case for Reductionism – Prof. David Raubenheimer & Jonathan Sholl, PhD

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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Guest Information
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    • Detailed Study Notes
    • Transcript


There has been much debate about the role of nutritional reductionism in research. This approach generally aims to study diet’s effects by breaking down the intricate web of dietary factors into smaller, more manageable components. But critics have asked does this approach truly capture the full picture of nutrition’s influence on our well-being?

In an attempt to help answer research questions there has been a proposal for the use of “nutritional geometry”, a framework that delves into the multidimensional relationships between nutrients and their effects on organisms. Within this framework, the protein leverage hypothesis emerges, proposing that our bodies prioritize protein intake and adjust food consumption accordingly. But how does this theory fit into the broader spectrum of nutrition science, and what implications does it hold for understanding and managing our diets?

Additionally, as aim to do better nutrition research, we are met with philosophical questions that challenge traditional reductionist views. Is it enough to simply dissect foods into their nutrient components, or do we need a more holistic understanding of dietary patterns and their impact on health?

In this episode, Prof. David Raubenheimer and Dr. Jonathan Sholl discuss the need to have an approach where science meets philosophy, and where reductionism meets synthesis. And we dive into ideas they have proposed that make a defense of some aspects of reductionism.


Professor David Raubenheimer

Professor David Raubenheimer is a Professor of Nutritional Ecology at Uni of Sydney. David is a leading expert in nutritional ecology: the discipline that studies how nutrition-related aspects of an animal’s environment interact with its biology to determine health and fitness outcomes. His approach is comparative, using ecological and evolutionary diversity to understand these interactions. Professor Raubenheimer is well known for, among other things, his conception of the Protein Leverage Hypothesis with Prof. Stephen Simpson.

Jonathan Sholl, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Sholl is an Associate Professor in Conceptual Biology & Medicine at Université de Bordeaux. His work has focused largely on the philosophy of health and the life sciences. Recently he has been developing a philosophy of/in nutrition science, largely exploring the field of nutritional ecology and questions surrounding dietary balance, reductionism, and integrative explanations.

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