All too often scientists, health and fitness experts and individuals like you and me forget to look at the big picture. We get excited about a news report on the potential healing action of a nutrient like an anti-oxidant vitamin or other natural substance such as phytoestrogens found in soybeans and revise our lifestyles to incorporate this latest finding into our personal quests for health. More often than not the clearest path to success seems to be to take a pill or potion that has a high concentration of this desired active substance. Or we learn about the destructive action of a specific nutrient such as excess fat or excess iron and pressure our food producers to create processed products with reduced amounts of these substances.

But perhaps we are missing the boat with these strategies. We need to remember that people typically eat a series of meals made up of a mixture of foods (hopefully), not individual nutrients extracted from food or chemically synthesized and provided in pill form. Our bodies, our systems for digestion, absorption and metabolism were designed to utilize nutrients in the amounts and combination provided in food. And foods are made up of hundreds of different health-giving substances that are not in supplements, substances that work better together to deliver their health-giving gifts. In addition, the huge majority of whole plant foods with minimal or no processing are naturally low in fat and salt and are completely devoid of cholesterol. It would seem that there is some wisdom behind the design of the original "packages" for these nutrients.