“If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Eat It”

by Dec 26, 2015Healthy Lifestyle, Nutrition

Top 5 Nutrition Arguments You’ll Have this Christmas


I think in many cases the people who put this type of argument forward are well natured, and often, they are just looking for a way to simplify the decision making process when it comes to food choices.


Perhaps though, you’ll agree, this particular argument is simplifying a lil’ too much…


Should our grasp on linguistics be the master regulator of what goes into our mouth?


When I first came across this argument I questioned whether this was a way to limit the diets of those who haven’t yet mastered language, and preserve the good stuff for the skilled grammarians of this world. However, reading on and discovering blogs like “The Food Babe” I realised that this argument is not about limiting those with less than perfect speech but instead, to prevent us from eating “chemicals”


Firstly, all food is chemicals. Here are a few you may have eaten yesterday:


Oleic acid– a fatty acid found in goose fat

Tryptophan– an amino acid found in turkey meat

Ascorbic acid or vitamin C– if you had a little mulled wine or bucks fizz.



Now, at this stage I would like to first point out that there are undoubtedly people better placed to discuss the structure of chemical compounds than I am, and as an exercise scientist I am to science what Jonny Vegas is to comedy. There were not many people in Baikonur space station asking “What would Spence do before sending Tim Peake into space” That said, even I can grasp this one.




Now scientists who discover new compounds do a massive amount for us all, but the naming of new compounds is rarely a process of trying to find something catchy that we can all remember. Usually they take the metal element , combine it with the non metal element and add a prefix that’s relevant to the number of atoms. Here is a chart showing the prefixes you might expect to find.

Chemical names



Recently I read about a number of followers of the food babe who were outraged to find “Dihydrogen Monoxide” listed in the ingredients of a food they had eaten. The question is not what it’s doing there but why the food labellers chose to list it in this way in a place that should be consumer friendly.


This is one you would have consumed a fair bit of over the years.


So yes you got it, two hydrogen’s, one oxygen …H2O… OR “WATER”


Sure there are some less than ethical suppliers out there, but lets not fall into the trap of over simplifying things and then creating conspiracy theories about why companies are adding water to our foods.



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