Transcending reductionism in nutrition research

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):514S-516S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/78.3.514S.


The reductionist approach has traditionally been and continues today as the dominant approach in nutrition research. This means that parts of diet rather than the whole, or single food components rather than food habits, are studied. Even though much progress has been made with this approach, the relationship between diet and health is not yet fully understood. With the recognition about the whole being more than the sum of its parts, the limitations on the applicability of the reductionist approach, and the growing knowledge about parts of diet, another epistemological approach, such as holism, and new research strategies, such as transdisciplinarity, are needed to reveal more about the relationship between diet and health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Holistic Health*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Research*