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Nutritional Geometry Provides Food For Thought – A Conceptual Look At A Professor Steven Simpson’s New Model Of Organism Nutrition

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“Nutritional ecology investigates the interactions between the nutrition of organisms and their environment, linking cellular and individual biology to community and ecosystem scales. Historically, nutritional ecology has primarily emphasized single currencies, such as energy and its trophic transfer though ecosystems;” However, through the exploratory findings of Professor Simpson, a professor within the school of Life and Environmental Science, his development in the multi-nutritional framework, termed ‘the Geometric Framework’ (hereafter GF), better explains the mechanisms underpinning ecosystem dynamics and organism fitness. “Within the last two decades, GF developed in an overarching framework in nutritional ecology and emphasis on organism homeostasis.” GF has effectively established a new way of representing nutrition through multi-dimensional geometric spaces which is observable in both agriculture and human health. The article goes on to considers the potential for this new model of nutrition to drive social and environmental changes within food-markets, whilst also mentioning the negative health consequences of existing simplistic models.

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GF is designed to explain organism-level phenomena, using functionally relevant biochemical currencies, social-organization and food-web structures. GF was developed out of insect nutritional ecology by realizing the need for an integrative framework for nutrition, that addresses how multiple nutrients influences food selection, intake and animal fitness. The emphasis of GF on behavioral ecology has led to Professor Simpson’s themes on the ability of animals to self-regulate under-nutrient deficiency and choose diets that optimize evolutionary fitness. GF suggests strategies that can be quantified by various measures, such as dietary intake and growth targets. These factors have been developed because of an animal’s capacity to make sophisticated nutrient decisions. Professor Simpson goes on to mention that characterizing homeostatic regulations at the individual level can also inform higher order processes, such as behavior driving social interactions in large groups, seen in his work on the behavior of locusts. His inquiry into a new nutritional framework is synonymous with the concept of explaining why current biological knowledge is contestable, which is a criterion in our Molecules to Ecosystems unit. His work also uses effective synthesis of biology through articulate models, similar to our recent study of the ‘Central Dogma of Molecular Biology’. Through these new findings in nutrition, a paradigm shift in the social-interplays that govern nutritional awareness will shape the food industry for the better. As people begin to acknowledge this new multi-disciplinary framework as a means of counteracting health diseases, selective consumer choices, for example eating a more protein saturated diet, will help construct an environment with productive eating habits, thus, promoting healthier lifestyles.

I chose this area of research because of my background in health and fitness, and was immediately fascinated by Professor Simpson’s relatively new examination into an alternative way at looking at nutrition. I am already aware of current mainstream nutritional advice, thus, his detailed insight into a new reflective model based on behavior and physiological mechanisms satiated my intrigued, while also changing my perspective on nutritional concepts. I found it equally interesting when he discussed how animals have a sophisticated ability to know when they are undernourished in certain macro-nutrients profiles and of their capacity to not over-eat, in-contrast to this rather common behavioral trait in humans. My perceptions of what research is about have also been challenged. I had initially believed that research was established through a one-dimensional analysis where deviation from the specific research topics was criticized; However, after watching the video and reading the article, I was surprised how broad and multi-axial this research was, with investigation beginning from insects and basic nutrient maps, to now prompting discussing in human disease and food-market industries. The one thing that was missing from the interview was a look at how GF is implemented into the human diet, but apart from that, a fascinating interview and I will look further into this research in my own time.

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