A number of reports show that animals have the ability to select foods based on their micronutrient composition. A team of international researchers wanted to find out if humans also have this ability. In response to this challenge, researchers developed an approach that derives evidence from patterns of choices across a range of food images.
The new report harkens back to controversial research carried out in the 1930s by pediatrician Dr. Clara Davis, who devised an experiment based on the hypothesis that children’s bodies instinctively “knew best.” Davis put 15 babies on a self-selecting diet which allowed the babies to eat whatever they wanted. The babies had a choice of 33 food items and while no child ate the same combination, they all maintained a good state of health, which Davis took as evidence of “nutritional wisdom.”
According to researcher Stephen Strauss, “Davis convinced unmarried teenage mothers and widows who could no longer support their families to place their infants in what amounted to an eating-experiment orphanage set up in Chicago.
“An eventual total of 15 children participated; the 2 boys who were studied the longest were followed over a 4 1/2-year period: that is to say, the amount of every single thing eaten or spilled at every single meal over the first 4 1/2 years of their eating life was assiduously recorded. To this was added records of changes in height and weight, the nature of bowel movements, and regular bone radiographs and blood tests. Davis reported that the experiment had generated somewhere between 36,000 and 37,500 (she was inconsistent on the figure) daily food records.”