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Nutrition Science Review by Jennifer Harrison

John and Jan Walsh
International Learning Solutions
2905 Gill Street
Bloomington IL 61704

We all know raisins are dried grapes, but did you know the raisin industry began in California in the 1870s after a heat wave dried the grape crop on the vine? Did you know it takes eight cups of fresh grapes to make one cup of raisins? I had no idea until I read Nutrition Science, a wonderful nutrition course that combines well-researched practical science with interesting insights. The bulk of the content is centered on teaching students the components of a healthy diet and healthy living. Yet for something so informative, it is easily understandable--even to students in the middle-school age range. Nutrition Science has been an enlightening health program for my family.

The course is composed of six individual units and two answer keys. These Bible-based units offer optional memory verses, projects, and recipes right up front before delving into reading sections. Readings are followed up with fill-in-the-blank reviews, quizzes, and tests. My family went through the course together and chose not to use the testing. Instead, we had many interesting conversations about the material we read. Each unit can take between 2 and 4 weeks to complete. At an average of 3 weeks per unit, students will complete the course in 18 weeks, giving them a 1/2 credit in science, health, or home economics. These units are very reasonably priced at only $2.95 per book or $23.60 for the set (including the answer keys.)

In Unit 1, students are introduced to what a balanced diet looks like. This unit also provides a form in the back for students to begin charting what they eat. Students are taught what types of foods their bodies need and why. This unit even walks students through the need for reading food labels.

Unit 2 explains the body's need for water, discusses how to avoid chlorinated water, and gives tips to help you drink more water daily. The section on fat explains the benefits of fat and explains the different kinds of fat and their sources. I was disappointed to see a warning to avoid coconut oil in this section since modern research has shown it to be quite healthy. It is still a controversial subject, so we discussed it before moving on in the book. This unit also contains lessons on cholesterol, energy, and fiber.

Unit 3 is dedicated to carbohydrates. It begins with complex carbohydrates and describes different forms of grains and the interesting tale of how they are processed. Starches, their sources, and their effects on the body make up another section of Unit 3. The section on simple carbohydrates discusses sugars and how to healthfully enjoy them as God intended.

Unit 4 tackles the topic of protein--why we need it, how much we need, and where it can be found. I had no idea how much protein is in vegetables, legumes, and grain. This unit also explains how to combine different foods to achieve a complete protein.

Unit 5 teaches about vitamins and minerals. It begins with riveting descriptions of deficiency diseases. My boys love a good discussion on scurvy, and this unit definitely held their attention. Unit 5 explains the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins, discusses macro minerals and trace minerals, tells what they are and why we need them, and explains how to incorporate that knowledge into daily habits.

Unit 6 describes specific vegetables and fruits, some of which I had never heard of. My mouth was watering by the end of this reading. This unit really helps one appreciate the delicious and healthy options God has provided for us. The section on weight control shares practical advice on eating and exercising. I very much appreciate the section on body image, which reminds us to look at ourselves through the eyes of God. The entire series did an incredible job of turning everything back to the glory of God, with many appropriate Bible verses throughout.

I have been studying nutrition out of curiosity for several years now, yet I still found this series fascinating. My 9 and 12-year-old sons found it very interesting as well. It delighted me to see them taking interest in the foods we eat for reasons beyond "because mom said so." They have even been excited about tracking their food and water intake using the chart provided in the back of Unit 1. Pursuing healthy eating is much easier now when everyone participates in achieving the same goal.

Product review by Jennifer Harrison, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2010