Today, everyone is interested in what has on the plate, but there are few who know more than the name of what they eat. In this series of articles, drawn from a new magazine published by the EUFIC, we explain the basic concepts of nutrition and provide a perspective on current problems of nutrition. This first article examines the key parameters of the food. Chronic future will explain the importance of major groups of nutrients and propose an analysis of anemia, among other issues. The series will conclude with dietary recommendations for a longer and healthier life.
Nutrition is the science that analyzes food in relation to health. From the clinical observation of disease due to food shortages, such as scurvy (lack of vitamin C), nutrition has evolved into more complex issues: heart problems, diabetes and osteoporosis. Today, this science focuses on a new definition of health as "disease prevention", in which food plays a major role.
What to eat?
The food industry does not obey the same laws as other industries. It is governed not by technology but by human factors: what people want to eat? However, most people do not know whether to say a certain food is good or bad for health.
To clarify things, we must keep in mind three fundamental rules of nutrition. First, it is difficult to study the effects of food on the complex organic systems of the human body. Second, that most of the consequences of a particular diet is manifest after a long time, over a period longer than that lasts most of the studies. This implies that the results must be extrapolated over a lifetime, which implies a greater risk of error. Finally, many of the so-called 'western diseases' are so complex that you cannot blame a single cause and no single remedy.
Getting the message
The confusion also stems from poor communication between scientists and the public, as illustrated by the next scheme. Therefore, one objective of this newsletter is to help fill these gaps, helping the media, opinion leaders, educational authorities, consumer associations and through them the public, better understand the progress of research dietetics.
No need for further study of the diet, there are a few simple rules that can help us decide whether to change our eating habits in front of a new 'discovery' on nutrition. The most important thing is to check the facts and not draw hasty conclusions. Before changing the eating habits of a lifetime, it is preferable to wait for confirmation of reports or opinions, and listen to experts from different scientific fields.