VoedingsMagazine - nummer 4, december 2011, 24e jaargang
NutritionMagazine, No.4, 2011, Vol.24
The future of diet and health: individual assessment and personalized diets
In the 20th century, chemistry provided a research and development engine that transformed the human condition. Energy was described in molecular terms, medicine gained a molecular understanding of health, diseases were diagnosed and small molecule drugs developed as cures. Nourishing foods were disassembled to identify all the essential nutrients and fortification of foods virtually eliminated nutrient deficiency diseases. Soils were described in molecular terms and chemical fertilizers were developed to improve them and agricultural productivity skyrocketed. Within 100 years, the average human lifetime was extended by decades and the total population on the planet doubled and redoubled. These magnificent enhancements of the quality, duration and productivity of human lives were all the result of scientific research and development. Now science must address yet more complex challenges.
Agriculture and food revolutionized the human condition by providing sufficient quantity of food for the world's population. In the 21st century, R & D must now address the compelling challenge of providing sufficient quality of food to enable the world's population to enjoy greater health. The reductionist approaches of chemistry are proving to be unsustainable in the new world-of-today. In the 21st century research must address the even more attractive, yet more difficult challenges of feeding the world without depleting non-renewable carbon fuels, of utilizing environments without destroying their diversity and improving health by preventing diseases. Scientific research that so successfully embraced chemistry must now add the science of biology and learn from billions of years of successful evolution.
Achieving greater health and preventing disease will combine principles from the successes of living organisms and ecosystems for agriculture, food and medicine. A growing number of scientists are addressing all of these simultaneously by turning to evolution's remarkable animal experiment: mammalian lactation. Since its emergence in marsupials over 200 million years ago, lactation has been a wildly successful means of assisting the survival and competitive performance of mammalian offspring. The extraordinary properties of milk are now being studied scientifically to understand how a complex ensemble of many bioactive substances consumed every day can influence human health. Many new principles of nourishment are being discovered. Milk is personal, dynamic, active and structured. It guides the development of the infant's immune protection, the control of metabolism, the preference for sensations and even the ecological diversity of microorganisms within the intestine.
Personalization requires repeated measurement of health (diagnostics) and individualization and the result will be prevention from most diseases, and also more intimate control of their own personal health in its diversity, its performance and its pleasures. The University of California Davis Foods for Health Institute is engaged in building the scientific targets, technologies and knowledge needed for this new future. The Institute uses all of the tools of modern biology to understand lactation and milk in molecular detail and yet genomic breadth. The research characterizes the molecules of milk as active ingredients of health and identifies the targets on which overall diet must act throughout life to achieve enhanced protection, prevention and performance. The evolution of lactation is a molecular, mechanistic and ecological model of food production for health, efficiency and sustainability.
Prof. J. Bruce German Director, Foods for Health Institute Department of Food Science & Technology University of California, Davis, CA firstname.lastname@example.org