Savvas Xystouris's Posts (67)

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Food safety beliefs are not always science based.

The results show that a large share of the population believe in food safety myths, in the worst cases more than 70% report to believe myths to be facts and believing in many of these myths correlates positively with gastroenteritis incidences and prevalence. The largest correlations are observed for unscientific beliefs about eggs (such as storing eggs at room temperature and eating raw eggs to cure hangover), bacteria inactivation (that a wooden cutting board, and chili, wasabi and marinades kills bacteria), that vegetarians don't get food poisoning, and that eating dirt and having a diarrhea is good since it cleans up the stomach. In the discussion, we explain the negative consequences by linking the food safety myths to science-based food safety knowledge.

This is the first study linking unscientific beliefs to gastroenteritis. Future studies need to investigate the mechanisms explaining why beliefs in food safety myths correlate with gastroenteritis incidences and prevalence. Studies investigating behavior change methods, including but not limited to correcting false beliefs are also needed.

To read the paper, go to Food safety myths consequences for health: A study of reported gastroenteritis incidence and prevalence in UK, Norway and Germany

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Healthier, more nutritious foods tend to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly than those with low nutritional value, finds an analysis of more than 57,000 food items sold in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The mammoth study, published on 8 August in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1, is among the first to estimate the environmental impact of products made of multiple ingredients, rather than only individual foods. This information could help consumers to understand how items compare in terms of both nutrition and sustainability, says co-author Michael Clark, an environmental scientist at the University of Oxford, UK.

“What’s good for one is generally good for the other,” says Clark. “You don’t have to make a choice that’s good for the environment but might negatively impact your health.”

 

To read the article, go to: Healthier foods are better for the planet, mammoth study finds

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A modest cut of just 1 g in daily salt intake could ward off nearly 9 million cases of heart disease and strokes and save 4 million lives by 2030, suggest the estimates of a modelling study published in the open access journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

Salt intake in China is one of the highest in the world, averaging 11 g/day—over twice the maximum recommended amount. High salt intake drives up blood pressure and therefore the risk of cardiovascular disease, which accounts for 40% of all deaths in China every year.

The researchers set out to estimate the health gains that could be achieved by reducing salt intake across the nation, with the aim of helping to inform the development of a doable salt reduction programme.

They compiled the latest and most reliable figures for population size, salt intake, blood pressure and disease rates by region and age and then estimated the impact on cardiovascular health for 3 different approaches.

The first of these was a 1 g/day reduction in salt intake to be achieved within 1 year. The second was the WHO’s interim target of a 30% reduction by 2025—equivalent to a gradual reduction of 3.2 g/day.

The third was reducing salt intake to less than 5 g/day by 2030, the target set by the Chinese government in its action plan for health and development, ‘Healthy China 2030’.

To read the article, click here: 1 g cut in daily salt intake could ward off nearly 9 million cases of stroke/heart disease in China

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Connections between food security and nutrition (FSN) and mental health have been analytically investigated, but conclusions are difficult to draw given the breadth of literature. Furthermore, there is little guidance for continued research. We searched three databases for analytical studies linking FSN to mental health. Out of 30,896 records, we characterized and mapped 1945 studies onto an interactive Evidence and Gap Map (EGM). In these studies, anthropometry (especially BMI) and diets were most linked to mental health (predominantly depression). There were fewer studies on infant and young child feeding, birth outcomes, and nutrient biomarkers related to anxiety, stress, and mental well-being. Two-thirds of studies hypothesized FSN measures as the exposure influencing mental health outcomes. Most studies were observational, followed by systematic reviews as the next largest category of study. One-third of studies were carried out in low- and middle-income countries. This map visualizes the extent and nature of analytical studies relating FSN to mental health and may be useful in guiding future research.

To read the paper, click here: Systematic evidence and gap map of research linking food security and nutrition to mental health

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  • A new study finds that exercising to make up for eating poorly doesn’t really work in terms of lowering mortality risks.
  • Similarly, eating well but remaining inactive may help lower your risk of dying from certain cancers to a degree, but does nothing for all-cause or cardiovascular disease mortality, the researchers found.
  • Researchers also observed that those who exercised the most and consumed the healthiest food significantly reduced their risk of dying from all causes, from cardiovascular disease, or from certain cancers.

There has been a lot of conversation — and a great deal of research — attempting to determine whether exercise or a healthy diet is more important for longevity. A new study led by researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia analyzing UK Biobank data may provide the answer.

Researchers found that people who engaged in high levels of physical activity and also ate a high quality diet had lower mortality risks.

For anyone who believed that one can exercise away poor dietary choices, this study suggests otherwise.

People who engage in one or the other lowered the risk of mortality to a lesser degree. Study corresponding author, associate professor Dr. Melody Ding, told Medical News Today:

“These groups still do better (and statistically significant) than the group with poor diet and lowest physical activity, but the group with the best diet and moderate or high physical activity levels do the best!”

The study focused on deaths due to all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and adiposity-related (PDAR) cancersTrusted Source.

Cardiology dietician Michelle Routhenstein, who specializes in heart health, and was not involved in the study, told MNT:

“The study results are no surprise to me. Many people have come to see me in my private practice after suffering a heart attack when training for their fourth or fifth marathon, or right after doing a CrossFit exercise.”

To read the article: You can't exercise away poor dietary choices, study finds

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What’s the difference between a ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ date on my food labels? Are there food hygiene rules I should stick to at home to keep my family safe? Should I be concerned about food additives? These are some of the questions asked by European consumers that the #EUChooseSafeFood campaign has been answering by translating the science behind EU food safety. Building on a successful first phase, a second year of the campaign has been launched to cover a range of new topics.   

Helping consumers to make informed decisions about everyday food choices is what the #EUChooseSafeFood campaign is all about. The EU-wide campaign offers practical and accessible information to consumers to use when they buy and consume food - from helping to read labels and understand additives, to providing advice on food preparation and storage. Launched on 16th May, the second year of the campaign builds on the first by expanding the range of topics consumers can learn about, with plant health, novel foods, and food supplements newly added to the mix.

EFSA’s Executive Director, Bernhard Url, welcomed the launch of the campaign: “Consumers in the EU can be fully confident that the food they put on their tables is safe. 

#EUChooseSafeFood is an important example of our partnership with national food safety authorities, and our cooperation with consumer organisations, food producers and civil society."

Primarily targeting 25 to 45-year-old European citizens, the campaign will also explain EFSA’s role in contributing to European legislation that protects consumers and the entire food chain.

An #EUChooseSafeFood toolkit including visuals, short films and social media posts in different languages is available on the campaign website, making it easy for national authorities and associations to get involved in the campaign.

For further information visit the #EUChooseSafeFood website.

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Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international research organization that provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year:

(Earth’s Biocapacity Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

Earth Overshoot Day 2022 lands on July 28. Learn more about how the 2022 date was calculated.

“The consequences of our ecological overshoot include global deforestation, biodiversity loss, collapse of fish stocks, water scarcity, soil erosion, air pollution, and climate change leading to more frequent extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and wildfires. These threats in turn bring about tensions and conflicts, and exacerbate global inequalities,” WWF said.

The EU and its member states now have the opportunity to bring their Ecological Footprint in balance with the planet’s biological resources by setting the right priorities and implementing the right policies – such as fully protecting and restoring nature in Europe by 2030 and making the EU climate neutral by 2040, according to WWF.

Explore and download the data at KNOWLEDGE FOR POLICY Supporting policy with scientific evidence and  data.footprintnetwork.org.

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Starting babies and toddlers on a lower protein Nordic-style diet with a greater focus on plant-based food may be the key to healthier eating habits, according to new research1 being presented today at the 54th Annual Meeting of the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).

Babies fed taster portions of the new Nordic diet of fruit, berries, roots, and vegetables, as well as breast or formula milk, from the age of 4-6 months of age, were eating almost double the number of vegetables (46% more), than those fed a conventional diet, by 18 months of age.

Researchers from the University of Umeå, Sweden, Stockholm County Council Centre for Epidemiology, and the University of California, USA, followed two groups of babies from 4-6 months through to 18 months, as part of the OTIS trial (see editor’s notes below). A total of 250 babies took part and 82% completed the trial.

To read the article: Nordic lower-protein diet could hold key to instilling healthier eating habits in babies, new study finds

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 The number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021, an increase of about 46 million since 2020 and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic (1), according to a United Nations report that provides fresh evidence that the world is moving further away from its goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. 

The 2022 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report presents updates on the food security and nutrition situation around the world, including the latest estimates of the cost and affordability of a healthy diet. The report also looks at ways in which governments can repurpose their current support to agriculture to reduce the cost of healthy diets, mindful of the limited public resources available in many parts of the world.

To read the article: UN Report: Global hunger numbers rose to as many as 828 million in 2021

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Making smart food choices is an important part of healthy aging. Understanding the different food groups — and how much of each should make up your diet — can help you form a healthy eating pattern over time. This article describes the main food groups and other important nutrients recommended for older adults in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (PDF, 30.6M). We also provide suggestions for how to fit occasional treats into your healthy eating pattern.

It is important to get the recommended amount of each food group without going over your daily recommended calories. Keep in mind that the amount you should eat to maintain your weight depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity.

To read the article please visit: Healthy Eating As You Age: Know Your Food Groups

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Unhealthy diets represent a major risk for the pathogenesis of metabolic and chronic inflammatory diseases. Improving the quality of diet is important to prevent chronic diseases, and diet-induced modifications of the gut microbiota (GM) community likely play an important role. The EU-funded Stance4Health project aims at performing a randomized clinical trial based on a nutritional intervention program in the context of normal weight and overweight adults as well as children with obesity and gluten-related disorders or allergy/intolerance to cow’s milk. The trial will evaluate the efficacy of a Smart Personalised Nutrition (SPN) service in modifying GM composition and metabolic function and improving consumer empowerment through technology adoption.

To read the paper: Paper

Keywords: gut microbiota; personalized nutrition; Stance4Health; i-Diet Stance4Health; overweight;
obesity; coeliac disease; food allergies; adults; children

 

 

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The March edition of the JRC's Anomaly Hotspots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) assessment is now available at: Anomaly Hotspots of Agricultural Production (ASAP) assessment

Main findings of the March global overview:

  • In Southern Africa, a rainfall deficit that started in February in central and eastern parts of the region, continued to affect the eastern part of the region at the beginning of March. Rainfall improved in mid-March, however tropical storms Ana and Gombe and October-December drought impacts are lowering national cereal productions. On the contrary, an above-average output is forecast in South Africa, in Eswatini and Lesotho.
  • In East Africa, there is increasing concern that the region will experience the fourth consecutive poor rainfall season during March-May 2022 rains. Cumulated Copernicus C3S multi-model rainfall forecasts for April-June show a high probability of a drier than average period for the Horn and wetter than average conditions for South Sudan, Western Kenya, Ethiopian Highlands and Uganda. The pressure on food security caused by the exceptionally prolonged drought appears even more threatening with the increase in food prices and the challenges of small-scale farmers to access fertiliser. A high number of people in the region (45-55 million) need humanitarian food and nutrition assistance to prevent Crisis or worse outcomes between January and May 2022 (FEWSNET).
  • In North Africa, the winter cereal season is suffering from drought stress and rainfall in March came in most cases too late for crop recovery. In Morocco and in western Algeria reduced yields can be expected (see more on yield forecasts in the latest MARS bulletin). A low winter wheat production in one or more countries in North Africa is of particular concern with the expected food price inflation linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Similarly, in the Middle East, prospects for winter cereals are poor in the north of Syria and north and east of Iraq due to poor rainfall and poor socio-economic conditions since autumn 2021. In contrast, biomass of winter crops is still close to average in Iran and in Yemen land preparation is ongoing under favourable conditions.
  • In West Africa, land preparation and sowing activities for the first maize season are starting in the southern bimodal parts of the region along the coast of the Gulf of Guinea with the onset of seasonal rains in March. Rainfall conditions were average over the past month; however slightly below-average vegetation conditions are observed in southern Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and parts of Cote d’Ivoire. The food security situation is very deteriorated in the region with about 38.3 million people forecast to be in crisis (CH Phase 3) and above by June-August 2022 if no action is taken according to the latest CH analyses in March 2022 (PREGEC communique-March 2022).
  • In Central Asia, biomass of winter crops is close to or above-average, however with below-average rainfall forecast for the next 3 months, irrigation will be critical for crop production. In Afghanistan, biomass of winter cereals is close to average in most regions, however a very large part of the population (up to 95%) suffers from food insecurity. In South Asia, prospects are favourable for Rabi crops (winter cereals) and Boro rice in Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively. In Sri Lanka, harvest of main season (Maha) rice and maize has been finalised with close to average prospects; however, fertiliser and fuel shortages are likely to decrease production.
  • In South-East Asia, dry season rice is growing under favourable conditions and prospects are positive. In Indonesia, wet season rice planted from November to March is in good condition thanks to favourable rainfall.
  • In Central America, harvest of third season maize-beans (Apante-Postrera tardia) concluded with average production for the region (). The overall 2021 cereal production is close to the 5-year average, with Honduras and Nicaragua slightly below. Total cereal output is estimated below the 5-year average for Haiti. Land preparation has started for the main season in Guatemala and Honduras, whereas rice is in the growing stage in Nicaragua (irrigated-main) and in Honduras (second season). In the Caribbean, sowing of main season maize and rice has started under favourable conditions, except in parts of Cuba.

To visit the ASAP tool developed by the JRC visit ASAP - ANOMALY HOTSPOTS OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

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Launching Healthy Eating Week today, findings from a new survey, conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation, reveals widespread confusion among people of all ages, including adults* and children**, about which foods do and do not count towards your 5 A DAY or provide certain nutrients, including fibre and protein.

The survey suggests that nearly a quarter (24 percent) of primary schoolchildren (aged 7-11 years) and 17 percent of older children (11-16 years) think that chicken counts towards your 5-A-DAY, while nearly a fifth (19 percent) of primary school children think that cheese can be one of your 5 A DAY.

Only 38 percent of all British adults and 23 percent of older children know that carrots contain fibre, while only 60 percent of secondary schoolchildren and 36 percent of primary schoolchildren believe that wholemeal bread is a source of fibre. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all schoolchildren think that chicken is a source of fibre, although it provides no fibre at all.

79 percent of adults, 91 percent of secondary schoolchildren and 70 percent of primary schoolchildren correctly say that chicken provides protein but only half of all adults, 46 percent of older children and 29 percent of younger children think that chickpeas are a source of protein. This is despite the fact that canned chickpeas are a rich source of protein, with an average adult portion providing around a fifth of the average adult’s recommended intake per day (45g for females and 56g for males).

The survey also shows that many people do not currently eat, or have never tried, a range of plant foods, such as beans, peas and lentils, which provide essential nutrients like protein and fibre. One third of adults and more than half (55 percent) of schoolchildren reported that they have never tried lentils, one third of adults and 46 percent of schoolchildren have never tried chickpeas and over a quarter (28 percent) of adults and 48 percent of children have never tried kidney beans.

To read the article, please visit: Chicken and cheese in your 5 A DAY - British Nutrition Foundation survey reveals widespread confusion about healthy eating

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Young men with a poor diet saw a significant improvement in their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet, a new study shows.

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects approximately 1 million Australians each year. It is a significant risk factor for suicide, the leading cause of death in young adults. The 12-week randomised control trial, conducted by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, was recently published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Lead researcher Jessica Bayes, a PhD candidate in the UTS Faculty of Health, said the study was the first randomised clinical trial to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men (aged 18-25).

"We were surprised by how willing the young men were to take on a new diet," Bayes said. "Those assigned to the Mediterranean diet were able to significantly change their original diets, under the guidance of a nutritionist, over a short time frame."

"It suggests that medical doctors and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important component of treating clinical depression," she said.

To read the post, visit: A better diet helps beat depression in young men

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Public health experts and campaigners have accused the UK government of turning its back on child health after ministers announced that a ban on multibuy deals for junk food would be delayed by a year in response to the cost of living crisis.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that the planned ban on “buy one get one free” deals for food and drinks that are high in fat, salt, or sugar and restrictions on free refills for soft drinks would be delayed until October 2023 while officials assess the effect on household finances. A planned ban on television advertising of these products before 9 pm will also be paused for a year.

Experts and campaigners lamented the inaction, accusing the government of failing to honour its pledges to tackle childhood obesity, with some calling for a reversal of the decision.

To read the article, Government delay on junk food multibuy ban is “shocking,” say health experts

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With the need to develop healthier and more sustainable food products, the introduction of new foods could be key to the transformation of our food system. Although European diets vary from region to region and household to household, innovation is accelerating and new food ingredients are entering the European market. Whether they are entirely new food concepts, or foods influenced by cultures and diets from across the world, could novel foods help to create a future-fit food system in Europe?

What are novel foods?
Novel foods are classified as foods that were not widely consumed within the EU before 15 May 1997; they can be innovative, newly developed, or produced using new technologies and processes (1). In some circumstances, novel foods can be introduced to a region or market to ‘replace’ another food because they are considered healthier or more sustainable. Examples include new sources of vitamins, extracts from plants or existing foods, or agricultural products from other countries (1).

Europe saw an explosion of new food products entering the EU market during the 1990s, and this led to the introduction of the first novel food legislation in May 1997 which stated that novel foods must (1):

  • be safe for consumers, and not pose a risk to public health
  • be properly labelled, so as not to mislead consumers
  • not differ in a way that the consumption of the novel food would be nutritionally disadvantageous, if intended to replace another food.

To read the post, please visit: Ingredients of the future: 4 novel foods emerging in Europe

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This review argues that the healthfulness of foods is not solely based on its nutritional composition but also on food form and food structure. The food form is very closely linked to how much calories are consumed and how full you feel. For example, consuming whole oranges is more satiating than consuming orange juice. The food texture or food structure within a food category determine how fast you eat a food, therefore influencing your sense of satiety. That’s why consuming hard bread instead of soft bread will make you feel full quicker. Other relevant properties are for example the thickness of yoghurts or chewiness of snacks. The food matrix (i.e., the microstructure of a food) is highly important in the ultimate absorption of nutrients. For example, in nuts, legumes and cereals, the actual calories absorbed during digestion are much fewer than the calories calculated from their composition.

The RESTRUCTURE project will provide new information on how eating rate can be predicted from food texture and investigate how composite foods or meals should be designed to effectively reduce calorie intake.

To read more, click here: INTERRELATIONS BETWEEN FOOD FORM, TEXTURE, AND MATRIX INFLUENCE ENERGY INTAKE AND METABOLIC RESPONSES

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Is another food crisis unfolding?

The summer of 2007 is notoriously remembered for the turmoil in the subprime mortgage market in the United States that led to the collapse the following year of Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest houses in Wall Street, and ushered in the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. The financial crisis engulfed about a dozen advanced economies (AEs) and pulled down dozens of emerging markets and developing countries (EMDEs) as the global economy slipped into recession. While the press coverage focused on the unfolding financial meltdown of the wealthy economies, a very different type of crisis brewed in parallel, that would have a disproportionally greater impact on EMDEs than in AEs. This was the global food crisis of 2008, the less famous sibling of the financial crisis.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic and the resulting plethora of supply disruptions in early 2020, “global real or relative food prices” (i.e., food prices divided by the consumer price index, or CPI) have been climbing higher once again (Figure 1). This builds on a perilous base. Already in 2020, more than 800 million people were estimated to be suffering from hunger, one hundred million more than the previous year (UNICEF, 2021). The pandemic, a once in a century event, has now been followed by another rare calamity—the first war in Europe since 1945.

To read the post: Is another food crisis unfolding?

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The four betters and leaving no one behind

FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 seeks to support the 2030 Agenda through the transformation to MORE efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind. The four betters represent an organising principle for how FAO intends to contribute directly to SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero hunger), and SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) as well as to supporting achievement of the broader SDG agenda, which is crucial for attaining FAO’s overall vision.

The four betters reflect the interconnected economic, social and environmental dimensions of agri-food systems. They also encourage a strategic and systems-oriented approach within all FAO’s interventions.

FAO will also apply four cross-cutting/cross-sectional “accelerators”: (i) technology, (ii) innovation, (iii) data, and (iv) complements (governance, human capital, and institutions) in all its programmatic interventions to accelerate impact while minimizing trade-offs.

To read the article: FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31

 

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The future of nutrition advice

Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as "What and when should we eat?" and "How can we improve the use of food as medicine?" The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.
How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University's College of Human Ecology.

To read the article, The future of nutrition advice

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