‘The importance of individual diets is still a big blind spot’ – Health

Eating is knowledge and thus there are many experts when it comes to nutrition. You could even say there are more nutritionists than there are Covid-19 experts, although colleague Van Ranst once claimed there were more than 11 million of the latter group in Belgium. I understand his frustration, especially since we’ve encountered experts and experts, self-proclaimed or not, when it comes to nutrition. The group is also very convinced of its right, because everyone is an expert in the experience, because we all have to eat.

This does not mean that everyone follows a diet: fortunately, the majority of Flemish / Belgians only follow a certain diet. Diet is what we consume on a daily basis without wanting to achieve a particular medical goal. Diet, or rather: nutritional therapy, is a dietary pattern that must comply with certain rules. These rules are made to achieve a medical goal. The emergence of medical diet treatments is often based on disruptive ideas. These ideas do not always arise from an academic interest, but often arise from commercial interest or self-interest, which does not mean that we cannot learn anything from them. Look at the example of Atkins, who originally focused on weight loss. Later, a modified version of the Atkins diet became a remedy for refractory epilepsy.

The importance of individual dietary patterns remains a major blind spot.

Do we actually know what to eat? Here you can again make a nice comparison between covid-19 and food. At the population level, we know what we want to achieve, for example enough vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. If every Belgian follows this diet, their heart and metabolic health can be improved, until we realize the cost of Social Security is lowered. In addition, we currently know very little about what is ideal for each individual. (Just think of the individual glycemic response which may or may not be related to the composition of our gut flora.)

The importance of individual dietary patterns (wider than just a DNA test) is another big blind spot. This big blind spot exists because we have always pursued nutritional research to avoid shrinkage diseases. However, today’s society faces other challenges (for example, nutrition in chronic conditions or obesity prevention). The US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes these blind spots and invests in research projects related to individual dietary patterns. Another blind spot is nutrition as an (additive) treatment strategy for various disorders. The adage is called “food as medicine,” though I’m careful about this. There are a number of interesting applications in the pipeline, but sometimes we lack the scientific evidence.

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As with the covid-19 story, politics does not always follow the science. A concrete example of this is the so-called “integrated food policy” of the Flemish government. Why is there a focus here only on the production side (Flemish farms and SMEs) and hardly any attention to heart and metabolic health? I miss the integration with our health. It seems as if one has crossed the last thirty centimeters (the distance from the plate to the mouth) and its effect. At the federal level, we are anxiously awaiting what the new National Nutrition Plan will bring, as well as how the promised “healthy environment” will be achieved.

There is a difference between science and politics not only at the governmental level, but also in various health institutions. The report in They Say (VTM) about hospital nutrition (and yes, we can ask ourselves questions about how it’s portrayed) has shaken a number of people awake. Nutrition should be an integral part of care in both hospital and residential care settings. Unfortunately, the latter is not always the case.

So is the focus on nutrition and related research just a lament? No, not necessarily, but we can be more ambitious in Flanders/Belgium, both in research and in politics.

But what should we actually eat? In general, we can say with certainty that consuming enough vegetables, fruits and whole grain products will improve the metabolic profile of the heart in Belgium. And don’t forget to drink water. The latter is often forgotten. Of course, this can be finished with a sauce of physical activity.

These different components are the basis ofEveryone is included“Diet/Nutrition Pattern. Our food experience is also a social and gastronomic event. Finally, adequate attention must be paid to improving our population’s food literacy, and this is without polarization. Food literacy is an interdependent combination of knowledge, skills, and self-dependence on planning, choosing, preparing, eating and evaluating information related to food with the ultimate goal of developing a healthy and sustainable gastronomic relationship for life is an enjoyable challenge.

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Eating is knowledge and thus there are many experts when it comes to nutrition. You could even say there are more nutritionists than there are Covid-19 experts, although colleague Van Ranst once claimed there were more than 11 million of the latter group in Belgium. I understand his frustration, especially since we’ve encountered experts and experts, self-proclaimed or not, when it comes to nutrition. The group is also very convinced of its right, because everyone is an expert in the experience, because we all have to eat. This does not mean that everyone follows a diet: fortunately, the majority of Flemish / Belgians only follow a certain diet. Diet is what we consume on a daily basis without wanting to achieve a particular medical goal. Diet, or rather: nutritional therapy, is a dietary pattern that must comply with certain rules. These rules are made to achieve a medical goal. The emergence of medical diet treatments is often based on disruptive ideas. These ideas do not always arise from an academic interest, but often arise from commercial interest or self-interest, which does not mean that we cannot learn anything from them. Look at the example of Atkins, who originally focused on weight loss. Later, a modified version of the Atkins diet became a remedy for refractory epilepsy. Do we actually know what to eat? Here you can again make a nice comparison between covid-19 and food. At the population level, we know what we want to achieve, for example enough vegetables, fruits and whole grain products. If every Belgian follows this diet, their heart and metabolic health can be improved, until we realize the cost of Social Security is lowered. In addition, we currently know very little about what is ideal for each individual. (Just think of the individual glycemic response which may or may not correlate with the formation of our gut flora.) The importance of individual dietary patterns (broader than just a DNA test) is another big blind spot. This big blind spot exists because we have always pursued nutritional research to avoid shrinkage diseases. However, today’s society faces other challenges (for example, nutrition in chronic conditions or obesity prevention). The US government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes these blind spots and invests in research projects related to individual dietary patterns. Another blind spot is nutrition as an (additive) treatment strategy for various disorders. The adage is called “food as medicine,” though I’m careful about this. There are a number of interesting applications in the pipeline, but sometimes we lack the scientific evidence. As with the covid-19 story, politics does not always follow the science. A concrete example of this is the so-called “integrated food policy” of the Flemish government. Why is there a focus here only on the production side (Flemish farms and SMEs) and hardly any attention to heart and metabolic health? I miss the integration with our health. It seems as if one has crossed the last thirty centimeters (the distance from the plate to the mouth) and its effect. At the federal level, we are anxiously awaiting what the new National Nutrition Plan will bring, as well as how the promised “healthy environment” will be achieved. There is a difference between science and politics not only at the governmental level, but also in various health institutions. The report in They Say (VTM) about hospital nutrition (and yes, we can ask ourselves questions about how it’s portrayed) has shaken a number of people awake. Nutrition should be an integral part of care in both hospital and residential care settings. Unfortunately, the latter is not always the case. So is the focus on nutrition and related research just a lament? No, not necessarily, but we can be more ambitious in Flanders/Belgium, both in research and in politics. But what should we actually eat? In general, we can say with certainty that consuming enough vegetables, fruits and whole grain products will improve the metabolic profile of the heart in Belgium. And don’t forget to drink water. The latter is often forgotten. Of course, this can be finished with a sauce of physical activity. These different components are the basis of the “all-inclusive” diet/feeding pattern. After all, our dining experience is also a social and gastronomic event. Finally, adequate attention must be paid to improving the food literacy of our population, and that is without polarization. Food literacy is an interdependent combination of knowledge, skills, and self-reliance regarding planning, choosing, preparing, eating and evaluating information related to food with the ultimate goal of developing a healthy and sustainable gastronomic relationship for life. It’s a fun challenge.

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Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

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