Researchers in the U.K. have determined that there is one single factor more than any other that can safeguard your good health. To build suspense, let’s come at this issue from the other way around. Diet, in addition to tobacco, alcohol and physical exercise, is a major factor contributing to chronic diseases in Europe. What kind of diseases are we talking about here? Diabetes and heart disease, to name just two.
Because of the serious health problems these two diseases can cause, there is a pressing need to promote healthier food choices and better diets, the U.K. researchers say. So convinced are they that this should be the focus to improve the health of Europeans everywhere, they have established something called “Food and Health Research in Europe,” or FAHRE.
FAHRE is a collaborative project commissioned by the European Union. Countries usually commission research on food and health separately: few countries have combined research strategies or programs. Most clinical trials have focused on food and bio-technology, food safety, epidemiological research, and nutritional surveillance; but there have been a few holes in the research aimed at getting Europeans to eat better. There has been less research into personal behavior and very little on environmental influences on food choices — in the retail and marketing industries, policy, and regulation.
National food policies, based on clinical evidence and endorsed by the World Health Organization, recommend major changes in food intake to meet the challenge of chronic diseases. Research in areas such as “nutrio- genomics’, individualized diets, functional foods and “nutri- pharmaceuticals” appear likely to yield less health benefit, the U.K. researchers have determined. What needs to be done instead is research on interventions to influence dietary patterns. For example, Europe needs policies to reduce the consumption of trans fats, saturated fats, salt, and energy density.
Clearly, a healthy diet full of healing foods is your number- one defense against disease. These U.K. researchers are in the trenches and they have given us some timely health advice: make healthy food choices every day, even though we’re surrounded by fast food, baked goods, sugary snacks, salty foods, and saturated fats. This is key to avoiding many of the chronic diseases that are plaguing not only Europeans, but North Americans, too.
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