our health undermined by agro industry

our health undermined by agro industry
our health undermined by agro industry

Nutrition, broadly encompassing diet, body size and physical activity, is today recognized as one of the main modifiable factors involved in determining the most widespread diseases in the industrialized world: obesity, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes…

The relationships between diet and health are studied in a transversal manner, combining epidemiological approaches, experimental approaches on cellular and animal models, toxicological, microbiological or genetic approaches.

At the heart of environmental health research, the cohort study also examines sociodemographic factors, environmental influences, and genetic predispositions that may affect dietary behaviors and health outcomes.

This knowledge made it possible to establish high levels of evidence for several protective or deleterious nutritional factors, which served as a basis for the establishment of nutritional policy in France, embodied by the National Nutrition and Health Program (PNNS).

With :

Mathilde Touvier research director at Inserm and principal investigator of the NutriNet-Santé study, professor at the Collège de France in Public Health on the 2022-2023 annual chair

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“May your meat be your only medecine”

This phrase is attributed to Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, considered the father of modern medicine, and it also illustrates a subject that interests us all, the importance of diet in maintaining health and preventing diseases. diseases. Food is much more than a simple biological necessity, it is a fundamental pillar of our physical and mental well-being. Every bite we take impacts our health in profound and lasting ways. Today, awareness of the impact of our diet on health is more important than ever. As fad diets and contradictory messages abound in the media, it is crucial to return to an approach based on scientific work and solid nutritional recommendations.

An undeniable link between diet and risk of disease

Mathilde Touvier, research director at INSERM and principal investigator of the NutriNet-Santé study, always wanted to be a “human health researcher” as she liked to say as a teenager. She then went to engineering school and did laboratory internships, where she found herself in a lab coat decapitating animals. The atmosphere pleased him only moderately. Then, she discovered public health and a more global approach to human beings and also economic and political issues: “ This approach to public health applied to our diet and the risk of disease really interested me. » Today, she leads a team of nutritional epidemiologists at INSERM : “We are setting up studies on large populations to look at what people consume, their diet, their physical activity, their weight status, their anthropometrics and the risk, over time, of developing diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, but also mental, osteoarticular or even respiratory diseases. »

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Multifactorial diseases linked to diet

On average over the course of a lifetime, a person ingests 30 tonnes of food and 50,000 liters of drink. Today, when we are interested in obesity, cancers, cardiovascular diseases, or diabetes, we are talking about multifactorial diseases. There are genetic factors, those linked to pollution, sun exposure or even diet that come into play: “To be able to isolate the effect of this or that nutritional factor, it is not simple and it requires combining different types of studies and epidemiological population approaches and carrying out experimental studies to really build the image global and bring together a bundle of arguments. »

Processed foods and food additives

Historically, nutritional epidemiologists were interested in the issue of fat and sugar. Then, we realized that there were other characteristics of our foods that could play a role, in particular the way in which we transform them, this is what we call ultra-processed foods. These are those, for example, which are either heated to very high temperatures, resulting from processes which really significantly modify food matrices, what we call hydrogenated extrusions: “It’s a whole set of processes, for example to make cereals from breakfast. They do not look like the initial wheat as we see in the field, there are cracking processes where we will isolate all the parts of certain plants to make ingredients and reassemble them in a different way. There is the process aspect and then that of the ingredient. These are foods which generally will contain food additives which we could do without, which are not there to protect the consumer, but there to look pretty and to sell more products. With the health nutrition study, we were able to show that when the proportion of ultra-processed foods increases in the diet, this is associated with an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.”

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