Food as Medicine: the hidden power of nutrition

Lacking energy after eating unhealthy food for a couple of days. Or not being able to sleep after consuming too many caffeinated drinks or foods; we have long known that our diet is more than a source of nourishment or energy and that it is linked to our health. By now, nutrition is experiencing a resurgence. Research shows us an even more profound connection between nutrition and health because nutritional strategies appear to be able to stabilise or even 'reverse' disease processes. Read on to find out more about the power of nutrition and how to take advantage of it.

Noncommunicable diseases

In today's modern society, we are increasingly dealing with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, not caused by infectious pathogens but by low-grade inflammatory processes. A factor contributing to the development of NCDs can be lifestyle, especially diet. Food components and their metabolites affect the immune system by triggering or resolving inflammation. This knowledge is useful in the prevention and treatment of NCDs and their inherent low-grade inflammation.

Suppress inflammatory reactions

Researchers examined more than two hundred studies to unravel the mechanisms responsible for this phenomenon. It appears that a lot of receptors in our cell membranes can be activated by nutritional components, which can cause a change in the immune response. They revealed a wide range of nutrients, the receptors they interact with and the immune responses they trigger as a result. Interestingly, many pharmaceutical medicines work in exactly the same way.

Personalised nutrition

This new area of research is helping us learn more about how nutrition affects our health. According to researcher Braber and her colleagues, this insight could lead to more tailored advice for specific conditions. She however warns that nutrition cannot simply replace medication. This is due to the fact that the concentration of the active ingredient in food is much lower than in medicines. However, this is not the case in food supplements. 

So this opens up a whole new world of possibilities to improve our health and overall well-being through personalised nutrition. And we are excited to explore it!

Interested in the full study of the University of Utrecht? Click here.

Source: van Daal MT, Folkerts G, Garssen J, Braber S. Pharmacological modulation of immune responses by nutritional components. Pharmacological Reviews. 2021 Oct 1;73(4):1369-403.