10 Health Lessons Learned

By Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., "What We’ve Learned," July/August 2012

Find out how nutrition science has evolved in the past decade. Here's what we know now—and didn’t then.

"Such a well sourced article Karen! It's very interesting to see how the common-knowledge assumptions change over time, thanks for the read! "

The first widely read nutrition study was published in 1872 in the British Medical Journal. Back then, researchers produced nutrition studies slowly, publishing fewer than five (and sometimes just one) a year. Today it’s a completely different story. In 2011, more than 16,000 nutrition studies were released in peer-reviewed scientific journals. It’s no wonder our understanding of nutrition is always expanding and shifting. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen new perspectives emerge regarding everything from fat to food sensitivities. That’s why as EatingWell celebrates its 10th anniversary, we’re taking a moment to look back at the top 10 revelations of the past decade.

1. Our genes and diet are related
The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 provided a blueprint of our DNA and helped give rise to nutrigenomics, the science of how the nutrients we consume impact our genes. “We now know that certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases that accompany aging can be prevented or delayed by matching our diets to our individual genomes,” says Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. For instance, roughly 58 percent of people with high blood pressure are genetically salt-sensitive, so simply limiting the amount of salt they eat can lower their blood pressure. But before you go running to your doctor or dietitian for a genetically prescribed diet, know that “there are still many challenges in classifying people by their genotype and designing a food system that can provide an individualized prescriptive diet,” says Stover.

Next: 2. Not all fat is bad fat »

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