Successful people eat healthier than others

Nutritional Research - What Keeps Us Healthy

Whether we get sick or stay healthy depends, among other things, on our eating behavior. Obesity and cardiovascular diseases, for example, are favored by an unhealthy diet - but also some cancers. But which food components make us sick? And which ones protect us? Nutritional research provides insights into health recommendations and develops new foods that can help us stay healthy.

The scientists of the “Allipids” project make healthy things palatable to us: Together with their industrial partners, they made an emulsion from oils that contains many omega-3 fatty acids. The oils lose their slightly fishy taste and have a longer shelf life. In cooperation with food manufacturers, the researchers enrich common foods - bread rolls, sausage, dairy products and spreads - with this emulsion.

However, we often find it difficult to follow these recommendations. Where does this appetite for greasy and sweet things come from? Or to put it another way: How do we get better nutrition recommendations and what helps us to implement them? Modern nutritional research also deals with questions like these. Because health awareness is just one of many motives that influence our diet.

Do you use more fast food in stressful phases? Or are you one of the 40 percent or so of the population who eat less in these situations? Then it is important to create a balance. The scientists of the EATMOTIVE research project were able to show: In positive situations, healthy people unconsciously compensate for their eating behavior - and eat less or more than before under stress.

Nutrition research works closely with other areas of science - with medicine, genetics, prevention research and psychology, for example. Because answers to the important questions about our eating habits can only be found through joint interdisciplinary efforts. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the scientists in this.

Research for a healthy life

Prevention and nutrition research is one of the six major fields of action in the BMBF's health research framework program. The associated action plan defines this field. A central component is the “Competence Cluster Nutrition Research” measure. Within these four clusters, universities and other research institutions work closely with small and medium-sized companies in the food industry. Together they develop new recommendations and products for a healthier diet.

The BMBF also funds individual research institutions, for example the German Institute for Nutrition Research (DIfE). Scientists search for the molecular causes of diet-related diseases in order to develop specific dietary recommendations and new prevention and therapy strategies. The DIfE also plays a key role in one of the competence clusters.

At the European level, the BMBF is involved in the joint program planning initiative “A healthy diet for a healthy life”. With the help of this initiative, the partner countries want to maintain people's health and work together to counteract an increase in diet-related chronic diseases.

Why are dietary recommendations changing?

Nutritional research is a relatively young science that deals with very complex issues. It is also influenced by many unknown or difficult to measure factors - such as the interplay between individual lifestyle and genetic makeup. Therefore, nutritional studies can initially come to seemingly contradicting results. What is the cause and what is the effect? The elucidation of such relationships is often extremely difficult. New investigation methods or research approaches open up new insights and can lead to previously valid findings having to be relativized or corrected - as in other scientific disciplines.