Nutrition and health – transforming research traditions

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(8):1074-80. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2012.680525.


In this contribution, we show that current scientific methodologies used in nutrition science and by regulatory agencies, such as the randomized control trial, limit our understanding of nutrition and health as they are to crude to capture the subtle pleiotropic nature of most nutrients. Thereby, regulatory agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority curb the development of scientific knowledge and industrial innovations within the nutritional field. In order to develop insights into the health impact of certain food and food-components, we need to realize that health is adaptation set within a homeostatic range. Increased performance of health, i.e., the maximum stimulation of health, typically seems 30-60% greater than the control group, with a width of no more than about a factor of ten, clarifying the difficulty of documenting responses of food-endogenous components within the homeostatic range of healthy people. A strategy to record subtle responses of food components is the summation of procentual effects of relevant health outcomes. We illustrate this approach with the action of flavanols on vascular health, specifically endothelial function.

Keywords: Nutrition; benefits assessment; biological plasticity; biphasic dose-response; dose-response; health; health claims; intrinsic health capacity; one-hit model; polyphenols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Flavonoids
  • Food Safety
  • Food*
  • Health Promotion / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Food
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Nutritional Sciences / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Nutritional Sciences / trends
  • Nutritional Status
  • Polyphenols
  • Risk Assessment


  • Flavonoids
  • Polyphenols