Next, Dr Guy Miller - founder of Edison Pharmaceuticals - said the tools we use for nutrition research are woefully inadequate, because they are based on a drug-style paradigm, where volunteers are given large doses of single nutrients in order to determine their impact on a biomarker over a short period.
But most foods are consumed in small doses over a prolonged period of time in combination with other nutrients that may impact our health over decades, not the few weeks available in a clinical trial, he said. And very few health/nutrient relationships are as easy to identify as that between, say scurvy and vitamin C - where deficiency symptoms are observable within weeks or months, rather than years. "What happens if a deficiency syndrome only develops over 50 years, or is multi-generational?"
So, new models and experimental techniques - which incorporate genetic, proteomic and metabolomic technologies - are needed to compress biological time and help researchers identify how nutrients are impacting humans over extended periods of time, he said, challenging the audience to think in a new way about what health is: "Health is not simply the absence of disease."