Established since Antiquity, the adage of Hippocrates according to which “Food is our first medicine” has crossed the ages and has been confirmed over the course of scientific discoveries, in particular those which, from the 19th century, have made it possible to identify the components of the diet and to establish their classification, particularly in terms of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and water. However, for a long time, the role of food was almost exclusively associated with that of fuel, as a source of energy for the body.
It was only in the past century, when scientists began to take an interest in chronic diseases, what was the link between nutritional deficiencies and diseases such as beriberi, rickets, scurvy or pellagra, highlighting the regulatory role of diet on the func – metabolic activation.
This new perspective has opened up a huge field of investigation to make food a major health tool. Thanks to a large number of population studies, the nutritional sciences have acquired the knowledge enabling health professionals to provide nutritional recommendations, either general or in situations of dietary imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to heavy drug treatments or even high demands on intellectual or physical performance.
Despite everything, the inter-individual variability so commonly observed in terms of response to a diet, both at the genetic and metabolic level has always represented a considerable obstacle to the concrete application of nutrition as a health asset, often defeating existing recommendations…
Health nutrition advice, weight loss diets and daily doses flounder in a kind of vagueness that some have called “food cacophony”, a situation in which a person wishing to take care of his health capital through nutrition has difficulty finding his way around. and no longer really knows which way to turn.
Dans ce contexte, seule une étude des effets des composants alimentaires au niveau moléculaire, et en particulier sur la régulation de l’activité des gènes (ou expression des gènes) pouvait aider à sortir les sciences de la nutrition de cette impasse.
Et justement, des chercheurs ont finalement constaté que certains aliments étaient capables de pénétrer, après digestion, à l’intérieur de nos cellules et d’y jouer le rôle d’interrupteurs, allumant ou éteignant certains gènes, notamment ceux en charge de fonctions métaboliques. Cette découverte présida à l’émergence, au début du dernier millénaire, d’une nouvelle science appelée nutrigénomique, qui vise à étudier les interactions entre notre alimentation et la totalité de nos gènes.