What do your teeth, brain, mood and gut all have in common? Unsurprisingly, it turns out one answer is almost everything. They are, after all, interconnected and essential aspects of your body and life. The other, often overlooked answer, however, is food. The COVID pandemic put into perspective how little control we have over certain parts of our health, but quarantine was sobering, proving we don’t have to be “an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows” us. In fact, the decisions we make about our food give us resounding leverage over our health.
Trillions of microbes inhabit the human digestive system, constituting such a critical part of our health that many researchers have taken to calling the vast, microscopic population the “hidden organ.” But despite weighing as much as five pounds and collectively containing 200 times the number of genes as the human genome, scientists still aren’t sure how these gut microbes — which include bacteria, fungi and viruses — affect human health.
“Nutrition is about whole foods, not pills and procedures,” Campbell said. “If we can adopt this wholist nutrition lifestyle, which promotes preventative health, diseases won’t arise so often. If there is no disease, there is nothing that we need to treat.”
Cornellians might be quick to share derisive Okenshields memes, but behind Cornell Dining’s offerings are a slew of careful decisions designed to ensure nutritious and healthy options, according to Michele Lefebvre, Cornell Dining’s director of nutrition management.
The University has created an eCornell certificate program that gives registered dietitian nutritionists the opportunity to sharpen their counseling skills to help create more positive client relationships.
But maybe the paradox isn’t that the French are skinny. Maybe it’s that Americans, in our mentality of experimentation and efficiency, are overemphasizing scientifically tested and quick and easy fixes to our health problems.
Miguel Gómez, associate professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, has assisted in the development of a new harvesting model to help food banks improve the nutritional value of the food they distribute to the hungry. Gómez and Dyson grad Xiaoli Fan collaborated with researchers from Boston College to address challenges faced by food banks, according to Gómez. “You have food wasted on one hand and malnutrition on the other,” Gómez said in a University press release. “The food banks can make this link, but there’s a logistical problem here. Our program contributes to a solution.”
The team has been working on improving the gleaning process for fruits and vegetables, according to Fan.
Fast food, soda and candy have long been key targets in the battle against obesity. However, researchers at the Food and Brand Lab recently found that junk food consumption might not be the prime cause of the current obesity rate in the United States, which is about 34.9 percent for adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study, led by Prof. Brian Wansink and Prof. David Just, applied economics and management, looked at national data of the consumption frequency of candy, soda and fast food based on body mass index (BMI). For 95 percent of the population, there was no correlation between consumption of these foods and BMI. “If we look at people who are heavier versus people who are lighter, there really doesn’t seem to be a big difference in how they’re going about eating these foods,” Just said.