How AI is bringing the ‘dark matter of nutrition’ to light, unlocking the power of plants
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just transform how we work and communicate. It also accelerated the need for more proactive health measures for chronic health problems tied to diet. Such problems have emerged as a top risk factor for coronavirus and people with poor metabolic health accounted for half of COVID-19 hospitalizations in some regions around the world. The resulting high numbers led the authors of a report in The Lancet to issue a call for more resources to tackle metabolic health to avoid needless deaths.
Thankfully, new tools have been developed to offer comprehensive understanding of nutrition. This expertise and technology won’t just help us tackle metabolic health – it could help us finally fully realize the power of plants to improve health and wellness outcomes.
We know that plants are critical for health, but do not fully understand why. Humans have not mapped the breadth of what plants offer, nor have we pinpointed the specific biological mechanisms of action triggered in our bodies when we eat them. This knowledge gap exists at the molecular level, with a need to understand how phytonutrients – tiny plant molecules with anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective and neuroprotective properties – work in our bodies.
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Words by Jim Flatt