Public Release: 

Special issue: Diet and Health

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Diet has major effects on human health. In this special issue of Science, "Diet and Health," four Reviews explore the connections between what we eat and our well-being, as well as the continuing controversies in this space. Among topics explored: How much fat we should eat? Recommendations have swung from one extreme to the other. In a Review by nutrition scientists with widely varying perspectives, David S. Ludwig and colleagues highlight broad consensus emerging regarding what the proportion of fat should be in a healthy diet, and, importantly, which particular fats seem to be the most healthful. A second Review by Christopher Gentile and Tiffany Weir touches on a promising and emerging area of investigation - how diet influences our give-and-take interaction with the symbionts in our gut. In a third Review, Andrea Di Francesco and colleagues overview the power of adjusting meal size and meal frequency; it's not just what you eat, but when you eat it, and periods of fasting have some remarkable health benefits, they say. In a final Review, Louise M. Burke and John A. Hawley dissect nutritional approaches to optimal performance in elite athletes. There is not a single, superior "athletic diet," they say. Rather, different sports - with different training regimens and metabolic demands - have led to a diversity in sports nutrition practices between athletes. A theme throughout this special issue is that much of the disagreement on what we should eat reflects a lack of solid scientific studies on humans; additional well-designed studies are needed to resolve what's the best diet for people, and how that varies with activity at different life stages and for different individuals.

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