Tuesday, September 9, 2014

NuGO Week: Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet

Yesterday began the 11th NuGO Week conference on “Nutrigenomics of Food” with a debate on Mediterranean diet and the Nordic diet. The Mediterranean diet (MD) is well known if not precisely defined - little to no dairy in Spain, but feta and other cheeses in Greece. We heard of results from PREDIMED and the view from Spain. The Nordic diet (ND) is a contemporary adaptation of healthy and traditional food choices from Nordic countries.

Both diets show health benefits in the respective examined populations. These benefits were described as mainly pertaining to cardiovascular disease, including glycemic measures, and to chronic inflammation.

What we heard was much more compare and contrast (of data) than a debate. There was only very brief mention of conducting the same experiment for both diets (a metabolomics assessment of blood and urine from subjects taking the diet of the respective area (Spain and Norway, e.g.). But no one offered putting Spaniards on a Nordic diet and Norwegians on a Mediterranean diet.

One thing I will like to see is an analysis of the response to the MD in PREDIMED based on an analysis of the genetic ancestry of the individuals. There are sufficient data to be able to classify the subjects by genetic ancestry along norther-southern European axes. Then, we can address if those persons with greater northern European ancestry show a weaker or equal beneficial response to the MD. 

Similarly, the ND projects would do well to engage more subjects - although I fully realize that the population of Spain is likely larger than that of all five Nordic countries combined - and incorporate genetics and other large data sets.

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