MoBioFood attended to NutriTech final symposium (Lisbon, Portugal)
Phenotypic Flexibility A new concept to quantify and optimise health, and its impact on nutrition research. NutriTech is a European Commission funded FP7 research project (2012-2015)
The human organism has an amazing capacity to adapt to continuously varying conditions, and regain homeostasis after challenges or stressors. In fact, this is an essential component of health, healthy development and healthy ageing. Wherever this capacity is compromised, disorders appear, and ageing coincides with loss of flexibility. Regaining flexibility is key for the treatment of many diseases, and all lifestyle related therapies restore aspects of flexibility. Stressors may include metabolic (feasting/ fasting), immune/ inflammatory, mental/ emotional, toxic, temperature, physical exercise, etc.
Diet is a key component in shaping, maintaining and optimising this flexibility in a number of ways:
It provides many of the components of the 'systems flexibility machinery'
· Optimal nutrition and dietary regimens maintain phenotypic flexibility
· Malnutrition and caloric excess result in decreased flexibility, resulting in many disorders
· Early life diet shapes later life metabolic and immunological flexibility
With the advancement of systems biology, nutrigenomics and related analytical technologies, we now are obtaining a detailed view of the mechanisms and molecular physiology. This has resulted in the description of a few "layers" in flexibility. Firstly, "metabolic flexibility" is the ability of the organism to adapt between various energy sources. "Phenotypic flexibility"expands on this and encompasses all processes.
Purpose of the NutriTech Symposium
If flexibility is so causally involved in health and disease, the quantification of all relevant aspects and mechanisms involved may be a unique biomarker approach. In fact, we have now demonstrated that loss in flexibility precedes loss in homeostasis, making "stress response biomarkers" more suitable for the quantification of early deviations from health than the classical homeostatic biomarkers.
This symposium will exploit the concepts, mechanisms, technologies, quantification, consequences and interventions that shape, maintain, regain and optimise phenotypic flexibility and systems flexibility. In addition it also provides practical solutions to implement these approaches in nutrition and health research, design of healthy ageing strategies, for food industry (product development and health claim substantiation) and in Healthcare.