In 1826, this famous saying was published in a treatise called The Physiology of Taste, or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy, by French lawyer, politician, gastronome and bon vivant Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. PURE has taken the concept to a global level.
Centuries later the concept has a new place at the health management table as published comprehensive and ground breaking international research has cast new meaning on this concept with some heart-felt views and advice.
Given its importance in keeping your body alive the relationship between diet and heart health has come to the fore. Not to mention that heart disease is New Zealand’s biggest ‘killer’.
There is no argument that cardiovascular disease (heart and blood vessels) is a global epidemic with 80% of the burden of disease in low-income and middle-income countries.
Similarly, consensus is that diet is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease in addition to other non-communicable (non-infectious) diseases.
Desperately seeking solutions
The search for the Holy Grail of creating the ultimate heart-health diet has produced a cornucopia of ideas, fads, recommendations, research and conclusions about what best suits the human physiology.
Along the way what has been considered as bona fide research conclusions have been debated, debunked or totally reconsidered.
In one of the world’s most comprehensive studies—with the matter of fact title of Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study—popular beliefs have been turned upside down.
The PURE in the title is an acronym referring to a Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology. The last word in the mix refers to the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.
By any standard the research is a massive undertaking providing a feast of information and findings. It involves studying 225,000 participants in detail, and 500,000 with simple information, from more than 1,000 urban and rural communities in 27 high, middle and low-income countries.
PURE is investigating the impact of diet, modernization, urbanization, and globalization on health behaviours, how risk factors develop and influence cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lung diseases, cancers, kidney disease, brain health, and injuries. Over a time frame of January 1st 2003 and March 31st 2030*. The focus is on the efficacy of existing knowledge as well as fresh information that might produce a change of perspective related to dietary contributions to better health. This includes documentation of the characteristics of the community, the household and individual lifestyles, health conditions, and anthropometrics which are inclusive of: blood pressure, lipids, glucose and lung function, drugs used and stored bloods and urine.
*In terms of updating the data there is a long-term and ongoing follow up(FU) current mean of 10 years with >95% FU for mortality and >90% for morbidity. Plus there are plans to extend the follow up for another 10 years to study the conditions of aging (dementia, frailty, arthritis & disability globally.