Promoting diets rich in whole grains should play a key role in strategies designed to protect struggling health care systems, experts have stressed, stressing their role in preventing major non-communicable diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed global health services – and, amid the rise of superbugs and an aging population, the pressure on the health sector is unlikely to ease any time soon.
This leaves a big question mark over how to ensure the economic viability of health care systems in the future.
For Jan Martikainen, a health economist and professor of pharmacoeconomics at the University of Eastern Finland, the key is to place more emphasis on preventive measures.
“If we want to increase the sustainability of health care systems globally, we need to move from treatment to prevention, that much is clear,” he stressed at a recent event, focusing on a holistic approach. stressed the need to factor in actual costs. Meditation.
And according to experts, the answer may partly lie in our diets—especially in our intake of whole grains.
Whole grain is any type of grain that has not been refined, and instead retains and contains the entire kernel. The panelists noted that these types of grains are more nutrient-dense than refined grains and offer many environmental and health benefits.
Despite strong evidence pointing to the health benefits of whole grains, their uptake in the EU is low.
The EU’s flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy, highlights that while consumption of red meat, sugar, salt and fat remains higher than recommendations, consumption of whole grain cereals is ‘inadequate’.
“We need a solution to increase the sustainability of health care systems, and whole grains are one solution,” Martikanen said.
This is because the rich nutritional value of whole grains has been found to help reduce the risk of major non-communicable diseases, he explained.
“Based on the evidence, what we know, when we increase our intake of whole grains, we are able to reduce the risk of heart diseases, type II diabetes and some types of cancer,” Martikenen said.
Similarly, Roberto Volpe, medical researcher at the European Heart Network (EHN) and representative of the Italian Society for Cardiovascular Prevention (SIPREC), pointed to a recent meta-analysis that concluded that consuming whole grains per 1,000 Only an additional 50 grams of kilocalories was found to reduce cardiovascular mortality by 20% and cancer mortality by 12%, reducing cancer mortality by about 12%.
“With just a spoonful of whole grains, we can fight so many diseases,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, Kelly LeBlanc, director of nutrition at the Whole Grains Council, said that because whole grains are more nutrient-dense, they give us a “bigger nutritional bang for our buck.”
This is good news for both the environment and human health, he added.
“So when we’re trying to decide how to maximize each parcel of land for the greatest nutritional outcome, it’s a no-brainer to prioritize whole grains, because they’re best suited to meet our nutrient needs.” help us,” he concluded.
And, thanks to the relative cheapness of whole grains, it’s also a solution that works globally, according to Saskia De Pee, chief analyst for science for food and nutrition at the World Food Program (WFP).
Noting that at least three billion people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet, the DP stressed that fortifying staple foods to ensure the world’s poorest people have access to healthy and varied diets is a cost. can be an effective and culturally appropriate approach.
“There are some really beautiful examples from around the world of whole grains,” he said, citing historical examples from India and Ethiopia.
[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna/Alice Taylor]