New Approaches to Studying the Potential Health Benefits of Cereals: From Reductionism to Holism
The potential health benefits of cereal products have long been studied using a reductionist approach, which has led to the association of health benefits with only a few bioactive compounds and a restricted focus on the fiber fraction of cereal grains. Meanwhile, epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes continue to expand each year. The reductionist approach has seemingly reached the limits of what it can reveal. Therefore, there is a need for a more holistic approach to health and grains that takes into account the roles played by food structure, cereal biodiversity, all foods consumed within a diet, and level of physical activity. This short review describes the results obtained in cereal science research when either a reductionist or holistic approach is followed. It is argued that because the role of diet in health is complex, research questions should first be considered holistically, after which a reductionist approach can be used to address specific questions.