Nutri-informatics: a new kid on the block?
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- Döring, F. & Rimbach, G. Genes Nutr (2014) 9: 394. doi:10.1007/s12263-014-0394-6
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From an epistemological point of view, nutritional physiology has been developed, like other factual sciences such as physics, from a purely descriptive to a mechanismic-explanatory scientific discipline. Nowadays, nutritional physiology has entered the molecular stage. Based on this micro-reductionism, molecular targets (e.g., transcription factors) of energy intake, certain nutrients (e.g., zinc) and selected plant bioactives (e.g., flavonoids) have been identified. Although these results are impressive, molecular approaches in nutritional physiology are limited by nature since the molecular targets of nutrients seem to have no ontic priority to understand the nutritional phenotype of an organism. Here we define, to the best of our knowledge, for the first time Nutri-informatics as a new bioinformatics discipline integrating large-scale data sets from nutritional studies into a stringent nutritional systems biology context. We suggest that Nutri-informatics, as an emerging field, may bridge the gap between nutritional biochemistry, nutritional physiology and metabolism to understand the interactions between an organism and its environment.