Since the beginning of 2022, Henrik Pompeius and Alice Grigore have joined the Management Board to represent their respective countries, Sweden and Romania. Henrik works at Formas and Alice, who represents Romania together with Nastasia Belc, is employed by the Romanian Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization. We would like to extend a warm welcome to them both and are pleased to introduce them to you by means of this short four-question interview in which they share their thoughts and insights on the JPI HDHL, food, health, and the environment with us.
‘Chefs are the new priests for food; they will experiment and help engage the rest of us in how to cook and appreciate healthy and sustainable food for the future.’
How did you become involved in the JPI HDHL?
Henrik: ‘After fifteen years in the business world, I started working in academia and bridging academia, business and society. The last eight years for an international sustainability research centre (Stockholm Resilience Centre), where food and health became a cutting-edge research topic. Additionally, I worked with the EAT Forum (a science-based global platform for food system transformation) and other food-health projects. Now is an era for getting all stakeholders involved and collaborating more. Joining Formas in 2020 felt like extremely important work by helping to tailor the funding accordingly.’
Alice: ‘I am a biologist with a PhD in biology and about 20 years of experience in the area of medicinal plants research and their capitalization in value-added products for health. I am currently working as counsellor for the Romanian Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitalization at the Department of European and International Partnerships. Due to the fact that the former representative left and also due to my professional background, I was nominated to participate in the MB of JPI HDHL.'
What do you consider important (nutrition related) research topics in the coming years and why?
Henrik: ‘To link food, nutrition and health as a systemic approach which is strategically important with regard to sustainability.’
Alice: ‘In my opinion there are several important research topics, such as immunity due to increasing aggressive factors that destabilize the immune system which we are dealing with today, inflammation because it stands at the base of all diseases, and the microbiome since the mechanisms of microbiota in health and disease are not fully understood. Furthermore, obesity is one of the most widespread disorders, which is alarming and affects more and more children which requires research of topics related to the environment and education since there are environmental factors we need to adapt to and people are not fully aware of the influence of nutrition on health. Lastly, research on dietary supplements is important because people are coming back to natural and traditional cures but most of the supplements are not studied enough, the impact and side effects are mostly not fully known.’
What will the future bring in relation to nutrition, health and the environment?
Henrik: ‘We will increasingly experiment with both new and old (forgotten) food sources that can thrive locally in a changing climate. We will look back on what worked in our old lifestyle and environments, adapting this to modern conditions and with what we continuously learn from sustainability research and bringing this to practise. A new balanced lifestyle, which takes into account both family and work. Chefs are the new priests for food; they will experiment and help engage the rest of us in how to cook and appreciate healthy and sustainable food for the future.’
Alice: ‘We all hope that all efforts will transform the “one health” vision into reality.’
Do you have any lifestyle tips for our readers?
”A little bit of everything”
Henrik: ‘See household work as valuable daily exercise, instead of outsourcing it or letting your partner do it. And get a dog! You live longer from daily walks in fresh air and good company, which creates a healthy appetite and less risk for over-eating. All of which is scientifically proven to make you live both longer and happier.’
Alice: ”A little bit of everything”, no restrictions (except for medical issues), but a balanced lifestyle is important.
Text: JPI HDHL secretariat
Publication date: May 25, 2022