We now live longer than ever. Yet, we are not necessarily living healthier anymore: with a rapidly aging population, people are experiencing a continuous growth of chronic diseases such as cancer, metabolic, neurological, and heart disorders. This drives healthcare costs through the roof and puts a significant strain on the public health systems .
A large part of the problem resides in poor dietary choices. Unhealthy diets kill more than cigarettes and are responsible for 1 out of 5 deaths globally — in 2018, this amounted to nearly 11 million lives. Besides the obvious culprit — unhealthy highly processed food — a less obvious killer is the low intake of healthy foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes .
Take cancer for example: rightfully considered the plight of the modern era, it will affect every second reader of this post at one point in their lifetime. Although the perspective seems gloomy, the good news is that nearly 40% of all oncological diseases could be prevented through dietary and lifestyle changes alone  — a finding that encourages us to look more carefully at what we eat, as diet is perhaps the single most important modifiable risk factor for cancer.
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The food we eat contains thousands of bioactive molecules, some of which are similar to anti-cancer drugs. Modern machine learning techniques can discover such components and help design nutrition that will let us live longer and healthier.