Is personalised nutrition the future of health?

How science is finding ways to prevent disease and achieve our health goals

Have you ever noticed that while going vegan seems to leave Jonas, your colleague at work, full of energy, and going keto has helped Karen lose weight, neither diet seems to have the same effect for you? Perhaps, amongst all the diet trends, eating a balanced mediterranean-style diet might be the most successful for your personal goals and to help you prevent disease. 

What gives?

How come it’s so different from person to person? Well it turns out, it could be in your DNA. Evidence has been accumulating that supports the concept that your unique genetic makeup dictates how you breakdown and process foods. It can decide what you can and can’t digest and also if you tend to gain weight. Our metabolic responses to nutrients varies greatly from person to person. This means that doing the same kind of diet isn’t right for everyone. 

In addition to our genetics, there’s also the dietary habits that we’ve learned throughout our lives. Perhaps you grew up in a family that mostly ate microwaved hotdogs for dinner and you never really learned how to cook. Or maybe every night was meat & potatoes night, so you never learned to enjoy a  variety of nutritious veggies. We all have different improvements we need to make in order to reach our health goals and prevent disease.

Basically when it comes to dietary advice, one size does not fit all.

Personalised Nutrition

So how can we address these differences in dietary needs? Businesses are taking innovative approaches to better understand our genetic and habitual differences. Allowing them to provide services that cater to our different needs. It’s important to remember that when it comes to ‘DNA diets’, this is still a growing area of research and many say more research is still needed. 

Blood Test Analysis

One approach is to use blood testing analysis which enables early detection of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Most diseases show distinct metabolomic markers. Once these markers have been determined, they can be used to identify individuals at high risk for disease years before the conditions develop. With this information services can provide tailored dietary guidelines using both food & lifestyle to help prevent disease.

Gut Microbiome Analysis

Other companies are offering tailored diet recommendations based on your gut microbiome. Over the past decade, scientists have been learning about the importance of the human microbiome and the role it plays in overall health. In particular, there is a community of symbiotic bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in your digestive tract and make up your unique gut microbiome. This community is different from person to person and affect almost every system in the body, including the digestive, immune and cardiovascular system. These services analyse your stool sample for organisms in your gut and then provide dietary recommendations based on your unique results. 

Personal Habit Change

Another approach is to prevent disease by targeting our individual unhealthy habits and addressing them before it’s too late. Our service, HOLISTAL, is a digital platform helping individuals eat healthier and improve their lifestyles. After completing a healthy habit assessment and selecting your personal health goals, we offer personalised dietary and lifestyle programs tailored to your individual needs. By addressing the habits that are having the most detrimental effect on your health, we can give you the tools to create new ones. It has been developed with a neuroscientist from Karolinska Institutet who specialises in eating behaviour. HOLISTAL supports habit change with daily actions, tips and challenges, as well as an extensive recipe section tailored just for you.

References

(1) Arkadianos, Ioannis, et al. “Improved Weight Management Using Genetic Information to Personalize a Calorie Controlled Diet.” Nutrition Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, 2007, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-6-29.

(2) Celis-Morales, Carlos, et al. “Effect of Personalized Nutrition on Health-Related Behaviour Change: Evidence from the Food4me European Randomized Controlled Trial.” International Journal of Epidemiology, 2016, doi:10.1093/ije/dyw186.

(3) “Personalised Nutrition: Food Science and Technology.” Personalised Nutrition | Food Science and Technology, fstjournal.org/features/31-2/personalised-nutrition.

(4) Bull MJ, Plummer NT. Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014;13(6):17–22.

(5) Gardner B, Lally P, Wardle J. Making health habitual: the psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. Br J Gen Pract. 2012;62(605):664–666. doi:10.3399/bjgp12X659466

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