Diet and nutrition plans have become as personalized as the individual. No longer is an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all diet an integral part of healthy eating. With the proliferation of individual DNA testing, diets have become unique to the individual and are proving to be more successful because they’re an improved lifestyle rather than a diet. Sometimes also called DNA diets, these nutritional plans are based on the individual’s response to the food they consume and was researched by Harvard Medical School and King’s College in London. The results showed that eating plans need to be tailored to the individual because no two people respond the same to the same food. Although once the norm for celebrities and athletes, personalized nutrition is now available for anyone who wants it.
Using the health history of both an individual and their family as well as the individual’s goals, personalized nutrition can determine the best type of diet to ensure better health and longevity. Science has long known that people with certain blood types are often predisposed to some types of disease such as diabetes or heart disease. Personalized nutrition goes a step further and tailors the diet to accommodate these tendencies along with the overall lifestyle and body chemistry of the individual. A personalized nutrition plan begins with tests that include:
- Blood pressure
- BMI, or body fat percentage
- BMR, or basal metabolic rate
- Height and weight
- Recent lab work
These are used to provide the most appropriate diet and lifestyle. The nutritional plan will also include the individual’s goals and food preferences as well as instruction on the combination of types of foods that will work best together. Rather than focusing solely on the food, personalized nutrition incorporates the dietary regimen with the lifestyle and genetics to provide the optimum level of health and wellness.
In addition to genetics, factors such as exercise level, gut microbes, sleep habits, and stress are factors in how the body responds to its food intake. In short, as reported in the Global Wellness Summit of 2019, personalized nutrition is only effective when used in conjunction with an overall picture of the individual that includes:
- A complete blood chemistry report
- An intestinal tract analysis
- Genetic probability statistics
- A health coach to interpret the agglomerated findings
Since this approach encompasses the entire body rather than just the dietary regimen, those who use a personalized nutrition plan can realistically see a significant improvement in their physical health as well as their physical condition.
Current nutritional guidelines are based on methods that are antiquated and inaccurate. Through the use of innovative advances in genetic sequencing and wearable sensors, more accurate data is available to study and evaluate, and there has subsequently been an increased interest in the field. This means that additional research is likely and that new technologies are on the horizon that will improve success rates.
One of the newer technologies is an app to let the individual know how their body will respond to a food they’ve never eaten. This would be of particular assistance to those with food allergies as well as those who want to eat healthily and ensure their longevity.
Perhaps the major problem with personalized nutrition is changing the individual’s attitude and motivation. Even though a healthier body is possible with this type of personalized nutrition lifestyle, many people are too comfortable with their ingrained eating and lifestyle habits to make a permanent change. This makes a personalized nutrition plan no different than a fad diet, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Used in an appropriate and dedicated manner, a personalized nutrition regimen can help reduce the onset of hereditary diseases and improve an individual’s overall quality of life. It may also reduce dependence on some prescription medications by eliminating some hereditary diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, and reduce the number of visits to the doctor’s office.