A significant amount of what we read about diets in the media and science literature focuses on searching for the best diet that will serve us all. The focus is on the foods. Should it be paleo, pescatarian, high starch, vegan…? Yet we all know, deep down, that one size doesn’t fit all. We are all different. So why don’t we focus on the person instead of the food? One new company is helping us shift our thinking.
You may recall that last week’s blog post looked at “Blue Zones” – the places in the world where people live the longest and healthiest lives. We saw that they didn’t all eat the same diet – rather there were some commonalities, but plenty of differences too.
My Master’s degree was in personalized nutrition so I learned about the importance of an individualized approach and how we all react differently to foods. You might recall in my previous post “Should I measure blood glucose levels if I am not diabetic” that the large research study  I discussed saw that our blood glucose response to foods varied between different people. This was in stark contrast to the glycemic load concept. The study found that some people could eat rice and have no blood glucose spike, yet their levels spiked when they ate ice cream. No real surprise there. And this held consistently for that individual. But then some people showed the opposite. They had glucose spikes after brown rice but had no real changes after ice cream. And then some people didn’t respond to either of these foods, and some to both!
The researchers found that several factors affected this response – one of which was the gut microbiota. Maybe this helps explain why one diet doesn’t work for everyone, as we all have a different microbiota. You might have tried different types of diets, without success – because they all focused on the food and not on you.
Since the publication of the study, the researchers have been busy trying to take what they found in the research and make it available to others. Their goal is to create a test that enables us to find out what foods suit us best, as an individual. Then we can create a health eating plan attuned to us. Blood glucose control is so important in just about all chronic illnesses, so their focus on how this is affected by foods is a great place to start. (Other personalized nutrition approaches look at different parameters including your genes and polymorphisms and how food might affect them.)
The good news is that these researchers have now nearly finished their development and are getting ready to offer tests. The test involves a questionnaire and then sending off a stool sample. They will look at the microbiota in the stool sample, and add that information with your personal details into their algorithm – and come up with a personalized nutrition plan just for you.
TEDx talk by one of the researchers
This is worth watching – it gives a good summary of their research and plan going forward:
I’m excited to see how this works out. Will it prove useful for people in the long term?
You can sign up and pre-order the kit – you can do so now at a reduced price of $299. I’m going to give it a go. They expect to ship the kits out in January 2017 and then you provide a stool sample, answer some questions and let them know your HbA1c levels, which provides an indication of your average blood glucose levels over the past 6 weeks or so.
When they have analyzed your results, you will get a personalized app that rates the foods that will raise your blood glucose and those that won’t. For example, for you specifically, one food might be given an A grade, while another will get a C+. This approach might well be an easy alternative to monitoring your blood sugar levels before and after meals. In the meantime, I’m continuing to do that. How about you?
We know that blood glucose isn’t everything. We also need to look at other aspects of our diet. But this is a great start. We can use this information along with factors such as our polymorphisms, how our body relates to different fats, what micronutrients we each need from foods, and other individual goals, to create an optimum personalized diet. I am fascinated by what they will find as this goes out to the general public.
Here’s the link to the “Day Two” site if you want to find out more or give it a try. (I have no connection to them – just interested!)
Watch this space! I’ll report back next year when I do mine. Can’t wait!