At its core, personalized nutrition is a diet designed to fit the physical, mental, and environmental needs of an individual.

Nutritional needs are much like people. We’re similar in many ways, but we also have differences in the way our bodies have developed and the lives we each live.

We have different preferences, different cultures, and different biochemical reactions to food.

Personalized nutrition applies this logic to nutrition.

Your Tastes

Emotions and preferences are heavily wrapped up in our diets, and culture is a big part of the discussion. It may be a losing battle to ask Okinawans to give up carbs, or Sardinians to give up wine. And despite their different diets, these “Blue Zones” both have large populations that tend to live past 100 with relatively low rates of chronic diseases.

But we also can possess different biochemical reactions to food as well.

Allergies are a clear example. Roughly 3 million Americans have Celiac disease and cannot eat gluten, peanut allergies have more than tripled in U.S. children over the last few decades, and you can even develop an allergic reaction to meat through the spread of a virus from a tick bite.

But it goes far beyond these obvious constraints.

Your Genes

Differences in genetics can alter predispositions for certain health outcomes; one person may possess genetic qualities that predispose them to gaining weight more easily, while another may possess inefficient vitamin B12 metabolism.

And although these studies are too early to make definitive predictions, some research has shown that individuals were certain genes have better health outcomes on a high-carb, low-fat diet, while other genes seem to suggest better outcomes on a low-carb, high-fat diet. And other genes have shown links to high blood pressure, appetite, and many other aspects of diet-related health outcomes.

The lives we lead also greatly impacts our biochemistry and metabolism, each affected by changes in things like stress, sleep, family eating dynamics, and diet itself. Differences in lifestyles and environmental conditions can alter epigenetic modifications to your genes and shift gut microbiota composition.

Your Gut

And these effects are likely not the same in everybody. A recent study in Cell showed a widely varying glycemic response between individuals to the same meals. In addition to clinical differences, like the amount of sleep they got the night before, their gut bacteria composition played a substantial role in their body’s response to food. And not only does your gut bacteria affect which foods you should eat to provide better health, but your food in return affects your gut microbiome diversity.

Your Environment

Epigentics may play a role too. Epigenetics refers to modifications in gene expression. This means, certain lifestyle and environmental conditions may change which of your genes are promoted or inhibited.

Research is accumulating on the role epigenetics may play on nutritional health outcomes, particularly for environmental conditions in early-life. And although this was only a rat-study, an interesting finding showed obese rats produced epigenetic changes that resulted in decreased leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. This will be an interesting area of research to watch.

When it comes to weight loss, many diets of varying macronutrient composition have been tried. A recent review and meta-analysis showed they can all work to help lower weight. The biggest determinant was whether study participants could stick to the diet.

There are some broad commonalities. Protein may increase satiety and thus, make it easier for more people to consume fewer calories because they feel more full for longer. And carbohydrates, in general, tend to produce a higher glycemic response after meals.

But these studies in gut microbiome and gene expression are beginning to shed light on the reality that the magnitude of these effects can vary quite dramatically in different people.

In Conclusion

Find a diet that works best for you.

#Personalized #Nutrition recognizes that certain #diets are better suited for certain people. Click To Tweet

This accounts for variability in personal preferences and dietary constraints, as well as biological variations in genetics, epigenetics, and gut microbiota.

Long-standing dietary advice from major health organizations still hold true. Listen to the expert opinions on major macro and micronutrient recommendations. Their advice will rarely lead one astray.

But often, achieving their targets and your own personal goals can be difficult. Personalizing and optimizing your diet to fit your unique biology and environmental conditions can help optimize and accelerate your progress.

Intake’s mission is to improve global health through data-driven nutrition. Our blog provides information, education, tools, and tips about all things related to nutrition, including healthy eating, disease prevention, peak performance, and personalization. Sign up for alerts on new posts and product updates!