Dietary factors play vital roles in diseases and health. There is undeniable evidence that adopting a better lifestyle, including diet modification, is more effective in preventing illnesses than conventional drugs. Individualized nutrition considers a person's characteristics when developing a diet plan. Moreover, personalization increases motivation towards dietary changes.
Personalization focuses on a person's behavior, biological history, preferences, and objectives in achieving individualized nutrition. Nutrition is integral to our human health, and the dramatic response to it results from microbiota, genetics, metabolism, and biochemistry. We must catalyze the potential of personal nutrition for it to be integral in health care.
Ministries of Health or health care specialists have general guidelines for dieting. However, as bodies differ, so do those guidelines. For instance, based on an individual's genetics, one can be a fast or slow metabolizer. This changes the recommended dietary suggestions. A good example of this would be your ability to metabolize coffee. Slow coffee metabolizers are at increased risk of getting heart attacks and high blood pressure because of prolonged accumulation of caffeine.
Chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disorders are associated with inappropriate behavior and lifestyle. Examples of such unhealthy habits are nutritional excesses, stress, inadequate physical activities, and tobacco use.
Studies indicate that most health visits are lifestyle-related and preventable. So of course, it would be best if we embraced personalized nutrition because of the exorbitant cost of medication. Proper nutrition, including dieting right, is a preventive step that helps inhibit the worsening of conditions.
Remember, lifestyle modification is not an alternative medical approach. Neither is it a new concept because it has been in existence for several centuries. Lifestyle medicine is a broad subject that consists of:
- Appropriate nutrition. Examples are functional foods, medical foods, and dietary supplements.
- Aerobic and anaerobic physical activities.
- Change of an individual's behavior. It is also necessary to manage stressful situations. You have to balance the social networks, psychosocial influences, and mind to body medicine.
- Exposing oneself to environmental contaminants in radiation, food, water, and air.
Perhaps, the most vital lifestyle medicine should be patient-centered such as dieting right. It allows the patients to be actively involved in their healthcare with the assistance of health care specialists. Dieting right may include the following:
- Restriction of fructose in fructose intolerance.
- Regulation of carbohydrate in glycogen storage disease.
- Restriction of gluten in grain intolerance.
- Salt intake restriction among hypertensive patients.
- Low protein intake in patients with chronic kidney disease.
Healthy dieting involves heightened vigilance when preparing some meals. You have to be aware of the food constituents that may lead to undesirable physiological symptoms hours post-consumption.
Salt Restriction Among Hypertensives
Restriction of salt intake is necessary among hypertensives. There are heterogeneous responses to salt intake, with some people being resistant to the effects, while in others, it may exacerbate the elevated blood pressure.
The question is about whether the restriction of salt is a universal benefit. It calls for the need to know hypertensive patients who respond positively to dietary salt restriction and those who do not.
Similarly, excessive dietary cholesterol is associated with hypercholesterolemia. Excessive plasma cholesterol predisposes one to or worsens an underlying atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
This means that the individualization of nutrition in patients with cardiovascular conditions is necessary. It would be best if such patients embraced a diet rich in high-density lipoprotein while avoiding risk factors for low-density lipoprotein.
Effect of Personalized Diet on Gut Microbiota
The effect of nutrition on an individual's gut microbiome is gaining popularity. People are interested in knowing the relationship between the composition of gut microbiota and individualized nutrition. Massive clinical trials are already embracing the role of microbiome testing in tailoring diet advice. Note that an individual's microbiome will react differently to the dietary intervention.
Researchers conducted a study to assess the importance of dietary intervention on an individual's gut microbiota. Additionally, the researchers sought to establish the most desirable response based on microbial composition at baseline. Participants received instructions on both personalized and general nutrition.
The aim was to increase fiber-rich foods while decreasing saturated fat, salt, and sugar intake. Over a two week period, the participants made the changes in their diet. The results revealed that an individual's microbiota composition at baseline was a key determinant on who would respond best to dietary intervention.
Participants who took less fiber-rich foods at baseline reported the most significant shift in the microbiome, with a rapid increase in fiber-destroying bacteria. The research revealed that short-term modification in an individual's diet directly influences microbiota composition in the gut to resemble individuals taking foods rich in fiber for a long time. Considering an individual's microbial composition when personalizing nutrition is very critical.
Individualized nutrition is quickly gaining popularity. The key players in the rise of popularity are diagnostic advancement and increased awareness among consumers on the importance of tailored nutrition. The tailoring relies on unique characteristics, including personal and family health history, blood measures, and genotype.
Malnutrition exacerbates complications and prolonged stays in the hospitals among patients. It is commonly associated with adverse clinical results and often causes admission into the intensive care units. A study carried out on 1,327 adult patients revealed that about 40 to 50% were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.
Additionally, about 12% of these hospitalized patients were chronically malnourished. Surgical patients at risk of malnutrition are at double chances of developing complications. There is also increased mortality in malnourished patients, unlike well-nourished patients. Furthermore, reports indicate about a 90% likelihood of prolonged hospital stay in malnutrition cases.
Since malnutrition subjects patients to prolonged hospital admission, research indicates that it elevates hospitalization costs to 75% from 35% of the well-nourished patients. For effective patient care, data on the patients' nutritional status is vital. Appropriate medical intervention such as adopting a healthy diet lowers the cost of medication. Furthermore, such practices improve clinical outcomes significantly.
In malnourished patients, health outcomes may improve through nutrition counseling, oral supplements, and oral diet. Physicians may also recommend parenteral nutrition via the peripheral lines and enteral formula via the tubes. For quality health care services, early nutritional assessment and correct dietary intervention would be best.
Nutrigenomics and Individualized Nutrition
There is an interaction between genomes and diet. Nutrition has a life-long environmental effect on our health. Typically, nutrigenetics focuses on an individual's genetic composition for dietary susceptibility. Nutrigenomics, on the other hand, focuses on transcriptomics, metabolomics, and proteomics.
These disciplines are prerequisites for nutritional biology. Personalized diet is an analog to individualized medicine. Although there are food products addressing requirements, the products rely on empirical consumers instead of nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics.
Traditionally, nutrition focused on benefiting populations through nutrients. Currently, proper nutrition focuses on improving human health through the diet. Research on molecular nutrition targets disease prevention and health promotion.
Note that consumers have different responses to diet based on environments, lifestyle, and genotypes. In responding to the shifting consumer landscape, the nutrition business is manufacturing products that suit an individual patient's needs. Such necessities vary among people and encompass nutritional, allergic, diabetic, elderly, obese, or sportive needs.
The setback in introducing personalized diet into the market lies in developing diagnostic, service, and nutritional solutions. In transforming research into the business model, identification of consumer demand is necessary. Besides, we need to define bio-availability biomarkers, disposition, and bio-efficacy. In a model study, metabolite profiles, protein, and people's genes in varying nutritional and health conditions get analyzed.
The discovery technology used at the level of metabolite, gene, and protein within health and nutrition context can deliver biomarkers for digestive comfort and health. They are early indicators of disease disposition and differentiates dietary non-responders from responders. The discovery technologies have the potential to discover bio-active and vital food constituents.
Individualized nutrition preserves or increases health by incorporating genetic, phenotypic, and other relevant information to deliver healthy eating guides. Note that individualized therapy is vital for both the fit and the sick. It is necessary even for patients who lack genetic susceptibility to particular diseases. Dietary intervention is critical when intending to improve public health.
The nutritional modifications maximize benefits and limit the adverse effects. However, the focus on individuals has limited impacts on populations.
In ensuring a more considerable impact, the intervention should involve a more significant population to minimize disparities. Bear in mind that people may also embrace individualized nutrition to achieve specific health benefits and personal objectives. Such cases include in competitive sports or when obtaining a particular body shape and size.
Conceptual Basis for Individualized Nutrition
Personalized diet relies on the idea that individualizing services, products, or nutritional advice is more effective than generic approaches. Individualized nutrition integrates with changes in public health programs and bio-science focused on preventing diseases rather than treating the existing conditions.
There is an inter-individual response to food. An example includes response to plasma cholesterol following a diet rich in saturated fats, food intolerance, and allergies. Individualized nutritional advice is appropriate for every population, including children, teenagers, adults, and especially pregnant mothers.
Nutritional Personalization Based on Behavior and Preferences
Most researchers in the field of nutrition focus on phenotypic and genotypic traits. It relies on the assumption that whatever we can measure can lead to a better outcome. Unlike the medications, dietary modifications require people to make daily, if not hourly, choices.
Such lifestyle modifications depend mainly on the collaboration with subjects getting assisted in taking responsibility for their behaviors and health. Numerous benefits are associated with shared decision-making between specialists and patients. A dialogue between the recipient and the provider will be more binding and accepted, unlike sole decisions from the health specialist's perspective.
The Future of Personalized Diet
Numerous factors will determine the advancement of individualized nutrition. First, establishing a more robust theoretical basis, including identifying the most vital characteristics, is key. Secondly, the cost-effectiveness and efficacy of intervention studies need to be well-designed. The study will benefit heavily from a multidisciplinary team comprising nutritionists, biomedical scientists, computer scientists, and behavioral psychologists.
Integration of omics will entail microbiomes, metabolomics, and epigenomics. The diverse approach to personalized nutrition may pose a challenge in embracing generic guidelines. Scientific evidence is critical before the commercial team takes control because inappropriate dietary modifications could harm the consumers' health.
The absence of clear guidelines on personalized nutrition may create a barrier to examining the approach's credibility to help individuals achieve their health and dietary goals.
Challenges in Personalized Nutrition
Diet has a significant effect on our well-being and health. The human body requires a balanced diet rich in micronutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are also crucial for the proper functioning of the body. In the absence of a balanced, myriad health problems ensue, including malnutrition, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions.
Although the role of proper nutrition exists, health and food interaction are complex. Chronic conditions are multifactorial. Diets also have huge diversity making it challenging to know the role that specific nutrients play in diseases.
There is an inter-individual variability where people have different responses towards dietary intervention. Numerous challenges exist in the application and translation of proteomics, metabolomics, and genomics.
Some of the challenges encountered in revolutionizing individualized nutrition include:
- Missing data, data sparsity, and need to improve imputation methods.
- Standardization of data and the need to train individuals.
To have accurate, individualized nutritional recommendations and accelerate achieving well-being and good health, deep learning and artificial intelligence are necessary.
Personalized lifestyle modification is capable of addressing a patient's condition amicably. Through it, the patients are capable of regaining control over their health. In addition, they also feel empowered by taking part in decision-making concerning their health. A healthy diet approach is integral in one's life because it aids in preventing and treating various conditions. A healthy, personalized diet can increase longevity and quality of life. Speak with your doctor about what it can do for you and your future!