It is now accepted that the “one size fits all” generic nutrition advice doesn’t work for everyone. Personalised nutrition is increasing in popularity and proving to be effective.
The concept of personalised healthcare including personalised nutrition based on genetics has been at the forefront of new developments in health care since the completion of the human genome sequence back in 2001.
Originally, it was defined as very gene-focused but a new idea of personalised nutrition has come about, combining dietary, phenotypic and genotypic information.
What it Metabotyping?
Metabolic diversity leads to variations in nutrient requirements and responses to diet between individuals. A new concept looking to address this and provide in-depth personalised nutrition advice is Metabotyping or metabolic phenotyping. Metabotyping involves grouping individuals together depending on similarities in their metabolic or phenotypic profiles; aiming to provide more tailored and effective recommendations.
How can the concept of Metabotyping be used in the development of personalised nutrition?
The diagram below (from O’Donovan et al) illustrates how the concept of personalised nutrition can be delivered at an individual level or group level to metabolically similar individuals. Non-personalised advice relates to generic healthy eating advice that is aimed at the general population.
Personalised advice can be divided into 3 levels: Level 1 – personalised advice is based on the assessment of the individuals’ diet; Level 2 – is based on diet and blood markers e.g. cholesterol, glucose; Level 3 – created in regards to diet, phenotype and genotypic information (metabotyping).
There is evidence to suggest that metabotyping has the potential to be an effective tool in the delivery of personalised nutrition advice at a group level. Individuals can be grouped on factors like their phenotypic risk of diabetes and obesity or nutrition related SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). A tailored programme can be given to different groups that incorporate factors like fat consumption, activity, and nutritional intake.
This concept is also being applied to various areas of medicine. Phenotypes of a range of diseases including pulmonary diseases and Parkinson’s disease have already been identified. It is particularly useful for conditions where severity and appearance differ greatly among individuals. An example of this is asthma; successful metabotyping of asthma phenotypes is making it possible to develop more tailored treatment procedures.
This is an exciting area of nutrition, which could change the way we give dietary advice forever. However, before personalised nutrition based on metabotypes is made widely available further research is required. The development of generally valid metabotypes is essential, along side confirmation on how efficient this technique is in bringing about the desired dietary change in individuals.