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Personalised Nutrition: Manipulating The Gut Microbiome

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

✍🏼 Sameeha Jaffer Ali | BSc Biomedical Science Graduate at Aston University

 

What is personalised nutrition? 🍏

Personalised nutrition is the concept of following a specific, tailored nutrition plan that is designed using data gathered from an individual’s genes, environment and other factors (e.g., diet, exercise, gut microbiome).

Many people experience uncertainty when faced with dietary advice that is too generic and oversimplified. Personalised nutrition was introduced as a solution that works to customise a person’s diet according to how their body responds to different foods.


The individual characteristics of a person are assessed, and a comprehensive plan is made to meet the nutritional requirements of the body.


A comparison of regular and personalised dietary advice
 

Are there any benefits to personalised nutrition? 🤔

Personalised Nutrition has been shown to motivate people to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Apart from the obvious benefits seen with healthy eating like, improved immunity, improved mood, high cognitive function and low risk of cancer, personalised nutrition does not differ much from a normal diet plan.


In a randomised controlled trial conducted by Celis-Morales et al, personalised nutrition was found to be more effective at motivating consumers to stick to a healthier lifestyle and diet as opposed to a conventional diet plan.


The study concluded that although improved diet and healthier habits were seen in those using personalised nutrition, minimal evidence exists to suggest that personalised nutrition is superior to conventional methods and that more research must be conducted in order to suggest that it is.

 

What is the gut microbiome, and what is its role in nutrition?🦠

The gut microbiome or microbiota is the collective community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, virus, and protozoa) that reside in the gut.

The gut microbiome assists in many biological functions including:

  • Digestion of food

  • Absorption of nutrients

  • Control of the body’s chemical reactions that turn food into energy (metabolic regulation)

  • Protection against disease

  • Structural maintenance of the gut

The gut microbiome also produces a variety of nutrients that are essential to the body such as, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), vitamins and amino acids (molecules that form proteins).


A well-balanced gut microbiome can help yield energy from digested food and reduce the risk of developing gastrointestinal diseases, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). More information on IBS can be found here.

 

How can the gut microbiome composition be utilised in personalised nutrition? 🧪

A personalised diet plan can be developed by analysing the composition of the gut microbiome.

This is typically achieved by collecting a stool sample from the client and identifying the various microorganisms present through a technique known as DNA sequencing.


If a person lacks beneficial bacteria in their microbiome, then they may be advised to eat foods containing nutrients that promote the growth of these beneficial bacteria. A prime example of this is probiotics (live ‘good’ microorganisms) and prebiotics (food compounds that feed the ‘good’ microorganisms).


Foods that are high in probiotics include:

  • Yoghurt

  • Buttermilk

  • Kimchi

  • Miso

  • Apple cider vinegar

Foods that are high in prebiotics include:

  • Asparagus

  • Bananas

  • Garlic

  • Berries

  • Oats

By consuming high-pro and pre-biotic foods, a balance of different microorganisms in the gut can be achieved, improving overall digestion.


It’s important to note that the gut microbiome composition is unique to each individual. Therefore, a unique composition may call for a unique diet plan.

 

Is there a future for personalised nutrition? 🔮

Although still in its infancy, personalised nutrition is gaining recognition in the diet industry.

There have already been a wealth of apps and companies that have entered the market. The potential to reduce cases of obesity, heart disease, and gastrointestinal diseases through the use of individually tailored diet plans may be highly of interest to the health sector in the coming years.


Even with the ability to induce a healthy gut microbiome profile, personalised nutrition still has a long way to go before it becomes a game-changer.

 
Content Editor


Edited by: Nori Otis (Content Editor)



 
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