As the COVID pandemic deepens, we are faced with further challenges which not only include inequality in terms of the distribution of the vaccine, but also food insecurity. It is great to see that some companies are stepping up to help families in need, and the UK government signalling to the WTO that population health is a serious priority at a time when nutrition is so important.
In this week's newsletter: Happiness and personalised nutrition, latest research, Genopalate raises $4million in funding, researchers create system to recommend personalised and healthy recipes, Americans call on retailers to help them stay healthy, Denmark release climate friendly dietary guidelines
In the Headlines- President Biden signs executive order to reduce food security
US President Biden started his new presidency with a huge bang, by signing an executive order to reduce food security. This is a step in the right direction especially as food security has impacted families across the country irrespective of ethnicity, background or social status. Many individuals found themselves suddenly out of a job or with reduced working hours. We hope to see increased personalised support for individuals to improve their health through nutrition.
Should we include happiness as a measure in Personalised nutrition solutions?
This Friday, we are publishing our latest data brief on the above topic. We discuss what happiness is , how it is measured, why it matters in health and also how the perception of happiness differs by ethnicity. We argue the case for why happiness should be used as a health outcome measure, and why the time is now to start including it as part of Personalised nutrition solutions with expert input from Catalina Cernica CEO of the Health & Happiness research Foundation (Denmark).
You can read our previous 5 data briefs by signing up to the platform, and you can read the latest one on Happiness by signing up for a membership to access our paid content.
This review emphasizes the importance of genomics in personalized bariatric management. The concept helps explain why individuals have different physiological experiences after bariatric surgery. Studies have focused on the responses of genetic and epigenetic variables to surgical weight loss treatment. “Significant weight loss induced by bariatric surgery is shown to have an impact on telomere length. [This result further concludes] the existence of an epigenetic signature associated with surgery outcomes and specific gene methylation profile which may help predict weight loss after a surgical procedure. Bariatric surgery may affect the expression of numerous genes involved in different metabolic pathways and consequently induce functional and taxonomic changes in gut microbial communities.” With the strong correlation between nutritional genomics and weight loss from bariatric surgery, molecular pathways need to be better understood to achieve successful weight management and maintenance.
“This review discusses the intricacies and current methodologies of diet-microbial relations, the implications and limitations of these investigative approaches, and future considerations that may assist in accelerating applications. New investigations should consider the improved collection of dietary data, further characterization of mechanistic interactions, and an increased focus on -omic technologies such as metabolomics to describe the bacterial and metabolic activity of food degradation, together with its crosstalk with the host. Furthermore, clinical evidence with health outcomes is required before therapeutic dietary strategies for microbial amelioration can be made. The potential to reach a detailed understanding of diet-microbiota relations may depend on re-evaluation, progression, and unification of research methodologies, which consider the complexities of these interactions.”
The review highlights how digital resilience biomarkers are a non-invasive, efficient, and affordable approach to self-management of health which leads to better prevention or control of chronic diseases. Similar to how digital health tools can already measure vital signs, sleep, and activity patterns, digital biomarkers can use sweat, saliva, and other bodily fluids to depict more detailed health measurements. Through static digital biomarkers, mood and activity trackers, social and behavioral elements will be incorporated into digital resilience biomarkers to achieve maximum utilization of targeting health maintenance. As the article provides overviews on how digital resilience biomarkers can regulate different health indicators, there is also a strong indication in making digital biomarkers to be wearable electronics to provide wider access to personalized nutrition.
Arabinoxylans are common polysaccharides found in dietary fiber and broken down by bacteroidetes and other colonic bacteria. The review focuses on how the degradation from complex to simple arabinoxylans occurs. The research includes a PUL ( polysaccharide-utilization loci - gene clusters) that encodes multiple esterases for the degradation of complex arabinoxylans in Bacteroides species and specifically upregulated in the presence of complex arabinoxylans. The biochemical properties and structures of some esterases show the capability to release ferulic acid from complex arabinoxylans. “The growth of four different colonic Bacteroidetes members, including Bacteroides intestinalis, on complex arabinoxylans results in accumulation of ferulic acid, a compound known to have antioxidative and immunomodulatory properties.”
“Differences between chronological and biological ages and identification of factors (eg, nutrition) that modulate the rate of aging can now be assessed at the individual level on the basis of telomere length, the epigenome, and the metabolome. Nevertheless, the understanding of the different responses of people to dietary factors, which is the focus of precision nutrition research, remains incomplete. The lack of reliable dietary assessment methods constitutes a significant challenge in nutrition research, especially in elderly populations. For practical and successful personalized diet advice, big data techniques are needed to analyze and integrate the relevant omics (ie, genomic, epigenomic, metabolomics) with an objective and longitudinal capture of individual nutritional and environmental information. Application of such techniques will provide the scientific evidence and knowledge needed to offer actionable, personalized health recommendations to transform the promise of personalized nutrition into reality.”
Hot off the press! This review introduces the concept of N-of-1 study designs, which involve the repeated measurement of a health outcome or behavior on an individual level. Observational designs can be used to monitor a participant’s usual health or behavior in a naturalistic setting, with repeated measurements conducted in real time using an Ecological Momentary Assessment. Interventional designs can introduce a dietary or behavioral intervention with predictors and outcomes of interest measured repeatedly either during or after 1 or more intervention and control periods
Muniq is a nutritional company with a purpose to manage and prevent underlying conditions such as diabetes, especially in the Black and Brown communities. In 2020, its first launch was prebiotic powdered shakes that improve gut health in order to lower blood sugar. The shakes contain resistant starch, from green bananas and maize, and are meant as a meal replacement to support healthy bacteria growth and weight loss. As the shakes come in 5 flavors with 2 being vegan, Muniq tries to further connect with lower-income customers by aiming to make the shakes more affordable than its current monthly subscription of $99.
GenoPalate Raises $4 Million Series A for its Personalized Nutrition Platform (in case you missed this one)
“Through a simple swab test, GenoPalate’s nutrigenetic home test analyzes 100+ genetic markers that determine a person’s specific needs for 24 vital nutrients such as carbohydrates, vitamin D, sodium, and sensitivities to lactose, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol. The company combines genetic results with millions of nutritional variables to recommend the foods a person should eat more of. Then each client receives a report that includes their genetic results, what they mean, and a personalized list of the 80+ foods that benefit that specific client the most. Using its genetics-based personalized nutrition technology, GenoPalate is changing how people choose, shop for, and eat food for better health.”
As the pandemic has initiated telehealth to be more prevalent than ever. MedTech Europe expects to see continuous growth as “doctors in the country had held 1.2 million hours of video consultations in the second quarter of 2020, up from 583 hours in the same quarter of 2019”. 6 million people have downloaded U.K.’s COVID-19 tracker app with many voluntarily sharing personal data. MedTech recommends UK governments sustain the utilization of telehealth by investing support with incentives and reimbursement for digital health, advancements of initiatives, and the development of new AI models.
pFoodReQ is a system that recommends personalized recipes based on the preferences and dietary needs of individual users. Such factors the system will consider are the users' intention of cooking (simple or elaborate meals), food preferences, dietary constraints, and health status (weight and underlying conditions). The developers aim to have pFoodReQ hold a strong correlation between linguistics and its meaning by incorporating deep-learning techniques from answering questions with FoodKG. Furthermore, a FoodKG graph is included which holds 67 million records that contain representations of relationships between recipes, ingredient content and properties, nutrient content, and different cuisines of 1 million recipes.
Viome is a startup that creates personalized recipes based on the examination of an individual user’s microbiome. The system looks at RNA, a gene expression, which takes personalization to the molecular level as only 5% of humans share the same microbial DNA. With customers already using the Viome app when grocery shopping, the company is in talks with large grocery retailers and international food companies to expand the utilization of Viome.
Food & Consumer Trends
Americans have a basic understanding of health, yet are lacking the tools to guide them to make healthy food choices. While 90% of Americans claim to be building their immune system and 78% are focusing on their general health. The reality is that “only 24% of Americans have given up sugary foods, 13% are eating more indulgent foods to relax, 29% have ditched fast food, 40% aren’t taking vitamins and 13% are unaware of what vitamins they should be taking.” Such results were mainly pinpointed to the vague food product labeling in supermarkets and the limited health education provided by the government. “Spoon Guru asked what foods consumers are eating to support their immune health, and found that bananas and salads were at the top, followed by eggs, citrus fruits, fresh juices, and apples.”
Denmark’s dietary guidelines become sustainable as the newest version has not only taken into consideration of people’s health but also the climate. With food being responsible for a quarter of global greenhouse emissions and only a few countries adapting to sustainable and healthy guidelines, Denmark proves that small steps can make big changes. By limiting meat consumption and emphasis on other climate-friendly food groups such as legumes and vegetables. Denmark is expected to have up to a 35% reduction from its yearly average of 3 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Through this change, the new dietary guidelines mark a milestone to the government’s plan of reducing carbon footprint by 70% by 2030.
The belief that breakfast is important has decreased over the years with “the average person having breakfast just three times a week, while 13% rarely, if ever, ate the meal.” However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many people to be at home, people have more time to reconsider their breakfast. This shows the potential that people may change and stick to their new breakfast habits. Compared to 2019, 2020 showed increased consumption of “pancakes by 25%, waffles 20%, breakfast sausage 16%, bacon 15%, and cereal 11%.” From the breakfast growth rate, companies are expected to expand their product line and incorporate healthier versions of breakfasts, especially in cereal. Furthermore, companies are investing in making breakfast more efficient such as portable products in order to sustain people’s breakfast patterns.
Food Matters Live 10th March online
Personalised nutrition & Health (Wageningen) - 7th October
Personalised nutrition innovation summit Newtrition X (Cologne) - 12th October