We’re reaching a tipping point. The future of nutrition needs to change.
Food technology and mass production has increasingly left fewer across the globe hungry. Indeed, much of us in the developed world never experience the feeling of true, prolonged hunger.
But the explosion of calories has come at a cost.
According to research in the New England Journal of Medicine, both adult and childhood obesity has risen in nearly all 195 countries on Earth over the last 25 years – doubling in more than 70. With it, the number of deaths associated with a high body mass index, bringing an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, some cancers, and some musculoskeletal disorders, has risen by over 28%.
Furthermore, these calories have been consumed with little else in the way of nutrition. Few minerals. Few vitamins. Few of the myriad phytochemicals present in whole foods we are only just starting to characterize. The Global Nutrition Report finds that one in three people on the planet is malnourished, failing to meet their body’s needs for key micronutrients important for good health and wellness.
Learn more about the state of America’s micronutrient intake.
The globe is only now opening its eyes to the extent of this silent pandemic that has been growing for decades. The future of medicine will overlap largely with the future of nutrition.
Proper Nutrition Lowers the Risk of Most Chronic Diseases
Yes, we should continue to drive research and increase efforts to treat those afflicted with the chronic diseases that stem from decades of poor health management.
But we need to do more. We need to increase preventative healthcare measures.
It is better for our happiness (lack of poor health is one of the primary drivers of life satisfaction)
It is better for the healthcare system (lower healthcare costs from chronic disease management will be significantly reduced)
It is better economics (the World Economic Forum estimates a $16 return for every $1 invested in nutrition).
How Personalization Shapes the Future of Nutrition
Personalized nutrition is coming of age.
Increased technological capabilities coupled with increased knowledge of individualized biochemistry is helping us rethink the future of nutrition.
It took nearly a decade and over a billion dollars to sequence the first human genome by the year 2000. Already, the cost is quickly approaching only $100 to sequence our DNA.
And our concept of epigenetics – the heritable features of genome modifications that arise largely from environmental influences – is also coming of age.
Learn more about optimizing your nutrition through deeper data.
Precision nutrition through genetic testing.
Together, we are gaining evermore knowledge about how our genes and our environments – particularly our diets and lifestyles – shape and regulate protein synthesis and drive the diversity of biochemistry.
In other words, we are learning more about how our genetic makeup alters modifies the unique way we digest, absorb, and metabolize the foods we eat.
We are not a single living entity.
Odd as it is, we are living in a symbiosis with bacteria on and in us. Bacteria within our digestive tracts play a large role in our health. Specifically, the bacteria within our guts – collectively termed our gut microbiota – change which nutrients are digested and absorbed as well as the rate of their digestion and absorption.
Precision nutrition through microbiome testing.
This has massive implications for how our body’s respond to different diets.
Understanding the diversity of your gut microbiome, and discovering how it shifts and adapts to new diets and environments over time, can help shape the best diet for weight management, malnutrition, or chronic disease prevention.
And in addition to metabolism, our gut microbiota are implicated in everything from our immune health to our brain health. The ability to personalize our diets based on our bacterial diversity will help us manage health in a big way.
Our diets and our lifestyles are distinctly unique.
We have different preferences, different food availabilities, different incomes, and different allergies. Our ability to better track and analyze our dietary intake and its metabolic outcomes will significantly shape our ability to tailor nutrition therapy and more effectively target deficiencies and unique biochemistries.
Metabolomics is our rapidly growing ability to measure unique metabolites – or, end products of metabolism – and correlate them to dietary intake and metabolic health.
Precision nutrition through metabolomics.
The size and scale of metabolomic studies have increased the breadth of available biomarkers – or, markers that can identify specific aspects of biology or health – for nutrition. Coupled to that our increased ability to miniaturize electronics for non-invasive measurements of these metabolites.
This critical aspect of science and technology will help usher in the age of personalized nutrition by measuring and tracking nutritional intake and your body’s unique response using real-time data to help cater and curate personalized recommendations.
Why the Future of Nutrition is in Personalization
Harvard Health reports that precision nutrition will improve diabetes management.
We agree and go further to suggest personalized nutrition will improve management of most chronic diseases.
For example, chronic kidney disease affects roughly 14% of Americans, is driven in part by dietary risk factors like obesity and hypertension and warrants a dietary change to help mitigate and manage condition. Hypertension itself affects roughly half of the population.
Better understanding our genetic propensity to regulate our biochemistry regarding diets that lead to these diseases, modulating our gut health for effective immune resistance, insulin regulation, and nutrient absorption, and better tracking of nutrient intake and metabolic health will combine to create highly personalized nutrition recommendations that help alleviate chronic diseases and help you reach your dietary goals based on your uniqueness.
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!