Why Personalised Nutrition?
To understand how food affects your body
What do we eat and how does it affect us?
Have you ever experienced a situation where you ate the same food as someone else, but your body reacted differently?
What are the factors that can cause this difference in metabolism for two people eating the same food?
Two people eating the same meal may metabolize the food intake differently due to several factors, including:
Genetic differences can influence how individuals metabolize and respond to specific nutrients. Genetic variations can affect the production and activity of enzymes involved in digestion and metabolism, leading to variations in nutrient absorption, utilization, and elimination.
Each individual has a unique composition of gut microbiota, which are the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms residing in the digestive tract. The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in nutrient metabolism, as they can break down certain nutrients, produce beneficial metabolites, and influence energy extraction from food. Variations in gut microbiota composition can lead to differences in nutrient metabolism between individuals.
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) varies among individuals, which is the amount of energy expended at rest. Differences in BMR can be influenced by factors such as body composition, muscle mass, hormonal factors, and genetic variations. Individuals with higher BMR may metabolize and utilize energy from food differently compared to those with lower BMR.
Enzymes play a vital role in breaking down and processing nutrients. Enzyme activity levels can differ between individuals due to genetic factors or factors such as age, health status, and medication use. Variations in enzyme activity can impact the efficiency of nutrient digestion and metabolism.
The combination of nutrients within a meal can affect their absorption and metabolism. For example, the presence of certain nutrients can enhance or inhibit the absorption of others. Additionally, the macronutrient composition of a meal (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) can influence the release of hormones and affect nutrient metabolism.
Hormones, such as insulin, glucagon, and leptin, regulate various aspects of metabolism, including nutrient uptake, storage, and energy utilization. Hormonal regulation can vary among individuals, influencing how nutrients are processed and stored in the body.
These factors, among others, contribute to the unique metabolic response of individuals to the same meal.
While two people may consume identical foods, variations in genetics, gut microbiota, metabolic rate, enzyme activity, hormonal regulation, and nutrient interactions can lead to differences in how nutrients are processed, absorbed, utilized, and stored in their bodies.
What is Nutrition?
Nutrition is a complex scientific field. The complex details of cellular biology and the chemistry of nutrients can be overwhelming and confusing for many. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.
The foods you consume have a significant impact on your overall wellbeing, and it’s up to you to choose wisely. Whether you realize it or not, every meal decision you make has the potential to positively or negatively affect your health. With each passing day, these choices accumulate and have lasting impacts that can either improve or damage your health considerably over time.
By taking care of your nutritional needs today, you’re investing in a healthier future for yourself.
Let’s explore the world of nutrition in a simplified, understandable way, shall we?
What is personalised nutrition?
Personalized nutrition is an approach to diet and nutrition that recognizes the unique dietary needs and responses of individuals based on their lifestyle, genetic makeup, health status, and personal preferences. It aims to provide tailored dietary advice and interventions to optimize health outcomes for each individual.
It is important to recognize that personalised nutrition to individual needs is not a new concept. People with certain age or physiological factors, such as infants or pregnant women, have unique nutritional requirements. Additionally, individuals with allergies or chronic conditions like diabetes, dyslipoproteinemia, or liver disease require specialized diets.
Nutrition and Health
Nutrition plays a crucial role in our daily lives, as it provides the essential nutrients our bodies need for growth, development, and overall well-being.
A balanced and nutritious diet ensures that our bodies receive the necessary macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), fibers, and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals, trace minerals ) to function optimally. These nutrients support various bodily functions, including energy production, immune function, tissue repair, and cognitive function.
Disease Prevention: Good nutrition is key to preventing chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain types of cancer, allergies, low immune system, and many more.
Weight Management: Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Central obesity, or excess fat around the midsection, is the main cause of insulin resistance – a key feature of metabolic syndrome (MetS). This condition, marked by high blood pressure and unhealthy lipid levels, can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and develop multiple chronic diseases. The progression and development of genetic and environmentally influenced diseases, such as those related to diet and lifestyle, are further aggravated by overeating and a lack of physical activity.
Mental Health: Nutrition is linked to mental health and well-being. Multiple nutrition research has shown that certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals like zinc and magnesium, play a role in supporting brain function and mental health. A balanced diet that includes these nutrients can help promote good mental health and reduce the risk of conditions like depression and anxiety.
Energy and Productivity: The food we eat provides fuel for our bodies and influences our energy levels and productivity. Optimal nutrition ensures that we have sufficient energy to carry out daily activities, maintain focus, and enhance productivity. A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can lead to energy crashes, fatigue, and reduced cognitive function.
Overall Well-being: Good nutrition is a fundamental component of overall well-being. Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods not only supports physical health but also contributes to a sense of vitality, vitality, and emotional well-being. A well-nourished body is better equipped to handle stress, recover from illness, and maintain a high quality of life.
Nutrition has become a widely-discussed topic, receiving attention from various sources including the media, public, industry, and regulatory bodies in many countries(Joint WHO/Food & Agriculture Association Expert Consultation, 2003)
Food goes beyond just nourishment – it brings pleasure, tradition, and associations to the table. However, finding a way to enjoy our favorite foods while maintaining a nutritionally balanced diet can be a challenge
Careless decisions can actually contribute to chronic diseases that may trouble us later in life – think cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. While it’s true that some individuals will still experience health problems despite living a healthy lifestyle, for the majority of us, our daily food choices will either benefit or harm our well-being. Though many people understand the importance of nutrition, they often let other factors dictate what they eat.
It’s important to understand the consequences of imbalanced nutrient and energy intake. Malnutrition symptoms can arise from both deficiency and excess. When energy intake is insufficient, undernutrition may result in extreme thinness, muscle loss, and increased susceptibility to illness. Nutrient deficiency can cause skin irritation, hair loss, depression, bleeding gums, muscle spasms, and night blindness. Conversely, excessive energy intake can lead to obesity and vulnerability to disease. It’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet for optimal physical healthy eating habits.
A person can experience hot flashes, yellowing skin, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and other symptoms with a sudden excess of nutrients. Malnutrition symptoms may go unnoticed as they mimic the symptoms of other illnesses, such as diarrhea, skin rashes, and fatigue. It is essential to be mindful of these indicators to maintain optimal health.
Personalised nutrition based on the biological characteristics of the individual
Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in how individuals respond to food. To provide tailored nutrition advice, researchers have conducted nutrigenetics studies to identify specific genotypes that can explain variations in responses. However, it’s important to consider multiple factors rather than relying on just one or a few genotypes.
Poor diet and lack of physical activity (PA) are major risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), allergies, skin issues, various types of cancer, and other chronic diseases. Up to 80% of major CVDs, and over one-third of cancers, could be prevented by eliminating shared risk factors, including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, highly processed diet, physical inactivity, and excess alcohol consumption. This emphasizes the importance of changing lifestyle in public health initiatives. Despite the known link between dietary patterns and disease, interventions to alter dietary habits and to improve public health and well-being have had limited impact.
Does personalized nutrition work?
Personalised nutrition and individually tailored nutrition mean similar things and go a step further by attempting to deliver dietary intervention or personalised advice suited to each individual.
- Nutrigenetics is an aspect of personalised nutrition that studies the different phenotypic responses (ie, weight, blood pressure, plasma cholesterol, or glucose levels) to a specific diet (ie, low fat or Mediterranean diets), depending on the genotype of the individual
- Nutrigenomics involves the characterization of all gene products affected by nutrients and their metabolic consequences. 2003 UK Department of Health whitepaper forecast that with increased knowledge of genetics, “treatment, lifestyle advice, and monitoring aimed at disease prevention could then be tailored appropriately to suit each individual”. The establishment of pan-national organizations such as the European Nutrigenomics Organisation (NUGO) and the International Society for Nutrigenomics & Nutrigenetics have further served to increase the infrastructure and international collaboration around nutrigenomics research. Given the increasing global burden of nutrition-related noncommunicable diseases, Nutrigenomics could help to develop more sustainable approaches to encouraging dietary change at a population level.
- Exposome is the collection of environmental factors, such as stress, physical activity, and diet, to which an individual is exposed and which may affect health.
- Epigenomics is a branch of genomics concerned with the epigenetic changes (methylation, histone modification, microRNAs) that modify the expression and function of the genetic material of an organism
- Metabolomics is the scientific study and analysis of the metabolites (usually restricted to small molecules, ie, <900 daltons) produced by a cell, tissue, or organism
- Microbiomics is the study of the microbiome, the totality of microbes in specific environments (ie, the human gut)
Is a personalised diet easier to follow?
The overall goal of personalised nutrition is to preserve or increase health using genetic, phenotypic, medical, nutritional, and other relevant information about individuals to deliver more specific healthy eating guidance and other nutritional products and services.
Personalised nutrition can be applied in two broad areas:
- firstly, for the dietary management of people with specific diseases or who need special nutritional support—for example, in pregnancy or old age
- secondly, for the development of more effective interventions for improving public health. Individuals may also wish to use personalised diets to achieve personal goals/ambitions that are less directly related to health—for example, to deal with preferences for, and dislikes of, specific foods, to attempt to achieve a desired body size or shape, or for competitive sports
Nutrition research indicates we are likely to be more interested in personalised diets and not general advice. The study involved groups of participants whose food choices were based on diet or genetic characteristics or on dietary guidelines assessed by an individual. Researchers found participants who received personalised diet advice reduced their consumption of discretionary foods significantly better than participants receiving regular nutritional advice.
Is personalised nutrition more effective than alternative approaches?
The answer is: Yes.
Personalized nutrition is based on the idea that individualizing nutritional advice, products, or services will be more effective than more generic approaches.
Personalization can be based on:
- Biological evidence of differential responses to foods/nutrients dependent on genotypic or phenotypic characteristics
- Analysis of current behaviour, preferences, barriers, and objectives and subsequent delivery of interventions, which motivate and enable each person to make appropriate changes to his or her eating pattern.
How can personalised nutritional therapy help us change our lifestyle?
Personalised nutrition uses information on individual characteristics to develop targeted nutritional advice, products, or services to assist people to achieve a lasting dietary change in behaviour that is beneficial for health
- Personalised nutrition is based on the concept that individualised nutritional advice, products, or services will be more effective than more traditional generic approaches
- This personalisation may be based on biological evidence of differential responses to foods/nutrients dependent on genotypic or phenotypic characteristics, and/or based on current behaviour, preferences, barriers and objectives
Implementation challenges of personalised diet
Implementing a personalised nutrition plan can come with its challenges, but with awareness and strategies, these challenges can be overcome. Here are some common implementation challenges and suggestions for addressing them:
- Change in Habits: Changing established dietary habits can be difficult. It may take time to adjust to new foods, portion sizes, and meal timings. To address this challenge, start with small, manageable changes and gradually incorporate them into your routine. Focus on one aspect at a time and celebrate small successes along the way.
- Busy Lifestyle: A busy schedule can make it challenging to prioritize nutrition. Plan ahead and dedicate time for meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal preparation. Consider batch cooking or meal prepping on weekends to have healthy options readily available during busy weekdays. Seek out quick and easy recipes that align with your personalized plan.
- Emotional Eating and Food Cravings: Emotional eating or food cravings can interfere with following a personalized nutrition plan. Hence, your nutritionist will develop strategies to cope with emotional triggers, such as finding alternative activities or stress management techniques like deep breathing or engaging in hobbies.
- Social Pressure and Dining Out: Social gatherings and eating out can pose challenges when trying to adhere to a personalized plan. Therefore, you should communicate your dietary needs and goals with friends and family, and seek out restaurants that offer healthier options or accommodate special requests. Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications to fit your needs.
- Lack of Support or Accountability: Having support and accountability can greatly enhance adherence to a personalized nutrition plan. Share your goals with friends, family, or join support groups or online communities with similar interests. Consider working with a nutritionist or dietitian who can provide guidance, monitor progress, and offer ongoing support.
- Food Availability and Accessibility: Access to fresh, healthy foods can be limited in certain areas or seasons. Explore local farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture programs, or consider growing your own herbs and vegetables if possible.
- Plateau or Lack of Progress: It’s common to experience plateaus or lack of progress during your nutrition journey. Reassess your plan and consult with your nutritionist to identify any necessary adjustments. Stay patient and maintain a long-term perspective. Remember that small, consistent changes over time lead to sustainable results.
Remember, everyone’s journey is unique, and it’s normal to face some challenges along the way. The key is to stay committed, seek support when needed, and approach challenges with a problem-solving mindset. With persistence and determination, implementing a personalized nutrition plan can lead to positive changes in your health and well-being.
I have approached Mady back in May to help me with my weight management.
I know Mady for many years and I trust and like her holistic approach to treat various health conditions.
Switching from a physical job to an office job had a big impact on my weight and the lockdown had even a bigger impact as I worked from home and I didn’t exercise much so the kilograms just piled up.
I was told by my GP that I am a borderline diabetic and my blood pressure increased at a worrying level.
Contacting Mady was the best decision I could ever take.
I had an initial consultation where she asked me various questions about my eating habits and she asked me to keep a journal with everything I ate.
I started with 3 days of detox, which were the hardest. To be honest I was thinking to give up because I felt so sick and unwell but she encourage me and explained me that my body was reacting like this because of all toxins accumulated during years.
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I can say that working with Mady was and is a fantastic investment. I learned a lot from her, I know more than ever about nutrition and I found a whole bunch of new foods that I enjoy eating.
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