finding a way towards a healthier future.
Defining Precision Nutrition
Precision Nutrition is an emerging area of research that focuses on the relationship between genes and other individual-specific information, nutrition and health.
In contrast to a one-size-fits-all approach, it seeks to understand how an individual responds to what he or she eats, and how this knowledge can promote better health and prevent diseases. There is a lot of potential in this field that’s why the first Impact Platform that will be launched will focus on Precision Nutrition.
We live in a time in which self-optimization is common practice in most developed countries. From measuring the steps we take throughout the day, to counting calories, to tracking how well we sleep – monitoring our daily activities has become the norm for many, enabled through smart devices and wearables. One can even go a step further and make use of the services provided by a few startups and companies that go beyond the mentioned, and analyze a person’s blood or stool to give individual nutritional advice.
The word “individual” is important here. Today, we know that one-size-fits-all approaches, like the food pyramid, can give generic guidelines about what is healthy and should be consumed in what amount; however, we are also realizing that everyone’s reaction to a specific food is different and unique. That leads us to Precision Nutrition, an emerging area of research. Harvard places Precision Nutrition, also referred to as Personalized Nutrition, under the umbrella of Precision Medicine and defines it as follows: “Precision Nutrition evaluates one’s DNA, microbiome, and metabolic response to specific foods or dietary patterns to determine the most effective eating plan to prevent or treat disease.” (1)
In an article about an imagined scenario in 2035, where Precision Nutrition is adopted by large parts of the population in the developed world, the Economist writes:
In the year 2035, “[…] there is broad consensus that the rise of Personalized Nutrition has done a lot to promote healthy and environmentally friendly eating over the past decade. In 2031 the proportion of obese Americans fell for the first time in more than 20 years, and the rate of diabetes has fallen for three years in a row from its all-time high of 22%. Europeans are getting slimmer and healthier, too.” (2)
Could Precision Nutrition be the future?
There are some challenges along the way, the high costs being one of them, but there is a lot of potential to create a positive impact, for instance, through preventing diseases.
That’s why the first Impact Platform that will be launched will focus on Precision Nutrition. A secondary focus will be on Targeted Nutrition that addresses a specific group of people’s average dietary needs, for instance, the elderly, children, athletes, or pregnant women.
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Moving from generic to more individual dietary patterns…
Note: Today, there is no established definition of “precision nutrition” or “personalized nutrition”. Often these terms are used interchangeably.
The visual represents a continuum since there is a high degree of overlap between the different terms.
To keep up with the developments, this visual will be updated over time.
(1) www.harvard.edu – Precision Nutrition, what is it?
(2) Adams et al, “Perspective: Guiding Principles for the Implementation of Personalized Nutrition Approaches That Benefit Health and Function”, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 25–34
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