Precision nutrition could have a significant positive effect on public health as more targeted preventive measures can be implemented earlier. However, there is still a lack of large-scale research into how these measures should be targeted and the effects they could have.
The research world used totalk more about “personalised nutrition”, or individual nutrition. This autumn, Chalmers University of Technology hosted a conference that gathered leading international researchers in the field of precision nutrition. What is the difference between these terms? “The terms are often considered to be the same thing, but we want to regard precision nutrition as widening the concept of individual nutrition. In addition to individuals getting the right food at the right time, precision nutrition also involves providing the right conditions for better nutritional studies to more precisely measure what people eat and their health status,” explains professor Landberg.
...individuals getting the right food at the right time...
Measuring risk factors for diseases in different groups of people before they have developed a disease allows the construction of algorithms that can predict the risk of disease at an early stage, such as by analysing data from the gut microbiome. “For some diseases that have established diagnostic values for healthy or sick, it’s actually a question of a gradual change that starts early. You don’t just go from healthy to sick overnight. One of the aims of precision nutrition is to define these groups at an early stage and then use the correct preventive measures, so the disease never occurs.
Despite its enormous potential, in terms of research, precision nutrition is in the start-up phase. One problem is that there have not been enough large intervention studies to be able to build the mathematical models necessary to adequately predict how individuals will react to specific foods. The Nordic countries have an incredible potential for high-quality research in precision nutrition, says Landberg. “We have good registries, good biobanks, dietary data and an infrastructure that provides excellent opportunities for large-scale intervention studies. It would be interesting to conduct a large study that can guide how a bespoke Nordic diet could be given to individuals to increase the preventive effects.
Text: Karin Janson
Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist and Lantmännen