‘No such thing as a universally healthy diet’: Meeting individual health needs through personalised nutrition

No two people have the exact same health needs. This is why the industry of personalised nutrition was developed, aiming to create uber-bespoke diets which, in a number of ways, fit the individual like a glove.

However, is it truly possible to personalise a diet? How can it be done?

Investigating individual differences

“There’s no such thing as a universally healthy diet,” said Markus Stripf, co-founder of personalised nutrition search engine Spoon Guru at FoodNavigator’s Positive Nutrition Digital Summit last month. Every individual is different.

For example, he suggested, “we all have totally unique microbiomes. Even identical twins don’t have the same microbiome.”

“I think what is important to acknowledge is there are a lot of inter-individual differences in how people, individuals respond to a food product or a diet,” believes Marjolijn Bragt, program leader for nutrition and health at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.

At Wageningen Food & Biobased Research, Bragt told us, a number of different avenues of investigation have been taken to ascertain individual differences when it comes to how consumers respond to food and nutrition.

“We conduct studies on how people digest and absorb plant proteins; and what we see is some individuals are very well capable of digesting a protein, while other consumers are not capable, when it’s the same protein.”

“I think genetics does play an important role, for example you can think of genetics which can influence the abundance or the activity of certain digestive enzymes in the gut. The effect of other factors should not be underestimated, such as for example, age, gender, the background diet that a consumer is already consuming, your microbiome level of physical activity.”