Personalising Nutrition

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Nutrition is getting personal. Consumers are getting increasingly interested in knowing the nutritional benefits of what they eat, the effectiveness of their exercise, and even the efficacy of their supplements. Newtrition®, the human nutrition brand under BASF, takes you through the strategic thinking behind personalised nutrition and how this trend could be here to change the way nutritional solutions are offered to the consumers of today. By Simon Strauch, Director of Global Marketing, Human Nutrition, BASF SE

The desire to stay healthy and active for as long as possible is a universal aspiration that virtually everyone shares. The way to achieve this, however, is not as simple nor as straightforward as it was before. While a general, healthy diet is important, science and technology are fast becoming important partners in this health and wellness journey.

All over the world, consumers are joining the trend for “the quantified self” as they track their behaviour and goals via wearable technology and smartphone apps. The use of personal data to make measurable changes in sleep, diet and other lifestyle aspects is fast catching on in the consumer quest for self-improvement and better quality of life. At the same time, consumers are becoming increasingly interested in using food as a tool to boost performance, health and wellbeing.

All this is impacting online behaviour—an increasing number of consumers are going online to search for health advice more often, and food, drink and health are the fastest growing segments on ecommerce sites.

Coupled with these strong consumer biases, there is growing scientific evidence of the benefits that nutrition can have on health, as well as the important roles played by metabolic traits—phenotypes, genotypes and metabotypes. Putting all of this together, Newtrition® believes that personalised nutrition is not something for tomorrow or the future—its time is now.


Personalised Nutrition: The Present


In the past, science and technology were not geared towards an individualised approach, so the universal recommendations that exist today are based on averages. Newer science has now confirmed, however, that people can display markedly different metabolic responses to exactly the same foods.

The Weizmann Personalised Nutrition Project in Israel, for instance, revealed the need to tailor a person’s eating habits based on his individual biological makeup and lifestyle in order to garner optimal results. This study, published in 2015 in Cell—a high impact journal in life sciences, was the work of researchers Professor Eran Segal and Dr Eran Elinav who continuously monitored blood sugar levels of 800 subjects and nearly 47,000 meals over the course of a week.

The key finding of the study was the huge interpersonal variability in blood glucose responses to identical meals. The primary reason for this is was attributed to the unique microbiome in an individual’s digestive tract, and this influences the way we process nutrients.

Having high blood sugar levels are strongly associated with the metabolic syndrome, which are essentially a cluster of risk factors that raise the risk for heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. These risk factors include having a large waistline (also known as abdominal obesity), high triglycerides, high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol levels.


The Five Elements


At Newtrition®, we believe that there are five key elements in personalised nutrition, all centring around the consumer as a person—and beginning as early as in the womb, if possible.

Firstly, a genomic database based on testing of a consumer’s DNA extracted from blood, saliva or faeces is established. Understanding the individual’s preferences and goals are important at an early stage of the process, too.

From there, a person’s physiological status is assessed by measuring and monitoring their nutritional intake, physical activity and regular blood and/or microbiome test results.

Next, this information is combined and interpreted algorithmically so that recommendations can be well and truly personalised.

Actual intervention will come after this by providing nutrients and/or practical recommendations such as shopping lists, food intake, supplement intake and exercise plans.

Feedback is the last pillar that closes the loop in this ecosystem. This is an important aspect as it is the feedback that creates an emotional response in the individual; this will bring about longer lasting change and higher compliance. The belief is that only when someone feels better does their personalised nutrition plan become an integrated part of their daily life.


Connecting Personalised Nutrition


There are many existing approaches today that are valid, but none of them cover all bases. Some focus on smart wearables, while others major on DNA analysis, blood testing or food supplements. However, they are just separate pieces of one jigsaw puzzle.

At Newtrition®, we provide additional pieces of the puzzle for this picture to be complete by playing an active role in creating an ecosystem of like-minded, relevant players who are delivering personalised nutrition with robust consumer insights as well as sound regulatory competencies.

Our belief is that science is the key to enable people to live healthier lives. Our ingredients are scientifically sourced, legal, safe and when needed, compliant with regulations such as FDA (Food and Drug Administration) standards. Newtrition® is also investing heavily in research, conducting clinical studies and building up robust scientific evidence in some key health platforms.

We believe that the right nutrients need to be provided to the right people at the right time. Future trends and current nutritional needs are thoroughly considered to provide science-based ingredients and solutions to meet the health needs of consumers all over the world. Delivering these solutions in a personalised way to obtain optimal results could be a major experiential factor in ensuring that health needs are met to give more life to years.