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Individuality is everything in future food formulation

Science and consumer demand are shifting the food landscape from broad diet recommendations to specific, DNA-based nutrition plans.

Historically, large population-based research studies have been instrumental to informing health guidance for recommended daily dietary intake of vitamins and minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber. Types of fat were recommended based on an individual’s current health status and potential predisposition to cardiometabolic problems. Public health nutrition guidance is therefore represented in nutrient recommendations for the general population. But the age of generalized nutrition recommendations is changing. 

This is the age of individuality, and consumers are demanding micro- or hyper-personalization in food, exercise and all-that-is-related-to-health recommendations. Today, consumers “biohack” themselves to measure changes in ketones and blood sugar based on what they eat, when they eat it and how sleep and exercise impact both. Advanced lab tests depict the make-up of our guts and breakdowns in our biochemistry, enabling precision food prescriptions. Now add the deep personalization afforded by individual DNA information, and mass market products with generalized health claims and nutrition information will lose their luster. Armed with their individual DNA blueprint, consumers know precisely which type of fat they need, how much vitamin B12 or D3 their body requires, and which bioactives they need to target through food to optimize the behavior of their unique genes.

Targeting gene behavior through specific nutrients is the field of nutrigenomics. Preparing those foods to optimize the “food information” presented to genes is called culinary genomics. DNA plus nutrigenomics plus culinary translation (culinary genomics) is the new food conversation, and consumers are listening.

Pioneering research by the Buck Institute for Research on Aging (Nature Genetics. 2018 Nov;50(11):1501-1504) and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies (Nature Medicine. 2019 Feb. 18;25, 419–422), to name a couple of leading institutes, has shed light on how the body ages, and importantly which genes may be involved in reducing the onset of aging. It is no surprise that metabolic imbalances caused by oxidative stress and inflammation are at the heart of chronic disease, and subsequently early onset of aging (Clin Interv Aging. 2018; 13: 757–772. DOI: 10.2147/CIA.S158513). Genes involved in lipid and glucose metabolism also deeply impact the longevity equation.

Learn more about how personalized nutrition will shape the healthy aging product market in INSDER’s Healthy Aging digital magazine.

Amanda Archibald, R.D., is the founder of The Genomic Kitchen and developer of the concept of culinary genomics. Culinary genomics merges the field of nutrigenomics (how food interacts with human genes to influence health) with the culinary arts to optimize the role of food for the body. The Genomic Kitchen provides educational platforms for consumers, health professionals and chefs, as well as DNA interpretive services. She serves as a subject-area expert and consultant for companies seeking to explore the field of nutrigenomics for future product development.

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