Nestle is creating personalised diets using artificial intelligence and DNA testing.
Personalised nutrition and wellness has been causing quite the buzz of late.
Instead of people following a one-size-fits all health and fitness regime, genetic testing is offering the opportunity to reveal the best type of diet and exercise programme that works specifically for you.
And Nestle are right at the forefront of it.
The world’s largest food company has been busy offering consumers in Japan an opportunity to personalise their health regime.
Some 100,000 customers have signed up to the “Nestle Wellness Ambassador” programme, which suggests lifestyle changes and specially formulated supplements after collating customers’ pictures of their food via the Line app and analysing their DNA.
According to The Independent, the programme, which costs $600 (£463) a year, and involves customers being sent a kit that collects their DNA and blood samples to analyse their health.
Users also send pictures of their food to the company, which then recommends lifestyle changes and delivers specially formulated supplements, which can be mixed into a variety of foods including teas, smoothies, and snacks.
“Around the world, health problems associated with food and nutrition have become a big issue, Nestle must address that on a global basis and make it our mission for the 21st century,” said Kozo Takaoka, the head of Nestle Japan in an interview with Bloomberg.
“Along those lines, Japan can become a model country for Nestle’s developed markets because we have an ageing society and shrinking population.”
How does DNA dieting work?
The move is no doubt exciting, and some experts believe there is some science to back a move away from a one-size-fits all approach to health and fitness and towards a more personalised way of dieting.
“There are so many diets out there Atkins, Dukan, 5:2, high fibre, low carbohydrate, ketogenic, paleo it’s easy to get confused and no one diet will work for everybody because we are all so different,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.
“It is now possible to have a test that shows you how should be eating according to your own personal genetic make-up. It will not only help you know the correct balance of foods for you that can be helpful in terms of losing weight and also your long term health. DNA testing can also show you the type of exercise that suits your genes,” she continues.
Dr Glenville says that there are some genes that can be measured that can give you more practical information about how you can make simple changes to your diet and lifestyle that can impact your present and future health.
“There are genes that can indicate you might need to be more careful about gluten or dairy or that your body might need extra help detoxifying or that you should be eating more or less protein or carbohydrates,” she explains.
“In terms of genetic testing I think it’s more important to know the genes that you can modify so that you can improve any potentially weak areas and actively improve and take more control of your overall health.
“It is also important for your future health because what you learn about your genetic make-up can help you work on prevention,” she adds.
And according to Dr Glenville information about your genes can be particularly helpful if weight loss attempts have not been particularly successful.
“Results have shown that if people follow a diet based on their genetic results then they lose 33% more weight than those who are on an untailored diet plan.”
Dr Glenville says that the tests she uses in her clinics can tell you exactly what you should be eating according to your genetic make-up and include information about your nutrient needs, how well you detoxify, your salt, alcohol and caffeine sensitivities, your carbohydrate and fat response and the type of exercise you should be doing that suits your genetic make-up.
But some nutritionists are sceptical that personalised diet plans may have more of a psychological effect than a medical one.
“Nestle’s program is designed to personalise diets in ways unlikely to be necessary,” Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York told Washington Post.
“If we think something will make us healthier, we are likely to feel healthier.”
The concept of DNA dieting first started making headlines last year after companies cottoned on to the fact that what works for one person health wise, may not work for another.
“No two humans are alike and no two diets are good for everyone,” Naveen Jain, the founder of a company called Viome, which monitors its clients’ microbiomes (specifically, their gut bacteria) and other biomarkers and uses that data to give dietary advice told Business Insider UK.
“We test you every 3 months to see how your body is reacting to carbs, protein, and fat, and we adjust your diet based on what is going on in your metabolic system,” Jain says.
But according to Business Insider UK more research is needed to draw a conclusive conclusion about how successful these new taylor-made health programmes could be.
Reviews of existing research have found no evidence that genetic information, including the data gathered by several existing companies, improves dietary health.
To put it another way, even if there is useful information hidden in our DNA, we aren’t yet clued up enough about genetics to use it successfully.
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