A highly anticipated trend for 2017 in the food and nutrition industry is personalized nutrition. As consumer behavior around health shifts from reactive to proactive, personalized nutrition marries the health self-assessment with science, answering the consumer’s demand to take control of their own health.
While this is still a fairly new industry, here are the top 5 things you need to know about personalized nutrition:
- The Science
Personalized nutrition explores the interplay between genes and diet, delving into how dietary habits affect gene expression, and how genetic variations influence how individuals respond to dietary components such as caffeine and sodium. Personalized nutrition companies use different technologies including DNA and blood tests to guide diet recommendations for their customers.
- The Diet
Each personalized nutrition company has their own spin on their personalized diet plans. DNAFit is one of the leaders in this field with their program that includes diet type education, a suggested shopping list, 12-week eating plan and recipes. The company produces a diet type based on factors such as carbohydrate and saturated fat response, how genes are affected by micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), antioxidant needs and lactase persistence. It also takes in to response sensitivities to sodium, caffeine and alcohol.
- The Food
Another leader in the field of personalized nutrition is the company Habit. Habit is a pioneer in the field as they have evolved personalized nutrition from just a recommendation machine to adding a food company component. FoodNavigator interviewed the CEO, Neil Grimmer, who explained that Habit customers can choose their level of engagement. Users have the choice of leaving the program after receiving their test results and nutrition blueprint or they can choose to subscribe to a service that includes a meal delivery component.
- The Technology
Fitness apps have been trending for a while now, and this seems to be the next arena for personalized nutrition. MedCityNews recently published an article highlighting this new trend. One of the apps featured in this article called Pathway Genomics OME explains how it combines the functions of health, fitness, diet trackers and adds genetics data to give users diet and exercise guidance. Unfortunately, this technology comes with a hefty price tag (like most fitness wearables) and isn’t available to the public yet. Also, keep an eye out for DNAFit’s app, Elevate, and for the recently announced collaboration between Nestlé and Samsung coming out in 2017.
- The Future
There are still many unknowns for the future of personalized nutrition. The science is still new and warrants future research. However, new technology allowing 3D printing for customized meal doses adapted for an individual’s weight offers a range of potential benefits.
My Take: While I share some of the same concerns as others, such as wondering whether personalized nutrition is simply another fad for the affluent and already health-conscious consumer, and being skeptical of whether personalized nutrition could really transform the health of the nation, I think this shift in consumer behavior is promising. Personalized nutrition is full of possibilities, and it’s a great time to figure out your role in this emerging industry.