Podcast spotlight: where are we at with precision nutrition- and what’s next?
Nutritional guidelines are often one-size-fits-all, but emerging research shows that the reality is far more nuanced. As the PREDICT trials have shown, different people can respond to the same foods in unique ways, even identical twins! These differences owe much to the gut microbiome, the trillions of bacteria in the digestive tract linked to metabolic, cognitive and immune health.
Such findings have spawned the exciting new field of personalised nutrition, a tailored approach to eating that takes into consideration your genes, lifestyle patterns and gut microbiome composition.
Despite being in its infancy, the field has shown early promise in the prevention and management of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure- a growing problem in the Western world. Precision nutrition is also being studied for it’s potential in oncology, with some heralding the field as the “fourth pillar” of cancer care.
Curated from our “Inside Food Science” series, the following podcasts survey the personalised nutritional landscape, asking where we are now and what the future holds for this exciting field.
Precision nutrition in cancer treatment: hype or hope?
Cancer cells rely on key nutrients sourced through diet, which raises the question: could we undermine cancers via dietary modifications?
In this episode, Stefan is joined by Karen Vousden, Principal Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute and Greg Hannon, Director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, to discuss the emerging field of precision nutrition and it’s potential application in cancer treatment.
Whilst largely confined to animal studies, early findings suggest that a carefully tailored diet may be able to enhance traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Inspired by these proof-of-concept studies, numerous human trials are underway exploring precision nutrition in the context of several different cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer.
Why wouldn’t we establish these precise manipulations of nutrient availability to cancer as a fourth pillar of cancer care, not to be used in itself, but to be used in combination to effectively augment the effect of the other three pillars– Greg Hannon, Director of Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute
Join Dr Vousden and Greg Hannon as they share their research insights and ponder the future of precision nutrition in the context of cancer care. Along the way, they discuss the role nutritionists will play in delivering precision nutrition, whether it will become a standard pillar of care available on the NHS and the future direction of research in this exciting area.
Putting personalised nutrition to the test: the Preventomics study
Precision nutrition is being heralded as the answer to numerous modern ills, but concerns have been raised that the research-base is insufficient to support such claims. Seeking to address this gap, Preventomics are running pioneering research comparing personalised interventions with traditional, one-size-fits-all guidelines to aid weight loss.
Food Matters live welcome Preventomics technical lead, Josep Maria Del Bas, to discuss the study design, unpack the results so far and explore the potential of precision nutrition in tackling today’s health issues- obesity in particular.
We need to keep calm and keep researching.– Dr Josep Maria Del Bas, Technical Supervisor for the Preventomics study and senior researcher in nutrition and health at EUROCAT
Listen to the full podcast to learn how personalised interventions can improve upon broad guidelines, why behavioural factors are so important and how we can optimise personalised nutritional apps going forward.
Personalised nutrition apps: too much, too early?
The precision nutrition market has exploded in recent years, with an avalanche of apps and companies promising personalised food recommendations in the comfort of your own home. Stefan welcomes Marietta Abrahams, CEO and Founder of QINA and Dr Suzan Wopereis, Principal Scientist at TNO, to survey the current landscape and interrogate the proliferation of technology in this space.
I would say from a scientific perspective that this arena is quite young. It’s just starting. And I think the technology in this arena is maybe a little bit ahead of where the research is.– Dr Suzan Wopereis, Principal Scientist at TNO
Listen to the full episode to hear why personalised nutrition holds much promise in the treatment of lifestyle disease, and why regulation is key to ensure the field isn’t hijacked by those looking for a quick buck.