Since each of us is unique, it follows that nutritional advice should not be generic. This belief has inspired the genesis of several companies offering personalized health reports and tips. The basic idea: Once customers learn about their own biology, they can biohack, or follow a diet or exercise regimen tailored to their bodies. For example, someone allergic to lactose who does not metabolize fat efficiently might adhere to a lactose-free, lower-fat diet.
The blog of one such company, Habit, states the following: “The general [health] guidelines are there to help the majority of Americans eat healthy, but your nutrition needs might be different from everyone else’s. You may need more or less of certain nutrients depending on your age, body metrics, activity level, life stage, blood markers … and even genetics. At a biological level, everyone’s body absorbs and metabolizes food slightly differently.”
Although each company has a distinct approach, all begin by asking customers to collect a sample of their own biological material: saliva, blood or stool. Saliva reveals DNA; blood indicates cholesterol, blood sugar and more; and stool indicates the nature of the gut microbiome. The samples are then put through a battery of tests, among others, for DNA, lactose intolerance, caffeine tolerance and metabolic rate.
Along with sharing lab results, the companies offer targeted diet (and sometimes also fitness) recommendations based on this data. For instance, they might suggest an ideal ratio of macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats). Sometimes they combine these reports with nutrition and fitness counseling—for the ultimate in personalized and effective service.
“Research has shown that people who are given personalized nutrition advice are more likely to stick with their eating plan than people who receive non-personalized advice,” Habit’s website says.
Customized food from 3-D printers