‘The microbiome is going to be the absolute foundation of personalized nutrition’

As PeakBridge leads a $15m round​ in Cambridge, Mass-based InsideTracker​, which integrates biomarker data from blood, DNA, activity trackers, and other user-generated data to create personalized recommendations to optimize health, we revisit a recent fireside chat* on precision nutrition at Branchfood’s virtual Food Edge 2022 summit​ moderated by FoodNavigator-USA (FNU) featuring Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D, Dr.P.H., Jean Mayer Professor at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; and Professor of Medicine at Tufts School of Medicine (DM).

FNU: What is precision nutrition?

DM: There is no accepted definition. I think personalized nutrition is the idea that we want to personalize something to the person, but I think precision nutrition goes further and applies data and quantitative science and artificial intelligence, machine learning and metabolomics. But they’re fairly broad concepts, and we need to understand the evidence supporting those concepts.

FNU:  What biological data might inform a precision nutrition strategy and where does DNA fit into this?

DM: 20 years ago, all the attention was on genetics and the Human Genome Project, and there was an optimistic belief that if we figured out genes we could solve disease. And we’ve learned over the last 20 years that that was overly optimistic, that for complex chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and most cancers, there aren’t a lot of major genetic causes; the major preponderance of impact is from the environment and lifestyle.

And we know that because we’ve had an obesity epidemic that has exploded globally in 30 years and our global genes haven’t changed.  So I think genetics are going to play a pretty minor role… I think epigenetics – which is how the environment changes the transcription of the genes and how it changes the phenotype that comes out of the genes – that will be important for sure, and that can be changed in weeks or months in a person and can also be transmitted from mother to child.



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