Friday, November 2, 2016
Finally, new hope on the diet front arrives. There are several new startups that are attempting to match our unique genetics, as well as our age and gender, to determine which foods are best of us on an individualized basis.
This is good news to those of us who bounce from diet to diet trying to find the one that we do best on. This newer research seems to be saying that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet.
The other piece of the research mentions that a majority of the cells in our bodies are non-human microbes which inhabit our digestive tracts. The research found that these microbes impact our immune systems and overall health, but there is a chance that they’ve become ‘tainted’ by our diets, lifestyles, the kind of pharmaceuticals we’ve ingested over the years, and other things.
Net-net, the link between diet and health is quite a bit more complex that we first imagined. But even with all of our knowledge of human DNA and human health, along with the effects of food on diet, it’s still pretty hard to use this knowledge to create healthy habits. What seems to matter most is the precise matching of a specific person’s DNA with specific foods. This has given birth to a whole new arena called nutrigenomics.
The proposed solution is to use machine learning and detailed data, in combination with DNA testing and self-tracking to better understand a person’s dietary needs and then apply this to satisfy those needs, on an individual basis. Silicon Valley and the tech industry are starting to fund a lot of new startups to leverage advances in DNA sequencing, along with other technologies to create individual, unique diets and lifestyle advice.
Some of the early contenders in this space include LifeNome, Nutrigenomix, PlainSmart, DNAFit, and Habit. All of a sudden, the “Internet of Food” has become an enormous initiative. There’s even a company called ph360 that makes a virtual assistant called ‘Shae’ that can guide you through your daily routine of eating and exercise.
It’s early to declare victory because of the complexity of combining the DNA tests with databases of food knowledge and then body sensors to figure out what’s best to eat. Until then, there’s still hope that a hot fudge sundae is going to appear on your personal health list.