Precision Nutrition is a medical model that proposes the customization of nutrition, with nutritional decisions, practices, or products being tailored to the individual.
Can we use biotechnology to use things like our genetics, antibodies, or microbiome to guide/optimize our dietary choices, or to identify specific food intolerances?
What evidence-based precision nutrition technologies are available at Preventous, and how can they be used?
This article will cover:
1) Current technologies.
2) The science and evidence.
3) Precision technologies available at Preventous.
What technologies are available?
Here is a summary of six technologies now being utilized in the precision nutrition field. The first three are emerging areas, while the latter three are evidence based, and ones you have access to as Preventous members.
Since the sequencing of the human genome, genetic testing has become faster, cheaper, and more robust. One question that remains is can we use our genetic information to predict how we respond to dietary (or lifestyle) intervention? Or better, to guide it?
The technology to sequence your genome and compare to diet-related genes is there, but there is so far no evidence that this information can be used impactfully towards precision nutrition, yet. Save your money (for now).
2. Microbiome test
A topic heavily discussed in our last newsletter; your gut microbiome plays a significant role in your health. Some companies are offering analysis of stool samples to determine the composition of your gut microbiome.
Many of these companies can certainly identify with some accuracy your microbiome composition, a powerful technological advance that companies are promoting as evidence-based (which it is). However, there is no strong evidence that this information can be used to give meaningful dietary recommendations. Save your money (for now).
3. Food intolerance tests
Food intolerance testing is becoming very common nowadays. People experiencing digestive issues, medical conditions, or simply curious about these tests can get them done at a relatively affordable price. The question is, are they reliable?
Unfortunately, not. These tests (IgG blood or hair sample tests) largely ignore the biology of your immune system and the basis of food intolerances. As a former medical researcher in the field of Immunology, this one is frustrating to see still out there. Out of the three techniques discussed thus far, this one is probably the most widely used, yet least scientifically viable. From personal experience, I have seen many of these tests come back with near identical recommendations that cause my clients to unnecessarily restrict many foods from their diet that they are not sensitive to. Save your money, period.
4. Metabolic testing
Here at Preventous, we have a Korr™ resting metabolic rate measurement machine. Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the measurement of how much food, or energy, is required to maintain basic body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and maintenance of body heat while you are in a state of rest. That energy is expressed in calories per day. It is important to keep in mind that many factors affect your total metabolic rate including age, physical activity, sleep, stress, muscle mass, and overall nutrition.
Using RMR metabolic testing, we can make a relatively accurate prediction on how many calories your body needs a day. We have not been using this machine during the covid-19 pandemic. Hopefully, soon we can start using this machine again!
5. Body composition
At Preventous, we have a Tanita medical grade body composition analyzer. This machine is about as close as it gets to DEXA, the gold standard in body composition analysis, while still being portable, fast, and easy to analyze.
The Tanita body composition analyzer can tell us your body composition, including how much muscle and body fat you have. It also allows us to quantify visceral fat, which is the type of fat tissue that surrounds your internal organs and can be a risk factor of chronic disease. This information is useful for baseline and serial measurements. Members can book an appointment for this service anytime!
6. Nutrient / Food tracking apps
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to highlight Preventous’ s new nutrition tracking and analysis app, Keenoa™. This app was created in 2019 by dietitians and students from McGill University in Montreal, for dietitians. It is free of charge as part of your membership (not open access).
There are many phone technology apps out there via free or paid subscriptions. My Fitness Pal is probably the most common, and it can measure macronutrients such as calories. But it is very limited in its accuracy, and the features are limited.
Key features of the Keenoa™ nutrition tracking and analysis app include:
• Photo-based nutrition log, assisted by AI technology.
• Detailed nutrient analysis of up to 88 nutrients, based on government nutrient databases.
• Intuitive and mindful eating feature.
Technologies in the precision nutrition field are evolving and may assist in combination with nutrition recommendations and lifestyle intervention. However, some companies mislead consumers by using evidence-based technology to sell recommendations that are not.
Three technologies available at Preventous include: RMR testing, body composition analysis, and the Keenoa™ nutrition tracking and analysis app. These technologies we utilize at Preventous may assist you to meet your nutrition goals and are best utilized in tandem with nutrition counselling and education.
Please feel free to book anytime! If you have questions about any nutrition or diet-related technology and would like a professional opinion, call or text today 403.229.0129 or email me here.