A New Trend in Dieting is Giving ‘Going with Your Gut’ a Whole New Meaning
Diet fads come a dime a dozen, and it seems each year a new craze takes hold, eliciting conversations about the best way to shed weight that can be sometimes contradictory. Carbs are bad, but red meat is fine. Or maybe red meat causes cancer and carbs aren’t really that bad. Whatever the case, as obesity rates climb to a staggering height (or weight, as it were), it’s safe to say millions of people around the world have a vested interest in healthy living. For many of them, a one-size-fits-all diet plan isn’t effective, and just like taste in cuisine varies greatly from person to person, the way a particular diet affects an individual’s body can also vary greatly from the next, making the highly personalized approach favorable to most. Luckily for those folks, some new research is making the targeted weight-loss plan a matter of simple biology, capitalizing on the inherently unique bacteria each of us carry around in our digestive system.
New York magazine published an article titled “The Future of Dieting Is Personalized Algorithms Based on Your Gut Bacteria” earlier this month and it makes the argument for tailor-made eating plans based on the character traits of microbes found in the gut. More specifically, the concept is based on computer algorithms that “can predict how individuals’ bodies will respond to certain foods, thus creating a tailored meal plan for each according to his or her own unique bacterial profile.” As part of the Personalized Nutrition Project, biologists Eran Elivan and Eran Segal have been studying 1,000 people’s digestive patterns based on “glucose-monitoring devices, which measured and recorded their levels of blood sugar every five minutes for a week” and “a mobile app to record what and when they ate that week.” The differing results suggest that while for some, “you give them sugar and they have a very faint response — even to pure sugar. Whereas others, they have a huge response,” argues Segal and that for others, they “eat whole-wheat rice and their blood-sugar levels remain low, and when they eat ice cream they spike” (whereas in some cases, the results were completely opposite).
Based on the knowledge of such divergent microbial activity, Elivan and Segal suggest that such behavior can be predicted, thanks to evidence collected from stool samples combined with individual reactions in blood-glucose levels. In order to test the efficacy of such predictions, the two scientists tested their algorithm to “tailor diets for 25 individuals, all of whom had high enough blood-sugar levels to be considered pre-diabetic…For one week they ate according to their personalized food plan; the following week they ate a diet that was similar in total calories consumed and was in line with more typical dietary guidelines for pre-diabetics. After the week following their personalized diet, fewer individuals experienced those spikes in blood glucose when compared to their week on the standard diet; some of them even saw their blood-sugar levels dip back down to healthy levels.” And, while these findings are preliminary and based on what is essentially a minuscule percentage of individuals, the implementation of such an algorithm could change the landscape of the nutrition and wellness industry.
Read more: “The Future of Dieting Is Personalized Algorithms Based on Your Gut Bacteria” in New York.