Need personalised nutrition

Do you need personalised nutrition? And what is it exactly?

Caitlin Hall
by Ceri Ball
BSc qualified Nutritionist (BANT) specialising in Women’s health, Gastrointestinal Health, Mood, Energy Support and Weight Management.

There is an exciting paradigm shift taking place in healthcare. In fact, it’s been a corner of science that has been developing since the 1940’s.  

The genesis of Personalised Nutrition (PN) was founded by the brilliant Dr Linus Pauling, and colleague Dr R Williams, which they originally coined, Orthomolecular Medicine.  

Fast forward to today, healthcare is beginning to move away (albeit slowly) from a rather outdated reductionist approach and is, instead embracing what some would call ‘precision nutrition’ or ‘personalised nutrition’ medicine. The question is: do you need personalised nutrition?

So what does this mean exactly?  

Traditionally, dietary recommendations have been based on population-level data and general guidelines, such as the food pyramid or recommended daily allowances of nutrients and stratified products. However, what PN is offering is something more focussed and specific that is geared towards individual needs. This means that rather than a broad one-size-fits-all approach, PN views everyone as biochemically unique, which, if we ponder this idea for a moment, makes complete sense!  

We are indeed unique in every way, and these inherent differences are based on several key factors, including, genetics, metabolism, and gut microbiota. The aim of PN is to take these factors and provide more precise and effective nutrition and lifestyle recommendations that are both preventative and predictive. 

The gut microbiota 

So, let's dive into one of these factors, the gut microbiota.  Until around 2010, the gut microbiome was largely unknown and neglected. However, things have changed a lot since then, with science becoming increasingly more curious about the 2kg of bacteria that reside within our gut.  

Our rather mysterious gut microbiome is a complex landscape which surmounts to a vast collection of trillions of bacteria. It is literally a theatre of activity, comprising thousands of different species.  So, what do these bacteria do?  They wear many hats; they play an important role in digestion, vitamin production, immune system function, disease, and behaviour.  Each of us have different types and amounts of bacteria, and it has been proposed that your gut microbiota is as personal to you as your fingerprint.  A fascinating concept. 

A multitude of environmental factors play major roles in shaping the microbiota community; however, the diet is considered to have the most significant impact on shaping the composition and function of the gut communities.  Interestingly, unlike genetics, the microbiota is not static, but is instead complex, changeable and evolves overtime, and with key tools that will aid the mapping and analysis of the microbiota, will help clinicians identify specific and personalised probiotics for individual need. 


Do you need personalised nutrition?

As the advancement of clinical tools continues to evolve in areas like nutrigenomics, nutrigenetics and microbiome analysis, PN has the potential to revolutionise the way we approach nutrition and health.  As current heath trends suggest, we can look forward to a resilient industry where science-based solutions survive.  The future of precision nutrition is here, and we have Linus and Williams, the fathers of this exciting field to thank for that. 


PMIDs: 36235756, 32289828, 35442603