Ahead of their panel discussion at Future Food-Tech New York, we spoke to three thought leaders in personalized nutrition to find out why this topic is so exciting now, what today’s research and technology is enabling and how personalized nutrition can disrupt the food and health industries.
Vikram Luthar, Senior Vice President & President, Health & Wellness, ADM
The concept and potential of personalized nutrition is compelling, but execution has some hurdles that we need to address. A number of companies are coming up with solutions in this space.
Can we develop unique solutions that can be customized to the individual? Can we classify consumers into cohorts or clusters to meet nutritional needs through their DNA, blood, microbiome and activity trackers? How do we deliver efficiently as a supply chain? Customers can’t wait weeks for their diagnostic results and personalized nutritional solutions.
How do you deliver as a final format? Do you develop a final format by telling the consumer what vitamins, minerals and functional ingredients to take or sell them specific supplements or foods?
We need to ensure the diagnostics are cost effective, that the solutions are based on sound science and improve the supply chain to deliver efficiently to the consumer.
Finally, just because you suggest to a consumer to take advantage of personalized nutrition, it doesn’t mean they will adopt it, particularly if the testing is not cost effective. How do we target the most impactful testing and make it available at the lowest cost? How do companies know your recommendations have provided benefits and effects if consumers don’t adopt it? There has to be trust built between companies and consumers so that we can continue learning what works best and transfer that back to the consumer. Ultimately, the consumer will benefit by getting a better product that fits their nutritional and health needs.
ADM has a broad portfolio of on-trend functional ingredients and with its product development and applications capability can play an important role in developing unique nutritional solutions. No one company can offer the full package so we need to work together as an industry and create the right collaborations across the spectrum.
The mass market will, over time gradually diminish and decline and that will disrupt the mass market producers that will need to adapt to create new solutions. The continuing emergence of small and smaller brands who can adapt will enable new breakthroughs and collaborations within the personalized nutrition space. As a nutrition company, ADM’s end goal is to make a positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
Guruduth Banavar, CTO, VIOME
99% of the genes in our body come from a very diverse set of microorganisms that live in our body, collectively called the microbiome. The activity of these microbes have a large impact on our health, including weight maintenance, sleep quality, mental clarity, digestive health, skin health, and more. Understanding and maintaining a healthy microbiome is one of the most effective ways to maintain your overall wellness.
Any two people share only about 10% of their microbiomes on average, so there is tremendous individuality in our microbiomes. Your unique microbiome first processes the food you eat, and can turn that food into either beneficial nutrients for your body, or into useless compounds or even harmful toxins. And since your microbiome is the first “filter” for all the food you eat, it is crucial to understand what is going on with your microbiome and whether it is doing its job for you.
Viome’s core technology, called gut meta-transcriptomics, is specifically designed to see in detail the activity of the microbes in your microbiome. Not just which microbes are there, but what they are doing, and which pathways in your microbiome are active. You can see the details of our technology in this blog (https://www.viome.com/blog/why-viomes-technology-superior-understanding-rna) or our scientific paper (https://doi.org/10.1101/659615).
We use this insight into the microbiome to recommend the right foods for you individually, to lower your blood glucose response, improve your nutritional absorption, lower toxicity, and clam inflammation. For example, your blood glucose response is not just dependent on the nutrients in the food you eat, but also your microbiome. The same food can have dramatically different effects on different people, based on how you’re built and the trillions of microbes in your gut. Bread may cause your blood glucose to spike up but may have no effect on your friend’s blood glucose — and the reverse for bananas. We have described our machine learning model to predict your individual glucose response to a whole range of foods in our recent scientific paper (https://doi.org/10.1101/641019).
You cannot eat a one-size-fits-all diet to avoid spikes in your blood glucose and reduce your risk of many diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, cognitive decline, etc. What you need is an individually tailored diet that works just right for your body and your microbiome. There are dozens of studies showing that microbiome technology is effective in countering these diseases, with the right food and supplements. This kind of personalized nutrition will completely change the food industry and the supply chains that feed it. Once this takes hold, people will shop for more variety, and in smaller quantities – and this could change completely how we process, package, distribute foods across the industry. I look forward to discussing this at the Future Food Tech Conference.
Glenn Sullivan, Founding Partner, QUINTESSENCE NUTRACEUTICALS
Consumer awareness of scientifically documented nutrition is driving industry change to more condition specific health and wellness. This changing environment requires new technology and more clinical documentation to address chronic health issues like blood glucose and cholesterol management for mitigating prediabetic and arterial heart conditions. Nutrient digestibility, bioavailability and efficacy are becoming key drivers in consumer health and wellness concerns.
Personalized nutrition is already disrupting the food and health industries, changing from a nutrient specific marketing format to a more holistic nutritional strategy; protein to more digestible plant-based protein is just one example. More importantly, shifting from dietary supplements to consumer-driven interests for clinically documented ‘foods as medicine’ is precipitating change throughout the food industry. The dietary supplements industry is in the early stages of undergoing ‘seismic’ change, requiring adaption throughout the food manufacturing and distribution system.
Vikram, Guruduth and Glenn will be speaking alongside Seth Bannon, Fifty Years and David del Pozo, Ferrero on the panel, Personalized Nutrition as a Pathway to Healthy Eating and Good Food Choices at 12:15 on June 18 at Future Food-Tech New York.