The best diet for you is the one you can sustain, happily!
Personalized nutrition is rooted in the concept that one size does not fit all. Differences in biochemistry, metabolism, genetics, and microbiota contribute to the dramatic inter-individual differences observed in response to nutrition, nutrient status, dietary patterns, the timing of eating, and environmental exposures. Personalized nutrition seeks to elucidate how diet shapes an individual's response to nutrients and, reciprocally, how genetic makeup impacts nutrient metabolism and nutrient requirements in optimizing health and function.
Nutrition is core to human health. Differences in our biochemistry, metabolism, genetics, and microbiota all contribute to the dramatic differences among individuals in response to their nutrition. Personalized nutrition leverages human individuality to drive nutrition strategies that can prevent, manage, and treat disease and optimize health. 1
The "omics sciences" - nutritional genomics, epigenomics, metabolomics, microbiomics, and others - inform the elements of PN: PN research, PN education, and PN practice. PN considers omics analyses that identify relevant molecules (metabolites, proteins, microbes, genes) in conjunction with analyses of body system function, nutritional, and environmental inputs, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding of an individual's health circumstances and needs.
Your genetic profile and microbiome will offer insights into which approach might be optimal for your biology. But I believe it's even more critical to optimize non-biological factors such as your preferences, lifestyle, and priorities.
Despite the variances between individuals, there are some universal
truths. You don't need a $500 DNA test or microbiome analysis to know that cutting back on added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and other highly processed foods and eating more nutritious whole foods will improve your health. Suppose you're unwilling to take steps toward a healthier diet. Is a personalized dietary prescription that tells you cashews may agree with you more than almonds really going to do much?
The science and technology around personalized diets will continue to evolve and become more accurate. It’s really cool, and I love details and customization. But those advancements won't change that knowing what diet is best for us doesn't necessarily make it any easier to follow it.
Consider the foods you enjoy eating. An approach that is entirely outside of your comfort zone will be hard to sustain for long. So start by creating the healthiest possible version of that baseline.
Consider what matters to you. It's important to consider what, besides your health, really matters to you. Are you a committed vegan? Do you want to eat to improve longevity? Is food and cooking a vital part of your social and cultural rituals or something you hate?
Your diet needs to align with more than your DNA; it also has to be harmonious with your priorities and values.
Our genes and microbiome may hold some clues as to which dietary approaches will produce the best biological response. Still, few of us make dietary decisions based only on our biological needs. A reasonably healthy diet that you can happily and comfortably sustain is better than the biologically "perfect" diet you can't or won't follow. Following a customized macro tracking food plan is a healthy, effective way of eating for almost everyone.
1 (Personalized Nutrition 2021 | American Nutrition Association. https://theana.org/personalizednutritionsummit).