Personalised nutrition and the microbiome

Why is this significant?

Personalised nutrition is the future of human health and microbiome analysis is a major part of this field. It’s a fast growing area of research at the cutting edge of science and nothing is cast in concrete. This article demonstrates this with the difference in results between two companies. 

There’s a host of microbiome testing companies around including uBiome, Thryve, American Gut, DayTwo in the US and Microba in Australia. This is a fast growing area of research, but is the commercial application reliable?

In this article the author tested the products from 2 companies, DayTwo and Viome. Viome uses the newer metatranscriptomics method and at USD400 it’s not cheap! A little unsurprisingly the test results varied between the two products. “DayTwo … thinks I should enjoy black coffee (excellent, 9.9) and red wine (9.0, very good) but Viome says I should “minimize” them”. They disagreed on other foods too.

Are either of them offering “bad” advice? Probably not, they both say to eat more vegetables, fruits and nuts and keep the calories down. Hardly earth shattering advice!

Whilst these might be early days, personalised nutrition based on your microbiome has a sound basis in science. However it’ll be the integration of that other genome, that of the human host, with the microbiome information that will really establish personalised nutrition. Once that happens  acellular and cellular agriculture products will then add the last piece to the puzzle.

Imagine knowing;

  1. Your own genetic susceptibilities.
  2. How your environment affects your genome.
  3. Your microbiome.

And then having healthy tailored food printed and/or delivered to you! Then human health will take a major leap forward and food as a medicine will truly have arrived.

The technical stuff (skip it if you like!)

The difference between the tests used by various companies is that some use a test method that is more specific in identifying bacteria than the other. The 16S method is suitable only for bacteria and is the less precise method, going down to genus level only. The shotgun metagenomic method “allows much deeper characterization of the microbiome complexity, allowing identification of a larger number of species for each sample, compared to 16S” sequencing. Unlike the 16S method it also identifies fungi and viruses. Metatranscriptomics is yet another step more specific, it “tells us about their activity: the genes that are highest expressed in a specific microbial environment.”

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