Nov. 19, 2015 -- Experts have long known that a diet that works for one person doesn't help another person shed a pound. Now a new study finds that even if we all ate the same meal, we’d burn it differently and have different blood sugar levels afterward.
Researchers say the findings will help pave the way for personalized nutrition. One day, we may have diets based on how we respond to foods so that we can keep our blood sugar at healthier levels. High levels are linked with a number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and strokes.
"Each human being has a unique response to the food he or she consumes," says Eran Elinav, MD, PhD, a researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science who worked on the study. "We need to look at individual responses."
Their research, he says, ''shifts our view from this one-size-fits-all dietary approach to a personalized dietary approach and regimen."
The researchers used a smartphone app to collect data. Someday soon, our smartphones may be armed with information about our unique pattern of breaking down food. And we could simply ask our phones: "What should I eat now?"
Why Personalized Nutrition?
People's blood sugar levels are rising, and that's reflected in the sharp increase in prediabetes (which means you're on the path to diabetes), the researchers say. But there's no accurate method for predicting how blood sugar will change after a meal.
One method that tries to estimate that is called the glycemic index, which ranks foods based on how they affect blood sugar levels. But it assigns a score to a single food, so it's not practical for real-life meals with an assortment of foods, the researchers say.
The difference in how people respond to what they eat may be explained in part by how we use the simple sugars left after we digest it. We absorb these simple sugars mostly in the small intestine, and the researchers found that specific microbes there are linked to how much blood sugar rises after a meal.