A group of Israeli scientists conducted the world’s largest nutrition study of its kind, finding once and for all that there is no such thing as a universal diet, since the same food can trigger wildly different responses from one person to the next.
Researchers at Israel’s prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science conducted the Personalized Nutrition Study www.personalnutrition.org in order to determine the factors behind individual blood sugar levels, with the eventual goal of combating obesity and diabetes, Israel21C reported. Forty-six thousand meals were assessed and 800 people’s blood sugar levels continuously monitored in what has become the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. The results were then used to generate an algorithm to predict how a particular person will respond to different foods.
“We chose to focus on blood sugar, because elevated levels are a major risk factor for diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome,” Prof. Eran Segal of Weizmann’s computer science and applied mathematics department said.
Outfitted with small monitors that tracked their blood sugar levels, study participants were asked to record everything they ate and report on other factors like sleep and physical activity.
The study found that even after consuming identical meals, the results were highly individualized. Some participants experienced raised blood sugar levels after consuming glucose. Others had no reaction to standard glucose, but their blood glucose levels rose after eating white bread. “The huge differences that we found in the rise of blood sugar levels among different people who consumed identical meals highlights why personalized eating choices are more likely to help people stay healthy than universal dietary advice,” said Segal.
The study also found that blood sugar levels affect the same person differently, according to lifestyle factors such as whether their meal was preceded by sleep.
The scientists were then able to use the results and input them along with lifestyle factors in order to formulate an algorithm for predicting whether or not blood sugar levels would increase after consuming different foods. In a follow-up study of 100 volunteers, the algorithm was successful in its predictions.
The researchers intend to use the information to develop personal dietary recommendations that will prevent and treat obesity and diabetes, which, they claim, are “among the most severe epidemics in human history.”