“It is time for a more-personalised approach”

Nutrition sciences have always taken a rather generic approach, investigating health effects in large groups of people. However, in order to move forward we should shift towards a more-personalised approach, stresses scientist Ellen Blaak from Maastricht University. 

“Does the impact of the microbiota on human metabolism vary in healthy volunteers and people with an increased risk for chronic metabolic diseases? And how do these bacteria interact with dietary components? In order to answer such intriguing questions, scientists need to compare subgroups, and combine state-of-the-art technology for measuring individual gut and metabolic health. TiFN is well-equipped for such a personalised approach, with scientists from multiple disciplines – nutrition sciences, microbiology, gastrointestinal physiology, systems biology and modelling – working in a multi-disciplinary research setting.

Tailor-made interventions
Early 2017 we began, as part of the latest TiFN research portfolio, a project focussed on the personalised approach: The biology behind perceivable consumer benefits. In this project we are using data available from large European dietary-intervention studies on macronutrients and metabolic health to design a personalised dietary intervention, targeted at people with a specific metabolic profile. We will investigate the added value of this ‘tailor-made’ intervention in normalising glucose control, and test whether we can develop more-personalised nutrition advice for people in real-life situations.

I expect the project, that will be completed in 2022, will provide a proof-of-concept for a more-personalised approach to nutrition. This will create opportunities for product development and targeted intervention strategies in the prevention of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.”

Prof. Ellen Blaak: Professor in Human Biology at Maastricht University and project leader at TiFN