Invited by the industry network foodRegio e.V., speakers from the world of medicine, food, nutrition consulting and technology provided insights into what’s new in the personalized nutrition field. The consensus was health benefits have been verified, innovative technologies are available and practical examples prove implementation is feasible. Now the food industry, politicians and consumers must follow suit.
Michael Gusko, chairman of the focus group personalized nutrition at foodRegio e.V., as well as global director innovation, GoodMills Group, told the more than 100 attendees on site and in the live stream, “personalized nutrition is a reality and you should care because technology is disrupting your business model.”
That people react completely differently to the same foods must lead to a change in thinking, he said. Global players in the industry are also aware of this: For many companies, personalized nutrition is the next megatrend after plant-based alternatives. This was confirmed by Peter Heshof, founder of the trend and marketing agency Bloom, who said trends repeat themselves cyclically, and we are at the beginning of a phase revolving around taking back control, rationality and scientificity, as well as individual delimitation, which opens the door to personalized nutrition.
Dr Torsten Schröder, medical director at Perfood, a start-up offering a nutrition program based on a two-week blood glucose screening, but not just for weight loss.
“That’s because 80% of diseases are related to nutrition,” Schröder said.
In clinical studies, personalized nutrition recommendations also showed far-reaching improvements in acne, migraine, psoriasis and polycystic ovary syndrome. From a medical point of view, precision nutrition is extremely important in the treatment of systemic diseases, said Prof Dr Christian Sina, director of the Institute of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Lübeck.
Therefore, the food industry must accept its new role as part of the health-care system, Sina said.
Also required are technologies that enable the easily implementation of tailor-made nutrition for consumers. Benedikt Kurz, business development manager at Garmin Health, shed light on the technological side of personalized nutrition.
“With a wearable, we can increase motivation, give easier access to health information and better rehabilitation, with an expert receiving data 24/7,” Kurz said.
In the future, generic nutritional concepts could be replaced by individual recommendations thanks to wearables communicating with smart patches for measuring blood sugar or vitamins, for example. Melissa Snover, founder of Nourished, explained how micronutrients can be delivered to customers in a personalized way. The company uses 3D printing to produce so-called stacks, chewy sweets that contain seven nutrients tailored to individual needs.
For the nutrition revolution to succeed, an open ecosystem of personalised nutrition is needed, said Mariette Abrahams, founder of the Qina platform. She stated individual companies should be discouraged from covering all areas, from science to technology. Instead, she believes various partners should share their expertise for a “better consumer experience, improved consumer value, and health outcomes.”
Nutritionists are an important link in this chain, said nutritionist Rachel Clarkson, founder of The DNA Dietitian. She said this is the only way to ensure the medical and scientific data is interpreted for the layperson, leading to a lasting change in behavior.
The start-up My Healthy Food, presented by business developer Sergej Vdovitchenko, is driving a different model: The platform, whose soft launch is planned for the next few weeks, combines a test for the so-called Nutri-type – via a self-test or optimally via a blood sugar analysis – with type-appropriate as well as lifestyle-relevant nutritional recommendations, recipe suggestions and a web shop featuring functional pasta, flakes, rice substitutes or flours.
Next year, NEWTRITION X. is expected to take place in Lübeck, Germany.