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Let's stop doing science to find the ideal diet.



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  • The eating tips are often everywhere on the map, even contradictory: Red wine is good, all alcohol is bad, eat breakfast, miss breakfast, eat a small meal, go vegetarian, eat a lot of meat. An explanation why is it so confusing? Perhaps there is no proper diet for everyone. Perhaps the best diet is slightly different for everyone, depending on the combination of our DNA, lifestyle and microbes that are found in our intestines. The science of how each of us individually processes and responds to food just starts. And it turns into a consumer product almost as fast as it produces.

    The fact that we're all healthier than the food plans we've created for ourselves as individuals is the premise behind Zoe, a company founded by Tim Spectrum, a professor at King's College London, and two entrepreneurs, who cooperate with the scientist to help the company sell the results. Zoe gets attention thanks to the latest research it finances: Last week Spector presented preliminary results of "the largest and most comprehensive experiment in the world to look at individual food reactions," wrote Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley who participated in the survey) in the New York Times. Other researchers say this is an important job: geneticist Erik Topol told the Times that this is an "important moment" for personalized nutrition, which Amy Miskimon Gos, a researcher at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, told me "is the holy grail" .

    While there will certainly be many useful medical views and new research opportunities, as is often the case when collecting data mountains, the ultimate goal of Spector's Zoe's work is a user application that can tell you, as in ] You specifically just what your body wants to consume. "Eat the way your body loves," said Zoya's website. There is an app model that shows how it can help you evaluate the usefulness of your "breakfast" by evaluating the health of your options: non-fat yogurt can get orange 3.5, avocado toast green 7.1. Spectrum can not say much more about how Zoe can work – "we can not be specific about the product because it will be driven by science" and science is not done, although it provides recommendations as good – grain daytime to eat and even better to relax with beer or a glass of wine based on how your body responds to grape hops. A company spokesman told me that the goal is to launch the consumer product in 2020, although it depends on how the research progresses.

    Probably we'll spend a lot of our days on the ground to tell them the perfect diet is on the other side of the credit card .

    I'm intrigued by what experts see as a real exciting research, but skeptical of what effect Zoe will have on the lives of the average consumer. We will probably spend most of our days on the ground to say that the perfect diet is on the other side of the credit card, but you should not spend too much time thinking that personalized diets are about to change everything – it's unlikely ,
    The premise of the study, called Predict, is as follows: More than a thousand participants have eaten a series of carefully recorded meals while regularly harvesting body waste, sleep and stress information, and blood samples. Many of the participants were twins, which would allow researchers to understand the role that genetics play in the way we respond to food. Specter is particularly interested in how intestinal microbes – which can vary even between twins – handle the things we eat that affect our health. The results are preliminary but seemingly impressive: researchers have found that dietary labels can account for less than half of how blood glucose, fat levels and insulin of the subjects increase after eating – factors that, according to Zoe , are related to things like weight gain and heart disease. A cool message is that counting calories may not be useful for maintaining health.

    But as Twilley and Graber point out, there is still no clear evidence that the findings can be applied as advice that can make the average person healthier. What if, for example, it is difficult for some people to eat in a way that does not change their blood sugar, no matter what they eat? Zoe can give good advice, but the evidence that it would be better than following a dietitian's direction or spending some time on how you feel in a diary – tools available at the moment – is not yet there. More likely, some progress is "to be around borders," says Traci Mann, who runs a nutrition lab at the University of Minnesota. If this study turns out to help most people lose weight (which, worth remembering, is not synonymous with health), it will be amazing. "The bodies of people have a weight that they tend to defend," says Mann. Even with the most up-to-date advice, the chances are "your body going back to that range."
    The reality that it can be almost impossible to lose weight is perhaps that's why customized eating sounds so tempting. It's also part of the reason why Zoe can drop down if science turns out to be useful to the masses. Zoe's offer will join other services that already provide personalized recommendations based on your microbe, such as DayTwo (based on Zoe's smaller, narrower food) and Viome (which just prides itself on its microbial DNA sequence). One who has tried the latter has written to Medium that much of the advice he has received from Viome was either common sense (avoid beer and white flour) contrary to his preferences (eat apples he does not like, avoid the pears he likes) or just the pain that will follow (cooked "roasted eggplant and garlic" that he did once before realizing that "I do not have time to cook so I never did it again . "puts the effort of" personalized nutrition "in perspective. Zoe can be based on more sophisticated science, but it's hard to see how much more accurate advice can neglect the basic reality that eating well, especially if you're out of time or money, is just a challenge.
    Like countless dietary plans before, Zoya will most likely not provide us with a guaranteed way of becoming the best, the thinnest I. That everything can be a central myth of our culture that is wildly good at selling things like … dietary applications. There is no magic bullet for nutrition or health, just a set of recommendations that we constantly refine, gradually, slowly and gently. It is not something that science should try to achieve, although this dream is partly what feeds this science. We will probably be happier to cast the idea of ​​the holy grail and just do as we can with the guidelines we already have. In the end, Spectrum studies may be part of this. But only part.


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