Artificial intelligence could help work out the best diet for every individual


Is Cauliflower or Bitroot the Best Choice for Your Personal Health? What foods are more likely to cause an increase in blood sugar or cholesterol in your blood?

Personal diet is the next frontier in the science of nutrition, and artificial intelligence (AI) will play an important role in finding out what each of us should and should not eat.

An ambitious program called Nutrition for Precision Health (NPH) began in the United States in January 2022, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $ 170 million to institutions across the country for the study. Five years with 10,000 participants.

CNN spoke to Holly Nicastro, Program Director at the NIH Office of Nutrition Research and NPH Coordinator, about the purpose and scope of the project and how AI can benefit our health by helping to create a better diet for Every individual.

This interview has been edited and edited for clarity.

CNN: There is already a lot of information about eating healthy. Why is your approach different and what are the goals?

Holinica Castro: There is a lot of confusing information and there is no diet that is healthy at all. The goal of the NPH is to use AI to develop algorithms that predict individual responses to food and diet patterns.

Our approach is different because we are looking at a wide set of factors, most of which are not normally examined in the science of nutrition. NPH studies will look at how genetics, microbiology, biology and physiology, human environment, lifestyle, health history, psychology and social determinants of health affect an individual’s response to diet. In addition, we will study one of the largest and most diverse groups of participants for a clear nutrition study.

CNN: Who are the participants?

Nikastro: Participants for the NPH will be selected from the All of Us Research Program run by the NIH. We are inviting one million people across the United States to help create one of the most diverse health databases in history. Most of the participants were from groups that had previously been under-represented in biomedical sciences. All of our participants provided information through surveys, electronic health records, biological models, and digital health technologies such as Fitbits. The diversity of our entire research team will allow the NPH to look at factors such as age, sex, race and ethnicity.

CNN: What data are you collecting and how do you analyze it?

Nikastro: NPH includes three modules. In the first module, information about the normal daily diet of all participants will be collected. In Module 2, a subset of participants in Module 1 will eat three different diets selected by the researchers. For the third module, participants smaller and separate from module 1 will participate in a two-week study in a research center where their diet will be carefully controlled by the researchers.

Each module will end with a food problem test. Participants will fast throughout the night and then have a standard breakfast or beverage so that we can monitor their response, such as blood sugar levels, for several hours.

We will use mobile photography software and wearable devices that can passively capture information about what people are eating. Participants will wear a series of glucose monitors and tachometers that collect information about physical activity, quiet time, and sleep. Researchers will also perform various biochemical analysis, such as blood lipids and hormone and microbiochemical levels of feces.

The NPH study will link data from the All of Us program and analyze it using AI. This approach creates an unprecedented opportunity to move nutrition research toward personal nutrition because, unlike human researchers, AI can quickly disassemble and process large amounts of data and translate connections between data points into Algorithms. These can predict an individual’s response to food and dietary patterns, taking into account the role of genes, proteins, microbiochemistry, metabolism, and environmental and lifestyle factors.

CNN: Who benefits the most from a clear nutrition approach?

Nikastro: Some of the earliest direct benefits may be for those at risk for diabetes or those who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels. Monitoring the blood sugar attached to the skin allows us to learn how an individual’s blood sugar changes after eating a particular food, food group or meal, and then predict those responses based on individual characteristics. This will help us to develop a proper plan that prevents high blood sugar.

We are also using a clear nutritional approach to see how well we can predict other dietary responses, including changes in blood pressure, cholesterol or triglyceride levels, mood and cognition.

CNN: Are we really what we eat and how much can we improve our health through fasting?

Nikastro: Poor diet is one of the leading causes of preventable diseases and deaths around the world and is a major driver of health care costs. Our diet affects our growth, development, risk and severity of disease and general well-being. Globally, almost 40% of adults are obese or overweight, more than 30% have high blood pressure and other diet-related chronic diseases on the rise. Recent studies have shown that about one in five deaths can be attributed to poor diet. Improving our diet has great potential to change the health of the world.

If everyone followed the population guidelines, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we would expect improvement. These guidelines generally focus on the inclusion of nutrient-rich foods and the determination of added sugars, saturated fats and sodium. However, this one-size-fits-all approach has only got us so far. We see some degree of individual sensitivity in the responses of participants in almost all dietary and nutrition intervention studies, and patients and consumers are looking for appropriate approaches.

CNN: I believe it! When will the introduction of personal diets become widely available to the public?

Nikastro: Clear nutrition is already in practice. Clinical practitioners will provide different recommendations based on a person’s medical history, medical history, or health and wellness goals. For example, the guidelines for those who want to manage their diabetes will look very different from those for those who need to increase their muscle mass.

Nutrition guidelines will become clearer in the coming years. In the short term, more data points will be used to generate more customized instructions. In the long run, I hope to see the NPH-determined prognosis used during a standard diet by a healthcare professional. This may involve allowing patients to use new technologies, such as a continuous glucose monitor or smart toilet, that analyzes the microbial composition of the stool in real time, or it may involve simple genetic signature testing.

For us to know the full benefits of a clear nutritional approach, it will be necessary to study and address the barriers to following a dietary guide. A clear approach should focus on introducing a diet that not only improves one’s health but also makes it easier for an individual to follow based on their personal resources, lifestyle, preferences and abilities.


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