How It Works
Several personalized nutrition companies exist now—some selling kits directly to the user and others only to medical professionals to help them develop diet plans for their patients. Some even include apps and real-time access to nutrition coaches. Many also include more conventional tests such as insulin levels, fasting blood glucose, cholesterol levels, vitamin deficiencies, and food allergies and sensitivities.
In 2020, Nutrition Business Journal estimated the Personalized Nutrition Supplement Market at just under $600 million with the potential to grow to $4 billion by 2023. Of that market, the vast majority was related to survey-based nutrition. This space is led by companies like care/of, that allow their customers to answer lifestyle questions and offer suggestions to fit their current lifestyle or goals. However, more technologically sophisticated options are expected to grow including microbiome testing, genetic testing, and biomarker testing.1
One such brand shaking up personalize health is Canadian-based startup, Gini. It’s full range analysis provides “genetic health risks, lifestyle tendencies, physical traits, and informs you about your gene adjusted nutrition needs.” Gini’s mobile app then provides personalized assistance and allows you to track food, vitamins, exercise, and sleep, among other biological tracking tools for ongoing support.
Trends Driving Personalized Nutrition
A number of trends have contributed to the development of personalized nutrition, including:
- Consumer interest in health and wellness
- Increase in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes
- An aging population
- A rise in self-reported food sensitivities and allergies
- More informed and digitally-connected consumers
- Increased interest in self-care, prevention, and use of food as medicine
Why Are Consumers Interested in Personalized Nutrition?
Consumers are exposed to a flood of often conflicting and changing nutrition information. They want nutrition information they can trust and that’s right for them. Science-based, personalized nutrition answers that need. Consumers seek personalized nutrition for a variety of reasons.
For targeted health management of body systems (for optimal function or disease risk reduction):
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Immune system
For personal health goals:
- Weight loss
- Cholesterol reduction
- Blood pressure reduction
- Improved sleep quality
For physical or mental enhancement:
- Focus and attention
The health benefits of personalized nutrition are enormous due to the links between nutritional status and disease states. Even small dietary changes may correct a vitamin or mineral deficiency, lower cholesterol levels, or eliminate food allergy-induced inflammation.
Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of personalized nutrition is the lack of scientific data, especially regarding the effects of food components on gene expression—a field of study known as nutrigenomics. There is also much more to be learned about the interactions between nutrients and gut bacteria. Moreover, not all personalized nutrition programs include follow-up testing to ensure the program is working effectively.
What’s Mainstream Today: Condition-Specific Products
A condition-specific product is a functional food, beverage or nutritional supplement designed to address one particular health concern such as heart health, eye health, immunity, bone health, joint health, or energy level. Although a condition-specific food product is not fully customized to the individual, it represents a good starting point for a mainstream personalized nutrition product and where a majority of the market is today.