Dietary advice should be tailored to the individual to improve blood glucose control, according to new research.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, also found that the glycemic index, which is used to measure the effects of food on blood glucose levels, is not an absolute measure. Instead, it depends on the person.
The researchers analysed the data of 800 people aged 18 to 70, none of whom had type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study. The participants provided data about their body measurements and blood glucose levels, and they provided stool samples. Each participant was equipped with a mobile app which could be used to report lifestyle factors and food intake. In total, the researchers collected data on 46,898 meals.
Based on the data they received, the researchers developed an algorithm that predicts how an individual will respond to food, based on their lifestyle, medical background and the composition of their microbiome.
Once they had generated the algorithm, the researchers tested it in a follow-up study of 100 volunteers. The algorithm was successful, and the researchers were able to predict how different individuals would respond to different foods. When different people were given the same foods, many of them responded differently.
The findings indicate that rigid dietary guidelines applied to a wide range of people are unlikely to be successful, because different people respond in different ways to the same foods.
“Using a huge 800-people cohort, we devised a predictor for a person’s postprandial glycemic response to untested food by taking into account their health state, medical history, lifestyle and microbiomen,” Eran Elinav and Eran Segal, both of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told Endocrine Today. “We validated this predictor on 100 unseen people with very good results, and then used it to construct diets that lowered postprandial glycemic response to food.
“For many years, our thinking has been that people develop obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases because they are not compliant with our dietary advice. However, based on our study, another possibility is that people are, in fact, compliant but that the dietary advice that we are giving them is inappropriate. Thus, while the extensive profiling that each of our study participants underwent is not yet available to the general public, we believe that a take-home message for people from our work is that if a diet did not work for you, it may be the diet’s fault and not your fault.”
The findings are published in Cell.

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