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Precision Nutrition Improves Life Quality for Older People

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#1 Steve H

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Posted 10 July 2024 - 03:46 PM

Researchers compared general nutritional advice to individualized nutritional advice in addition to an app that encourages its users to follow a diet. Elderly overweight and obese people benefited more from the individualized approach [1].

One size doesn’t fit all

Proper diets can help people stay healthy even into old age. However, nutrition advice is designed for the average person, and it does not consider the high variability among people’s nutritional needs and preferences. Personalized nutrition approaches address this need to optimize the diet for the individual. Such personalized nutrition can also be considered a therapeutic approach to preventing or managing chronic diseases.

However, sticking to a strict, individualized diet might be difficult for most people. The current study’s authors believe that digital tools can help support and motivate individuals to follow the recommended diet. Therefore, they created a trial that determined whether individualized dietary interventions alongside a digital tool can affect the health of overweight and obese older adults.

Usual-care vs. individualized diet

The study included 127 participants who were between the ages of 50 and 80 and had a BMI o at least 27. Participants had to have at least one risk factor, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or sedentary behavior. The trial lasted 12 weeks and had a 3-month follow-up.

The usual-care group followed Healthy Eating Plate (Harvard) and the Spanish Society of Community Nutrition’s dietary guidelines. These guidelines include recommendations regarding food groups, serving sizes, frequency of consumption, and practical tips for designing menus.

They also attended online sessions to learn about prescribed dietary patterns, food label use, seasonal shopping lists, meal plans and recipes, and sleep habits.

The precision diet group received guidelines to follow a Mediterranean and mixed diet that included foods based around personal preferences, such as smoothies, fruit compote, and wholemeal bread. These foods were designed specifically for this study, and their ingredients were chosen to prevent age-related diseases. Also, only the members of this group had their caloric intake needs assessed and attended visits to supervise diet adherence.

The precision diet group’s app was also specifically designed for this study with the needs of the elderly in mind, being easily accessible and easy to use. It contained information about the assigned diet, reminders about follow-up visits, and motivational messages.

At the end of the study, participants filled out a dietary intake questionnaire recalling their 7-day food intake, physical activity, and health status and took tests to assess cognitive functions.

Eating your way to better metabolic parameters

Analysis of the obtained data revealed that, after three months of diet, both groups experienced significant reductions in body weight, BMI, and diastolic blood pressure. Still, the changes in the precision diet group were significantly greater than those in the usual-care group.

There were also differences between groups. On average, the participants who followed the precision dietary intervention finished the study with reduced waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, fat mass, and systolic blood pressure compared to the usual-care group.

The researchers also measured biochemical parameters, with both groups showing significantly better triglyceride and uric acid concentrations that were not significantly different between the groups. Uric acid was used here as a marker of the anti-inflammatory effects of the nutritional strategies, suggesting that both dietary approaches impact the inflammatory aging environment (inflammaging). However, there is a need to assess more inflammatory biomarkers to gain a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms behind these diets.

The precision diet group also had significantly lower total cholesterol and HDL-c levels and hadd improved glycemic control and hepatic health markers, compared to both baseline and the usual-care group.

The researchers measured total energy intake but didn’t observe differences between the groups. However, the groups differed regarding specific food groups, with carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber content significantly higher and lipids lower in the precision group.

The precision group also consumed less sodium but more sugar than the usual-care group. The researchers point out that most of the sugars in the diet participants ate came from fruit, vegetables, and dairy products. While free sugars should be limited in the diet, there is no evidence regarding the adverse effects of consuming sugars that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, or milk. The results of this study also support this, as the researchers didn’t observe any negative effects regarding glucose metabolism in precision group participants. They hypothesize that interaction with fiber and “other nutrients could positively influence the regulation of glucose homeostasis and metabolism” [2].

Better diet, better quality of life

Based on the questionnaires that the participants filled out upon completion of a 3-month study, the members of the precision diet group improved their quality of life. Specifically, the precision diet group reported improvements in the quality of life test’s vitality, body pain, and emotional role sections. Both groups reported improvements in the general health and physical function. Statistical analysis revealed many associations between improvements in well-being and the metabolic changes observed in the participants.

The authors believe that in the future, the use of big data and -omics technologies will allow for even more personalized nutritional approaches. Such a strategy holds the potential to better aid in developing nutritional approaches that will allow for avoiding diseases and reducing the effects of aging.

The researchers point to a few limitations of the study, such as baseline dietary intake not being assessed, potential biases from self-reporting, low sample size, the mobile app not being assessed alone (only in combination with the diet), and the inability to conduct a double-blind trial due to the nature of the intervention.

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[1] Galarregui, C., Navas-Carretero, S., Zulet, M. A., González-Navarro, C. J., Martínez, J. A., de Cuevillas, B., … & Abete, I. (2024). Precision nutrition impact on metabolic health and quality of life in aging population after a 3-month intervention: A randomized intervention. The Journal of nutrition, health and aging, 28(7), 100289.

[2] Müller, M., Canfora, E. E., & Blaak, E. E. (2018). Gastrointestinal transit time, glucose homeostasis and metabolic health: modulation by dietary fibers. Nutrients, 10(3), 275.

View the article at lifespan.io

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