When Nutrition Gets Personal: Study Shows New Frontiers in Understanding Glycemic Response

Nutrition has always been an important part of the equation for managing blood glucose. But recent research shows that we might have a lot more to learn about how our unique internal factors affect our glycemic response.

A new study published in Cell tracked the food intake and blood glucose readings of 800 people for one week. Surprisingly, the researchers found that blood glucose readings varied widely, even after the participants ate identical meals.

Information on the group's blood parameters, anthropometrics, physical activity, and gut microbiota was also collected. Using this information, the researchers built a tool that accurately predicted an individual's glucose level after a meal.

This shows that our glycemic response to a specific food may be affected by a variety of unique internal factors, including our gut microbiota. So understanding the specific nutrient composition of food may not be enough to accurately predict our blood glucose level after we eat it.

It should be noted that no participants in this study were diagnosed with diabetes, but the study did include individuals with pre-diabetes and obese individuals (both risk factors for type 2 diabetes).

The findings suggest that a highly personalized nutrition plan could be beneficial for those trying to manage blood sugar in an effort to prevent type 2 diabetes. The research also could pave the way for more insights into the complex array of factors that influence blood glucose levels for a variety of populations, including people with diabetes.

Registered dietitians and other health professionals have long acknowledged the value of personalized nutrition plans for diabetes management and overall good health. But using factors like blood parameters and gut microbiota to inform a nutrition plan takes the idea of “personalized nutrition” to another level.

This study is just a quick glimpse into the future of personalized nutrition and blood glucose management.