How AI is beginning to play a part in personalized nutrition – The Mercury News

Have you ever done an internet search for health or nutrition advice? You probably received one-size-fits-all recommendations. The fact is that everybody is different and there’s no one best diet for everyone. Now science is one step closer to helping us better understand how to personalize nutrition recommendations based on individual factors.

The field of personalized nutrition, sometimes referred to as precision nutrition, is making important advancements thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

AI uses computers to perform human-like decision-making and problem-solving. The NIH Nutrition for Precision Health (NPH) study will use AI to create and validate algorithms to predict individual responses to foods and eating patterns. This study is part of a larger All of Us research initiative to better understand how individual human biology influences the effects of diet and environmental, behavioral and social factors on health using data from one million study participants from across the United States.

Precision nutrition is the evaluation of factors like genetics, health data, the microbiome and metabolic responses to food and eating patterns to help choose foods and diets to prevent or treat illness within individuals. For example, previous studies have shown that people consuming identical diets will have different responses in blood glucose, insulin and triglycerides. The findings from the NPH study will have the potential to enrich the field of nutrition, providing data to better individualize nutrition recommendations.

Well-designed studies that look at the role of nutrition in health are important because common causes of death among Americans including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer are nutrition-related. While precision nutrition using artificial intelligence is cutting-edge now, NIH believes that it will become a part of mainstream medical care by 2030. General tips like “drink eight cups of water per day for hydration” and “cut back on sugar for diabetes” could be obsolete due to access to precision nutrition.

Findings from the NPH study will likely help healthcare providers and nutrition experts provide more individualized, evidenced-based nutrition and food recommendations than ever before. While only time will tell how AI will impact daily life, it is already aiming to improve the nutrition and health of humans.

In the meantime, here are some important strategies to create an individualized nutrition and wellness routine:

  1. Meet with a registered dietitian to create an individualized nutrition plan that takes into account your family and individual medical history, lab results, lifestyle, fitness and health goals and other factors.
  2. Create an eating schedule that works for your lifestyle and nutrition needs.
  3. Focus on good sleep hygiene for adequate, high-quality sleep which supports healthy hormones and a sharp mind.
  4. Eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods.
  5. Keep a food journal to increase awareness about your eating habits and to find areas for improvement.
  6. Set realistic health goals that are both specific and can be measured by time such as “to walk 30 minutes on weekdays” or “to lower my cholesterol level by 10 percent in six months”.
  7. Avoid the hype of trendy foods and diets that are not backed by science.

LeeAnn Weintraub, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian, providing nutrition counseling and consulting to individuals, families and organizations. She can be reached by email at

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