Predicting glycaemic responses: A personalised approach

I’d like to tell you about a paper that I read last month that I think is very interesting. Some of you may have noticed this paper already as it was mentioned in the December issue of the BANT newsletter. The paper is “Personalized nutrition by prediction of glycemic responses” by David Zeevi et al. at the University of Tel Aviv, published in “Cell” volume 163 pages 1079 to 1094 (Click here for a link to the pdf version of the paper)

The first immediately attractive aspect of this paper is the abstract, presented as a picture rather than text! I haven’t come across a “graphical abstract” before. Novelty besides, the paper is very clearly written indeed and is a pleasure to read. The researchers measured the postprandial (post-meal) glycaemic responses (PPGR) of 800 people over a one week period and then used this data in combination with other information about the individuals such as dietary habits, physical activity, blood parameters and gut microbiota to produce an algorithm that can predict an individual’s PPGR to a complex, real-life meal. The researchers then demonstrated that this algorithm could be used to create personalised diets for other individuals that could successfully reduce their blood glucose responses.

As a nutritional therapist with a particular interest in blood glucose balance, what I find fascinating about this paper is the insight the data gives into daily blood glucose patterns. Look at figure 1D to see the continuous blood glucose reading for an individual over a week. The researchers found very large variation in PPGR between individuals eating the same meal. Just look at Figure 2G, which shows how the glycaemic response of two participants to the same two foods is totally different, with one having a larger response to a banana, and the other having a larger response to cookies! The data makes one question the efficacy of basing food recommendations for an individual on measures such as the glycaemic index.

Another very interesting aspect of this paper is that an association was found between the gut microbiome and variability in PPGRs across people. The associations found were in many cases in the direction consistent with earlier reports of correlations found between bacterial taxa and factors such as obesity.

When I attended the “Food Matters” event recently, there were numerous seminars with “personalised nutrition” in the title. What I also like about this paper is that it discusses a type of personalised nutrition that is not connected with genetic testing!

I think that you will enjoy this paper, so do have a look!

Zeller Pimott – mBANT, Registered Nutritional Therapist

Senior Lecturer, University of West London

DISCLAIMER – this article is intended for information only and should not be considered to be nutritional advice. If you would like to change your diet please see a qualified registered practitioner for professional advice.


One comment

  1. I am fascinated by this too, and even have a direct connection to the research team, since they are colleagues of a good friend of mine.
    About a year ago I was exposed by my friend to their call for subjects for this research. I referred one of my clients to take part and she was a successful candidate.
    The process wasn’t easy at all but she got interesting results at the end and said it was worth it.
    The thing that couldn’t leave me was a very strong feeling of a hidden nutritional agenda behind this.
    This is the website which was used to call applicants. I wonder if you will be left with the same feeling I had (the very fashionable anti-carbs approach).


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