From food intolerances to personalised nutrition

Humans are unique in character, appearance and behaviour. So, asks Michael Gusko, General Manager, GoodMills Innovation, why would their nutritional requirements all be exactly the same?

The answer is clear: it was and still is easier for industry to produce food in mass quantities and distribute it in bulk. It’s been the one and only way for many years … until the “free from” movement began.

With the negative effects of prosperity in mind, such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease, people in developed countries began to monitor their daily eating habits.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, a variety of diet and weight loss programmes started to emerge and mushroom. And with digitalisation, nutrition became a lifestyle and social media status symbol, embracing veganism, flexitarianism and paleo dieting.

Even the consumption of gluten-free or lactose-free products is rarely based on medical need; it’s often simply the self-proclaimed proof of a person’s health consciousness.

Thanks to current food trends, the people who really do suffer from intolerances can, at least, benefit from a vast selection of alternative or replacement products on the market.

In addition, however, many consumers remain affected by digestive problems that have not been diagnosed. But, are people with sensitivities ill … or are certain reactions merely symptomatic of the individuality of our digestive systems?

It’s a short journey from food intolerances to personalised nutrition! Until recently, “trial and error” was the only option available for those affected. But now, thanks to a profusion of rapid scientific developments, we have a great number of opportunities to discern and define dietary solutions that are specific to the individual — from microbiome or genetic tests to blood glucose logs.

As a food industry, we have to capitalise on those unique chances and develop products that go beyond the traditional foci of sensual properties, a long shelf-life and being easy-to-produce for a mass market, and shine a spotlight on nutritional value and digestive effects.

GoodMills Innovation’s rediscovery of 2ab-Wheat was based on such a premise. When it comes to grain breeding, most breeders know everything about harvest yields, pest resistance and how their products influence factors such as dough and bread volume.

Nutritional value and/or digestive effects have generally been a secondary concern. So, together with nutritionists and researchers, we’ve worked on grain intolerances and their background for more than 20 years. As a consequence, we’ve examined a number of more tolerated grain varieties … and we’re still not ready.

Our daily bread is a basic staple. Consumed in vast amounts, its potential influence on the digestive system, on our glucose levels and our weight is immense. In China, for example, so-called Tatarian Buckwheat has a long history.

There, and in other Asian countries, it’s not only an important part of daily nutrition, it’s also commonly used to stabilise blood glucose levels. Based on this knowledge, we’re currently working on a new bread that combines the benefits of highly digestible 2ab-Wheat with Tatarian Buckwheat.

At the same time, we’re involved in a clinical study with the department of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Lübeck and the start-up organisation, MillionFriends/Perfood GmbH, which offers a personalised nutrition programme based on long-term blood glucose control and gut microbiota analysis.

Prof. Dr Christian Sina, head of the research project, has already drawn some interesting conclusions: the popular assertion that whole grain is healthy and white bread is fattening appears to be unsubstantiated.

According to Sina, certain grain products actually have a positive effect on blood glucose levels. The detailed results of the study will be presented at NewtritionX, an expert summit on personalised nutrition in September 2018.

According to Julian Mellentin’s 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2018, digestive wellness is one of the main themes, which is completely understandable.

“Consumers simply try whatever will make them feel better,” states the report. Finding a path to personalised nutrition is the best way to achieve a steady state of well-being and obtain the optimum health effects from the food we eat.

Companies