Personalised nutrition

Jun 14, 2024

Key takeaways

  • Personalised nutrition takes into account your genes, biology, lifestyle and environment to generate food recommendations based on your specific needs.

  • Evidence suggests that diet quality is greatly improved when participants use a personalised nutrition plan.

Intermittent fasting is a popular ‘non-dietary’ pattern of eating that’s garnered increasing attention due to its potential health benefits, including weight management, improved metabolic health and positive effects on cellular processes and longevity. Some people find it easier to adopt than traditional nutrition plans because it focuses on when you eat, rather than what you eat. 

What is personalised nutrition?

Personalised nutrition involves following a food plan that takes the status of your genes, biology, metabolism and gut microbiome into account (20).

The goal is to optimise your health by tailoring your diet to your unique biology, habits and environment (1). Personalised nutrition can be used to achieve various health goals, such as weight management, athletic performance and the prevention or management of chronic diseases. 

The science behind personalised nutrition

Genetic factors

Personalised nutrition explores the interaction between your genes and their response to nutrients. A tailored approach to nutrition can better protect your DNA and promote an improved healthspan. Some nutrients, such as quercetin - found in green vegetables - can inhibit the expression of the COX2 gene which is related to inflammation (2). 

Your genes also provide insight into what diseases you may be prone to developing and how you can use personalised nutrition to help mitigate the likelihood of developing them. For instance if type 2 diabetes runs in your family, you can adopt a nutrition plan that cuts out refined sugars (23). 

However, genetics is just one aspect of your biology that can be used to help define your nutrition plan. Each person responds differently to food. Even when sets of identical twins had their blood tested, their sugar, insulin and fat markers before and after food consumption varied significantly (3). 


Your gut microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that inhabit your digestive tract. This complex ecosystem plays a vital role in influencing various aspects of your health, including digestion, nutrient absorption and supporting optimal function of the immune system (4). 

Your gut microbiome is extremely unique, comparable to your fingerprints. Knowing what the main microbiome populations are can help guide you in your food choices. For instance Bifidobacterium is a species that can produce short-chain fatty acids from dietary fibre. Short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and acetate, can help reduce inflammation and improve gut health (21). As you age, your microbiome diversity decreases. To improve your microbiome diversity eat fibre-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables (5). 

Blood biomarkers 

Markers in the blood provide insights into both your personal nutrient levels and disease risk. They help reveal the state of physiological processes and conditions within your body, and assess your response to any specific dietary interventions that you may have adopted. 

Blood glucose levels, for example, can predict your risk for conditions like diabetes and how to manage them. Focus on eating less processed foods that contain more fibre, such as whole grains and vegetables, can stabilise your blood glucose levels and optimise energy levels (6). 

C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory biomarker found in the blood. It may indicate chronic inflammation, which in turn is a risk factor for certain conditions such as heart disease (7). Being aware of  this information can help you create a nutrition plan focused on your personal biology, focused around consuming anti-inflammatory foods such as salmon, leafy green vegetables and nuts (8). 

Biomarkers also reflect your current nutrient status, including the levels of certain vitamins and minerals present in your blood. This information helps highlight any deficiencies and enable you to address these by altering your intake of specific foods and supplement recommendations.

Why do we need personalised nutrition?

Individual preferences 

If you follow religious dietary restrictions, for example, certain foods are off limits and need to be taken into account when personalising nutrition recommendations (9). If you follow a specific diet such as vegetarian or vegan and avoid meat or animal products, you may need to prioritise certain other types of foods in order to ensure you consume enough protein, essential B vitamins and iron (19). 

Allergies or intolerances 

Abou 20 percent of people worldwide experience a form of food intolerance, which often stresses the digestive system or another part of the body (10). Another benefit of taking a personalised approach to nutrition can also help identify foods that trigger issues. This can be done through a process of elimination - removing foods that cause symptoms to see which ones need to be excluded from the diet.

Compromised health status          

Personalised diets should always take account of current health issues. For example, should you have a heart condition, you may consider modifying nutritional factors such as salt intake, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol (12). 

Nutrition as we age

Nutritional requirements change throughout our lives. During early childhood and adolescence, there’s an increased need for nutrient-dense foods to support growth and development. It's particularly important to get a balanced diet with adequate protein, iron, calcium and vitamins (13). 

As adults, nutritional needs may vary depending on the person’s activity levels, health status and lifestyle choices. Adults need more dietary fibre and protein as they age to maintain a healthy weight to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes (14). 

Lifestyle and environmental factors

Stress, sleep patterns and environmental influences play a significant role in designing a personalised nutrition plan. 

If you’re very active, you may require more calories and protein to support muscle growth, recovery and athletic performance. If you experience a lot of stress you may require increased levels of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin C, vitamin B, magnesium and selenium (15). 

Is personalised nutrition effective?

Traditional approaches to nutrition tend to involve following guidelines that apply to a broad population, for example women requiring 2,000 calories a day, and men needing 2,500 (22). However, this can be problematic as it can vary depending on a multitude of things such as  weight, height and activity level. 

You also may benefit more from eating specific foods. One study showed that people who were sensitive to insulin benefited the most from higher protein, dietary fibre, and low fat. While participants with poor insulin action benefited more from a diet higher in monounsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil, nuts, avocado (18). 

Although more well-designed randomised clinical trials are needed in order to recommend specific behaviour change techniques and dietary outcomes, evidence suggests that diet is greatly improved when participants use a personalised nutrition plan (17).

As research progresses, personalised nutrition may become a more refined and effective approach to promoting health and preventing disease. The best approach to your nutrition is a balanced perspective that works for you.


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  3. Berry, Sarah E., Ana M. Valdes, David A. Drew, Francesco Asnicar, Mohsen Mazidi, Jonathan Wolf, Joan Capdevila, et al. 2020. “Human Postprandial Responses to Food and Potential for Precision Nutrition.” Nature Medicine 26 (6): 964–73.

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  6. Holzer, Roman, Wilhelm Bloch, and Christian Brinkmann. 2022. “Continuous Glucose Monitoring in Healthy Adults—Possible Applications in Health Care, Wellness, and Sports.” Sensors 22 (5): 2030.

  7. Mohebi, Reza, Cian P. McCarthy, Hanna K. Gaggin, Roland R.J. van Kimmenade, and James L. Januzzi. 2022. “Inflammatory Biomarkers and Risk of Cardiovascular Events in Patients Undergoing Coronary Angiography.” American Heart Journal 252 (October): 51–59.

  8. Harvard Health Publishing. 2018. “Foods That Fight Inflammation.” Harvard Health. Harvard Health. November 7, 2018.

  9. McCaffree, Jim. 2002. “Dietary Restrictions of Other Religions.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102 (7): 912.

  10. Tuck, Caroline J, Jessica R Biesiekierski, Peter Schmid-Grendelmeier, and Daniel Pohl. 2019. “Food Intolerances.” Nutrients 11 (7): 1684.

  11. McLendon, Kevin, and Britni T Sternard. 2023. “Anaphylaxis.” National Library of Medicine. StatPearls Publishing. January 26, 2023.

  12. Diab, Alaa, L. Nedda Dastmalchi, Martha Gulati, and Erin D. Michos. 2023. “A Heart-Healthy Diet for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: Where Are We Now?” Vascular Health and Risk Management 19 (April): 237–53.

  13. British Nutrition Foundation. n.d. “Life Stages - British Nutrition Foundation.”

  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. “The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity .” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 24, 2022.

  15. Singh, Karuna. 2016. “Nutrient and Stress Management.” Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences 6 (4).

  16. Ross, A. Catharine, Christine L. Taylor, Ann L. Yaktine, and Heather B. Del Valle. 2011. “- Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D - NCBI Bookshelf.” 2011.

  17. Jinnette, Rachael, Ai Narita, Byron Manning, Sarah A McNaughton, John C Mathers, and Katherine M Livingstone. 2020. “Does Personalized Nutrition Advice Improve Dietary Intake in Healthy Adults? A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Advances in Nutrition 12 (3).

  18. Trouwborst, Inez, Anouk Gijbels, Kelly M. Jardon, Els Siebelink, Gabby B. Hul, Lisa Wanders, Balázs Erdos, et al. 2023. “Cardiometabolic Health Improvements upon Dietary Intervention Are Driven by Tissue-Specific Insulin Resistance Phenotype: A Precision Nutrition Trial.” Cell Metabolism 35 (1): 71-83.e5.

  19. Neufingerl, Nicole, and Ans Eilander. 2021. “Nutrient Intake and Status in Adults Consuming Plant-Based Diets Compared to Meat-Eaters: A Systematic Review.” Nutrients 14 (1): 29.

  20. Livingstone, Katherine M., Omar Ramos-Lopez, Louis Pérusse, Hisanori Kato, Jose M. Ordovas, and J. Alfredo Martínez. 2022. “Precision Nutrition: A Review of Current Approaches and Future Endeavors.” Trends in Food Science & Technology 128 (October): 253–64.

  21. Portincasa, Piero, Leonilde Bonfrate, Mirco Vacca, Maria De Angelis, Ilaria Farella, Elisa Lanza, Mohamad Khalil, David Q.-H. Wang, Markus Sperandio, and Agostino Di Ciaula. 2022. “Gut Microbiota and Short Chain Fatty Acids: Implications in Glucose Homeostasis.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 23 (3): 1105.

  22. National Health Service. 2022. “The Eatwell Guide.” NHS. NHS. November 29, 2022.

  23. Asif, Mohammad. 2014. “The Prevention and Control the Type-2 Diabetes by Changing Lifestyle and Dietary Pattern.” Journal of Education and Health Promotion 3 (1): 1.