In the last century, we have achieved the maximum lifespan that the human being has ever experienced. Advances in hygiene, medicine and technology underlie this record. But this increase in lifespan does not come for free, since we are now familiar with some diseases associated to ageing that centuries ago were almost unknown, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammatory processes, neurodegeneration or different types of cancers.
The next challenge for maintaining humans’ life expectancy is to guarantee a healthy ageing in which the increased lifespan could be accompanied by wellbeing and optimal health. In order to prevent the onset of diseases linked to ageing, we have to identify their origin. Advances in biomedical research have highlighted the relevance of different biological agents or environmental conditions (stressors) in the origin of these diseases. Despite some of them present a clear genetic cause or association, the most relevant factors are environmental, such as nutrition, dietary habits, psychological stress, sedentariness, infections or pollution, among others.
If we want to get to our last days in optimum physical conditions, we have to tackle the onset of some diseases associated to ageing, presenting a clear genetic cause and associated with factors such as nutrition and dietary habits
All these factors impact our physiology on a daily basis. However, as the resilient animals that we are, we are able to overcome these stressors by readjusting our physiology in order to maintain an internal equilibrium, what is known as homeostasis. Nevertheless, chronic exposition to these stressors can eventually alter our physiology in an irreversible way, causing the onset of some diseases.
In order to be able to prevent highly prevalent diseases, we must be able to measure the exposition of our physiology to the environmental factors, which has been a highly ambitious challenge for decades.
Nowadays, advances in technology allow us to have a great amount of information about the state of our metabolism and our physiological status. The so-called omics technologies are currently a valuable tool for understanding the exposition of our organism to environmental factors.
Omics-sciences are a valuable tool for understanding the exposition of our organism to situation or agents that can trigger the onset of diseases
According to experts such as Jo Goossens, senior partner at Shiftn, a strategy consultancy committed to innovation and development of sustainable nutrition and health solutions for societies and business, personalised nutrition can be understood as “the recommendation of a dietary behaviour that is appropriate for an individual to maintain optimal health. It takes into account the individual’s dietary and lifestyle patterns and preferences, phenotypic (biomarker) status and genetic background, and delivers advice about food choice, eating patterns and lifestyle relevant to nutrition and health”.
Currently, dietary lifestyle can be accurately monitored by different ICTs and revolutionary gadgets, while genetic background is easily accessibleby means of a saliva sample. Nevertheless, assessment of our phenotypic status(i.e. how our physiology is working) is the piece of the puzzle that is currently lacking in personalised nutrition.
PREVENTOMICS will develop ICT tools to assess individual’s phenotypic status, the piece of the puzzle that is currently lacking in personalised nutrition
Omics technologies, such as metabolomics and proteomics, are sufficiently developed to be deployed in society for integrating the assessment of metabolism performance into the personalised nutrition paradigm. Through omics, we can assess the real exposition of our metabolism to environmental factors and identify whether an element of our physiology is working in suboptimal conditions. Once identified, we can optimise its performance by changing dietary patterns and nutritional habits, increasing notably our chances to avoid diseases.
Omics technologies will serve in the project for analysing individual traits such as physical and behavioural traits, lifestyle, genotype, preferences and physical condition to be able to deliver personalised nutrition advice to induce behavioural change
This is the idea that originated PREVENTOMICS project for empowering consumers to PREVENT diet-related diseases through OMICS sciences. And, as an initial idea, this post is only the beginning. The different experts working in the project will explain us more and more details of the project in incoming posts. And you will realize that PREVENTOMICS is not only about technology but is intended to be an exciting and extraordinary personalised experience.
Josep Ma del Bas – Director of Eurecat’s Nutrition and Health Unit