Precision Nutrition Improves Quality of Life for Older Adults

Researchers compared general dietary advice to individual dietary advice as well as an app that encourages its users to follow a diet. Overweight and obese older people benefited more from the individual approach [1].

One size does not fit all

Proper diets can help people stay healthy even in old age. However, nutritional advice is designed for the average person, and does not consider the high variability among people’s nutritional needs and preferences. A personalized nutrition approach addresses this need to find the best diet for the individual. Such personalized nutrition can also be considered as a therapeutic approach to prevent or manage chronic diseases.

However, sticking to a strict individual diet may be difficult for most people. The authors of the current study believe that digital tools can help support and encourage individuals to follow the recommended diet. So, they created a trial that determined whether individual dietary interventions combined with a digital tool could affect the health of overweight and obese adults.

Usual care vs individual diet

The study included 127 participants who were between the ages of 50 and 80 and had a BMI of at least 27. Participants had to have at least one risk factor, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, or sedentary behavior. The trial lasted 12 weeks with a 3-month follow-up.

The usual care group followed the Healthy Eating Plate (Harvard) and the Spanish Community Nutrition Association dietary guidelines. These guidelines include recommendations for food groups, serving sizes, frequency of consumption, and practical tips for designing menus.


They also attended online sessions to learn about prescribed eating patterns, food label usage, seasonal shopping lists, meal plans and recipes, and sleep habits.

The precise-diet group received guidelines for following a Mediterranean and mixed diet that included foods based on personal preferences, such as smoothies, fruit compote, and cottage cheese. These foods were designed specifically for this study, and their ingredients were selected to prevent age-related diseases. Also, only the members of this group had their caloric intake requirements assessed and attended visits to monitor dietary adherence.

The precision diet group app was also specifically designed for this study with the needs of the elderly in mind, being easily accessible and easy to use. It contained information about the assigned diet, reminders about follow-up visits, and motivational messages.

At the end of the study, participants filled out a dietary intake questionnaire recalling their 7-day food intake, physical activity, and health status and took tests to assess cognitive functions.

Eating your way to better metabolic parameters

Analysis of the data obtained showed that, after three months of dieting, both groups had significant reductions in body weight, BMI, and diastolic blood pressure. Still, the changes in the precision diet group were significantly higher than those in the usual care group.


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There were also differences between groups. On average, the participants who followed the precision nutrition intervention finished the study with reduced waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, fat mass, and systolic blood pressure compared to the usual care group.

The researchers also measured biochemical parameters, and both groups showed significantly better triglyceride and uric acid concentrations that were not significantly different between the groups. Uric acid was used here as a marker of the anti-inflammatory effects of the nutritional strategies, suggesting that both dietary approaches affect the aging inflammatory environment (inflammation). However, more inflammatory biomarkers need to be evaluated to better understand the underlying mechanisms behind these diets.

The precision-diet group also had significantly lower total cholesterol and HDL-c levels and improved glycemic control and markers of hepatic health, compared to baseline and the usual care group.

The researchers measured total energy intake but did not observe differences between the groups. However, the groups differed for specific food groups, with significantly higher carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber content and lower lipids in the precision group.

The precision group also ate less sodium but more sugar than the usual care group. The researchers point out that most of the sugars in the diet that participants ate came from fruit, vegetables and dairy products. Although free sugars should be limited in the diet, there is no evidence of the harmful effects of consuming naturally occurring sugars in fruit, vegetables or milk. The results of this study also support this, as the researchers did not observe any negative effects on glucose metabolism in the precision group participants. They hypothesize that an interaction with fiber and “other nutrients may positively influence the regulation of homeostasis and glucose metabolism” [2].


Better diet, better quality of life

Based on the questionnaires that the participants filled out at the end of the 3-month study, members of the precision diet group improved their quality of life. Specifically, the precision diet group reported improvements on quality of life test vitality, bodily pain and emotional role items. Both groups reported improvements in general health and physical function. Statistical analysis revealed many associations between improvements in well-being and the metabolic changes observed in the participants.

The authors believe that the future use of big data and -omics technologies will allow even more personalized nutritional approaches. Such a strategy has the potential to better contribute to the development of nutritional approaches that will allow the avoidance of disease and the reduction of the effects of aging.

The researchers point out that the study has several limitations, such as not assessing baseline dietary intake, potential biases from self-reporting, low sample size, the mobile app not being assessed on its own (along with the diet alone ), and the inability. to conduct a double blind trial due to the nature of the intervention.

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[1] Galarregui, C., Navas-Carretero, S., Zulet, MA, González-Navarro, CJ, Martínez, JA, de Cuevillas, B., … & Abete, I. (2024). Impact of precision nutrition on metabolic health and quality of life in the aging population following a 3-month intervention: A randomized intervention. The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 28(7), 100289.

[2] Müller, M., Canfora, EE, & Blaak, EE (2018). Gastrointestinal transit time, glucose homeostasis and metabolic health: modulation by dietary fibre. Nutrients, 10(3), 275.

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