Introduction: What are personalised supplements & nutrition?
Personalised nutrition and bespoke supplements are topics that are trending.
Many consumers are buying into new nutrition plans and platforms which help them to achieve optimum health – specifically designed for their needs. There is no set universal definition of personalised nutrition, but Ordovas et al offer this explanation, personalised nutrition is “an approach that uses information on individual characteristics to develop targeted nutritional advice, products or services.” Personalised nutrition is often used interchangeably with terms including ‘nutrigenomics’, ‘precision nutrition’, or ‘nutrigenetics’.
Statistics suggest that there has been a significant increase in the demand for bespoke supplements, diet and nutrition plans that analyse and utilise data linked to individuals. This is similar to the increase of smart devices and fitness trackers to monitor and manage personal health for optimum fitness. Personalised nutrition aims to offer an alternative to universal or one-size-fits-all solutions to achieve superior outcomes. Figures from Statista suggest that 32.1% of UK adults use a smartwatch or health tracker. This figure increases to over 37% among millennials.
The development of personalised nutrition and bespoke supplements
Personalised nutrition is a growing market. Industry data indicates that consumers are gravitating towards products or plans that consider customer data. Michael Stroka, CEO of the American Nutrition Association, stated that bespoke nutrition “is rooted in the concept that one size does not fit all.” There are key differences in genetics, metabolism, biochemistry and microbiota that can impact the way we react to different foods or nutritional products. Using information generated by tracking devices, blood tests, DNA samples and questionnaires, product development has shifted towards tailored solutions.
In 2020, the value of the global market for personalised nutrition products was estimated at $8.2 billion. This figure is expected to reach $16.5 billion by 2025 (source). Studies suggest that the most common reasons for using personalised nutrition programmes, products and plans include:
- Dietary management for people who have specific illnesses or conditions
- Nutritional support for people who need additional supplements or an increased intake of specific nutrients or vitamins, for example, the elderly and pregnant women
- Dietary management for people with food intolerances or vitamin or mineral deficiencies
- People wanting to improve their overall health and wellbeing
What are the benefits of personalised nutrition?
- Reducing the risk of chronic illnesses and enhancing overall health
A poor diet is one of the most significant risk factors for chronic diseases and conditions that affect life expectancy. In England, it is estimated that around 15 million people have a long-term condition. Among the over 60’s, 58% of people have a chronic illness. The latest statistics suggest that over 60% of UK adults are either overweight or obese. The primary aim of personalised nutrition is to use tools and data linked with an individual to achieve positive changes in health and wellbeing. By improving nutrition, consumers can boost their health, reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses and eliminate or reduce the severity of existing symptoms.
- Boosting cognitive function
Personalised nutrition can help to enhance physical health, but there has also been significant growth in the market for products that boost cognitive performance, known as nutraceuticals. Sales of products that contain neurochemicals have soared, particularly during the pandemic, with ingredients including valerian and phosphatidylserine proving popular. Sales have increased by over 100% (source).
- Encouraging positive lifestyle choices
There are two main factors to consider when analysing the potential impact of personalised nutrition. The first is biological data. The second is behaviour. People have different attitudes to diet and nutrition, they may have different levels of understanding, they may face different barriers to healthy eating and their behaviours and habits might be very different to those of another individual. One of the key benefits of personalised nutrition is that it takes behaviour into account, providing solutions, advice and products that encourage positive changes in eating habits and mindset.
Technology can make accessing information easier and break down data to ensure that it is digestible, but crucially, it can also make it simpler to follow advice. Studies indicate that people who have access to tailored dietary advice are more likely to follow guidelines and less likely to add foods that are not included in their plan than people who follow general advice.
Technology, innovation and scientific research are driving growth in the demand for personalised nutrition plans, supplements and products. Consumers are increasingly interested in tailored nutrition and products that are recommended for them based on their personal requirements and factors that influence their health and wellbeing. Personalised nutrition offers an alternative approach to universal solutions, which don’t work for everyone.