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Don’t waste your money on personalised diets – the science doesn’t stack up

The promise of personalised nutrition to accelerate weight loss, eliminate digestive issues or simply to feel and perform better sounds alluring, but don’t get caught up in the hype because the science has a long way to go to prove these bespoke diet services offer anything more than simple smart eating, says science-based nutrition researcher and educator Dr Alan Flanagan
Dr Alan Flanagan, PhD
Dr Alan Flanagan, PhD

Dr Alan Flanagan holds a PhD in nutrition from the University of Surrey, having spent a decade practicing as a barrister before moving into science. He is the founder of Alinea Nutrition, an online education hub dedicated to providing impartial, science-based nutrition reviews and analysis, and is also Research Communication Officer for Sigma Nutrition, creating educational resources on nutrition research topics. He lives in London, England. Follow him on Instagram. Visit Alinea Nutrition.

Dr Alan Flanagan: Don’t fall for the bespoke nutrition hype

In an era where the allure of personalised solutions to common problems permeates every area of our lives, bespoke nutrition has emerged as one of the most exciting and promising answers to the question of how to achieve better health, well-being and performance.

At its core, this cutting-edge approach tailors dietary recommendations to an individual’s unique biological make-up, focusing on their microbiome, genetic profile, and lifestyle factors.

The promise is simple yet captivating: by decoding the intricate language of your body, these services will craft a nutrition plan that is not just exquisitely effective but customised to your uniquely individual needs.

The appeal of such personalised guidance is undeniable, particularly for people on a quest for optimal health, those grappling with specific or limiting dietary challenges, or anyone intrigued by the rapid fusion of technology and wellness.

However, amidst this surge of excitement, science-based nutritional researcher Dr Alan Flanagan casts the most critical of eyes.

In our exclusive interview Dr Flanagan, founder of online nutrition education provider Alinea Nutrition, reveals his forensic analysis of the claims made by these personalised nutrition companies, taking particular aim at Zoe, the service founded by Dr Tim Spector that offers bespoke food recommendations based on blood glucose responses to different foods and microbiome analysis.

Zoe is one of the most high-profile services riding the consumer demand for personalised solutions to every day problems, including weight loss, digestion issues and food allergies, and recently launched a “kefir-based gut shot” drink with with leading British retailer Marks and Spencer.

Dr Flanagan insists his stance is firmly rooted in a cautious scepticism, driven by a dissonance between the alluring promises of these services and the current state of scientific evidence.

He articulates his concerns with a clarity that cuts through the often murky waters of nutritional science and argues that many claims made by these companies are not just overstated but are precariously perched on a foundation of scientific understanding that is, at best, nascent.

The science of how our unique biological traits interact with diet is intricate and still unfolding, he says, and the leap from current knowledge to the bold assertions made by these personalised nutrition services is not just a stretch; it’s a chasm that has yet to be bridged by robust, conclusive research.

Watch our exclusive full interview for an enlightening exploration into the heart of personalised nutrition, challenging the hype with a dose of scientific reality. Then use Dr Flanagan’s expert insights to gain the crucial perspective and knowledge your need to navigate these promising yet premature advances in the field of nutrition, diet and optimal performance.

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