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The Future of Dieting?

Healthy foods may have different effects of different people

Researchers in Israel have recently published their findings that different people's bodies respond to eating the same meal differently. The research was published this week in the journal Cell and provides a scientific explanation to why fad diets often don't work.

The study, led by Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science, focused on the key component of diet plans such as Atkins or Zone, known as the glycaemic index or GI. The index was developed to give an indication of the way certain foods impact blood sugar levels and up until now was assumed to be fixed.

However, the research shows that this number may vary widely depending on each individual.

The study involved 800 healthy and pre-diabetic volunteers between the ages of 18 and 70. The participants' data was collected through health questionnaires, body measurements, blood tests, glucose monitoring and stool samples, as well as recording their lifestyle and food intake information. In total the researchers collected information on over 46,000 meals.

As the researchers expected, age and body mass index (BMI) both had an effect on blood glucose levels, however they did not expect to find that different individuals displayed varying responses to the same food, even though their own responses remained the same each day.

The results of the study showed that tailoring meal plans to an individual's biology may hold the key to successful dieting in the future.

In one case, a woman consumed tomatoes several times a week as part of her healthy eating plan, however she was unaware that her consumption of tomatoes lead to spikes in her blood sugar levels, which has been associated with heart problems, obesity and diabetes.

A further study was conducted that involved 26 new volunteers. In the study each participant was given a personalised good and bad diet, each of which was followed for a week. The researchers found that the good diets worked by decreasing blood sugar levels as well as altering gut microbiota.

Using the findings of both studies, the Israeli researchers came up with an algorithm that takes into accounts hundreds of factors about an individual in order to produce a tailor made meal plan. Eran Segal said, "It wasn't just salad every day. Some people got alcohol, chocolate and ice-cream, in moderation."

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