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Personalised Nutrition in chronic diseases


Personalised Nutrition in chronic diseases

Chronic diseases, often called lifestyle diseases or non-communicable diseases (NCD), are diseases that require long-term care and are largely preventable. They may be caused by a number of factors including lifestyle and behavioural choices, genetics, environmental factors and social determinants.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NCD’s account for 71% of all deaths globally and kill approximately 41 million people every year. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and respiratory diseases are four major conditions associated with more than 80% of all premature NCD deaths, with cardiovascular diseases accounting for most of these deaths. Not to even mention that research shows that one in three adults suffer from multiple chronic conditions

The role of nutrition in both development and consequence of chronic diseases

At the heart of this increasing disease burden is the need to create comprehensive preventive health measures for curbing this epidemic through diet and lifestyle (Ojo, 2019).

Adopting healthy eating habits need not be complicated nor incredibly expensive. A 2018 study exploring the effect of having two kiwifruits a day for 12 weeks on vitamin C status, clinical and anthropometric measures, and faecal microbiota composition in people with prediabetes, found that after the 12 weeks there were significant decreases in blood pressure and waist circumference in people with prediabetes. Results further indicated a small reduction in glycated haemoglobin (HbA1C) and an increase in fasting glucose, although small.

A recent review on the role of nutrients in reducing the risk for NCDs during aging emphasised that dietary and nutritional interventions play a crucial role in protecting health and managing NCDs and adequate nutrition contributes to healthy aging (Bruins et al, 2019). The review also indicated that increasing nutrient intake may help limit the progression of age-related NCDs such as: loss of vision, dementia, musculoskeletal disorders, and cardiometabolic diseases.

A vast body of literature supports the fact that consumption of a plant-based diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, omega-3 fatty acids, low-fat dairy and low in nutrient-dense diets such as: salty snacks, refined grains, sugary foods and processed meats, may reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.

The rising role of personalised nutrition

Personalised nutrition combines a person’s genetic, phenotypic, medical, nutritional, and other important information to recommend dietary and lifestyle changes that are rooted in the science. These recommendations should lead to measurable health outcomes and sustainable behaviour change (Adams et al, 2019).

The health outcomes of a personalised approach

A personalised nutrition approach has the potential to help individuals manage specific health conditions, fill nutritional gaps as well as creating long-term dietary and behaviour change to optimise health and wellbeing and promote longevity that is relevant to the individual.

What is personalisation based on?

In order to create relevant and targeted nutrition strategies, personalised nutrition relies on certain features specific to an individual. This means that personalisation can be based on lifestyle, behaviour, dietary restrictions, preferences, and health goals at the basic level. This has the potential to motivate and assist an individual to decide on making relevant changes to their dietary habits.  At the higher level, personalisation can be based on biomarkers such as blood or even genetics.

Does personalisation lead to behaviour change?

Whilst personalised nutrition is an emerging science, there are early indications that a personalised approach can lead to behaviour change. This can range from healthier shopping baskets, to better adherence to recommendations and increased physical activity. While more research is needed, current tools that support individuals and practitioners to adopt a personalised approach can include: personalised recipes, meal plans, shopping apps, wearable devices, and tracking tools.

What support is there to adopt a personalised plan?

The first contact point for any consumer with a long-term condition interested in personalised nutrition, is their healthcare professional. They are trained and experts at assimilating all the relevant information including medications, which is used to formulate a personalised plan with regards to diet and lifestyle. Data is nothing without actionable information and behaviour change support, and new tools make remote support and self-tracking easier to make those new habits stick by empowering individuals with the knowledge on what they need to change, the reason why, and how to track the impact.


Personalised nutrition is undoubtedly an important aspect of chronic disease management and is an area that is growing rapidly. Food increasingly plays a pivotal role in prevention and treatment, however in order to make sustainable behaviour changes, consumers need to seek out expert nutrition support that can guide them towards the right digital tools and personalise their diet and lifestyle recommendations. The future of health from prevention to disease will be personalised enabled by advances in technology.


Written by:

Mariette Abrahams MBA PhD

CEO & Founder of Qina




-        Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Global Perspectives on Improving Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Diverse Settings.

-        World Health Organization. Non-communicable diseases.

-        Hajat, C., & Stein, E. (2018). The global burden of multiple chronic conditions: A narrative review. Preventive medicine reports, 12, 284–293.

-        Ojo O. (2019). Nutrition and Chronic Conditions. Nutrients, 11(2), 459.

-        Wilson, R., Willis, J., Gearry, R. B., Hughes, A., Lawley, B., Skidmore, P., Frampton, C., Fleming, E., Anderson, A., Jones, L., Tannock, G. W., & Carr, A. C. (2018). SunGold Kiwifruit Supplementation of Individuals with Prediabetes Alters Gut Microbiota and Improves Vitamin C Status, Anthropometric and Clinical Markers. Nutrients, 10(7), 895.

-        Bruins, M. J., Van Dael, P., & Eggersdorfer, M. (2019). The Role of Nutrients in Reducing the Risk for Noncommunicable Diseases during Aging. Nutrients, 11(1), 85.

-        Katherine L. Tucker. (2020). The role of diet in chronic disease. Clinical and Applied Topics in Nutrition. 329-345

-        Ordovas J M, Ferguson L R, Tai E S, Mathers J C. Personalised nutrition and health BMJ 2018; 361 :bmj.k2173 doi:10.1136/bmj.k2173


-        Chaudhary, N., Kumar, V., Sangwan, P., Pant, N. C., Saxena, A., Joshi, S., & Yadav, A. N. (2021). Personalized Nutrition and -Omics. Comprehensive Foodomics, 495–507.

-        Corinne L. Bush, Jeffrey B. Blumberg, Ahmed El-Sohemy, Deanna M. Minich, Jóse M. Ordovás, Dana G. Reed & Victoria A. Yunez Behm (2020) Toward the Definition of Personalized Nutrition: A Proposal by The American Nutrition Association, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 39:1, 5-15, DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2019.1685332

-        Jessica Biesiekierski, Dr. Katherine Livingstone, Dr. George Moschonis, (2019) Personalised Nutrition: Updates, Gaps and Next Steps, Nutrients 11(8),

-        Ordovas J M, Ferguson L R, Tai E S, Mathers J C. Personalised nutrition and health BMJ 2018; 361 :bmj.k2173 doi:10.1136/bmj.k2173



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