“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” says the proverb. But what if it is not an apple but an orange that you need to you keep yourself healthy? Or what if apples are not good for your body at all? The nutritionists nowadays are occupied with the development of the ways allowing every individual to follow a healthy diet best meeting his or her needs. The scientists believe that the food that we eat can become a powerful diseases prevention tool if used in a smart way – and this way is personalised nutrition.
The company MiFood from Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo works on personalized food in a form of dry fruits and vegetables mixes that retain all their valuable elements due to the innovative method of processing. “We want to have the right mix for each individual. We take two blood tests and then we can see what has the best effect on the person’s body. We say we have the optimal combination given the specific genetic background of the person”, says Raymond Nolet, director of MiFood. In order to achieve this goal, MiFood is working in three areas: the work on research and development facility in Brightlands Campus, human dietary intervention studies and the production and selling of consumer goods.
MiFood uses the specially developed facility in Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo for the processing of fruits and vegetables into dry personalized food products. “First of all, we select the mix of fruits and vegetables in the way that prevents the enzymatic reactions affecting the bioactive substances”, describes the process Raymond Nolet. “The production takes place under conditioned circumstances: for instance, we do not heat the products above 30°C to prevent the bioactive compounds from being destroyed.”
MiFood is planning to start a human dietary intervention study on their personalized food products at Maastricht University at the beginning of 2019. As Nolet says, MiFood will focus on the effects (evidence-based) of personalized nutrition on main chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. “We will, for instance, measure effects on microvascularisation and early processes related to cancer development. This will be done on the molecular level. The advantage of this approach is that molecular changes occur much earlier during disease development and it is not necessary to set up a study that takes 20 years of follow-up to see effects on for instance cancer incidence”, says Nolet.
At the beginning of 2019 personalized nutrition products developed by MiFood will become available to regular consumers. The product range includes smoothies, crisps and pearls made of fruits and vegetables. “Drinking two smoothies like this equals to 400 g of fruits and vegetables of the right combination”, says the director of MiFood. Consumers will be able to take a genetic blood test to make the diet fully personal or to choose one of the ready-made lines of products – at the moment there are 9 types of mixes available.
In Raymond Nolet’s view, today’s consumers are more health-conscious than they used to be several years ago. The popularity of healthy lifestyle has grown along with the popularity of different wearables enabling the people to measure and monitor heart rate, blood sugar, levels of stress and other parameters. Big data collected from these wearables worn by so many people can be used for the development of personalized nutrition. Raymond Nolet believes that in several years the preventive, healthy diet trend will become more usual in our society than the curative trend, involving lots of medicines. “It is in the air, everybody is talking about it and today people are looking for healthier food when they go to the supermarket,” says Nolet. “These healthy products should be there – if they are not there, someone has to start producing them. MiFood will be one of the first companies to produce these products and, what is even more important, to measure their effects on people’s health.