What is Personalized Nutrition and What are the Benefits?
With the ever-increasing availability of DNA tests, at-home blood tests, and other health data tests, PN is on the rise. Personalized nutrition is nutrition advice based on a client’s individual data, such as metabolism, biochemistry, and microbiome, and may be a better tool at helping your clients manage their weight, better control their blood sugar and cholesterol, and find the most beneficial exercise plan.
What is Personalized Nutrition?
The goal of a personalized nutrition plan is to “advance human health and wellbeing by tailoring nutrition recommendations and interventions to individuals or groups of individuals with similar traits.”
Instead of providing generic advice such as “Eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily,” or “Eat two portions of fish, one of which is oily fish, per week,” a personalized nutrition approach uses information to derive specific advice and support relevant for the individual. To do this, there has to be data that directly connects to the client. This is how nutrition is personalized.
Personalized Nutrition and technology are going hand in hand. Personalized approaches to nutrition are gaining popularity because personalized data is so accessible. DNA tests are cheaper and more readily available than ever and most people can track their activity levels, heart rates, and oxygen saturation with a smart watch or activity tracker. Many other advances in science and research give us valuable information regarding other tests, like biochemistry and microbiome.
Using a macronutrient-based strategy, a coach can easily apply evidence-based concepts of nutrition to a lot of different coaching styles. Holistic nutrition is one great example of a broad-based style or approach; Integrative Health coaching is a much more specific coaching intervention style, zeroing in on gut microbiome health and metabolic data to deliver better client outcomes
What are the Benefits of Personalized Nutrition?
Personalized nutrition (PN) can help your clients achieve a lasting dietary change for long term health benefits.
The benefits of PN are based on the fact that it is directly connected to the clients biometrics. This integration of data helps to create clarity when assessing a client’s nutritional intake needs. Using a macronutrient-based strategy, clients can be coached in support of a nutrition plan that takes into account the client’s current bodyweight, body fat %, resting metabolic rate, and the baseline total of calories needed each day. Much of this math and science is applied in a way that is also flexible, and adaptable as the client makes changes along the way.
Another amazing tool gaining traction is at-home diagnostic testing, and the use of their results or reports to personalize nutrition plans. The growing interest in this market is far into the billions spent by health-conscious consumers, and is projected to grow. How much growth is hard to say, since advancing technology is also a contributing factor. But the ease of accessibility to these tests is secondary only to the variety of available test options! Consumers are showing a willingness to buy these tests and are largely confident in their findings. But from there, what is their next move? This can be your starting point with a client. Ask them, “Okay, what is your next move after seeing these results?” It’s that simple.
So, we are not diagnosing or treating anything as coaches, but we are positioned on the front lines to help clients maintain health and wellness (ideal) or, we are often assisting someone who is trying to correct or manage a health and wellness concern (more challenging).
Growing research supports a macronutrient approach to nutrition, for many reasons that go beyond the benefits of personalization. Personalized nutrition plans are easier for the client to make sense of. They also seem to adhere to it more realistically. All of this takes quality client time and the confidence to talk about various contributors to good nutrition, health and wellness.
How is Personalized Nutrition used in Integrative Health Coaching?
We have a goal with PN that is two-fold. We want to be very specific with our integrations. There has to be sound rationale for the question, “why?”
Why do we zero in on gut microbiome (GM) and metabolic health? GM is a hot field of research designs currently. Everything from twin phenotypes and GI based behaviors/expressions/responses between individuals are creating exciting fields for labs across university campuses and clinics. Another fascinating area of study related to GM is the gut-brain axis (GBA) and its interactions with the GM to influence everything from hunger and cravings to sweets and specific nutrients (most likely CHO).
The other factor being Metabolism. Metabolism has always been a solid anchor in many aspects of coaching when clients have metabolic concerns. This can be simply overweight, but it can also include metabolic syndrome and metabolic disease. Coaches can still work with clients having either, but only if medically clear.
Coaches and trainers see metabolism in terms of physiology and its expressions of the physical body. Doctors and similar health care professionals see the challenges of not having a healthy metabolism, or having metabolic disorders. Clients have their own unique perspectives on metabolism. This can vary from having a metabolic illness to someone fine tuning their metabolism for health, fitness or competitive outcomes. So we have to frame metabolism properly and in a unique way, the variety of metabolic-based tests is helping us shape the frame.
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