New urine test assesses whether your diet is right for your body in just five minutes

July 1, 2020

Many of us can’t help but be confused by the constant barrage of dietary advice emanating from friends and family, doctors and wellness sources, social media, and advertising. But now, there’s a new type of urine test—designed by researchers at Imperial College London—that may help us to determine just what kind of diet would be best specifically for our own bodies, Study Finds reports.

The test takes only five minutes and measures a variety of metabolites present in urine. These metabolites can reveal important information about our diet, including consumption of citrus fruit, fructose (fruit sugar), glucose, vitamin C, red meats, and chicken.

Another key piece of information that the test reveals is whether the patient has a health condition. For example, the test measures salt intake, which is linked to obesity and high blood pressure.

“Diet is a key contributor to human health and disease, though it is notoriously difficult to measure accurately because it relies on an individual’s ability to recall what and how much they ate,” explains researcher Joram Posma in a statement.

“For instance,” Posma notes, “asking people to track their diets through apps or diaries can often lead to inaccurate reports about what they really eat. This research reveals this technology can help provide in-depth information on the quality of a person’s diet, and whether it is the right type of diet for their individual biological make-up.”

The researchers believe that the new technology can provide an individual urine “fingerprint” which varies from person to person. This information can then be used by dieticians to tailor dietary recommendations. The fingerprint helps to create a personal score, known as a Dietary Metabotype Score, or DMS—for each individual.

In their experiments, the authors instructed a group of 19 people to adhere to one of four diets, which ranged from very unhealthy to very healthy. They then calculated DMS scores for each individual. While higher DMS scores correspond with healthier diets and lower DMS scores signal not-so-healthy ones, researchers report variations in scores among people who strictly followed the same diet. These findings suggest that people metabolize the same food in different ways, and that these differences affect DMS scores.

Looking ahead, the researchers plan to examine how DMS scores are related to the risk of health conditions such as obesitydiabetes, and high blood pressure.

“We show here how different people metabolize the same foods in highly individual ways. This has implications for understanding the development of nutrition-related diseases and for more personalized dietary advice to improve public health,” co-author John Mathers  of Newcastle University explains.

The study is published in Nature Food.

Research contact: StudyFinds

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