Systems biology of personalized nutrition

Nutr Rev. 2017 Aug 1;75(8):579-599. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nux029.


Personalized nutrition is fast becoming a reality due to a number of technological, scientific, and societal developments that complement and extend current public health nutrition recommendations. Personalized nutrition tailors dietary recommendations to specific biological requirements on the basis of a person's health status and goals. The biology underpinning these recommendations is complex, and thus any recommendations must account for multiple biological processes and subprocesses occurring in various tissues and must be formed with an appreciation for how these processes interact with dietary nutrients and environmental factors. Therefore, a systems biology-based approach that considers the most relevant interacting biological mechanisms is necessary to formulate the best recommendations to help people meet their wellness goals. Here, the concept of "systems flexibility" is introduced to personalized nutrition biology. Systems flexibility allows the real-time evaluation of metabolism and other processes that maintain homeostasis following an environmental challenge, thereby enabling the formulation of personalized recommendations. Examples in the area of macro- and micronutrients are reviewed. Genetic variations and performance goals are integrated into this systems approach to provide a strategy for a balanced evaluation and an introduction to personalized nutrition. Finally, modeling approaches that combine personalized diagnosis and nutritional intervention into practice are reviewed.

Keywords: flexibility; nutrigenetics; nutrigenomics; personalized nutrition; systems biology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Nutrigenomics
  • Nutrition Therapy / methods*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Systems Biology / methods*