Personalized nutrition ‘milestone’: InsideTracker data validates algorithmic platform to improve wellness

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Image: InsideTraker (www.insidetracker.com)
Image: InsideTraker (www.insidetracker.com)
Data from 1,033 generally healthy individuals using InsideTracker shows that the automated, web-based personalized nutrition platform is capable of normalizing serum biomarker levels in healthy subjects.

Writing in the prestigious Scientific Reports​ journal (published by the Nature Publishing Group), scientists from InsideTracker and its scientific advisory board also reported that the data supported established relationships between blood biomarkers as well as providing novel insights, such as a connection between neutrophil and triglyceride concentrations that may be a relevant indicator of cardiovascular risk.

“[W]e have found that a personalized health platform described here not only associates with broad improvements in clinical biomarkers, but also provides a novel and scalable method for generating longitudinal biomarker data in an apparently healthy population,” ​wrote the authors.

“It shows promise for validating biomarker-intervention associations in a 'real world' setting, an ability that will only increase as the dataset size continues to grow. Importantly, these types of platforms can be mined for known and novel associations between biomarkers and present a powerful resource for exploration and hypothesis generation.”

“An exciting milestone”

Cambridge, MA-based InsideTracker​ was founded in 2009. Its testing and analytics platform launched to the market in 2013 leading to personalized dietary recommendations based on the blood tests of 41 select biomarkers. While healthcare professionals use blood tests to assess if you have normal or abnormal values, InsideTracker is interested in optimal levels.

The company has a bank of over 8,000 unique food items and a knowledge base of over 2,500 research publications.

The company was founded by Gil Blander, PhD, who spent five years at MIT after 10 years at the Weizmann Institute and has done extensive research into biological markers in the blood. The company's scientific advisory board​ reads like a who’s who of the best researchers of nutrition and aging in the US, including the likes of Prof David Sinclair from Harvard Medical School, Prof Jeff Blumberg from Tufts University, Prof Lenny Guarente from MIT, and Prof Roger Fielding from Tufts University.

Gil Blander InsiderTracker small
Dr Gil Blander, InsideTracker

Commenting on the new paper, Dr Blander said: “This paper validates our founding science team’s vision that personalization can powerfully improve quality of life, and that our research helped create the technology to bring personalization to the masses.”

Esteemed Harvard geneticist David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging, chairman of the InsideTracker scientific advisory board, and a co-author of the paper, added: “This is an exciting milestone for InsideTracker – one that may be seen as a turning point in human health. I can imagine people looking back one day wondering how was it possible that people modified their diet blind to what was going on inside, and only went to their doctors once a year for a checkup or after they became sick.”

Study details

The new study assessed blood biomarker data from 1,033 generally healthy individuals who used InsideTracker’s automated, web-based personalized nutrition and lifestyle platform. The study participants were 18 or older living in North America, recruited through company marketing and outreach. Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)–approved, third-party clinical labs collected and analyzed blood samples. Via InsideTracker, the participants received food, supplement, and lifestyle recommendations based on their baseline biomarker levels, and they selected to follow a subset of these recommendations.

“InsideTracker is powering the personalized nutrition revolution. We are thrilled to present the results of this paper, showing that InsideTracker is the very first online platform of its kind to produce clinically significant improvements in user health and wellbeing using nutrition, supplement and lifestyle interventions. The scientific way is certainly not the fast or easy way, but it is the right way.”​ 
- Rony Sellam, CEO of InsideTracker

The observational analysis revealed expected patterns, such as the established relationships between LDL cholesterol and other lipid markers, which underscored the platform’s validity.

The scientists also report that vitamin D was associated with biomarkers representing a range of biological processes, including nutrient intake, liver function, and lipid metabolism.

In addition to validating established relationships, the data revealed some novel insights. These included a relationship between neutrophil levels and plasma triglycerides.

Another novel insight was the relationship between magnesium levels and biomarkers of muscle stress, such as creatine kinase, ALT, and AST. “Exercise induces a redistribution of magnesium to tissues where energy production is taking place, and in the post-exercise period, magnesium is mobilized and redistributed back into circulation,”​ wrote the authors. “The amount of muscle damage is a key factor in this release of magnesium. Although magnesium has been linked to exercise performance and recovery, its relationship to muscle damage is not well-established.”

The data also indicated that, for individuals whose baseline values were out of the clinically acceptable range, there was a “notable improvements in most of the biomarkers analyzed”. ​However, the authors stressed that it is not possible to establish that the platform caused the changes in biomarkers, because an observation analysis reveals correlation and not causation.

Prof Jeff Blumberg, who co-authored the new paper, commented: “It’s wonderful to see how powerful the impact can be of truly individualizing each recommendation for diet and physical activity. Large-scale application of this novel, automated approach to individualized nutrition and physical activity may ultimately have a positive impact on public health and healthcare costs.”

Source: Scientific Reports
Volume 8, Article number: 14685 (2018), doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33008-7
“Longitudinal analysis of biomarker data from a personalized nutrition platform in healthy subjects”
Authors: K. Westerman et al.

Personalized nutrition and sports

Register now!

Dr Gil Blander, founder and CSO of InsideTracker, will discuss the role of personalized nutrition in sports, and InsideTracker’s learnings from the athletic community at the upcoming NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit​, January 23-24 in San Diego.

For more information and to register, please click HERE​.

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