NutraIngredients-USA Global Round-up: How AI can elevate personalized nutrition, the Google of the gut, and more

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / metamorworks
© Getty Images / metamorworks
It’s a global industry and there’s a lot happening. We know it’s not always easy keeping up with everything that’s happening around the world that could impact the US dietary supplements industry. The answer? Our weekly round-up of key news from across the globe.

1. AI lessons from banking & airlines can elevate personalized nutrition

Both the airline and banking industries have embraced artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, and many lessons could be learned from them for the benefit of personalized nutrition.

This is according to nutrition business consultant Mariette Abrahams, who believes the approaches of both industries could be applied to personalization and the need to extract key consumer insights from complex datasets and long-term nutritional strategies.

“I feel very passionate that scientists, researchers and nutrition experts need to play a crucial role in product teams to validate the recommendations, create algorithms and scrutinize the data that is used, to eliminate any bias and minimize inequality,” Abrahams told our EU edition​.

“The use of technology in practice is unavoidable, it is the future, however we need the human context and critical eye to keep AI accountable.”

Food firms are already making significant investments in data analytics, with the aim of extracting added value from their data. But the data needs to be trusted, she said.

“Technology has enabled the democratization of food and nutrition information. One area I would use to illustrate is the 450% rise in apps and platforms over the last decade,”​ said Abrahams.

“These apps have helped with transparency and clarity in terms of food labels, are great educational tools and have helped consumers to switch to healthier options that match their dietary needs and preferences that retailers now need to respond to.”

2. New ‘Microbiome Search Engine’

A team of Chinese scientists have developed a new tool to help evaluate the novelty and impact of bacterial strains could help academics and industry focus research and development.

Researchers at the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) said that the new tool could be a ‘compass’ that guides further exploration within the vast universe of microbiome big-data.

"MSE [is] to microbiome big-data is like Google or Baidu to [is] webpage big-data,”​ said Xiaoquan Su, lead of the bioinformatics group at the single-cell center, QIBEBT.

“By searching for the most structurally or functionally similar microbiomes in a super-fast manner, MSE offers the first opportunity to relate each microbiome ever published to the microbiome big-data known to mankind so far.”

Published in mBio​, the tool introduces two concepts to quantify the novelty of a microbiome. First, the microbiome novelty score (MNS) allows identification of microbiomes that are especially different from what is already sequenced. Second, the microbiome attention score (MAS) allows identification of microbiomes that have many close neighbors, implying that considerable scientific attention is devoted to their study.

The Chinese team believe that by computing a microbiome focus index based on the MNS and MAS, they are able to objectively track and compare the novelty and attention scores of individual microbiome samples and projects over time – and predict future trends in the field.

Microbiome Focus Index, or MFI, which is derived from MNS and MAS, can measure the impact and contribution of a microbiome sample to mankind's exploration for novel microbiomes.

“Therefore, MNS, MAS, and MFI can serve as ‘alt-metrics’ for evaluating a microbiome project or prospective developments in the microbiome field, both of which are done in the context of existing microbiome big data,”​ the authors wrote.

For more on this news, please click HERE​.

3. Expert to present “conclusive” evidence of omega-3 benefits for depression

Omega-3s © Getty Images redstallion
© Getty Images / redstallion

Yutaka Matsuoka, Division Chief of Healthcare Research, Centre for Public Health Sciences, National Cancer Centre Japan, will report the results of a ‘world first study’ that show how the consumption of fish and omega-3 helps alleviate depression at the inaugural NutraIngredients Omeag-3 Summit in Singapore in February​.

“It has long been thought that fish-sourced omega-3 can help not only to prevent depression, but also to alleviate its symptoms. This has now been confirmed by a major research project under taken in Japan,” said Prof. Matsuoka​.

“This is the first time a study has used standard psychiatrist-diagnosed major depressive disorder as its foundation and targeted a population that traditionally eats a high fish diet. As a result, its findings are both conclusive and of global significance.”

The summit is backed by trade association Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3 (GOED).

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