Metabolomics – The link between nutrition and health

A balanced diet is a prerequisite for good health. Whether it is diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or depression, patients suffering from many ailments can greatly benefit from an adapted diet. The metabolome is a unique environment that displays the impact of diet on health.

Metabolomics – The link between nutrition and health

A balanced diet is a prerequisite for good health. Whether it is diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or depression, patients suffering from many ailments can greatly benefit from an adapted diet. The metabolome is a unique environment that displays the impact of diet on health.

Nutrimetabolomics

Food, as our primary source of nutrients, impacts our metabolism. Whether they are directly absorbed or metabolized in the intestines before entering the circulation, these nutrients constitute a crucial source of metabolites including:

  • Building blocks for macromolecules (incl. essential amino acids)
  • Lipids for cell membranes
  • Energy sources
  • Vitamins
  • Signaling molecules
  • Micronutrients (incl. metals and salts)

Nutrimetabolomics focuses on the application of metabolomics in nutritional studies. Like all omics, metabolomics can be used to find features or patterns that discriminate between treatments and diet groups. However, metabolomics is particularly suited for nutritional studies for the following reasons:

  • Metabolism is the link between nutrition and health
  • Metabolomics can spot individual variations in dietary requirements
  • The establishment of a person’s “metabotype” can help establish personalized nutrition plans

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What does metabolomics bring to nutrition research?

Bacteria and other microorganisms greatly contribute to the health of their hosts. Below are examples where metabolites necessitate microbial intervention to maintain their function, and some of the effects of dysbiosis, or microbial imbalance, on related metabolic pathways.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome which is known to be caused as well as treated by diet was initially found in Western countries but has become more visible in many parts of the world. Characterized by obesity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and triglycerides, and/or low blood LDL, this disease often presents concurrently with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. A combination of diet, exercise, and reduced stress levels is often suggested to improve the patient’s well-being, with the emphasis on a specialized nutritional regimen to both treat and prevent metabolic syndrome. Metabolomics has contributed for years to understand the origins and underlying mechanisms of metabolic syndrome and the strategies to best manage it.

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Epilepsy

The high fat/low carbohydrates ketogenic diet has been used since the early 20th century to prevent seizures in epileptic patients. The basic principle is to switch the energy source from carbohydrates to ketone bodies which have shown to reduce seizure frequency in epileptic patients. The mechanism for this anti-seizure effect remains elusive. Recent research in mice suggests a role of the gut microbiota influencing metabolism and culminating in a protective increase of the GABA/glutamate ratio in the brain.

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Webinar – Metabolomics, Nutrition, Microbiome

Metabolites as markers of dietary intake

Blood is a rich source of metabolic information about individual nutrition. As nutrients are absorbed and then distributed throughout the body, a single blood spot becomes the owner of a wealth of information about our nutritional status. For example, it can tell whether a patient drank coffee or took a specific over-the-counter drug. Metabolomics can also help monitor patients compliance to a diet in nutritional research. For instance, metabolites can distinguish between meat-rich and vegetable-rich diets (e.g. using the levels of 1-methylhistidine and phenylacetylglutamine), or it can tell which fruits have been recently eaten.

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Which metabolites tell your diet?

More resources addressing targeted metabolomics and nutrition

For research use only | not for use in diagnostic procedures.