German, J B, et al., Personal Metabolomics as a Next Generation Nutritional Assessment. J Nutr, 2003. 133(12): 4260-6.
Nutrition research is in the process of addressing a series of questions related to the future of diet and health. Are all humans the same with respect to their response to diet? If not, humans must be fed differently according to the differences in their genetics and metabolic needs. Are those differences self-evident to the individual or their care-givers? If not, methods must be developed to measure the basis of differences between humans. Are the current sets of diagnostic biomarkers for disease appropriate and sufficient to distinguish the appropriate diets of humans for optimal metabolic health? If not, metabolites must be measured such that the differences in human metabolism are resolvable before they become diseased. Will a small subset of metabolic markers provide an indication of intended and unintended effects of diets that relate to overall metabolism? If not, comprehensive metabolic analyses (metabolomics) must be put in place to ensure that all aspects of health are accurately assessed. Inappropriate dietary choices are accelerating the development of chronic metabolic disease and threatening to overwhelm public health's ability to manage them. Nutrition and food sciences will need to collaborate with other scientific disciplines to develop and implement metabolic assessment technologies and to assemble annotated databases of metabolite profiles in humans, thus building the knowledge needed to link metabolism to diet and health. Biochemical and physiological research must be guided to define the mechanisms by which diet interacts with metabolism in different individuals. Integrating metabolism with the genetic and dietary variables that affect health is the role of nutrition sciences. Integrating personal nutritional value with food's other key values of safety, quality, comfort, delight, convenience and affordability is the role of food science. It is time for these two fields to address a common problem, metabolic health, with coordinated solutions.