As schoolchildren, we are taught about the importance of healthy eating by learning to follow the Food Guide. The Food Guide was first implemented in 1944. Since then, there have been several revisions, such as: “heart and liver [should] be removed from the meat and fish group due to limited supply” . The purpose of food guides is to educate the public on how to properly structure and balance their diets. The ultimate goal is to improve health and reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some types of cancer.
Despite the various efforts of governments, there still exists a global epidemic of obesity. The answer to the obesity problem lies in teaching individuals to maintain normal blood glucose levels. What does this mean? When you eat a meal the food is broken down into glucose which is used as energy by your body. The amount of glucose present in your blood after eating depends on the food digested. For example candy will cause a much more dramatic spike in blood glucose compared to an apple which would cause a smaller increase over a longer period of time. This is due to the sugars in candy being broken down faster resulting in a spike in blood glucose levels. It is normal to see an increase in blood glucose levels after a meal but chronic elevated blood glucose levels can lead to type II diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Tools like food guides have been created to help individuals in choosing foods that are healthy, or will help blood glucose levels remain relatively constant. However, studies have shown that individuals who are fed the exact same meal have different blood glucose responses . A group of researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel showed that there are many other factors that need to be considered when considering which foods are best for maintaining constant blood glucose levels.
Zeevi and colleagues monitored 800 healthy individuals over one week. The researchers showed that there is high variability from one person to the next of blood glucose level response. Careful monitoring of the individuals revealed that there were many other factors that played a role in how one responds to a meal including blood parameters, physical activity, lifestyle behaviours and gut microbiota composition. They were able to integrate the data collected from over 46,000 meals and create a computer algorithm. To test whether this formula was able to successfully predict how one will respond to food, the researchers tested it in a separate study of 100 participants. The formula was able to successfully predict an individual’s blood glucose response after a meal. And when the algorithm was used as a personal tailored dietary intervention, it resulted in significantly improved blood glucose levels post meal and decreased fluctuations in blood glucose levels over time.
In the future, this personalized tool could be developed into an app that would enable the public to analyze real-time meals thereby informing the individual on which meals would prevent large fluctuations in blood glucose. This would greatly improve nutrition and reduce the risk of, and potentially prevent diseases such as type II diabetes and obesity.
 Health Canada. (2007). Canada’s Food Guides from 1942 to 1992. Retrieved from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/context/fg_history-histoire_ga-eng.php
 Zeevi, D., Korem, T., Zmora, N., Israeli, D., Rothschild, D., Weinberger, A., … Segal, E. (2015). Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell, 163(5), 1079–1094. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.001