Chicago, IL—The American Nutrition Association (ANA) has identified 6 trends to watch in 2021.
- Immune Resilience. Health experts are noting the role that personalized nutrition can play in confronting challenges posed by the pandemic. “Nutrition has a unique biochemical influence on the immune system,” said Michael Stroka, CEO of the ANA. “In the past, nutritional factors often have often been overlooked with regards to immunology. But that’s changing in this new climate. Personalized nutrition shows great promise in helping to improve immune resilience in the face of COVID-19.”
- Tech Innovations. ANA expects personalized diagnostic tools and services to make further strides along existing lines of wearable sensors, self-administered tests, and gene-based reports. Self-monitoring and self-tracking capabilities will also evolve, ANA predicts.
- New Nutrition Research. The NIH Precision Nutrition initiative provides funding for cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary science that may help the field deliver on personalized nutrition. “We will see a heavy focus on novel biomarker discovery using new technologies and N-of-1 studies looking at individual responses to interventions based on repeated or continuous measurements,” Stroka said. ANA suggests that these approaches can be mobilized to study groups of people historically underrepresented in nutrition research.
- Food Science. “We are just now really beginning to understand the mechanisms and extent to which food impacts human health,” Stroka said. We have a good understanding of the health effects of about 150 food components, according to the press release, but scientists are working to quantify thousands more.
- Microbiome health. Microbiome research is booming, and more information about type and function of microbial communities will help us “make great strides” in understanding their effects on health, the press release says. Microbiomics, the study of the interactions between microbial genes and host genes, is also taking off.
- Mental Health Nutrition. Nutritional psychiatry is emerging as a new field, and researchers are exploring the ways that food connects to brain function, mental health, and behavior. “With increased concern for mental health, given upheavals and reduced human contact in 2020, mental health is sure to take center stage in personalized nutrition in 2021,” the press release states.