How is gut microbiome analysis driving personalized nutrition?

How is gut microbiome analysis driving personalized nutrition?

By Lavínia Romera

Gut microbiome analysis is revolutionizing the field of personalized nutrition, offering tailored dietary approaches based on an individual’s unique gut microbiome composition. The intricate ecosystem of microorganisms residing in our gut plays a pivotal role in overall health and well-being. By understanding and analyzing the gut microbiome, we can gain insights that enable personalized nutrition recommendations, optimizing health outcomes and promoting sustainable dietary changes. 

In this article, we explore how gut microbiome analysis is driving the advancement of personalized nutrition and empowering individuals to take control of their health through science-based dietary choices.

Key factors driving the personalized nutrition industry:

According to a report by Research and Markets, the global personalized nutrition market was estimated to be worth $14.6 billion in 2021. It is predicted to witness remarkable growth and reach a value of $37.3 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.48% between 2022 and 2030. 

One of the key factors driving this growth is the increasing acceptance of tailored nutritional advice among individuals. Leading the way in consumer innovation, personalized nutrition companies are at the forefront of this industry.

From a consumer standpoint, there is a surge in applications that assist in finding optimal products, providing nutritional information, tracking calorie consumption, and monitoring overall health. Individuals are actively seeking ways to align their dietary choices with their specific lifestyles and values, resulting in a preference for more personalized food options. 

Simultaneously, businesses are capitalizing on this trend by leveraging consumer data to gain profound insights into their interests, preferences, beliefs, and desires.

The evolving market landscape:

Considering the transformation of the personalized nutrition market over the years, we can observe three distinct phases:

1- DNA-Focused Market: Initially, the emphasis was solely on DNA analysis, which we now understand is just one component of the larger picture.

2- System-Approach and Holistic Advice: With advancements in technology and artificial intelligence, the focus shifted towards a comprehensive approach that combines genotyping, phenotyping, and the use of AI to provide holistic guidance.

3- Personalized Nutrition with Behavior Change Techniques: The latest phase incorporates behavior change techniques to ensure individuals adopt healthier eating habits, establishing a symbiotic relationship within the ecosystem of innovation.

This implies that modern personalized nutrition approaches go beyond passive data submission by consumers, emphasizing active interaction and collaboration between consumers, scientific research, and companies.

Rising health concerns:

Gastrointestinal health and microbiome become an important motivation and concern for consumers despite the invasive nature of tests that require stool samples sent to labs for analysis. Microbiome analysis stands out as the most popular advanced method today. In the US, the NBJ 2021 survey revealed that 25.7% of respondents rated gastrointestinal health as their top concern, up from 22.7% in 2017.

As consumer demand for personalized nutrition rises, collaborative partnerships have emerged as a key strategy for improving community health. These partnerships bring together individuals and organizations across sectors sharing a common goal. With personalized nutrition relying on technology like data tracking and collection, collaborative innovation is crucial for research and development in this field.

Advances in “omics” (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, microbiomics) and data technologies have transformed personalized nutrition into a reality. 

We are now in the post-genomic era, with genomic information extensively guiding personalized nutrition for specific supplements, leading to the interdisciplinary field of nutrigenomics. Beyond nutrition and genetics, factors like lifestyle (physical activity, metabolomics) and gut microbiomes are emerging as important considerations in personalized nutrition.

A study published in the European Journal of Public Health evidenced that 30% of participants reported being willing to pay more for a personalized nutrition, particularly among men in higher education. These findings raise questions related to the market and the incorporation into public health programs.

According to ADM, there is a growing trend of proactive personalization, with 63% of global consumers showing interest in food and beverage products tailored to their individual nutritional needs. Additionally, 55% of consumers are willing to invest more in personalized nutrition to support their health goals.

With this in mind, and taking advantage of the results of the human microbiome project, start-ups are awakening from this research to find out what the microbiome can do, and a number of products are already on the market and in various stages of commercialization. These include microbiome analysis, probiotics, and home testing kits. 

The idea is that personalized solutions would ideally integrate into one’s lifestyle and take taste and culture preferences into consideration.

Studies have shown that no single diet has consistent effects on factors like metabolic health or weight loss for everyone, and the variance in individuals’ microbiome is partly responsible. Consequently, some companies are combining microbiome analysis with other data to provide personalized nutritional advice.

Notable players in the personalized nutrition market:

DayTwo Company

DayTwo was founded with the aim of addressing the global metabolic disease epidemic by studying the relationship between the microbiome and clinical outcomes. Research has revealed that the microbiome can be utilized to predict illnesses and improve health outcomes.

Based on a significant study conducted in 2015 with 800 participants by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, it was discovered that individuals’ blood sugar levels, a crucial marker of diabetes risk, can vary significantly when exposed to the same food. To predict personalized blood sugar responses to different foods, an algorithm was developed using data from blood sugar reactions, gut microbiome, family history, and lifestyle.

DayTwo has developed a solution that integrates microbiome profiling and artificial intelligence, providing a personalized pathway to remission for metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, and clinical obesity. Members of the DayTwo platform have experienced notable improvements in key health markers such as reduced medication dependence and weight loss. 

Additionally, members have reported enhancements in quality of life, including increased energy levels, better sleep quality, reduced stress, and diminished cravings. DayTwo achieves these positive outcomes by making specific adjustments in personalized nutrition strategies to ensure reliable results.

Zoe Company

Zoe, a company specializing in personalized nutrition, emerged from a research study that focused on providing customized dietary advice. This study involved gathering data on daytime appetite, eating habits, physical activity, sleep quality, and dietary interventions, including analysis of the customers’ gut microbiomes.

Known as “Predict,” the study tracked 1,100 individuals from the US and UK, including both identical and non-identical twins. The findings highlighted the significant impact of various factors such as genetics, sleep patterns, stress levels, exercise habits, and the diversity of gut microbes on food metabolism. It revealed that individuals can exhibit distinct metabolic responses to the same foods. Considered the largest and most comprehensive nutrition study worldwide, Predict has generated numerous publications.

Zoe’s impressive results derived from the Predict studies have demonstrated the efficacy of personalized food recommendations based on individual microbiomes. By tailoring diets to each person’s unique microbiome, Zoe’s approach has shown improvements in gut health, including reduced symptoms of constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. Moreover, consumers have reported enhanced mental clarity, mood, sustained energy levels throughout the day, and the adoption of more sustainable eating habits. Notably, menopausal symptoms have also shown signs of improvement.

With successful outcomes and a strong market response, Zoe has secured a total funding of $79.5 million across five rounds, including €2.3 million in 2023. This funding will support the company’s plans to expand operations and explore new markets as it continues to grow.

Viome Life Sciences Company

Viome Life Sciences, driven by the vision of “Imagine a world where illness is optional,” offers comprehensive health insights and facilitates tracking of gut microbiome health. Recognizing the profound impact of the gut microbiome on various aspects, including mood and digestion, Viome is pioneering a personalized nutrition approach. This approach aims to optimize gut lining, enhance gut microbiome diversity, and consider metatranscriptomic activity’s role in individual variations related to diseases like glycaemic response in adults.

With a total funding of $169.5 million across six rounds and a post-money valuation ranging from $550 million to $1 billion, Viome has also acquired Habit Food Personalized in 2019, a leading provider of personalized nutrition solutions.

To gather precise clinical and molecular data from individuals with diverse diseases and health conditions, Viome has enrolled over 10,000 study participants covering 20 chronic disease areas. Leveraging the high-resolution data collected, Viome’s personalized nutrition therapy recommends tailored diets and supplements. The company is actively engaged in multiple research studies, ongoing clinical trials, and upcoming investigations.

In 2023, Viome presented the results of a study examining precision nutrition and clinical outcomes, leveraging information about the gut microbiome. By converting molecular data into personalized nutritional recommendations (including specific foods and supplements), the program demonstrated significant enhancements in clinical outcomes such as depression and anxiety levels. This study is currently under review and available as a pre-print on bioRxiv.

Human health benefits:

Personalized nutrition is a very young field with relatively few scientific publications to support the relationship with health. There is plenty of opportunity in this budding space from academia to industry. Companies and start-ups are emerging across industry and academia to investigate the potential and benefits of this approach.

An 800-person cohort study was one of the many studies attempting to provide more information on personal nutrition and the gut microbiome. This study has shown that a personalized diet can change the configuration of the gut microbiota and modify postprandial blood glucose levels with metabolic outcomes. At the beginning of the year, a large-scale study published by researchers at Maastricht University showed that the modulation of macronutrient composition based on insulin resistance phenotypes promotes better metabolic health.

The opportunity for food brands:

With a global food as medicine movement, a shift towards plant-based eating, and growing concerns over rising inequality, consumers are acutely aware of how their choices and actions can make an impact on their health, the wider society, and the environment. Companies can engage by developing products and solutions that meet the needs of consumers with specific health benefits.

“Solutions, not products, drive behavior change”

Far from being a branding gimmick, transforming a product into a bespoke, holistic solution (whether it be well-being and dietary advice or prescribed medication, food, or supplements) is what consumers ultimately need to achieve their personal health goals. This is the fundamental basis of personalized nutrition.

It’s important to remember that personalization has not created this, but merely revealed that it has always been at the heart of why customers choose one option over another. It can be argued that many food and ingredient brands have simply lost sight of the consumer over the years, where shipping units instead of solving health needs have become de rigueur.

Whether it’s losing a few pounds or managing serious chronic conditions, those who provide solutions instead of products are better at enabling consumers to hack their behavior based on their individual biometrics. With the advent of AI, machine learning, and hyper-personalized customer journeys, it’s difficult to think of how effective outcomes can be delivered in any other way.

Challenges and future directions:

The functional food segment is keeping track of these developments and looking into the creation of unique fit-for-purpose food products that will target the microbiome for beneficial health impacts. As personalized nutrition solutions continue to evolve, it is desirable to reduce the cost burden on the consumer while increasing the perceived value via increasingly personalized solutions.

Looking ahead, several technological bottlenecks need to be addressed for personalized nutrition to become more relevant to the market. The main points are related to real-time data qualification, maximizing data security, and providing a consumer-centric approach. For example, to achieve an optimal level of personalization, it is necessary to acquire continuous data qualification beyond clinical trials. It is important to comply with local and regional data protection legislation and to communicate this to consumers.

Companies and brands need to seize the opportunity to understand how best to serve specific consumer segments with varying health goals and dietary preferences in a collaborative and data-driven way. Delivering better, evidence-based, and inclusive solutions with measurable benefits will be the future. Failure to address consumer appetite for health and rapidly advancing technologies today will be a great loss.


The effects of the human microbiota on health and the effects of external factors like diet and lifestyle make maintaining health even more complex. Furthermore, it is still unclear what constitutes a healthy microbiome, whether each individual can have their own ‘healthy’ microbiome, how it is maintained in balance, what factors influence its composition, what confounding factors should be considered, and how the microbiome interacts with the host. This kind of basic knowledge is needed before solutions that target the microbiome can be developed. Early adopters of this technology need to focus on convenient evidence-based quantifiable benefits to the end consumer.

Personalized nutrition is now in the attention, and it is up to all stakeholders to ensure growth is safe, sustainable, and equitable. The future is bright, with companies and research helping to make the necessary shifts to prepare for a personalized future.

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