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Can the Energetic Value of Food Be Personalized?

20 July, 2007 - 2 min read

Listening to the latest FIB podcast,

What is the nutrient and caloric value in food? Is it an absolute term? … a box of cheerios says 110 calories per serving. Now does each person that eats a serving of cheerios extract 110 calories or are there subtle differences in our caloric harvest?

Dr. Jeffrey Gordon talks about microbial metagenomics. His research looks to make a huge impact on our knowledge of nutrition and dieting. Gut microbial communities have a dynamic influence on host genomes in mice. They sampled obese mouse genomes and found some clear indications that the massive amount of bacterial organisms living inside each of us are impacting our health in way that is mutually beneficial.

I see two big opportunities here. The treatment of malnutrition and obesity should be more focused on the physiological conditions imposed by these micro- communities. Second, the ability to engineer new bacterial components with the complexity and efficiency we are seeing in nature is forward thinking. Mash up detailed human microbe metabolomic data against all the new ocean community microbe genomes and you have quite an exciting study!

Let me further define mash up as to not sound too journalistic.

Rebuild those trees, phylogenetics is getting much more interesting Metabolic pathway ontologies better be in order Networks, networks, networks. Signals from microbial genomes are coordinated with our own microphysiology.