Close Login
Register here
Forgot password
Forgot password
or
or

Close
Close Inspiration on environmental sustainability, every month.

Currently 5,988 people are getting new inspiration every month from our global sustainability exchange. Do you want to stay informed? Fill in your e-mail address below:

Close Receive monthly UPDATES ON ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN YOUR MAILBOX EVERY MONTH.

Want to be kept in the loop? We will provide monthly overview of what is happening in our community along with new exciting ways on how you can contribute.

Close Reset password
your profile is 33% complete:
33%
Update profile Close

Food super food designed to match your genome  star trek reality | Upload General

Super Food Designed To Match Your Genome: Star Trek Reality

Share this post
by: Sharai Hoekema
super food designed to match your genome  star trek reality | Upload

Let’s admit it, most of us are doing a somewhat subpar job of feeding ourselves and our dependants. We are running down the aisles of the supermarket in search of something that is relatively healthy, quick to prepare, and will not lead to too much resistance from your kids. With all the pressure that we face in our day to day lives, it is understandable that we opt for ordering in pizza or dropping by the fastfood joint down the street more than we ideally would like.

Even for those self-proclaimed #foodies, occupied with preparing and photographing the most gorgeous looking new superfoods, this whole food thing can get pretty confusing. A food that is hailed as the healthier, more sustainable option one month, can easily be ostracised the next month, citing a wide range of shocking health concerns. It is just a matter of time before avocados, oat milk and acai fruit will be run over by the next big food hype.

Unclear food standards

A big part of the problem is that we are not sure on how to feed ourselves. Not really, anyway. How much easier would it be if we could just get an objective and decisive plan that outlines what we should and should not eat and drink? Sure, there are seemingly impartial guidelines, often sponsored by governments and health institutes. The thing is that those seem to change every so many years, including new food groups that are apparently indispensable to our health, and excluding previously commonly accepted foods as being undesirable.

While some might instantly point at the lobbyists and big food corporations, and their inherent interest in getting ‘their’ foods whitelisted, no matter the cost, this is not a discussion that I would like to get into now. Instead, I’d like to focus on a potential solution that has been discussed more and more in recent years.

Moving away from one-size-fits-all diets

After all, some of the confusion does stem from the fact that we are all different. Some of us have food intolerances or allergies, while others have specific health concerns that require a certain diet. Sporters require different nutrients than the occupants of your local elderly home. As such, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to food. This makes it harder to draw a hard line separating ‘the bad’ from ‘the good’ and everything in-between.

As such, the ideal solution that has been proposed is a rather futuristic and Star Trek-esque one. Its basic premise is that food can be specifically engineered to match your personal genome. Our personal diet will be customised to ensure that it best suits us. As such, it might include ingredients that would absolutely bloat your neighbour if he were to eat it; while simultaneously his diet will have you running for the loo several times per day.

Personalised nutrition

This whole idea of personalised nutrition can bring much needed clarity in this food world of hazy intolerances and limits. We are not meant to be eating the same thing - all of us require different nutrients in varying quantities. Research has shown that our innate biological response to certain food items can vary wildly. For instance, in a study performed by Israeli researchers in 2015, people were presented with a brand of sugary ice cream. Their glucose levels were carefully monitored - only to find that while some showed a definite blood glucose ‘spike’, it barely registered for others. A groundbreaking finding, that paved the way for personalised nutrition enthusiasts.

Genetic testing

Up to now, much nutritional research assumed that all human beings were the same and would therefore react to similar food groups in a similar fashion. However, much of how we ‘handle’ food is determined by our genetics, specific microbes in our gut, as well as some distinct variations in our organs’ internal physiology. This could mean that by performing genetic testing, you can come up with a personalised diet that best suits someone’s physiology as a whole. 

Today, various companies and dozens of researchers around the world are rallying around this idea and performing exhaustive genetic DNA testing to figure out exactly which genes correlate with which innate food preferences. According to Jeffrey Blumberg, who serves as a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, DNA testing is not just the key to a better understanding of our bodies - it is also key to developing personalised nutrition: “I’ll be able to tell you what kinds of fruits, what kinds of vegetables and what kinds of wholegrains you should be choosing, or exactly how often.”

Cooking in the future

And yes, some of you might already cry fowl at the thought of having to prepare individual meals for each member of your family - let alone go through the shopping process, equipped with an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts for every member. 

Thankfully, this is something that is worked on as well - for instance through engineered food products. Many scientists are hoping that by 2028, we will be able to ‘create’ our own superfoods. Chef robots are already being developed, who will have a nutritious, delicious meal waiting for you once you get home. He won’t mind having to tend to everyone’s individual wishes: his robotic arms are happy to cut, chop and stir away.

Robots and 3D printers

Besides this sous-chef robot, more kitchen innovations are coming up to make your life easier - including smart appliances and digital kitchen assistants. The shopping part will be significantly easier as well: what to think about smart fridges, capable of analysing and predicting? They will automatically place an order at your supermarket when you are out of eggs, and while it’s on it, order the ingredients for the dishes that your smart oven picked out for you tonight. 

Or, perhaps there won’t even be supermarkets in 2028 - much like Star Trek’s replicators, 3D printers are slowly but steadily moving into the food space. 3D printers can be equipped with various ingredient capsules, that can be used to quite literally ‘print’ your lunch or dinner - using the exact nutrients and ingredients that suit your personal palette.

Naturally enhanced foods

Still clinging on to the idea of ‘natural’ foods? Well, then rest assured that those will certainly be able to live up to your personal genome as well. Through the engineering of food, certain food stuffs can be made to be more nutritious - like provitamin A-infused bananas -, or even healthier - like re-engineered junk food that uses only a fraction of the sugars and fats that are required today.

All of this is achieved through genetics and bimolecular science, where DNA from one organism can be inserted into another - enriching the receiving organism with… well, quite literally any characteristic you would like it to have.

Food purists will once again cry fowl at the idea: engineered food isn’t natural, they claim. Food is something that should not be experimented with. Those arguments are easy to counter, though, as nature has been performing this kind of engineering for centuries. 

Evolution on steroids

Genetic engineering is basically evolution on steroids, that uses interspecies breeding to come up with new and improved species. Without this process, we wouldn’t have our orange carrots (they were originally white), or our firm, sweet peaches (which used to be the size of cherries and very salty), or even our favourite summer snack of watermelons, that used to be small, round, hard and bitter.

Nutritionally enhanced crops are all around us - and its benefits have been all too clear. Even more promising, now that genetics is moving into the area of DNA-editing, the genetic code of species can be cracked. A huge opportunity to alter the genetic codes of plants to better suit our personal genomes - and eventually improve our health tremendously. 

Good food, happy people

Good food makes everyone happy. This is why it is in your interest as well as mine to continue this groundbreaking research in ways of both understanding our own personal food genomes; as well as catering to it using enhanced, engineered food, specifically designed to fit you personally. 

Still doubting whether this is the right way to go? Well, with almost 40 percent of all adults overweight or (morbidly) obese - a number that is growing steadily -, and obesity-related illnesses on the rise with no possible cure for this ‘obesity-epidemic’ in sight, it seems to me that we’ve got little to lose.

https://www.whatsorb.com/category/food

Get updates on environmental sustainability in your mailbox every month.

Super Food Designed To Match Your Genome: Star Trek Reality

Let’s admit it, most of us are doing a somewhat subpar job of feeding ourselves and our dependants. We are running down the aisles of the supermarket in search of something that is relatively healthy, quick to prepare, and will not lead to too much resistance from your kids. With all the pressure that we face in our day to day lives, it is understandable that we opt for ordering in pizza or dropping by the fastfood joint down the street more than we ideally would like. Even for those self-proclaimed #foodies, occupied with preparing and photographing the most gorgeous looking new superfoods, this whole food thing can get pretty confusing. A food that is hailed as the healthier, more sustainable option one month, can easily be ostracised the next month, citing a wide range of shocking health concerns. It is just a matter of time before avocados, oat milk and acai fruit will be run over by the next big food hype. Unclear food standards A big part of the problem is that we are not sure on how to feed ourselves. Not really, anyway. How much easier would it be if we could just get an objective and decisive plan that outlines what we should and should not eat and drink? Sure, there are seemingly impartial guidelines, often sponsored by governments and health institutes. The thing is that those seem to change every so many years, including new food groups that are apparently indispensable to our health, and excluding previously commonly accepted foods as being undesirable. While some might instantly point at the lobbyists and big food corporations, and their inherent interest in getting ‘their’ foods whitelisted, no matter the cost, this is not a discussion that I would like to get into now. Instead, I’d like to focus on a potential solution that has been discussed more and more in recent years. Moving away from one-size-fits-all diets After all, some of the confusion does stem from the fact that we are all different. Some of us have food intolerances or allergies, while others have specific health concerns that require a certain diet. Sporters require different nutrients than the occupants of your local elderly home. As such, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to food. This makes it harder to draw a hard line separating ‘the bad’ from ‘the good’ and everything in-between. As such, the ideal solution that has been proposed is a rather futuristic and Star Trek-esque one. Its basic premise is that food can be specifically engineered to match your personal genome. Our personal diet will be customised to ensure that it best suits us. As such, it might include ingredients that would absolutely bloat your neighbour if he were to eat it; while simultaneously his diet will have you running for the loo several times per day. Personalised nutrition This whole idea of personalised nutrition can bring much needed clarity in this food world of hazy intolerances and limits. We are not meant to be eating the same thing - all of us require different nutrients in varying quantities. Research has shown that our innate biological response to certain food items can vary wildly. For instance, in a study performed by Israeli researchers in 2015, people were presented with a brand of sugary ice cream. Their glucose levels were carefully monitored - only to find that while some showed a definite blood glucose ‘spike’, it barely registered for others. A groundbreaking finding, that paved the way for personalised nutrition enthusiasts. Genetic testing Up to now, much nutritional research assumed that all human beings were the same and would therefore react to similar food groups in a similar fashion. However, much of how we ‘handle’ food is determined by our genetics, specific microbes in our gut, as well as some distinct variations in our organs’ internal physiology. This could mean that by performing genetic testing, you can come up with a personalised diet that best suits someone’s physiology as a whole.   Today, various companies and dozens of researchers around the world are rallying around this idea and performing exhaustive genetic DNA testing to figure out exactly which genes correlate with which innate food preferences. According to Jeffrey Blumberg, who serves as a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Massachusetts, DNA testing is not just the key to a better understanding of our bodies - it is also key to developing personalised nutrition: “ I’ll be able to tell you what kinds of fruits, what kinds of vegetables and what kinds of wholegrains you should be choosing, or exactly how often .” Cooking in the future And yes, some of you might already cry fowl at the thought of having to prepare individual meals for each member of your family - let alone go through the shopping process, equipped with an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts for every member.   Thankfully, this is something that is worked on as well - for instance through engineered food products. Many scientists are hoping that by 2028, we will be able to ‘create’ our own superfoods. Chef robots are already being developed, who will have a nutritious, delicious meal waiting for you once you get home. He won’t mind having to tend to everyone’s individual wishes: his robotic arms are happy to cut, chop and stir away. Robots and 3D printers Besides this sous-chef robot, more kitchen innovations are coming up to make your life easier - including smart appliances and digital kitchen assistants. The shopping part will be significantly easier as well: what to think about smart fridges, capable of analysing and predicting? They will automatically place an order at your supermarket when you are out of eggs, and while it’s on it, order the ingredients for the dishes that your smart oven picked out for you tonight.   Or, perhaps there won’t even be supermarkets in 2028 - much like Star Trek’s replicators, 3D printers are slowly but steadily moving into the food space. 3D printers can be equipped with various ingredient capsules, that can be used to quite literally ‘print’ your lunch or dinner - using the exact nutrients and ingredients that suit your personal palette. Naturally enhanced foods Still clinging on to the idea of ‘natural’ foods? Well, then rest assured that those will certainly be able to live up to your personal genome as well. Through the engineering of food, certain food stuffs can be made to be more nutritious - like provitamin A-infused bananas -, or even healthier - like re-engineered junk food that uses only a fraction of the sugars and fats that are required today. All of this is achieved through genetics and bimolecular science, where DNA from one organism can be inserted into another - enriching the receiving organism with… well, quite literally any characteristic you would like it to have. Food purists will once again cry fowl at the idea: engineered food isn’t natural, they claim. Food is something that should not be experimented with. Those arguments are easy to counter, though, as nature has been performing this kind of engineering for centuries.   Evolution on steroids Genetic engineering is basically evolution on steroids, that uses interspecies breeding to come up with new and improved species. Without this process, we wouldn’t have our orange carrots (they were originally white), or our firm, sweet peaches (which used to be the size of cherries and very salty), or even our favourite summer snack of watermelons, that used to be small, round, hard and bitter. Nutritionally enhanced crops are all around us - and its benefits have been all too clear. Even more promising, now that genetics is moving into the area of DNA-editing, the genetic code of species can be cracked. A huge opportunity to alter the genetic codes of plants to better suit our personal genomes - and eventually improve our health tremendously.   Good food, happy people Good food makes everyone happy. This is why it is in your interest as well as mine to continue this groundbreaking research in ways of both understanding our own personal food genomes; as well as catering to it using enhanced, engineered food, specifically designed to fit you personally.   Still doubting whether this is the right way to go? Well, with almost 40 percent of all adults overweight or (morbidly) obese - a number that is growing steadily -, and obesity-related illnesses on the rise with no possible cure for this ‘obesity-epidemic’ in sight, it seems to me that we’ve got little to lose. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/food