Insight Into How Diet Affects Metabolic Health

Diet and nutrition play an important role in maintaining optimal health and longevity. A healthy metabolism converts the food we eat into energy that fuels the cells, systems and organs in our body. Metabolic imbalances are linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, although the nutritional mechanisms that lead to disease are complicated and poorly understood.

To gain insight into how micronutrients affect metabolic health, scientists at Nestlé used the SOMAscan assay to measure plasma proteins as a function of diet, metabolites and genetic makeup. The samples were from 6-14 year olds who participated in an obesity study in the lower Mississippi Delta. Forty proteins differed between the younger (< 9) and older (≥ 9) children. Some of the younger children’s protein levels reflected those older children and vice versa, which suggests that proteomic measurements could allow “determination of biological age as opposed to chronological age.” Fourteen proteins were associated with Body Mass Index (BMI) and included proteins involved in inflammatory processes and appetite regulation. Although further validation is required, these results point to metabolic factors that could be targeted for personalized dietary interventions.

One reason why obesity drugs are only moderately successful is that the ability to lose and maintain weight varies widely depending on the physiology and metabolism of the individual. In a different study from Nestlé, the SOMAscan assay was used along with mass spectrometry to identify proteins involved in weight loss and maintenance. The study probed 1000 samples from participants in a multi-center European dietary intervention study and identified several new potential biomarkers that could lead to tailored nutritional approaches to help manage weight more effectively.

Monteiro JP et al. (2014) Methylation potential associated with diet, genotype, protein and metabolite levels in the Delta Obesity Vitamin Study. Genes Nutr. 9:403.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4026438/pdf/12263_2014_Article_403.pdf

Moreno SO et al. (2017) The differential plasma proteome of obese and overweight individuals undergoing a nutritional weight loss and maintenance intervention. Proteomics Clin. App., in press.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/prca.201600150/full