Personalized Nutrition — Because You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

By Eva Everloo (MSc) — Analyst at PeakBridge

Take Jane, a 35-year-old Londoner. She has a demanding corporate job. When her workday is done, she enjoys athletic activities, mainly long-distance running. Jane wishes to lead a long, healthy life so that when she reaches 65, she may still be able to outrun her grandchildren.   

To reach her goals, she now tracks her daily steps, heart rate, sleep and exercise regime with a smartwatch.  Her phone is set to receive recipe recommendations when she is close to her supermarket. A shopping list based on her goals, dietary preferences and the contents of her fridge, is created through sensors also synced to her phone.  

Twice a year, she self-tests and an integrated app on her phone enables her to monitor how certain biomarkers in her blood develop over time. Following this collection of data, dietary supplements for her individual needs are ordered then delivered to her door.  

During lunch with a colleague, Jane is alerted that the walnut-kale smoothie, which improves her currently low vitamin K and omega-3 levels, is more beneficial for her than the chicken sandwich. The collection of data offers her personalized recommendations to make reaching her goals both tangible and convenient. Sound futuristic? Not according to the companies pioneering in the personalized nutrition sphere. 

In this report, we will dive deep into personalized nutrition:  

  • what it is,  
  • why we bother with it,  
  • what drives its growth,  
  • why we are doing it now,  
  • what companies are leading the way.

PeakBridge is a Global FoodTech Fund Manager that invests in food innovation companies. One of the fund’s key investment areas is Nutrition and Health. Here will focus on two of its most recent investments in the field of personalized nutrition. This deep dive is the fourth installment in the series of FoodTech trends after MyceliumAlt. Fat and Alt. Egg — aimed at better understanding the industry alongside its challenges and opportunities.


As suggested in the hypothetical example above, personalized nutrition can be described as

An approach that uses information on individual characteristics to develop targeted nutritional advice, products, or services Ordovas et al. (2018)

As Gil Blander, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at InsideTracker, puts it

Adding more and more inputs and information allow us to understand your body in the best, most holistic way. We can then give you the right recommendations that will help you to optimize your health and reach your personal goals.

These inputs include physical measurements, such as  height, body composition and weight, as well as biomarkers for blood, saliva and urine, gut microbiome genotype, ethnic background, lifestyle choices, exercise regimen, and dietary preferences. Think of a car that measures numerous parameters, from average speed, to tire pressure, to windshield wiper fluid levels. The driver needs this information to maximize driving performance. Nowadays, we can do the same for humans. 

Personalized nutrition originates from the idea that in healthcare, no one size fits all. Research shows that people respond differently to foods they consume.

A graph showing inter-individual variation in glucose postprandial responses with time in hours on the x-axis and glucose in mmol per litre on the y-axis.
Inter-individual variation in glucose postprandial responses (n= 1,002) (Nature)

The graph shows the large inter-individual variation in 1,000 people’s glucose responses to the same meal. The black data points and thin grey lines represent individual responses in blood glucose (y-axis) over the course of 6 hours (x-axis). Taking Jane and her blood glucose levels as an example, her glucose might respond favourably to eating a white rice curry, but her colleague’s might not. 

This makes scientific sense since people differ biologically from each other. Genetically, we are about 99.9% identical, but in terms of our microbiome – the genetic material of the microorganisms living inside us -, we differ by as much as 80–90%.

We can add to this differences in our food choices, the amount of exercise we do, our lifestyle habits, and the number of hours we sleep, all of which affect our health, or our susceptibility to disease. Because of this, foods have varying effects on different people. People with allergies and intolerances are arguably strong proof for this. There are many more, if less acute, examples that collectively influence health outcomes. 

This is relevant because chronic diseases – heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and obesity – are the leading cause of mortality in Western societies, contributing to 86% of all deaths in Europe. And this percentage is on the rise. Taking diet and lifestyle as main risk factors, research at Wageningen University infers that personalized nutrition has the potential to shift consumer behaviour towards healthier food and lifestyle decisions, reducing chronic disease prevalence.  

Apart from having the potential to improve millions of lives, personalized nutrition has a considerable market opportunity with a projected size of 16.4 billion USD by 2025 and an annual growth rate of 15%. 


The answer to this question is a convergence of three different trends: (1) scientific advances, (2) technology advances and (3) a shift in consumer behaviour. 

Scientific Advances

Primarily, it is our increased understanding of biological processes as they relate to nutrition. This includes revealing interpersonal differences in our reaction to food. Secondly, we know more about the metabolic effects of our microbiome and the human ageing process. An important example is greater scientific insight of the human microbiome, specifically the link between the composition of gut bacteria, our food metabolism, and the risk for chronic diseases. 

In nutrition, there’s two parts of your body that matter, your body’s genome and your meta genome, your microbiome. […] we’re becoming increasingly aware that your microbiome dictates a lot of how your body and physiology is going to respond to given nutrients — Thomas Gurry PhD, Co-Founder & CEO of Myota

Technology Advances

In the past decade, the advancement of health and disease models with new scientific knowledge is accelerated by artificial intelligence (AI). It has increased our ability to synthesize information from different biological disciplines such as nutrition, pharmacology, metabolomics, endocrinology and (epi-)genomics into comprehensive scientific models. This has enabled trained systems to make increasingly more accurate predictions and recommendations about our health. 

Next to data analysis and AI, considerable improvements have been made in the field of consumer diagnostic technologies. Some examples are wearable, continuous monitors for glucose, microbiome genome test kits, DNA tests and fitness trackers. All are increasing in accuracy and affordability. In the past, only doctors could order and interpret blood and DNA tests, but now, self-tests are available for use at home. This democratization of health tech is another key driver of the personalized nutrition market. 

Consumer Behavior Shift

The last, and perhaps most important driver of personalized nutrition is a shift in consumer behaviour. This includes both increased awareness of personal health and increasing expectations for customization

Consumers are waking up to the fact that only a small portion of an individual’s health can be explained by genetics alone. Instead, nutrition is seen more and more as a powerful determinant for health that can help shape the course of life. 

You’ve got this engine in you that you’re not feeding right […] And that’s why so many of us are sick — Thomas Gurry PhD, CEO of Myota

At the same time, many consumers are confused by popular dietary advice due to conflicting health information. Do I need to supplement omega 3? How many meals per day should I eat? Is coffee good or bad? Additionally, governmental dietary recommendations are often non-specific and non-actionable. This motivates consumers to take a personal, preventative approach to health through nutrition by taking more control in order to live longer, healthier lives and prevent chronic diseases down the road. 

Jane’s personalized nutrition story, points to customized food solutions becoming increasingly accepted. This is both a driver and enabler of personalized nutrition. People now seek foods tailored to their individual preferences and dietary patterns: from a lactose-free, caramel Starbucks latte with their name on it, to customized burgers and salads at the lunch buffet to various keto/vegan/gluten-free menu options at their favourite restaurant. 


These three movements are driving the growth of the personalized nutrition market. And the timing is right — we are already collecting large amounts of data through wearing fitness and health trackers etc. and such data collection is only expected to increase. Why not use this data as input for optimizing our nutrition, one of  the more significant drivers of health and disease? To date, the only metric we use as guide for nutrition is body weight. Yet, there is a world of opportunity for personalized nutrition to help people better understand their bodies in reaching their personal health goals. Personalized nutrition is equipped to do this in a transparent, easy-to-understand, convenient way. 


Personalized nutrition is a sub-section of the wider personalized health market where FoodTech and MedTech merge. 

Startups in the field are already bridging the personalization gap in different ways. Some diagnostics companies collect individual health data using health tracking devices, questionnaires, or even medical tests such as blood, saliva or stool samples. Delivery companies provide personalized nutrition recommendations, supplements, recipes or meals based on this health data. Some companies do both. A few companies in the personalized nutrition field are listed below. 

Elo Health (US) offers blood test kits to their customers, who then get insights into their blood biomarker ranges. The company also offers daily nutritional supplements that are formulated to fit the individual’s body and goals. 

Floré (US) specializes in personalized pre- and probiotic supplements. As these compounds exert their main effects in the gut, they are formulated based on the results of a personal microbiome test (and yes — they need a stool sample). The client collects a sample at home, receives an analysis of their microbial DNA, as well as a customized supplements schedule.

The Dutch company Clear. offers continuous glucose sensors that are worn on the arm and measure real-time blood glucose levels. Based on this, personal nutritional insights are provided. 
Genopalate on the other hand, utilizes DNA-based nutrition insights derived from genetic test kits to deliver personalized recipes, food advice and recommended supplements. 

Other diagnostics technologies include breath tests.  For example those developed by the Irish company FoodMarble help identify how each person digest foods and which foods support specific digestive systems. This is particularly relevant for people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). 

Olive Diagnostics from Israel claims that “urine is the new blood” and has developed a real-time urinalysis device that can be mounted to any toilet for health optimization and early disease detection. 

Others in the field offer on-the-spot nutritionist coaching: Yes Health and personalized recipe recommendations Heali and Verdify, enabling more people to shift to healthier eating habits. 

InsideTracker is a US-based company that transforms biometric data from blood, DNA and activity trackers into next-generation, ultra-personalized health insights. PeakBridge has recently invested in InsideTracker’s B-round, a culmination of our long-standing interest in the personalized nutrition space. 

Motivated by their mission to help people seeking optimal performance, add years to their lives and life to their years, InsideTracker’s team has spent over 12 years and 60,000 hours to curate the evidence and logic for their proprietary, dual engine AI platform. Their comprehensive research included selection criteria for biomarkers that:  

  1. are markers for health, not disease  
  1. can be modulated by simple lifestyle interventions and  
  1. are present in 1% of the population.  

Gil explains

If you are out of the optimal zone, we can give you some recommendations of what foods to eat, what supplement to take, what lifestyle changes to do and what exercise to do in order to get back into the optimal zone, and all of it is based on science.

InsideTracker moves away from population-derived normal ranges that are communicated by physicians. Instead, the company provides holistic, yet actionable lifestyle recommendations and optimal zones tailored to the individual. The goal is to empower people to understand their bodies better and to track their own progress. A key factor in deciding on an investment in InsideTracker was the underlying comprehensive evidence-based platform that has the potential to add new scientific data points and integrate innovations in diagnostic technologies on an ongoing basis in the future. 

Some companies also design personalized nutrition solutions at a population-level. Think, for example, of those altering food formulations to cater to people with allergies or sensitivities or personalized solutions for managing certain conditions like IBS and T2D. 

Ukko creates gluten-free, allergen-free foods (part of PeakBridge’s portfolio), whereas GlucoZero owns a patented technology that lowers sugar and glycaemic food index. 

Based in the UK, Myota works on gut health using their precision fibres.  FoodSparks® by PeakBridge invested in Myota to support its growing operations. Myota CEO, Thomas Gurry, explains that dietary fibre is the strongest nutrient that impacts the microbiome both in terms of composition and metabolic output. During his research at MIT, Gurry studied the fermentation of fibres and saw that people differ substantially in their ability to ferment efficiently, consequently producing health-promoting short-chain fatty acids. Driven by these findings, Myota built a model that can predict the fermentation capabilities of microbiomes. What makes Myota stand out is their unique design of fibre mixes that are optimized to work across different microbiomes and are tailored per condition. Myota’s fibres can help with digestive and metabolic conditions that reduce the quality of life, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and Type-2 diabetes. Over-the-counter fibre supplements do not take this into account, making them less effective. 


Everyone’s response to food is different, that much has become clear, as a result of a complex interplay between the genetic, microbiome, nutrition and lifestyle factors. This poses both an opportunity and a challenge for personalized nutrition. This is an opportunity because we can account for inter-personal variation with data to optimize individual health and lower the burden of chronic diseases. It is a challengebecause there needs to be enough health predictive value in this data for it to be relevant. Undoubtedly, further scientific advances and the integration of monitoring, wearable devices together can help realize the full potential of personalized nutrition, providing consumers with the most tailored and actionable guidance. 

Personalized nutrition is an exciting, fast-developing field that promises to help people live longer, healthier lives. Yet, there still is enormous potential for companies to innovate and compete for a share of the market. 


Excited by personalized nutrition and keen to read more? Check out this excellent report by NXFood or these comprehensive articles (12) by FoodHack.