Human beings are not created equal, at least not in terms of nutritional needs. Nutritional needs are dictated by a mixture of genetics, epigenetics, personal history and lifestyle. Obvious cases of genetically-based or genetically-predisposed special nutritional needs are well known; insulin-dependent (Type 1) diabetes mellitus and phenylketonuria being good examples. Other special dietary needs are of less clear origin, but disorders such as coeliac disease, irritable bowel disease and lactose intolerance are becoming widely recognised as having strong genetic components. Additionally, there is emerging evidence of individually different responses in fat metabolism in individuals, leading to differences in lipoprotein profiles (HDL and LDL - indicators of heart health) in response to diet. Some lifestyles also give rise to special dietary requirements. This is particularly noted for athletes, who often have very specific nutritional advice. All of these examples are exceptional, relating to specific metabolic disorders or extreme lifestyle needs, with quite specific goals. This paper is concerned with an emerging trend towards personalised nutrition becoming mainstream in affluent society, with a goal of general good health, and the potential for mass customisation to provide personalised nutrition on a wide front.
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