Imagine you are at your annual doctor’s check up. The doctor asks about your diet, probing to see how your health may be affected by it. What do you say? Are you honest and able to accurately recall what you eat? Researchers have shown that many people, whether intentional or not, are simply not honest or accurate when it comes to reporting the food they eat. This inaccuracy affects not only the personal health of patients, but larger scientific studies focusing on human nutrition as well.
A new test has been developed to reduce patient-reported diet inaccuracies and reveal what kinds of food a person actually has in their diet. The test detects a range of specific compounds, including the fats, sugar, fiber and protein, which may help to better understand nutrition (and reduce dishonesty and inaccuracy) in the future.
The test, developed by Imperial College London, Newcastle University and Aberystwyth University, takes only a few minutes to complete and offers new insight into a person’s diet. Nineteen participants in the study stayed for three days at a in a lab in London, and their food intake was strictly monitored. The participants were divided into different dietary groups ranging from a healthy diet (think a lot of fruits and vegetables) to an unhealthy diet (think processed foods, red meats and sugars). Each participant provided urine samples in the morning, afternoon and evening, allowing scientists to assess compounds in the urine that are produced when people digest specific food. The study concluded that this test allows scientists and health professionals to create a baseline diet profile of a balanced, healthy diet to compare to other diets. This provides an entirely new look into human nutrition- one that possesses far more accuracy than self-reporting. Although the technology is in its early stages, researchers predict the test will help to improve the accuracy of nutrition and health studies in the future. And perhaps change the saying from “you are what you eat” to include “you are what you wee”.