Nutrition research is notoriously difficult to conduct. Despite many attempts at assessing the impact of nutrition and dieting on health, the field remains plagued by uncertainty, questionable results, ever changing recommendations leaving the readers confused and unable to decide on a path forward.
In an attempt to address some of these issues, biomarkers capable of “objectively assessing food consumption” including food intake and impact of food groups on the body are making an entry into the world of nutrition research. Such biomarkers would finally allow researchers to do away with self-reported dietary intake questionnaires that are largely unreliable and more importantly filled with potential biases that have contributed over the years to making nutrition research far too subjective. With the emergence of biomarkers, the hope is that nutrition research can become much more scientifically sound by providing objective data and accurate information on food intake and nutritional status. In this manner, “nutritional biomarkers” can be relied upon as “indicators of nutritional status” linked to the intake or metabolism of various nutrients or dietary constituents. These biomarkers are capable of measuring virtually any component of diets; from fat intake, to meat and oily fish consumption to the intake of onion and garlic. They can be as specific as reflecting the intake of apples, coffee or tomato juice. As a result, their routine uses could truly transform the entire field of nutrition by directly measuring the effects of a specific diet on the health of that population.
Finally, researchers will be able to rely on objective measures of biological processes directly reflecting dietary intake and food processing rather than the old and archaic way consisting of observations derived from questionnaires. Analyzing data from nutrition studies will no longer be shrouded in mystery trying to figure out whether subjects in studies misreported their food intake. Instead, using biomarkers will allow researchers to use data derived from blood and/or urine samples specific enough to truly measure the impact of certain diets on health. Only then will the outcomes from various diets be truly measured, assessed and possibly recommended for different populations.