A groundbreaking new test is able to track the dietary routines of patients and monitor nutritional intake.
The test, which takes just five minutes, has been developed by scientists who believe it may prove revolutionary for weight loss programmes. It allows food intake to be closely monitored and makes it easy for doctors to determine whether their patients’ diet is good or bad for their health.
Urine and Diet: What the Results Show
The study was published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology medical journal. 19 volunteers, whose diets varied from extremely healthy to extremely unhealthy according to World Health Organisation guidelines, had their urine tested three times a day.
These urine samples were examined for metabolites, a substance formed in the body as a requirement for metabolism.
The scientists behind the study were able to use the metabolite examination to determine whether the participant had eaten red meat, chicken, fish, fruit and vegetables. In addition to this, the test showed how much sugar, fat, fibre and protein were present in the body. It could even pinpoint more specific foods that had been eaten, such as citrus fruits and leafy greens.
How Does the Test Work?
The researchers found that the metabolites in the body during the digestion process of different types of fruit, vegetables and meats leave a distinct signature in a person’s urine.
In addition to spotting different varieties of sustenance, the test can also detect different chemicals which indicate the state of patients’ overall gut health.
The fact that the researchers were able to spot the differences between healthy and unhealthy diets in study volunteers is hugely significant.
Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez, one of the scientists behind the study, has pointed out the fact that the testing method is not yet sophisticated enough to pinpoint exact foods types and quantities such as chips and sausages, but believes that it has a significant future as a tool for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
How Will It Help?
Studies have shown that around 60% of people misreport their dietary intake. This can be in the form of either under-reporting or over-reporting and can be down to several factors including denial or embarrassment.
This can cause problems for medical professionals attempting to track an individual’s diet for health reasons. This urine test is believed to be the first way to independently test what people are eating in the privacy of their own home- without relying solely on them to be open and honest about it.
Researchers believe that the urine test could be a huge leap in the fight to combat issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. More and more people being tested this way could build up the most accurate picture yet of what (and how much) the nation is really eating which will eventually allow for more accurate and successful public health campaigns.
The Next Step in Measuring What We Eat
The scientists who pioneered this study envision the test being used to help patients with many different conditions. They hope that doctors being able to independently monitor their patients’ eating habits will be helpful for weight loss programmes and patient rehabilitation following serious illnesses and heart attacks.
Elaine Holmes, a co-author of the study from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London has said that she hopes the test will become available to the public within the next two years.
So far, the progress is looking promising and the next stage in the process of making this test more readily available will be integrating the technology into peoples’ homes. If the urine test becomes a part of daily life for the public, people will be able to keep closer tabs on their diets and learn to live healthier lifestyles.
The Importance of Healthy Eating
Committing to a healthy and nutritious diet isn’t always easy. However, this could be one of the best decisions you ever make for your body and lifestyle. In addition to helping you fight off the effects of illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, healthy eating has been proven to increase life expectancy and improve mood and energy levels.
It can be difficult to know exactly where to start when it comes to healthy eating but there are many resources that people in Richmond can consult for help and advice. Richmond.gov.uk offers a range of services to help you improve your lifestyle and eating habits. You can also find help available on theNHS Choices website which provides useful information about healthy eating.