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Helping patients avoid nutrient deficiencies [Interview]

Simply taking medication to control chronic conditions is not enough, changes to lifestyle and diet are also important. Mike Wakeman, an Independent Consultant, has developed an app to help patients monitor their nutrient intake and avoid vitamin/mineral deficiencies induced by their medication.

Can you briefly explain more about the new algorithm you have developed to help consumers incorporate medication into a healthy diet?

‘The app helps people modify their diet to compensate for possible deficiencies that might be induced by medications. This will enable the consumers to better personalise their diet to ensure they attain optimisation of the components of the food they eat.’

How will the technology help consumers? Will it also be useful for the F&B industry?

‘It will help make consumers more aware that as well as helping control whatever condition they are being treated for, the medication they are taking can have an impact upon their nutritional status and hence long-term overall health. Some combinations of drugs can for instance induce long-term vitamin/mineral deficiencies that need to be corrected in order to prevent suboptimal nutrient status or frank deficiencies occurring.’

‘In terms of advantages to the industry it will enable F&B to be developed that can support specific patient types. As well as being more beneficial from a nutritional perspective to say diabetics, it can also include extra vitamins or minerals to help compensate for common deficiencies induced by the commonly used medications to control the condition.’

What are some of the effects of taking medication on a person’s ability to extract nutrients from food?

‘In the gut medications can combine with nutrients in food. It can alter their absorption and speed up the breakdown of nutrients in the body.’

Mike Wakeman.jpgIs this something that healthcare professionals discuss with patients? Are patients aware that they might have to make changes to their diets?

‘It is not something that many healthcare professionals or consumers are aware of.’

Is there anything the F&B industry can do to support consumers in th is area?

‘Help make consumers more aware that simply taking medication to control chronic conditions is not enough, changes to lifestyle and diet are also important.’

Do you think that in the future nutrition will be used more as ‘preventative medicine’? How might it impact traditional healthcare and pharmaceuticals?

‘This will take a monumental change. However, as the growing ageing population enters the phase of their life where chronic conditions become commonplace, healthcare providers will need to assess prevention - which is where diet comes in. Given the frequency of conditions such as cognitive disorders and cancers where diet can play a part in prevention, many younger people are beginning to look at what they eat to prevent the ravages of these diseases that they may have experienced as a result of encounters with them in their own family. However, information needs to be evidence based, not didactic nor flaky.’

You are talking at the Future of Nutrition Summit. What are your predictions for the F&B industry in 5+ years’ time?

‘There will be significant macro changes. We are already seeing this with sugar consumption. The perpetuating myths about good fats and bad fats will be hopefully exposed and consumers provided with good science to help them find their way through the current conflicting opinions about food.’

‘Personalised medicine will demonstrate that the current way of assessing nutritional science is worthless and genetic testing will allow people to personalise what they eat, with diets linked better to prevention of diseases that have been identified as likely affecting an individual as a result of them having polymorphisms linked to that disease.’

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