Diet, Deconstructed

By Linsey Maughan
Britt Burton

Technology has been utilized to create solutions across all industries and sectors, so why not use it to make diets more effective?

Illinois Tech is one of 14 centers collaborating on a new nationwide nutrition study that will combine biometric data collected from 10,000 individuals with artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML) technologies to advance the development of personalized nutrition plans. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, which is awarding a combined total of $170 million to support five years’ worth of research.

“This is personalized nutrition—providing the right diet for the right person at the right time,” says Britt Burton-Freeman, a professor of food science and nutrition, who is leading Illinois Tech’s involvement in the project. “You can’t personalize [nutrition] if you don’t understand variation in humans. The data we collect across all centers will come from physical assessments and biospecimen collections so that genetics, gut microbes, and biological data can be combined with lifestyle, social, and environmental data to determine why people respond the way they do to different dietary regimens, and then use these data to develop algorithms that predict individual responses to foods and dietary patterns powered by ML.”