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Are Zoe's Personalized Nutrition Trials Good?

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How far would you go to test your health? This is not a rhetorical question, but new invasive products that allow us to get up close and personal with our bodies are becoming more and more popular. As we get closer, we all need to start taking it seriously.

I found myself ready to go very I’m far from discovering the inner workings of biology when I find myself wearing a blood glucose meter on my arm Sunday morning. It was just the beginning of a personalized nutrition plan by the company.

Already a huge success in the US, Zoe’s program recently launched in the UK, creating a waiting list of 250,000 people. But what about the plan that made me, screaming during blood tests, jump at the chance to wear the sensor for two weeks? And, crucially, did I learn anything important?

What is Zoe and what happens in the Zoe plan?

As the healthcare industry realizes that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, more and more programs are offering personalized health advice. Zoe is just one of them.

It is the brainchild of Professor Tim Spector, Department of Genetics and Epidemiology, King’s College London. As head of a well-known study of twins, he noticed that even though twins carry the same genes, they respond quite differently to food. It opened the door for him to discover how it affects our metabolism and gut health.

Health is becoming more personalized

In a world where news headlines often enforce static rules about health and wellbeing (“low carb is best”, “intermittent fasting required”), Zoe tests and tracks your individual biology. designed to provide a wide variety of unique templates. Foods that are most beneficial to your body. It’s also a scientific study, and participant data is used in the world’s largest in-depth nutrition study to not only improve individual health, but also to develop a better understanding of nutrition in populations. Previously, a study of 953 participants found that earlier bedtime was associated with healthier blood sugar levels.

That message drove me crazy. I have long believed that health is personal and that there is no single best way to take care of our bodies. It was virtually impossible to amass data about how it worked inside. It is to make it possible to check whether the

The Zoe Program: How To Achieve The Best Diet For You

Blood sugar test

It starts with a blood glucose sensor that links to an app that tracks your glucose response day and night. I feel conflicted about using this system. Nevertheless, I watch my blood sugar levels peak and fall around meals.

Checking intestinal flora

On the second day of testing, a stool sample will be collected and sent to the laboratory. This is to see what kinds of bacteria are busy making a home in your gut. When done together, the results are more detailed and more affordable.

Know how to handle carbohydrates, proteins and fats

There are more tests on days 3 and 4, but these are a little more unusual. Zoe offers her three packs of muffins. Sadly, you can see how your body responds to different macronutrients in plain cakes made to contain specific profiles of carbs, fats and proteins, rather than preto’s blueberry-flavoured numbers. .

Chloe Gray using a blood glucose sensor
This sensor is similar to what type 1 diabetics typically wear.

No food or drink other than water, black coffee, or tea before eating the first pack of muffins. Inside the box are 3 yellow sponges that must be eaten within 15 minutes. Eating so fast is usually not a feat for me.

After breakfast, I fast for 4 hours before eating muffins for lunch. The muffins are slightly lighter, but still dry and difficult to eat. She also fasts for two hours and then pricks her finger by dripping blood onto a small strip provided by Zoe. If you’re needle-phobic like me, you’ll need to have a partner or friend push the pellet into your skin to draw your blood.

A blood test checks the muffin’s response to fat, while the blood glucose sensor monitors its response to carbohydrates. After that, you can eat and drink normally until the next morning. Another fast for breakfast and a pack of muffins, and finally the muffin challenge was completed.

The sensor will remain on your arm for about a week. In the meantime, you can use the Zoe app to track your meals and get more insight into your reactions to food (skip this part if you feel the tracking triggering). The app is full of lessons, from what the microbiome is to the importance of different food groups, that can be completed in just a few minutes.

zoe app muffin
Muffins are designed to see how well you metabolize fats, proteins and carbohydrates.


Is it weird that I was so nervous opening the email with the results that arrived weeks later? I felt like my content was on the page.

This document details the exact amount of good and bad bacteria in your gut and scores your microbiome compared to others of the same age and gender.

My gut scored 82 which is considered “good” and I felt like I received an A on the exam. I blamed myself for losing points, including not having the parasite Blastocystis. microorganismthis bacterium correlates with high bacterial diversity, but a 2020 study found that it was associated with improved metabolism.

My blood fat reaction was also “good”. This means you can successfully rid your body of fat, improve blood fat control, and reduce dietary inflammation. I have long suspected that my body thrives on high-fat foods.

But when I looked at my blood sugar control results, my self-righteousness wore off. . When I read other women my age tended to be between 52 and 88, I panicked.

My blood sugar chart showed that my glucose levels spiked slower, higher, and lasted longer than the average person. This is important because elevated levels can lead to inflammation, lack of energy, excessive hunger, and ultimately diabetes and heart disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Based on research by Zoe.

What affects carbohydrate and sugar metabolism?

gender and age

I ask Dr. Sarah Berry, head of nutrition at Zoe, what this means to me. “There are many different factors that affect how our bodies respond to carbohydrates. While some things cannot be changed, such as age and gender, there are situational factors that can change the response.” she says.

Times of Day

Studies also suggest that the timing of meals can affect blood sugar levels, with carbohydrates in the morning thought to have less of an impact on blood sugar levels. However, exercising after eating carbohydrates can lessen the effects.

what to eat with carbs

“By combining different foods, you can also reduce the spike. Polyphenols, bioactive nutrients found throughout dark red foods, also lower the glycemic response,” adds Dr. Berry. (In fact, she’s vehemently advised against trying diets like the keto diet.)

blood sugar graph
My blood sugar response is more extreme than average and this could be due to several factors.


i’m still worried why My score is very low, and if there’s anything I’ve done to cause it.”A lot of your blood sugar response is genetic,” Dr. Just know that you are not hostage to your reactions. You can minimize your response to blood sugar levels and the damage caused by those spikes by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.”

Once you get over the shock, turn to the app. Now I’m on Zoe 2.0. This is the second phase of the plan, with a library of foods and recipes all specially ranked for me.

For example, a banana is an amber score of 42. You get points for having a positive impact on your gut health, but lose points for fast-acting carbs that aren’t very good for your blood sugar. Peanut butter (79) and whole grain toast (50 ), my breakfast turns green with a score of 57. how their bodies process carbohydrates and fats; For a balanced day, balance red foods (eat occasionally), amber foods (eat in moderation), and green foods (enjoy regularly).

Are nutritional tests worth it, or is it just another way to monitor our diet?

I love this approach to nutrition. The ability to know how you respond to certain foods really removes society’s message of what is “healthy”. Many so-called “good” foods are “red” on the app However, it turns out that many things considered “unhealthy” should actually be eaten in abundance.

I enjoy connecting food like a jigsaw puzzle and making a plate that makes my body healthy. And this approach proves that adding, rather than restricting, foods is the best route to good health. Adding olive oil to pasta is now flagged as simply adding extra calories, unlike other food tracking apps.

Tracking food all the time isn’t ideal for everyone, especially if you’re prone to anxiety and obsessions when it comes to eating. Let me guide you. When trying something new, curiosity may turn to the app, but you don’t want to be ruled by it.

Is the Zoe program worth the price?

Zoe is an investment, priced at £259.99 for test and results or £299.88 for test and 12 months of app access (£24.99 per month). However, compared to other tests with less information and less scientific backing, I don’t think it’s unreasonable.

You don’t have to have this detailed detail about yourself to be healthy, but I can’t claim it was eye-opening. I learned an important lesson that I could not have learned. I also like that I am currently doing my part in global nutrition research, but that may put some people off.

Let’s be honest, wearing sensors designed for sick people and undergoing all these invasive tests is the ultimate way to monitor your health. But for me, these sheer lengths paid off.

Image: Author himself.Getty