Our science

We are working together with leading scientists and thousands of volunteers – combining large-scale data and machine learning to predict personal nutritional responses to any meal so we can eat with confidence.

What’s a nutritional response?

When it comes to something as personal as food, everyone’s different. So how do you know what’s right for you? The answer lies in understanding your personal nutritional response - how your body breaks down and uses food.

When you eat or drink something, your body converts the fat and sugar (carbohydrates) into energy. This is called metabolism.

How high the levels of fat and sugar in your blood rise after eating or drinking and how quickly they return to normal - your nutritional response - is an important measure of metabolism and health.

Regularly eating meals that trigger an unhealthy nutritional response harms your metabolism, eventually causing long-term weight gain and health problems such as diabetes or heart disease.

Every body is unique

We’re measuring personal nutritional responses in thousands of people - the largest study of its kind in the world.

Here’s how we do it

We use blood tests and stick-on glucose monitors (originally developed for people with diabetes) to see how the levels of chemicals such as fat, insulin and sugar change in each person’s bloodstream after eating a set of identical standardized foods and their own regular meals. We also gather data on activity, sleep, hunger and gut bacteria (microbiome).

We were surprised to discover that nutritional responses to the same foods can be very different between people, even identical twins:

Blood fat and sugar levels for 1000 healthy people after eating the same standardized meal. Every line represents data from one person.

Crunching the data

We’re building machine learning models to figure out what’s going on when people eat specific foods and predict with high accuracy how they’ll respond to any meal. This way we can help them choose the foods that will optimize their metabolism and keep them healthy and feeling good for life.

To find out more read our blog or whitepapers.

Scientists behind the research

We’re working with some of the world’s leading scientists from academic centers including Harvard, Lund (Sweden), Massachusetts General Hospital, Oxford (UK), King’s College London (UK), Tufts and Stanford.

Tim Spector, MD FRCP FRSB

Tim Spector, MD FRCP FRSB

Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London, UK

Sarah Berry, PhD

Sarah Berry, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, King’s College London, UK

Paul Franks, PhD

Paul Franks, PhD

Professor of Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, Lund University, Sweden

Ana Valdes, PhD

Ana Valdes, PhD

Associate Professor, Medicine and Health Sciences University of Nottingham, UK

Nicola Segata, PhD

Nicola Segata, PhD

Associate Professor of Computational Metagenomics, University of Trento, Italy

Andrew T. Chan, MD MPH

Andrew T. Chan, MD MPH

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School & Chief of Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA

Christopher Gardner, PhD

Christopher Gardner, PhD

Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, USA

Jose Ordovas, PhD

Jose Ordovas, PhD

Director, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory, USDA-HNRCA at Tufts University, USA

Linda M Delahanty, MS RDN

Linda M Delahanty, MS RDN

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School, USA

Leanne Hodson, PhD

Leanne Hodson, PhD

Professor of Metabolic Physiology, University of Oxford, UK

Curtis Huttenhower, PhD

Curtis Huttenhower, PhD

Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, USA

Mark McCarthy, PhD

Mark McCarthy, PhD

Professor of Diabetes, University of Oxford, UK

Research Studies

Scientific studies that underpin our work.

Research Study

Predict 1

We measured biological responses to specific foods in 1,100 people over 14 days, measuring blood glucose, insulin and fat levels, activity, inflammation, sleep and gut microbiome diversity.

Study closed
Research Study

Predict 2

An expanded home-based study that opened in June 2019. We’re recruiting 1,200 volunteers across the US, measuring nutritional responses to food over a period of 11 days.

Learn more and apply

Whitepapers and Scientific Presentations

Peer Reviewed Conference Presentation

Postprandial lipemia and CVD Does the magnitude, peak concentration or duration impact intermediary cardiometabolic risk factors differentially? (Presented at FENS 2019)

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View the presentation
Peer Reviewed Conference Presentation

Personal metabolic responses to food predicted: The PREDICT 1 Study. (Presented at FENS 2019)

View the presentation
View the presentation
Whitepaper

Overview of ZOE’s scientific project

Read the whitepaper
Read the whitepaper
Peer Reviewed Conference Presentation

First Research Results, at American Society of Nutrition

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View the presentation

Nutritional Insights made clear

Visit our blog to get the latest news in nutritional science and learn more about our discoveries.

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