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Dietary Intake Assessment
The new UNC-Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) focuses on using cutting-edge genomic and metabolomic biotechnology to develop innovative approaches to understanding why we are individually different in our metabolism and nutrition needs.
In nutrition we develop diet recommendations by assuming people are average. Some people need more or less of a nutrient optimally, but as a group we are distributed along a bell-shaped curve that describes requirements. Using the average need, we can use math to estimate the spread of needs and say that everyone is protected if we feed an amount of nutrient that covers this spread.
What happens if we are wrong and, though the average requirement is the same, there are genetic or other reasons that subgroups of people are very different in their requirements? Our recommendation would miss the mark for a large number of people. Perhaps this is why nutrition studies so often report conflicting results.
We can identify these different subgroups using modern science - nutrigenomics and metabolomics!