Lim Siew Pei

Bachelor of Nursing (First Class Honors)
Post-basic Certificate in Intensive Care Nursing
Certified HRD Trainer



Precision Nutrition and The Elderly

Precision nutrition is also known as personalised nutrition and is part of holistic health practices. Rather than using a generally healthy diet guideline, the basic concept of precision nutrition is that diet should be planned on a case-by-case basis. It is said so because each individual has varying biochemical profiles, metabolism, genetics and gut microbiota composition. Therefore, a general diet approach cannot be applied to everyone. Fortunately, we have some good news, and remarkable progress has been made over the last few decades in understanding how precision nutrition helps with chronic diseases in the elderly.


What are the principles of precision nutrition?

Precision nutrition principles, generally known as “Precision Nutrition Plate”, involve the field of nutrigenomics, microbiota, metabolomics, deep phenotyping, dietary habits, food behaviour and physical activity. Therefore, precision nutrition is assessed by evaluating one’s DNA, microbiome, and metabolic response to specific foods or dietary patterns.


So, you may seem unfamiliar terms above, let’s explain to you

Nutrigenomics: It is the study involves the effects of nutrients on the expression of an individual’s genetic composition


Metabolomics: The study involved metabolites such as pigment or antibiotics that react within the body.


Deep phenotyping: It helps us to gather about clinical manifestation in an individualized and finer-tune way.


What are common diseases related to nutrition in the elderly?


Poor digestion

As people get older, the properties of saliva secretion change, which may lead to a change in taste and the food may taste bland. So, the food they used to love to eat may not taste as delicious as before, and they will lose interest in eating. In addition, the ageing tooth problem among the elderly may also contribute to their reduced nutrient intake, resulting in muscle loss and body weakening. Also, elderly with age-associated chronic disorders may experience higher oxidative stress and disruption of their gut health. Gut dysbiosis may ultimately contribute to indigestion, as there is a lack of gut bacteria to process the food consumed. With so many potential root causes of indigestion and malnourishment among older patients, it’s essential to prescribe well-balanced diet plans for the elderly. For instance, not only can precision nutrition advise the elderly to take appropriate amounts of macro and micronutrients, but also the form of food in consideration, for example, liquid nourishment, to tackle their indigestion issues more effectively.


Poor sleep

Studies showed circadian cycle may be interrupted by metabolism and nutrition in the elderly. Strong evidence exists for a bidirectional relationship between nutrition and sleep disorders, including sleep fragmentation, difficulty falling asleep, and early morning awakening. Poor sleep also influences one’s dietary choices and meal timing. For example, gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the most common digestive disorder in the elderly. This pathologic acid reflux with a variety of discomfort always leads to frequent awakenings. So, nutritional and behavioral modification is vital from the perspective of precision medicine. The patients need to adjust their lifestyle by avoiding fat-rich food or caffeine drinks and neuro-nutrient therapy can also help tackle the sleep problems. For example, sufficient intake of serotonin and Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to maintain the cascade of neuro signaling and promote sleep duration and quality.


The Three Highs: Hypertension, Diabetes, Hyperlipidemia

These “three highs” are commonly seen in the elderly and affect their daily lives tremendously. They are multifactorial and multi-genetic diseases involving genes, hormones, gut disruption, and nutrition. Salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. This most common flavoring in our diet is one of the diet factors that contribute to high blood pressure. Added sugar is strongly linked to insulin insensitivity and the development of diabetes, while saturated fat causes hyperlipidemia. From the view of precision nutrition, what you eat and your genes interact interchangeably, which causes metabolic syndromes to occur. In a study, scientists tested two different carbohydrates in persons with metabolic syndrome; one group ate a low glycemic index diet while another one ate a high glycemic index diet. The result shows the group who eat a low glycemic index diet can downregulate insulin signaling genes and promote insulin sensitivity.



Food is one of the most important elements for a life to live well. A healthy diet can protect you against chronic uncommunicable disease. As we know, nutritional requisites and medical history vary for different individuals. Precision medicine, just like its name, can accurately determine one’s nutritional status and optimize holistic health. So, it is essential to find a certified nutritional medicine practitioner before you want to seek professional advice. Also, if you want to know more about elderly wellness, integrative health or complementary health, please click here. And if you have any further enquiries, please get in touch with us at The Institute of complementary and traditional medicine team is always here and ready to help you.

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