NutriExhalomics: online breath test for nutritional characterization
Have you ever considered assessing your nutritional needs by means of breath analysis? Have you ever envisaged using your exhaled breath to assess the impact of nutrition on your metabolism and health or to monitor adaptions of your food/diet composition to deal with specific nutritional needs? Well, over the last decades, many new technologies have been employed in nutrition research to better understand the role of malnutrition, in disease development, as well as to discover the metabolic fate of nutrients. Specifically, recent developments in advanced, high-throughput metabolomics have opened new avenues for nutritional research. Metabolomics tools allow us to measure and quantify hundreds of small molecules in our body affecting our physiology, each with a unique chemical structure in a single measurement. These tools have also been used to better understand and relate the chemical complexity of food to the immediate metabolic response of the organism to food ingestion.
The investigation of human exhaled breath in relation to nutrition and diet (the ‘NutriExhalome’) is of great interest, not only to better understand the impact of nutrition on metabolism but also to facilitate and promote healthy dietary habits and lifestyles based on scientific evidence as well as to accommodate the design of new food products and forms of nutrition. The ETH Zurich and Agroscope utilize human exhaled breath to acquire chemical insights (e.g. biomarkers)related to specific macro/micro nutrients and their impact on human metabolism and in this way to establish a platform towards personalized nutrition suggestions for healthy living and wellbeing. Compared to other body fluids(e.g. blood), breath is a highly attractive and rich source of information with biological and nutritional relevance. It is non-invasive, provides an unlimited sample supply, and does not require any sample preparation allowing real-time measurements.
For our research, we use a highly sensitive and robust technique based on a secondary electrospray ionization (SESI) source coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry (HR-MS) systems. Our approach allows us to qualitatively investigate and quantitatively characterize the molecular composition of the human postprandial breath metabolome in response to the ingestion of specific nutritional challenges containing macronutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.Through this work, we aim to identify new markers of the interaction of food with the human organism, including markers of intake (what was eaten), effect (what is the effect of the food intake on body metabolism) and susceptibility (inter-individual difference in metabolic response to food intake) in human exhaled breath and to follow their postprandial temporal evolution in real-time.Our studies provide multidimensional analytical insights into the effects of nutrition on human health in an objective way providing an in-depth holistic understanding of personalized metabolomics and a scientific approach for the evaluation of the food of tomorrow.