Would you like to check that your diet is healthy and is a good fit with your metabolism? Well, Imperial College London scientists, in collaboration with two universities in the US, Northwestern and Illinois, and Murdoch in Australia, have come up with a five-minute test that can give you the answers. All it involves is a specimen of urine. As a bonus the test could also furnish you with your unique urine “fingerprint” says Kate Wighton, Communications and Public Affairs at Imperial College London. That’s a rather novel idea – and it could have applications in medicine and law.
The fingerprint is in the form of 46 different metabolites excreted by the kidney and was examined in the urine of 1,848 people in the US. Metabolites are the waste products from metabolism of carbs, protein, fats and sugars. By measuring metabolites in your urine, scientists can get a good idea of what you’ve eaten and assess whether it’s good for you.
For instance, the researchers found certain metabolites correlated with alcohol intake, while others were linked to eating citrus fruit, fructose (fruit sugar), glucose and vitamin C. Others were indicative of meat, chicken and calcium, and some were linked to conditions like obesity and high blood pressure. The urine can also be tested for proteins that might indicate disease.
Dr Joram Posma, author of the research from Imperial’s Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction said: “Diet is a key contributor to human health and disease, though it is notoriously difficult to measure accurately as it relies on an individual’s ability to recall what and how much they ate. For instance, asking people to track diets through apps or diaries can lead to inaccurate reports about what they eat. This research reveals this technology can help provide in-depth information on the quality of a person’s diet, and whether it is the right type of diet for their biological make-up.”
Professor Paul Elliott, study co-author and Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine at Imperial said: “Through careful measurement of people’s diets and urine excreted over two 24-hour periods, we were able to establish links between dietary inputs and urinary output of metabolites that may help improve understanding of how our diets affect health. Healthful diets have a different pattern of metabolites in the urine than those associated with worse health outcomes.”
I can see this kind of urine test becoming a standard part of health check-ups in the future.