Maya Rajasekharan,Senior Advisor, Strategic Program Development at the Alliance, says that food is the single greatest determinant of human health and disease over the course of one’s life, and yet a comprehensive understanding of the composition of what we eat remains unknown. What’s more, unlocking biochemical profiles and bioactive compounds in food opens up new opportunities for human health, sustainable agriculture and better nutrition.
There are over 26,000 distinct, definable biochemicals in food, but food composition databases and research are focused only on about 150 of those, so there’s still a lot of “nutritional dark matter” that composes the food we eat every day.
In the paper, Foodomics: A Data-Driven Approach to Revolutionize Nutrition and Sustainable Diets, published in May 2022, researchers outline the potential of “Foodomics,” the application of omics-technology to characterize and quantify biomolecules to improve wellbeing.
Foodomics is the discipline of studying food and nutrition through the application of advanced omics technologies like genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics.
They also outline the underpinnings and first fruits of the Periodic Table of Food Initiative, which aims to develop and use low-cost mass spectrometry kits, cloud-based analytical tools, and a public, quantitative and qualitative analysis database of the most important foods around the world.
“Today, targeted analysis of a complete set of nutrients in a food is an expensive undertaking, with costs as high as US$ 50,000 for regulatory assays,” Rajasekharan said, “New analytical technologies can drive down the cost of analysis, the same way as the cost of genomic analysis dropped with advanced technologies.”
Lower cost foodomics tools will open up new opportunities including democratization of technologies for wider use around the world. Rajasekharan says: “Creating the next generation of a global comprehensive food composition database will open up new research fields linking agriculture, nutrition and health,”