RESEARCHERS in the North East say they can tell what foods people have eaten – and how much – by analysing a person’s urine.
Scientists at Newcastle University have worked in collaboration with a team from Aberystwyth University in Wales to look at how the types of food eaten and the amounts consumed may provide a better understanding into the links of food and diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and dementia.
What people eat has a significant impact upon health and wellbeing but it is often difficult to measure exactly what, and how much, people consume in everyday life – and many find it difficult to record honestly.
By testing urine for the chemical “fingerprints” of different foods, scientists have discovered that it is possible to determine whether individuals are eating healthy diets or not and what impact the food is having on their body.
It is hoped that the study will allow scientists to develop a clearer insight into how certain foods may have the potential to help fight against certain life-threatening illnesses.
The fingerprints the scientists identified are substances called metabolites which are unique to different foodstuffs.
Researchers have so far established metabolites for healthy foods such as raspberries, salmon, broccoli and orange juice and they hope to continue with their study in order to widen their findings out to other food groups.
Prof John Mathers and his team in the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University led the research in the North East.
Sixty people took part in the two-year study.