As many a person knows, keeping track of what you eat day in day is terribly hard. For people trying to lose weight, and their doctors in particular, this can be a major issue. But now researchers have developed a simple test that can reveal how healthy your diet is, and all they need is a sample of your pee.
The team of scientists managed to develop a five-minute analysis that looks for particular proteins found in various foods, which are also excreted in the urine. But impressively, the test is not only limited to being able to discern whether a patient has been eating red meat, chicken, fish, fruit, and vegetables. Analysis of the pee can also give indications of how much fat, sugar, fiber, and protein a person has been consuming.
This could give doctors invaluable information about their patients. People are notoriously bad at self-reporting how much they eat. The researchers note how previous studies have found that around 60 percent of people either under-reported or over-reported their intake, with the majority falling into the former group. This new test could give an independent insight into people’s diets and allow the doctors to monitor it over time.
The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, took 19 volunteers and made them eat differing diets that ranged from the very healthy to the very unhealthy, over a period of three days. During this period, they took urine samples every morning, afternoon, and evening, and then tested them for a variety of compounds produced as the body breaks down various foods. From this, they created profiles of what levels of these compounds are found in healthy, balanced diets.
They then took this data and tested how accurate it was. They looked at two previous studies that took urine samples from a total of 291 participants who also recorded their daily diet. Analysis of these samples, and then comparisons of the urine profiles they had previously created, allowed the researchers to accurately predict the diets of all the participants.
But their work is not quite done. “We need to develop the test further so we can monitor the diet based on a single urine sample, as well as increase the sensitivity,” said co-author Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez of Imperial College London in a statement. “We're not at the stage yet where the test can tell us a person ate 15 chips yesterday and two sausages, but it's on the way.”
They hope that within two years they may have a test that provides a tool to personally monitor an individual’s diet, something that could have a profound impact on efforts to reduce the soaring obesity and diabetes rates around the globe.