If you’re a fan of your cafeteria’s ‘Mystery Meat Mondays’, and want to know exactly what’s in that ‘meat’ medley so you can make it at home, this test could be for you.
A newly developed urine test can reveal whether you had a fatty steak or lean fish at mealtime, according to a study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. Not only will this give valuable insight to our eating habits, but end ‘dietary dishonesty’ – with the test, there’s objective proof as to whether you’re following your diet regimen, or cutting corners.
The test can also improve the health of people battling diabetes, obesity, or heart disease, the study claims.
Counting calories has always been a difficult, inexact process outside of clinical settings – no one wants to admit what they really eat, or don’t eat, regularly.
Still in its developmental stage, the five-minute urine test identifies biological markers in the pee that are unique to different food groups. At the moment, the test can decipher between red meat, fish and chicken, and provides a pretty accurate count of fat, sugar, fiber, and protein intake, too.
“We’re not at the stage yet where the test can tell us a person ate 15 chips yesterday and two sausages,” said the study’s co-author John Mathers, a professor at the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University in England.
“But it’s on its way.”
In the tests, the researchers documented 60% of people usually under-state their consumption of foods they know are frowned upon, as well as over-reporting on the intake of fruits and vegetables, which always get a gold star from health professionals.
“A major weakness in all nutrition and diet studies is that we have no true measure of what people eat,” commented senior author Gary Frost, a professor at the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London.
Food fibs not only do zero favours for the person lying, it distorts nutrition studies, as well as misguiding doctors trying to treat diseases associated to poor dieting. Doctors can’t help people adjust & modify their diet if they don’t know what they’re really eating.
To create the test, researchers across three universities took 19 volunteers, and had them follow four different diets, from Jamie-Oliver-approved to Olive-Garden-approved.
They created ‘chemical profiles’ for each diet, developing an instant indicator denoting whether someone’s eaten something unhealthy or not. From there, they examined 300 urine samples from a past study, and applying their new test, found it reflective of what the 300 had actually eaten.
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“For the first time, this research offers an objective way of assessing the overall healthiness of people’s diets without all the hassles, biases and errors of recording what we’ve eaten,” Mathers said.
The research team is hopeful their urine test will be available commercially within two years, which would allow users to send their samples to a clinic for proper analysis.