Usually, we think of urine samples as something you give your doctor to test for deficiencies or infections. But now, a urine sample can test another part of your health and well-being: your diet.
The five-minute test, developed by researchers at Imperial College London, Newcastle University, and Aberystwyth University, can test for fat, sugar, fiber, and protein in urine samples to determine how much of the respective nutrients a person has (or has not) eaten. The test can also tell whether a person is eating red meat, chicken, fish, and fruits and vegetables.
The test is still being developed, but it could be used in the future to track diets for weight-loss programs or to track patients who need to adhere to a specific, rehabilitative diet, according to a press release. This method would give a more accurate readout than a diet diary, as people tend to misremember or fib when they record their diets, research suggests.
In a study published last week, 19 volunteers were assessed over four three-day periods. The participants were given different diets and then the researchers tested their urine for hundreds of compounds, called metabolites, which are produced when certain foods are broken down in the body. The study proved that the urine test could indeed identify characteristics of a particular diet.
"We are hoping to make this test available to the public within the next two years. The idea would be to collect a urine sample at home and deliver it to a local center for analysis,” said Elaine Holmes, professor at Imperial College London and co-author of the study. “We envisage the tool being used by dieticians to help guide their patients' dietary needs, or even by individuals who are interested in finding out more about the relationship between diet and their health.”