Kroger Health makes deeper exploration into ‘food as medicine’

Registered dietitians to participate in clinical research on gut microbiome and impact of nutrition coaching on diet and well-being.
Kroger Health-Telenutrition service
Participants in the gut microbiome study receive personalized nutrition coaching from Kroger Health registered dietitians via its Telenutrition service. / Photo courtesy of Kroger

Kroger Health, the health care arm of The Kroger Co., is taking a further exploration of “food as medicine” by participating in a gut microbiome study with biotech firm Persephone Biosciences.

Dubbed “Ambrosia,” the clinical research study aims to determine how diet quality, food characteristics and lifestyle factors impact people’s gut microbiomes, or the environment of microorganisms that live in the digestive system and influence gut and overall health. The study also aims to assess how nutrition coaching can impact diet and help individuals meet their wellness goals.

Plans call for Kroger Health registered dietitians to provide the personalized nutrition coaching to study participants via Telenutrition, Kroger’s virtual dietitian service. Study objectives include the evaluation of diet quality changes among participants due to nutrition coaching, achievement of individual nutrition goals and changes in participants’ gut microbiome composition.

San Diego-based Persephone Biosciences, which announced the study earlier this month, said the research is expected to run for 9-12 months and will explore the impact of a food-as-medicine approach to the gut microbiome in 400 participants. Kroger Health is contributing funding and services for Ambrosia.

The study will encompass four investigational cohorts of 100 participants each, including those receiving no directed dietary modifications, serving as the control group;
those receiving one-on-one nutrition coaching online from a Kroger Health dietitian;
those taking daily probiotic and prebiotic dietary supplements; and those receiving nutrition coaching and daily probiotic and prebiotic supplements.
“Kroger Health is excited to work alongside Persephone Biosciences on this innovative clinical trial,” Jim Kirby, chief commercial officer at Kroger Health, said in a statement. “By providing access to our one-on-one virtual nutrition coaching visits with registered dietitians, we aim to contribute valuable insights into the relationship between diet quality and behavior modification on the gut microbiome. I look forward to unlocking new avenues for personalized healthcare and improved well-being for all.”

Persephone noted that the Ambrosia study marks its second collaboration with Kroger Health. In January, Kroger announced the launch of a network of clinical trial sites at selected pharmacies and retail clinics to participate in tests for pharmaceutical industry sponsors, contract research organizations and health systems. At the time, Kroger said its first trial was already under way, as its sites were recruiting for Persephone Biosciences’ “Argonaut” study, which seeks to identify microbiome-based biomarkers that may indicate colorectal cancer.

“We greatly value Kroger Health’s commitment to the Ambrosia study, which we believe will break new ground in assessing the impact of nutrition coaching, as well as probiotic and prebiotic supplements, on a subject’s diet quality and microbiome composition,” commented Stephanie Culler, CEO and co-founder of Persephone Biosciences. “Upon completion, we will have more data to assess the extent to which outcomes are determined by both diet and the human microbiome, as well as the interaction between the two, which we believe will further aid us in trying to solve growing health problems such as allergies, insufficient immunological response and declining overall health.”

Kroger Health has previously delved into the clinical research arena. In April 2022, the company unveiled research that supports its Food as Medicine preventive care approach to driving customer health and wellness. The Kroger Health-funded study with the University of Cincinnati—Supermarket and Web-based Intervention targeting Nutrition (SuperWIN)—found that promoting a heart-healthy diet via nutrition counseling from a registered dietitian improved diet quality and lowered cardiovascular risk. Kroger’s Food as Medicine platform is designed to help consumers make more nutritious food choices to drive overall well-being, prevent illness and aid people with chronic health conditions.



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