Nutrition Tech: Digital Nutrition Platforms
Fitness and technology have come together in a marriage of well-being and convenience. This extends now to nutrition that is personalized and digitalized. Technological advances in nutrition enable researchers and healthcare practitioners to build on traditional methods. They then use different assessment tools to give patients the most personalized and appropriate recommendations.
Over 110 million Americans with lifestyle-related diseases struggle to understand what they should and should not eat and how nutrition affects their disease. Nutrigenomics is one area that’s benefitted from technological advancements. Nutrigenomics is the study of how diet and nutrients affect gene expression. The physiological impact of nutrition – both good nutrition and bad – is studied using information gathered from mRNA analysis, proteins, and metabolites. Understanding this correlation is key to better understanding the links between nutrition and diseases. (We discussed nutrigenomics in this previous blog post.)
Some companies, such as Viome, offer services such as analyzing a user’s biochemistry profile to offer personalized diet suggestions. Using gut metatranscriptome and microbiome analysis, Viome applies AI with machine learning to provide personalized nutritional guidelines. Gut microbiome balance results in better digestive health, skin quality, longevity, and brain function.
Companies, like Nutrino, offer matching services such as users and virtual nutritionists. According to their website, Nutrino is a leading provider of nutrition-related data services, analytics, and technologies. The company is building the world’s largest and most adaptable nutrition insights platform.
Companies, such as Rise, design apps that will connect the user with a virtual nutritionist who will then evaluate what a user eats and make recommendations based on this data. The nutritionists are all qualified coaches.
Wearables/Cell Phone Technologies
Nutrition technology also utilizes wearables and mobile phone technologies. These technologies provide a continuous collection and transmittal of biometric data. According to Techopedia, biometric data is “information about a biological organism or set of organisms that is used in biometric analysis. Biometric analysis is the science of analyzing biological organisms or systems and is commonly used to refer to data used in identifying specific biological organisms (mostly humans).”
Dr. James Betts, The Nutrition Society Cuthbertson Medal winner, conducted a study on wearable activity monitors. This study concluded participants who ate breakfast used up more energy during the day with involuntary movement (like fidgeting) than those participants who skipped breakfast.
Mobile phones are being used to record dietary intake and photograph food prior to eating it. This offers an effective way of analyzing diet.
Another nutrition technological advancement is the food scanner. Food scanners provide important nutritional information by reading barcodes that list ingredients and/or the nutritional value of specific types of food. Currently, these scanners can only scan homogenous food (like one piece of meat or cheese) but researchers are hoping to eventually scan more complex types of food such as pizza.
These are only a few nutrition technologies on today’s market. With America’s growing problem with obesity, plus the diseases caused by obesity, it’s more important than ever to know and understand the links between your health and your diet. This applies to issues such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and even brain function. With the surge of interest in nutrition technology, this is one trend that will be sticking around for a while!
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