TREND: Nutrition Gets Very Personalized
Tailor-Made Nutrition is Open for (Big) Business
Personalized nutrition is big business—and estimates say the market will reach upward of $11.5 billion by 2025 . This isn’t too surprising given the market for specialty foods aimed at the many emerging “food tribes” (those who exclusively define themselves by following very specific diets, such as paleo, ketogenic and vegan) has exploded in recent years. Just one example: Gluten-free products were virtually nonexistent a decade ago and, in 2017, the global market was valued at over $4.7 billion.
Dozens of companies have emerged to help us personalize our health and nutrition:
In the US, Habit has been around the longest—which means it also has gathered the most data on personalized diets. The company (recently acquired by Viome) is delivering one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market today. How does it work? The test kit comes with DNA swabs, pinpricks for blood samples, a measuring tape, and something called the Habit Challenge Shake to measure how your body processes foods—all of which are done at home. (The company says it will add microbiome testing once it becomes more effective.) Once processed, your personalized report will show you how your body handles carbs, fats and protein and let you know, among other traits, your predisposition for weight gain, caffeine sensitivity and lactose intolerance. Then, it caters to your nutritional needs by delivering personalized recipes (a partnership with AmazonFresh makes ordering ingredients simple), and you can take it to the next level with a dedicated registered dietitian to coach you along. Habit’s app lets you find your food tribe (it literally matches you to similar bio bodies), and a partnership with Fitbit lets customers further track their progress.
At least two start-ups, Israeli-based DayTwo and US-based Viome, are already harnessing microbiome data to drive personalized diets. Research shows that people react differently to the same foods—especially their blood-glucose responses. If untreated, high blood glucose can result in chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The two companies are pulling their data from different microbiome databases, but the results have been promising. And, as we learn more about gut health, expect these two companies to become much more visible in personalized nutrition.
InsideTracker (US) is focused on measuring the 40 biomarkers in your blood that its scientists have determined provide the best indicators of your overall health and then giving you a personal plan to modulate them with diet, supplements, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Nutrigenomix is available in 22 countries and is a start-up from the University of Toronto (Canada) delivering personalized nutrition advice and physical activity recommendations based on genetic profiles.
DNAFit and FitnessGenes (both from the UK) are much more interested in your genetic makeup to determine the most effective workout for you as well as providing nutritional advice to achieve your goal and any supplements that might help.
One of the most exacting personalized health companies is Thorne Research, which has been providing dietary and lifestyle recommendations with nutritional supplement intervention to practitioners for years and works closely with the Mayo Clinic on wellness research. The company has long supplied elite athletes with testing and supplements to enhance their performance and has acquired WellnessFX, a company that has been at the forefront of providing personalized consumer testing and insights. Recently, Thorne announced it will launch Onegevity Health to take personalized nutrition to the next level. Onegevity will provide genetic, microbiome and metabolite tests, as well as new molecular measures of aging and skin health, and will leverage Thorne’s partnership with Drawbridge Health for its expertise in pain-free blood sampling technology.
Forecasting The Future
- More scientific evidence that personalized nutrition really works will bring this trend mainstream—in conjunction with a much lower barrier of entry as testing becomes affordable and easy.
- The emerging science of nutrigenomics—how food affects your genes and how genetic variations affect our reaction to foods—will be propelled forward by tech advances such as real-time biomarker measurement (ingestible sensors, DNA profiles from saliva samples) and Big Data/AI.
- Your smart refrigerator could alert you to the personalized foods you need to buy. More food delivery services will specialize in catering to your exact needs. You could even walk into a restaurant, provide a saliva swab, and be served foods designed to your nutritional needs.