Mariette Abrahams on Longevity with Insidetracker
Our CEO Mariette Abrahams was recently interviewed on the "Longevity by design" podcast hosted by Dr Gil Blander from Insidetracker.
We discussed how Personalised nutrition plays such a critical role to improve and increase health span and lifespan.
As Longevity is increasingly a focus for companies in digital health, it is important that any interventions are rooted in the science.
To watch the full episode, click on the video below
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Title: Dr Mariette Abrahams Personalized Nutrition for Health Changes
Description: In this episode of Longevity by Design, our hosts, Dr. Gil Blander and Ashley Reaver, MS, RD, CSS.
53 min read (10540 Words)
1 - 0:00:01
Welcome to longevity by design, A podcast designed to give individuals access to the leading scientific information in the field of longevity. The ability to add years to your life and life to your years needs no opinion. Join us as we ask science to take the wheel and each episode. Doctor Gil Blander joins a co-host and an industry expert in the field of longevity. Shining a light and getting the answers to the key question, how can we live a longer? Healthier life
2 - 0:00:35
Hello I'm Ashley River and I'm joined by Doctor Gil blander. Welcome to longevity by design. How to live a longer, healthier life for produced by Inside Tracker? Your science based guide to optimizing your body from the inside out. Our guest today is Doctor Mariette Abrahams Mariette Abrahams has a PhD in personalized nutrition and MBA and is a registered dietitian as well as the founder of the company Keena. A hub for insights on personalized nutrition. Doctor Abrahams aims to bridge the gap between academia, research industry and frontline health professionals. She develops personalized nutrition products services and platforms that are evidence based, representative, equitable and ethical for individuals to take charge of their health. Thank you so much for being here today.
3 - 0:01:27
Thank you, thank you very much. I'm very honoured.
4 - 0:01:32
So, Mariette, it's a. It's a big pleasure to have you with us today, and we have a history of interaction in a lot of conference around the personalized nutrition. And I always admire your knowledge and the connection and understanding of personalized nutrition. But maybe let's start from the beginning and you have a very interesting academic background. You have an MBA Rd PhD. So what is inspire you to spend so much time in learning and becoming an Rd PhD and MBA?
3 - 0:02:12
Yeah, I think it's very interesting because I'm always a lifelong learner so I'm never happy with what I know and I always think you know there should be something new. This there should be like a new way of doing things or a new way of seeing things. So I guess my initial interest was always in kind of health. Nutrition and it's not by any means influenced by my family. My family was not, you know, health conscious or health genetics or you know, self quantified or anything like that. But I guess I always knew that I was, you know, very sporty. I loved the way that I felt when I was healthy and what I was eating. And I I made that connection very early on. And so when I was finishing high school, you know I didn't really know what to do. And the career counselor said, well, you always like so healthy and you're always so interested in nutrition.
3 - 0:02:32
Is this course called Dietetics and I've never heard of it before and so I did it and and then even then. So this was in South Africa. I believe that you know. I then had the skills and the knowledge to then apply it in practice. But of course it was very much focused on Clinical Nutrition, medical nutrition and so I ended up working in the clinical field specializing in more nutrition support worked in in in the NHS and in London for many years, many.
3 - 0:03:02
Eight years, but I was I was. I was a bit. I was a bit unhappy. I was a bit unhappy about the status quo and I knew when I started in the hospital. You know this. I'm not going to do this for the rest of my life. I need to do something else, but I wasn't passionate about any one particular area that I thought right. I'm going to specialize do PhD and I thought no. I need to diversify and that's when I started in clinical. I automatically. I think it was a year after I started an MBA and I thought I need something to diversify.
3 - 0:03:33
My skill set, the way of seeing the world, something that I can add on top of my clinical skills. And so I did that and then it it just naturally led me to a role in industry in medical and scientific affairs for specialized medical nutrition product and that gave me insight into industry and then this whole area of technology open up and and that was kind of the bulb for me. Kind of. We spent so much time working on sickness and helping people with products to manage their disease. What have we just used technology to enable people and educate people, inform people much earlier on in terms of prevention, and that's where the switch really happened, and I thought this. This is and and then and then it was, oh oh, it's called personalized nutrition or it's called tech enabled personalized nutrition. And that's where it started. And so that was around 2012. So as you know at that time.
3 - 0:04:32
There wasn't really much happening in personalized nutrition. And I thought you know what? This is going to take some time. I need to bide my time. Industry startup takes off and so although I say my PhD was in personalized nutrition, it was really around combining. How do we get the science and this new technology and empower the frontline healthcare practitioners to integrate these new new technologies and open up this new way of thinking and and focus on prevention and leveraging what we have and what's coming in this new era? And that's really so it was a mixture between psychology and business.
3 - 0:05:15
And and healthcare practitioners so it so I I I did my own thesis. Yeah, I devised my own thesis. It wasn't given to me, and so that's so that rebel in me is always the one that drives me to doing new things in a new way and learning new knowledge. And so there's so much more to come. But that's that's what got me here.
4 - 0:06:08
Interesting, and on top of the interesting background academic wise you also if you were looking at geographical wise you are also have been traveling around and coming from different continents and different countries. Can you be discuss the parts of the geographical parts of your life?
3 - 0:06:30
Yeah, that's an interesting one, and I don't actually remember telling you this, but when I was born. In the 70s I was an apartheid baby, so my father was a, you know, an activist and he was one of the people who, together with Alan Buszak Desmond Tutu. All these leaders fontella all these leaders were against apartheid, and so it was a time when I was four years old where the where basically he was told you need to leave the country or your families at risk. And so that's basically what happens. So we left at that time the European Government sponsored, you know, education and and we were basically refugees, so so you can imagine that from four I was not really in South Africa or a South African, and so that meant my whole childhood was spent in Europe and then by the age of 12 my dad finished his pH. D. And so we went back to South Africa and because it was still segregated then I was like what is this? What is what is the segregated schools?
3 - 0:07:08
That couldn't continue with gymnastics. I couldn't continue with music and, you know, we have to live outside. It was such a huge change and I said as soon as I finish studying, I'm getting out of here. I'm leaving on, you know, and so and that's what I did. So I always had this nomad, you know, vibe in me that I'm, I'm happy wherever and my home is wherever I am happy and right now it's in Portugal.
4 - 0:08:08
Cool, that's that's very interesting and going back a a bit back. So when you finish school, you worked at an NHS in the UK and also at Nestle. So can you describe what have you done there?
3 - 0:08:23
Yeah, so in the world in the NHS I was specializing in gastroenterology, so my pure focus was on Crohn's disease. I was fascinated by Crohn's disease and at that time that is what really sparked that neurogenetic. Aspect because at that time it just came out that what is this? What is this thing? Is it genetics that some people flare up more than others? Is it that you know the environmental component that people who move to the UK? You know? Third generation, they flare up more than those? How? Why do some people respond to a liquid diet that we were given at that time for six weeks and other people just didn't and we needed to change? You know? So all these different you know aspects of Crohn's disease was fascinating to me, so it was really around gastroenterology and intensive care.
3 - 0:08:38
Nutrition support in in ICU and I was in charge of the nutrition team, so that meant that right from the beginning we always worked as a multidisciplinary team. So whether it was with the surgeons with the gastroenterologist, you know, with the biochemical pathologists and so we had a real. I always had a real good understanding of you know nobody can know it all and nobody can achieve success on their own. You know if you were going to help a person, you need to take the person 1st and then understand how can the team help. So that was fascinating. And then I moved to Nestle.
3 - 0:09:09
Which was really around. So the product that we use in the hospital was modular and so when I went to Nestle that this is what I was responsible for for modelling peptamen. So it was a natural move for me into that role and so that was really educating, you know, was consultants in the hospital was a specialist dieticians, was it? You know, specialist nurses. For example, about you know the the the existence of the products but also how to integrate it into practice not only as in here's the product, but here is a program.
3 - 0:09:40
To use, you know, a liquid diet as part of a treatment option for people who wanted it because it was used very much in Pediatrics, but it wasn't so much used in in the adult care, so it was really about. Yeah, it was about education, but it was also about working with the team in Lausanne, you know, for new product development and kind of because at that stage the use of liquid diets in Crohn's disease was way advanced in the UK in comparison to other countries around the world. So we were very much the kind of you know focal point. I would say with the teaching point and that's what was my responsibility.
2 - 0:10:46
You say peptamen. I'm getting flashbacks to my Dietetic internship because I never worked in clinical. I knew that that wasn't my my path. Unfortunately, it came to inside tracker pretty early in my career, but that was funny. I hadn't thought of Peptamen in a very long time.
3 - 0:11:01
Yeah, yeah and yeah. Go ahead. No, no, no. I was gonna say it's it's. It's interesting because I think in dietetics you learn so much. And then when you get to the actual real world, you know things change and you realize that actually it, while it while you should do things on paper, it's not what happens in practice because there are so many other factors that go. I didn't have to really talk to a surgeon, you know I didn't really have to think about contracts in a hospital. I didn't have to think about so many things, but when you get into the real life, things change and this is probably why you know my.
3 - 0:11:16
Dream was to become a clinical dietitian and then when I got there, I was like, yeah, one no, no, no. I'm I need to. I need to work on my exit strategy. But I still love it because I wouldn't have also had the knowledge and insights that I have now if I didn't have that as eight years in clinical practice because it helps you to understand not only the system, but also how people with its patients or consumers behave and think about, you know from prevention. All the way to now that I'm laying in hospital, what could I have done differently or how can I prepare any for my family to do stuff differently and so it has given me? I feel a very, very well rounded experience.
2 - 0:12:31
And you also have some public health experience. Can you tell us about your work in that area of dietetics?
3 - 0:12:40
Well, I I wouldn't say public health as such. I would say right now it would be more around how can we work and collaborate with industry as and bring in the healthcare professionals in a different way in terms of public health. It's not so much you know, public health messaging I would say, but I think we are in a new age and a new stage of how public health is delivered and should be delivered and how. Beyond a different era with in terms of technology that we can use these tools now to bring about public health changes. And that's where but public health per se, I haven't been involved. I've gone straight clinical to industry and now consulting. I would say for the last for the last 10 years.
2 - 0:13:31
OK, let's see. And also I think it's interesting to get your perspective on the food systems all over the world. Since you've been participating in in some way. Food systems from a lot of different areas that shifted tremendously over the past 100 years from, you know, just a focus on feeding the population to now trying to look at food quality. What do you think has contributed to this shift?
3 - 0:13:57
Yeah, I think I think people or consumers have now, you know, realized, and I think the COVID pandemic has really sparked a change in people in that you know food is more than just, you know comfort and your happiness and your family and your culture. It's it's actually such a pivotal role in your actual health and we didn't really have that before. And I think now people have made the connection. But whatever. I eat actually impacts my health. And my mood, and my gut and my immune system and and so all of a sudden people are paying much more attention to what they're putting into their bodies, what they are buying, how they are cooking things, and so that's influenced what people are buying. Yeah, so people are spending time in the aisles or spending time comparing, you know, ingredient lists and what the family is cooking or what. What my friends are buying as well, and so that has really caused the shift not only in terms of what is in the food, but also where it's coming from. How it's how it's made and what is the impact of what I choose on the planet, and so that is really influenced. You know, I would say the interest and awareness in going more plant based. We've seen a all of a sudden a spike in people you know eating more fruit and veg during COVID and now all of a sudden with food security insecurity. You know with the food. In fact it's the first thing that's going again, so we can see that whatever is happening around the globe.
3 - 0:14:58
This influencing how we personalize our own diets. You know, on a day to day level, and so whether that then influences how we think about how it impacts our health is is then another level because we choose the foods that we can afford. But then we also want to choose the foods that have a direct impact on our health and then we choose the foods that we know will impact us in the long term as well so we can prevent disease and prevent you know complications of prevent symptoms so. I think that's another thing that has shifted in me, and because I was very much in medical nutrition. Yeah, so take the stanols, you know, eat the eat the legumes you know, reduce saturated fat. But now I think about it differently. Now I think about.
3 - 0:15:58
How does that translate? We used to give lists of foods to buy in the shop. You know when people come into clinic, it's not practical. I'm thinking why did we do that? It doesn't work because people don't eat a list. You know, people don't eat ingredients people want to know. How can I make this practical? How can I influence this in terms of a meal that my children will actually not cry about? You know, when I serve it at dinner time, so it's now. I think we are now at a stage where there's this gradual.
3 - 0:16:15
Shift in terms of OK, I all of a sudden became aware and now all of a sudden make major shifts and now actually now I need to now come to a level to the middle ground. What is going to work for me? What can I sustain in the long term to to work for the planet and work for my health as well? And that's what's currently influencing the food systems to to force them from consumer driven? You know, for it to be healthier and and and definitely more personalized.
4 - 0:17:13
So before we go married, before will go to personalized nutrition. I heard you talking numerous time and I've seen the your passion for helping the underserved under. Subpopulation that they have some issues. Yeah people in color and they also. Women versus males and so on. Can you describe it a bit and how? What are the gap and the why? The food is mainly designed and prepare for white males. And how can we change it?
3 - 0:17:51
Yes yes yes, and I think it's a topic. Yes that I'm very passionate about because I see that things are not really improving at the rate that we would like to see it improve and it's historically. It's not a. It's not a new thing. We've known this for a long time, but now we have the research and the data to back it up and and and that's the way it comes in. So people are more informed now. So the problem that we are having is we are now starting to I guess recommend you know specific foods or specific functional foods, but we don't have and that's as a blanket to improve X or to improve Y, whereas we don't really have the research to back up that this works in. Minority population or specific racial groups because they just haven't been included in the studies in the 1st place, and that goes for food. Or it goes for medication. And so unless we include and have representative groups from the foods that they are actually eating, we can't even start to to build algorithms to to give a personalized recommendations. That's the one thing. The other thing is that we've always come from a point of. Well, let us tell you what is healthy.
3 - 0:18:35
Based on what we think is healthy, because ethnic foods are not healthy or the way you prepare foods are not healthy or the way you are cultural. You know cuisine is is not healthy and so unless we change that perception of what are you eating, what is available in your, you know in your environment. What are the social determinants that determine you know that influence how you choose foods. We are not going to ever get to this point where we are really making it more. Accessible and making you know personalized nutrition more available. And so there is already this this, this, this mistrust in in science this mistrust in research. And so unless we have our own researchers research that issues that are really pertinent to our health. You know whether it's cancer, whether it's the increased risk of diabetes, whether it's the increased risk of kidney disease, whether it's the higher rates of you know cancer for example, these are things that are pertinent.
3 - 0:19:37
But unless we understand what are the cultural roots of how we choose foods, what are the implications of how foods are prepared and how we can start with where these groups are at? Then we can change and so I fundamentally feel that if we're going to change the system if we're going to make a solutions that really impact the people that need it the most we need to start where the people are. And that starts with research that starts with doing research that is relevant to the groups that needed the most, but also not doing research in the centers that you know, come to us and then we will tell you what you should be doing. No, it needs to be out where the people are using and leveraging technologies that are currently being used so that we can get the data that is represented and then we can start involving more and more. You know educators you know, policy, academia, more front.
3 - 0:20:38
On healthcare practitioners to really make it more accessible and affordable and equitable with using the science that they can trust. Because at the moment it's just not.
2 - 0:21:22
Yeah, it's incredibly interesting. I think incredibly important to broaden the conversation as well.
3 - 0:21:27
Of who has who has?
2 - 0:21:29
Access to personalized nutrition right now. It's a very small group of people.
3 - 0:21:36
Yeah yeah, and I mean I think was just this week. Last week. The FDA is written guidelines now or draft guide just to increase the diversity because. Yes, there is a. There is a group that's included, but it could be 5%. You know of the total starting or could be 3%. So yes we did it, but it's it's not really representative, you know? So? So we let's be honest, this is where it's at, and so we need. We need the regulators to step in and we need to say, you know, put a quota on it, you know, put a number, put the put the regulation in it, put, put some oomph behind it because otherwise, like you know, I don't want to say Black Lives Matter.
3 - 0:21:49
We just see this this black washing of photographs. Everybody's putting a black girl black people. I mean that's not what it's about. If you are are truly standing behind inclusion and diversity, you need to put your money where your where it really counts. And that means in research. Giving the money to the people who need it who want to research and and really make an impact. And that's that's how we're going to affect change.
2 - 0:22:47
Absolutely well, and I'd love to continue that conversation of what your definition of personalized nutrition is, because it sounds like it's probably a bit more expansive than we've talked about. Even on the podcast so far. So can you explain kind of the basis behind it? How you define it, why it is really truly personal?
3 - 0:23:07
Yes yes yes, and I think this is even in personalized nutrition. I think you know there is a slight. There's a slight difference in terms of how we define it for me as somebody who's trained in nutrition and dietetics. For me it's quite quite personal, so for me it's about how do you provide actionable advice that is relevant to the individual that has an outcome, but that outcome can be a health outcome, but it can also be a behavioral outcome and so the. To me, the personalization can be anything from, you know, prevention, providing that personalized advice from prevention, how you can prevent, you know a disease or improve your health all the way to medical nutrition where you already have the condition and now we need the you know the specialized product to help you to, you know, improve the the the the condition or reduce the symptoms or improve your biomarkers and so for me, personalized nutrition is on a wide spectrum. It can be based all the way from taste. To lifestyle, you know, to to cultural, to religious, all the way up to the omex, but it needs to be relevant to the individual and it needs to be actionable by the individual. Yeah, so it's not just about again giving the list, but does that person did you meet? Did you provide the information and the advice that is relevant to that person so that they are enabled now and empowered to make those changes? And that's what it's about.
4 - 0:24:36
So Maria, there are a lot of product currently in the market that using personalized nutrition starting from questionnaire to looking at the microbiome, blood biomarker and so on. So in your opinion, what is the right mix and what is the? Yeah, where are we today and what is your opinion about a person's nutrition and the inputs that basically help the algorithm or the person to make the decision?
3 - 0:25:10
Yeah yeah, and I think this is very important because I think some people think. Well, you need to automatically have like you need to have a microbiome test, so you need to have a blood test and I don't. I don't think that's the case because I think where people are the majority of people just want to know what little thing can I do today? To to at least feel that I'm working towards a healthier life. Does that mean I just learn how to increase my fiber intake? Yeah, with what I'm already doing. What can I do practically, you know, does it mean I need to eat 2 apples a day? Can I just do that and keep that up? I think that's already personalization, so there's a group and I think this is the majority of people want to improve their lifestyle. They just want to eat healthier. They're not necessarily worried if.
3 - 0:25:28
You know their diversity, their microbiome diversity has improved by 30 points, and they're not interested. All they want to know is what can I do today? And in that that's not gonna require a lot of behavior, change and impact my life too much just so I know that I'm doing something for myself today. That's where I think the majority of people are right now. And I think in terms of what we have internal solutions at the moment is we see a lot of rapid growth in these solutions that help people shop better that guide them towards healthier options in the store. And I think that's great. And I already think that's personalization. Yeah, I think the people that I'd have higher levels of health literacy, food literacy awareness of the impact of you know, food and food composition, nutritional analysis. They would be at the level where maybe we have the.
3 - 0:26:19
The blood biomarkers. Yeah, so they they can relatively know. OK, this is what I need to check for and see what impact that has. Yeah, and I think. With that we see a lot of people now being way more interested because it really comes driven from them because they want to know their vitamin D level. But the doctor doesn't want to check the vitamin D because.
2 - 0:27:09
3 - 0:27:10
You know? I'm not getting.
4 - 0:27:12
Too expensive, it's too expensive that's.
3 - 0:27:14
Why they don't wanna do it? So people say, well, actually I know that it's important. I've read that it's important I continuously see that's important. So now I want to know what it is. So that's where personally so I think there is. You know, there's a gap, there's a. There's a, there's a there's solutions for people who want to know that and I think that's great as well. But I think we also need to be very careful in terms of. What is what is medical nutrition and and and what is really Wellness and informational vitamin D to me is is informational. Yeah where are you at that level? That's great, whatever. When we get to things like cholesterol or liver function tests then I get a bit nervous and that comes from my my clinical backgrounds like I don't really think you should have that without any healthcare professional interpreting that for you explaining that for you just just should just it should just be freely available. I I don't I that I and so I do think there's a level where maybe the regulation or there should be a bit more control in terms of yes, Wellness is good.
3 - 0:28:09
But when it gets more complicated and they actually needs to be more contextual information about your family history or how you interpret that, then you need. Then you need a healthcare professional and I don't think doctor Google can do that for you and and so so so there is a distinction with that, and we we definitely need to have better. Better control or or or or needs to be better controlled, and then I think at the high level they are. I think there's a lot of controversy around microbiome tests as well. In people say it's too early. I do. I do agree that we can't give very specific information about, you know how much you know like cooking should be having or how much vitamin C based on your microbiome test, but I don't actually think for people who are interested is saying did my microbiome diversity improve? You know, I've now slept better. I've now exercised more. I've now improved my diet.
3 - 0:28:47
What did it have any impact? I think data can be powerful for those who want to see if they're on the right track, not to give a detailed magic bullet, but to see, hey, did it make a difference? Because how else would I know? So I think there is a level of difference in terms of the offerings we have right now, but and and we have a different level of transparency in the industry that is for sure, so not everybody's transparent about what science they base it on, you know? What? What is the state of the science? You know, providing those scientific papers and things so, so I think there's a lot of work still to be done, but I think.
3 - 0:29:47
I think it's exciting that we have the option so where we are so where I think where we were is people just wanted to test and report. And then they realized, actually I don't understand what's in this. Yeah, then we got to the stage where. Hey, it needs to be actionable and I need to change my behavior. If I can have all the data that I want, but if I'm not willing to change my behavior not they just are going to mean anything and tracking is not going to mean anything. So now we have this. This wave of all the last few years of unless behavioral change is incorporated into the solution. It's not going to go anywhere and I think where we are going now is, well, it's about prediction. Yeah, it's about, well, we know now this is happening.
3 - 0:30:15
Well, we know we can see that this is happening. How can we prevent you from going down the wrong path? How can we nudge you towards the right direction? How can we non invasively track these biomarkers or get the the data that we can then inform you at the right time what what you need to do in order to prevent XY and Z? And that's where we are heading, but right now I think we now have this awareness and there's a lot of work to be done in terms of behavior change because we don't know what behavior change works from.
3 - 0:30:45
Boom and which combination and in what format and how often and through whom? Because people are at different levels in the in their health journey and so we need to perfect that. And so I think we are at a stage where we have a lot of solutions. We don't technically need more in the industry, but we need to combine them in a better way so that we know this works better for that person and that inspires them to sustain it for a longer period of time because adherence is going to be the key outcome.
4 - 0:31:46
Yeah, I, I think that you you well said it. And actually yesterday Ashley and myself had a session with an expert in behavioral change. A professor from the academia and we are developing a new product and what he said was great. He said it's very hard for me to give you an advice because I'm dealing mainly with the population of people and your clients are not sick people. There are healthy people and I don't know if the tactic that I'm using for sick people who work for the healthy people. So I think that there is a lot to learn and to apply in order to give a good service for healthy people. Yeah, and. And I assume that, but anyway it should be based on science, so I'm 1% agree with you that everything should be based on science. We have a very good scientific community. Again we have some holes there so not everything is perfect, but they are doing a good job and we need to apply the best science in order to allow us to provide the best personalized nutrition. So thank you so much for being one of the leaders in the personalized nutrition domain. That's that's exciting.
3 - 0:32:58
Well, I looked up to you so much. No, it's an exciting. It's an exciting area to be in.
2 - 0:33:10
Yeah, and let's switch to your business so you are the founder of Keena. Can you tell us a bit more about the company and what you are hoping to achieve with Tina?
3 - 0:33:21
Yeah, Qina has been very fascinating such an enriching experience and basically. I'll tell you how it was, how it was conceived, because basically I came with my clinical experience as as you heard, and then I came with my my business experience and then and then I was and I had my industry experience and I said, well, this personalized nutrition industry is really is up and coming. But for me there's a gap, and the gap is is that what I see is that in the in the industry that they are are companies that are very good at the tech and they're companies that are very good at the marketing. But what they didn't have was a very good understanding about what actually happens in the clinic. Like what what guidelines do people use? You know what? How do you? How do you translate the science into actionable information to the individual who's sitting in front of you? And so, to me it wasn't about you know, a Blogger.
3 - 0:33:48
Or, you know, a a guru or something. It was really about if we're going to help people you know, get healthier, we should use the right language with the right science and feed that in, because I feel like you know dietitians have this rich expertise and skills. I think one thing we are trained in very well is to be good listeners and and I think that is missing when you come from a, you know from a very strong marketing background or very tech background because the listening and the communication. Is key because somebody might be telling you something, but I'm they mean something completely differently and that is the the key for the items to pick up and say. Actually, you know, never mind that you are smoking or that you don't exercise. Actually, the fact that you you lost your mother a month ago is it's the emotional part. That's what we need to focus on. It's the behavioral part and so yeah, focus on the things that really matter to the individual and identifying the problems. And I felt that there was a gap in for for for.
3 - 0:34:50
For industry is to leverage those skills and tap into the mind of a dietitian. Now you see everywhere dietitian in your pocket, dietitian in your pocket. But but that's essentially what what they discovered? Yeah, so, So what we want to do is be that that that external nutrition and Dietetic department for companies, and so in the beginning 10 years ago it was very much around providing domain expertise. So you know, the scientific expertise, whether it's you know.
3 - 0:35:20
A specific disease focus, or you know which providing the the literature for you know what? What are those guidelines based on to building products and now 10 years on, it's really shifted to providing strategic advice and market intelligence. Also, because we've been in it so long. So now for us to see the trends of to spot the gaps is actually quite quite natural. It's quite easy, but what we see now is that.
3 - 0:35:50
With technology they they are things that help to make it easy so we don't believe that the dietitian can be replaced, but we do believe that the combination of the Dietetic skills and knowledge can be combined with the understanding of you know the technology and and then offer that as a service to companies. So how we are doing it right now is we are providing the this the the domain expertise as a consultancy service. So that continues. So we do that in terms of innovation projects. For example, helping companies to find partners in the industry, helping to devise you know, project project designs and so that is really exciting because ten years ago people were very risky, yeah, so they're like no, we we don't want any risky. We don't want to risk reputation, we don't. We don't want anything. We don't waste money. 10 years down the line now it's what can we do? Like if we don't do something somebody else is going to do it like we need to try something.
3 - 0:36:46
So we have completely different and now, so now it's very exciting because we can devise these innovative projects without having this limitation and and and you know, restrictions on that and then on the other hand. We have just developed this, so on the one hand we have this platform which is a database of personalized nutrition companies within the industry that people can use. You know, at our advanced search filters to search for companies based on the segment that they're in based on the business model that they have based on the channels that they're selling into based on the languages that they're offering based on the pricing as well. But then we also offer the content so we can then write reports or write articles on personalized or topics within personalities and nutrition that are that are very important. And then we've also now just developed this text analytics solution, because what we find is that people talk a lot about products, you know, food, health, what they are doing online all the time, and so maybe evidence based is then limited. Yeah, because what you are doing in a clinical trial is very much controlled by you know where they are or what they are doing.
3 - 0:38:01
And maybe what they are saying. Yeah, when they are online, they share everything that unrestrained. Yeah, so you can. Maybe so you can get an unfiltered view about what they really think and do and behave and compare that against what the science is. So what we now do is we leverage the text analytics and use text mining and doing topic modeling for example and then identifying what are the things that are people doing online.
3 - 0:38:31
Ring and saying online and comparing that with the science and then putting our nutrition and dietetics hat on and explaining that in a way and say OK. Basically people are behaving in this way because they like XY and Z features. Yeah of this. Maybe this particular product and and the reason why is the science has shown that we are in behavior change. You know these features are good to change X behavior or to influence that behavior and so we can leverage the technologies and combine that with dietetics to then offer a completely new service. So it's.
3 - 0:39:01
And and also innovate new products. So we are looking at it more from a food point of view in terms of you know developing new products as well on how people are solving their problems. You know what are people doing to deal with it? I don't know with their with their blood sugar levels or improving their heart and so there are a lot of opportunities. But for Keena where we want to be is being that hub of data and insights specifically for personalized nutrition.
3 - 0:39:33
And I can add in there as well for for innovation, but we only want to focus on nutrition because it's so wide and you can go so big that you can't be the expert in everything and that's what we realize now. We've definitely gone. I've gone from Crohn's disease, you know. Love to now being more higher level and understanding what is driving what. What is influencing what, in terms of how people use food and nutrition to improve their health.
3 - 0:40:05
And for that we need to know a lot about regulation a lot about. You know social determinants a lot about you know a country level data in terms of health literacy. So there's no way that one thing is going to solve. All the jobs and. I don't know that we ever going to get to 100%.
3 - 0:40:54
Personalization's not in my lifetime. I don't think so, but with a learning mindset we can always work towards it and that's where I think as long as we empower people with where the science is and where it's at and how it's evolving and what we are learning to continuously develop new solutions, that will be that that would be the. The drive for keno.
4 - 0:41:20
Yeah, and to add to that, Mariette. So I'm using your newsletter, the weekly newsletter to get an update on the personalized nutrition or weekly update, and I'm pretty busy, so it's great for me that you are doing all the work and giving me the information. And it's not only on the industry, it's also on the science. So I'm receiving a lot of updates that then I can distribute to my team and let them read the paper. So I want to say that, at least for me, your service is very valuable. And it's very exciting that we have someone that doing the hard work for us.
3 - 0:41:58
Thank you, thank you. Yeah yeah no. We we love doing it too. And of course what we found with the newsletter is that we forget where we wrote it. So that's why we've uploaded all our newsletters also into this text analytics solution so we can quickly go back and say what was that thing about food insecurity. What was that thing about? You know? So so everything is coming together now into one big key. Engine, so to speak, so it makes it easier as well.
2 - 0:42:26
And you're clearly so passionate about it. If I wasn't already a dietitian working in personalized nutrition, I think I would change my career. It's clear how much we care about this. I do. I do, you know, a little more about the background behind the name of Kina which you told us a little bit more before we started recording.
3 - 0:42:44
Yes, so Qina is a Zulu word and that's also because on South African. I'm not Zulu but I'm South African and Qina means be strong now for any S Africans listening they would be very upset with me because the proper pronunciation is Qina with a click. With this sound in in Zulu but but we pronounce it as as Qina because we know that internationally. Probably easy to remember. But yeah I wanted something really short and something that had meaning and and. And and and that's how how Kina came Vata did some research and, and that's how Qina came about. But yeah, lots of people ask me is it queena or quina it's Qina.
2 - 0:43:27
And something that you mentioned before that I think you know I wanna loop back to is all of the different inputs that we need to be able to understand how to give someone the best personalized nutrition experience. A few of the things that you mentioned you know access to foods, social determinants of health or situation in their government, perhaps other things happening in their life. How do you see that process of us being able to collect that on a population level to really be able to deliver that personalized? Nutrition.
3 - 0:43:58
Yeah, I mean I think we are at a stage now and I would say especially in the US where there's a realization that personalization is the future. Yeah, and so they've pumped in a lot of money for it, so I'm less we get government involved and industry working together. It's going to be very difficult for one company to do it all because I think this mass domination of personalized attrition is is not going to happen. Yeah, it's just not going to happen. Because people are motivated by different things, and so that's why I think we need to have this big partnership in order to collect the right data and quality data to then make it accessible as well so that we can have different. You know, different strokes for different folks and in different languages as well. That is very important because you know, it's it's the world is becoming more diverse and we can see at this time that you know economically the the the the gap is widening. So unless we fix that. Now you know we're gonna have a problem, so I do think that the Public Partnerships and you know people being also willing to share their data. You know voluntarily if they know where they where, where it can be, where it can be submitted, and where it will be stored safely. I think in the future people will have more control over their own data and who they share that with, but they the only way it's going to happen, is if there's collaboration.
2 - 0:45:29
Definitely important, and how do you think that you know speaking on kind of government entity levels, taking that coupling that with your clinical background you know having experience in NHS? How can the healthcare system really even start to leverage a lot of personalized nutrition in order to take a much more preventative approach? At least how we see healthcare in the US? Are there any existing barriers that you think are preventing healthcare from doing that today?
3 - 0:45:57
Yes, money. It comes down down to money because at this stage in Europe anyway, you can see a dietitian. Maybe two times, maybe three times in some cases more times. If you are sick. If you already have something, yeah, then you can see a dietitian. And so if we are truly, truly passionate and serious about personalized nutrition, we need to flip it on its head and say dietitian on tap from a never you wanted. You know, maybe from the minute you know I would say start with the mothers the minute you are pregnant or the start with that.
3 - 0:46:08
Stop, stop, start early. That is going to be the key, and so unless we make it easier for people to access quality information because now we have nutrition experts galaw you know and consumers don't know what is credible or what is not credible, they try to do more research, but it's very difficult for them to find who can they go to? They can search online, yes, but they still want to speak to an individual as well. And now we are at a stage where the healthcare professionals dietician is becoming more of a coach and so it's not so prescriptive and come to me and I will tell you what to do. Yeah, it's now needs to be more of a of a team sport and saying you know when you want to know something let me know when you want to have information and you're standing there or you're thinking about food or you want to make a decision. I'm here and that needs to be reimbursed. And unless that changes and we make it easy for people to access quality and credible science based information, it's going to be hard. So we need to change that.
3 - 0:47:09
Paradigm of of Sick 1st and then and then get advice. That's the way I think, so it's regulators. It's it's government funding, it's reimbursement and and then we need to change the the the how we identify people so we need to identify people early who are motivated to make those changes and identify ways to find the people who. Who are not yet motivated but probably don't understand yet that that food has such a powerful impact on their health. You know, in the short term and all the way into the long term and so.
3 - 0:48:04
They need there's a lot of work that needs to be done, but unless the governments put money behind prevention. It's going to be hard because people are not going to pay out of pocket. They're not going to pay a dietitian. 150 dollars $200 an hour you know? Yeah, to see them one off. It's just not gonna happen so we need to make it easier.
2 - 0:48:38
Yeah, at least in the US, would the Affordable Care Act most plans if people don't know this, they do cover 3 preventative visits with a dietitian. Now it depends on you know, the level of plan that you get, but a lot of people do have access to that now and aren't aware of it either. But on that note, how about food companies? Do you feel as if food companies play a role in or can play a role in personalized nutrition?
3 - 0:49:02
Absolutely, absolutely. And I think I think. If they don't. They will become irrelevant because people choose what their wallets. Yeah, people, people are more savvy now. It's not about, you know they are not influenced by marketing as much as they were in the past. They're not as influenced by pretty packaging as they were in the past, and so they want to see efficacy. They want to see cleaner labels. They want to see sources they want to see traceability. They they are a lot of things that that has.
3 - 0:49:08
Cost food manufacturers and companies to change how they do things. The question is the magic question is how do you change a big machine? Yeah, how do you change? You know companies that have such big manufacturing sites and things so so. So how we are seeing this right now is that personalized nutrition is a reality and there's an understanding that personalized nutrition is a reality. Whether you do that within small steps, whether you do it that on a lifestyle.
3 - 0:49:38
Well, yeah it maybe not. It may not have to be completely personalized, but at least are you putting in the healthier ingredients. I IO nutrient profiles better. You know what are you doing in salt reduction? What are you doing? The sugar? So all these things all fault in and it comes back to Jules Person all filters into into personalized nutrition. Whether it's just reducing your sugar intake on a daily basis to all the way you know. Knowing exactly how much protein I should be taking, you know?
3 - 0:50:09
To prepare for a marathon. So we are there, but we are very early on. That's all I can say is that we are very early on in that process and at the moment what I can see is that smaller brands are winning out because they are closer to the consumer and coming back to that. You know, understanding what people really do, what they say they want, you know in a focus group or in a service and what they really do. And So what these smaller brands are tapping into the day they are seeing what people are clicking on. They are seeing what.
3 - 0:50:41
Product codes you know. Barcodes are being scanned. They have an understanding of what people are interested in and then they formulated that whether it's based on taste or whether it's based on health goals or functional, you know ingredient. That's that's the way it's going.
4 - 0:51:26
So, so Mariette this podcast. The name is longevity by design, and we definitely think that nutrition is very interesting and very exciting, and we believe that there is a lot of interaction between longevity and nutrition. And we'll discuss it in a second. But we also, if we think about longevity, there are two main terms that we like to say. One of them is the lifespan. So basically it's the time that we live. Compares to death and the 2nd is the handspan, basically the time that you live from birth, until you start to be sick. And so my first question is about the health span is what do you think is the role of personalized nutrition in improving health plan?
3 - 0:52:15
Yeah. I think I think it's it's the number one. I think what we what we eat, what we put into our mouths. You know on a day to day basis has an influence on our health and if we are healthy then we will live longer and we will live a longer quality life. That's I think. I I don't think lots of people can argue with that. I think we have enough evidence to show that food has an impact. The problem is, is our environmental influence our environmental impact? Yeah, so at the moment you walk into the store and you are inundated with products. Yeah, and there it goes out the window.
3 - 0:52:35
Women are working way more now than 60 years ago, and so your time is shorter. Your lifestyle is busier and so your home cooking goes out the window. You know, and then you order in, and so I think that the message that. A good nutrition personalized nutrition that works for you. Yeah, we're we're. We're not only you. You improve your health, but also gives you a quality of life is there?
3 - 0:53:18
What we need to do a better job of is how can we communicate better the influence of our environment and help people with actionable tools to control or manage their environment? Because I think that is where the problem is. Life is hectic, life is busy, things get in the way and then your eating habits are the 1st to go. You're upset you're stressed, fridge covered draw. And so I think.
3 - 0:53:31
I think that's that's where it comes in, but I think I think. Many people understand I. I do think that many people understand that that that food is a key to to good health and a long lifespan.
4 - 0:54:16
Interesting, and let's say maybe it's it's a hard question, but anyway, we'll ask you so if someone will, population will eat in the right way in the right, exactly by the book of the personalized nutrition specific for them. What, in your opinion, would be the effect on their health plan and on their lifespan?
3 - 0:54:38
Yeah, yeah, I think that's an interesting one because I think people look at people, look at their parents, right? People go well. My dad lived to, you know 98 and and and he smoked. And actually, you know that wasn't too bad and so I think that is the first thing that people connect to is how did. How were my parents? What was the health of of my parents?
3 - 0:54:46
And we will also in in a very paternal healthcare system, so I think those two things go together. Yeah, so you go to the doctor. I have a pain. You take this and you do this and and off you go and they and they listen to the doctor. But now.
3 - 0:55:04
With with the, with the trend towards personalized medicine comes the trend in personalized nutrition. It follows it and so naturally what works for the 1 does not work for the other. Yeah, your dad may have been drinking and smoking and still lived a long life, but that's not going to work for you. And So what we have now is the ability to test to see how you respond, or to see how you respond to specific dietary pattern or your lifestyle or how you know you're very busy. Work schedule is impacting the quality or or your phenotype. Let let's say that right, so I think I think with personalized nutrition we have. We have the bonus of being able to track ourselves and self manage rather than waiting for something to happen to then be able to go to the doctor and that is the key towards you know a better health plan is to be able to see and and and nip it in the bud so to speak. We get up much earlier than then what we would have done.
3 - 0:55:51
Before we became symptomatic, and I think that's the key. That's where personalized nutrition comes in.
4 - 0:56:27
Interesting, thank you.
2 - 0:56:29
Yeah, walking through one.
3 - 0:56:31
4 - 0:56:33
no, no, I'm not at all. I I I agree I I think that I definitely think that the person's nutrition is very important role and I I see in the literature that. Your behavior might influence more than your genetics. In some instance, the genetic cover only around 10% and the rest is the environmental and the behavior. And if you think about nutrition, we are making around 200 nutrition decision a day.
3 - 0:57:06
4 - 0:57:07
Exercise we might make 5, but for nutrition when to eat, what to eat? How to eat? I I smell it, I see it, I hear it and so so so so no, no doubt that in my opinion nutrition is by far the most important. The most complex issue that.
3 - 0:57:23
We have exactly exactly. And it's all personal.
4 - 0:57:28
Yeah it is close on. Yeah, my taste might be completely different than your.
3 - 0:57:31
Taste exactly exactly, yeah?
2 - 0:57:37
Alright, one final question that we ask to all of our guests is is there one decision that you make each day based on nutrition or health span or lifespan that you can share as a tip to our listeners?
3 - 0:57:52
Yes. I do. And and I think maybe lots of people do it, but in the morning when I wake up. I tend to think of. Of two things. A.
3 - 0:58:08
What what is what is on the menu for today? What what? What am I going to eat today? So I already know in the morning what what, what the diet is going to be like for the rest of the day. So I I don't tend to go off it or you know? Yeah, I tend to stick to that and I think in colors, OK, like what what's for breakfast? You know is is the rainbow wheel included so I I tend to think of that. The other thing I tend to think about is.
3 - 0:58:10
How can I work in physical activity into my day because I've got meetings. I've got a podcast, I've got a this. I need to prepare presentation. I need to read it. When am I going to get up and work that in? So sometimes it's in the morning. Sometimes it's a walk at the end of my day sometimes, like now it's like you know, while my kid is at at music lesson, I can. I can quickly hopping to the gym and so for me I think.
3 - 0:58:38
For me, longevity is about planning. Yeah, you need to know where you are going. You need to think ahead. You can't think today I'm going to just do it for today because I read an article about longevity, you know. And so I'm going to do it today. You think you need to think long term about how you can do this every day and I think.
3 - 0:59:05
Setting yourself up in the day to think longer term about your health. I'm at the moment disease free symptom free and goodness. But that's how you got to think. You need to start with a plan, and if you plan you are less likely to fail because you know what is expected, what you expect of yourself in order to have a long and healthy life.
2 - 0:59:52
I think that's incredibly important, having intention behind your decisions instead of just letting your health happen to you, yeah?
3 - 0:59:59
Otherwise it's like self help books, right? Everybody buys them and then they sit on your shelf and it's like I was gonna do that. I was gonna implement it. No you need to wake up and think. What's what my food has a big impact? What am I eating today? And then how manage your stress or whatever, but also think about how you going to work in your physical activity for the day. And that's gonna set you up for a long and healthy life. Whatever might come away.
2 - 1:00:28
A great thought to end on. Uh, thank you so so much for being here. Doctor Abraham's incredibly enjoyable and invigorating.
3 - 1:00:38
4 - 1:00:40
Thanks so much. It was a a great discussion. Greatly appreciate it.
3 - 1:00:45
Thank you Gil, that was that was great and I hope to see you see you soon.
2 - 1:00:51
And we look forward to exploring the research in the field of longevity each month with you and the leading scientist. For more information please go to www.insidetracker.com/podcast.
1 - 1:01:04
Thanks for listening to longevity by design. Please subscribe to this podcast on Apple, Spotify or YouTube. Longevity by design is powered by Insidetracker, a personalized health optimization platform that helps people improve their lives by improving their bodies from the inside out. Using personalized sides backed recommendations for nutrition supplements and lifestyle changes. To learn more, visit insidetracker.com/podcast.