Companies like Nestlé and Campbell's Soup are investing millions of dollars into the rapidly-expanding sector. Olympians, professional sports players and coaches, Spartan racers, and serious amateur athletes are among the growing list of paying customers.
“Athletic active individuals understand their body because they genuinely listen to it. They also have established explicit goals and internalized that you can’t manage what you can’t measure," explained Rony Sellam, CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Segterra. "But perhaps most importantly, they have already learned firsthand that personalization is an absolute requirement for success,” he added.
According to Sellam, these individuals pay close attention to their bodies. Their efforts to improve themselves fail more often than not, so they've come to recognize the need for advanced science that can give them objective results and data that they can act upon. (Related: How to beat heart disease with diet and lifestyle)
In 2013, Segterra launched a testing and analytics kits service called InsideTracker. The service looks at 41 select biomarkers in blood tests in order to craft personalized nutrition recommendations for its clients.
Blood tests are used by healthcare professionals to diagnose their patients for normal or abnormal values. InsideTracker, on the other hand, seeks out optimal levels of physical performance for athletes and other users. To achieve this end, InsideTracker has amassed a list of 8,000 unique food items, a demographic database of over 180,000 healthy people, and a library of over 2,500 research publications.
“We believe the power of our algorithm and personalization engine is that we have been continuously refining it since 2009, with a strong cross-disciplinary approach to science,” claimed Sellam.
InsideTracker has already tested thousands of clients over the course of four years. The company also collects follow-up data from consumers who have optimized their biomarkers. The end result is a massive data set that InsideTracker is planning to publish for peer review in the future.
“We are very excited about our data and the results, and believe we will be in a position to share some of this excitement with the world in 2018. The data will speak for itself,” said Sellam.
According to Sellam, blood testing is the most powerful tool for analyzing the best diet. Blood biomarkers are dynamic and will shift over time in response to the increasing effect of a product.
Sellam believes an increasing number of consumers will demand to see evidence of the internal processes in their bodies. He compares blood testing to 'taking a selfie from the inside’ once it becomes a routine procedure. He also believes the sports nutrition sector would be well-advised to keep an eye on the growing links between athletes and the personalized nutrition sector.
“The same way the athletic crowd (weekend warriors or more serious) constantly use data to measure their performance, the ability to measure their baseline, make a change in their routine, and re-measure will be the new way to show efficacy for the consumer,” he said.
Segterra was founded by Dr. Gil Blander, who performed in-depth research into blood biomarkers before moving on to personalized nutrition. The company's scientific advisory board is a showcase of renowned U.S. experts in the fields of aging and nutrition.
Other companies that offer personalized nutrition services include Arivale, Nutrigenomix, and Orig3n. Dietary supplement companies like HerbaLife and BioCeuticals are also exploring the growing market with products of their own.
Find more articles on human nutrition at Nutrient.news.