We all love food and we need to eat food to survive. There are many aspects that impact how our body responds to food and nutrition helps us see how unique we all are. Factors that influence our nutritional needs as well as our ability to digest and absorb food include our genome and the DNA we inherited from our parents, the environment we live in and our lifestyle, as well as our gut -microbiome (the bacteria that live in our gut). Our metabolism is highly individualized as well, and it can impact how we digest food and extract its nutrients.
Alberto Noronha, founder and CEO of the start-up NIUM, realized that many health issues are related to nutrition. After completing his PhD paper in which he studied metabolism and developing the virtual metabolic human, he wanted to make sure that it would not sit on a shelf collect- ing dust. With his start-up, NIUM, he aims to develop a personalized nutrition platform for healthcare practitioners and patients to support the treatment and prevention of diet-related diseases.
Understanding the microbiome, metabolism and health
Research on metabolism and gut-microbiome analysis can help explain why certain people develop a disease, while others do not.
Our gut -microbiome and metabolic markers can be used to predict what diet is best for different people. NIUM’s end goal is to use metabolic modelling – understanding how different food composition can change the metabolic pathways of the body – to improve the health of the consumers. Steeped in research and data analysis, their goal is to bring that knowledge into a practical, everyday tool that can help clients make the right nutritional and food choices.
Personalized nutrition made convenient
The idea behind NIUM is to put research and data analysis into an app that will be developed with potential retailers to offer menu plans and shopping lists for an easy and convenient application. Most people decide what to eat when they shop for food. Working with food retailers as partners can allow for inventory mapping of the ingredients in a specific meal plan. It will allow the consumer to find the ingredients they need for their specific meal plan in the supermarket next door.
Connecting with a dieticians and nutritionists is a second step in their approach to offer a more personalized nutrition. Working on specific cases, such as prediabetes, is another part of NIUM’s goal, whereby they can offer support through a tailored diet plan, as well as guidance and education through developing a tool capable of predicting each person’s blood sugar levels after the consumption of specific foods. This is done by analyzing the genetic composition of the bacteria living in our guts and other metabolic markers.
Difficulties and challenges of research in nutritional steps
There are many issues when it comes to research in the field of nutrition as many nutrients work synergistically and objective, clearcut results can be difficult to obtain. With their large database, mathematical model and research, NIUM focuses on gaining trust and evidence-based result validation.
What’s next for NIUM?
Though only one year old, NIUM is already working with food companies, helping them under- stand better how the ingredients in their products impact the health of their consumers. NIUM is currently looking for clients and partners in retail and healthcare to develop recommendations and meal plans.
Selected for the “Fit4Start Acceleration” programme, they will soon raise their first round of funding and are aiming at launching a pilot with a retailer next year.