Editor's Spotlight: Startup Focus

Startup 'gamifies' gut health with diet app aimed at long-term change

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Atlas Biomed test kits
Atlas Biomed test kits

Related tags Startup company microbiome Gut health claim personalisation

A personalised nutrition startup offering the holistic benefits of both DNA and microbiome tests has revealed a dieting app to work in tandem with microbiome tests in an aim to 'gamify' gut healthy dieting and create long term changes to health.

Personalised nutrition startup Atlas Biomed claims to be the only company in the world offering both DNA and microbiome testing kits for a holistic picture of health and now it is launching a phone app allowing people to discover what foods will best improve their gut health with the simple snap of the camera.

Sergey Musienko, bioinformatician and founder of the UK-based firm launched in 2014, says the app differs from all other diet apps on the market as it will allow customers to genuinely learn how to modulate their microbiomes through their diet choices by teaching them about diet variety and fibre intake.

He tells NutraIngredients: “It allows the customer to take a photo of their meal and the special algorithm allows us to identify the specific ingredients in the meal and based on their latest microbiome test results the app provides a scoring system for each ingredient, showing how beneficial they are to the user’s microbiome composition.

Sergey Musienko (1)
Sergey Musienko

“The whole idea behind this is to help people gamify the process and better understand what ingredients can be harmful or beneficial to their gut bacteria.”

The entrepreneur points out that research has shown that the majority of the population in Europe and the US are not eating enough fibre - a nutrient essential for a healthy microbial diversity.

He points out that the recommended daily intake is 30 grams but according to the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, UK adults are only eating around 18 grams per day.

He says people should ideally be eating at least 30 different sources of fibre each week in order to keep their microbial diversity up and the app helps people achieve this.

“Believe me, it’s harder than you would imagine to reach this number. I think when I first checked I was getting maybe 20 on a good week.

“There are a lot of apps out there that help people track their calories or their macros but this is the first to concentrate of fibre as well as some vitamins, polyphenols and sugar which also have an impact on microbiome composition.

“This will help people to discover the best fibre sources for them and it will help people to diversify their diets. We really want to help people to live healthy lives for longer and as soon as you have a basic understanding its quite easy to stay on track – it’s like learning to ride a bike!”

atlas biomed app
AB app

How Atlas began

Musienko graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology before going on to join the Silicon Valley think tank, at Singularity University California in 2011, where they train entrepreneurial minds on how to apply technology into projects that can improve the lives of people around the world.

“There I had a chance to meet lots of visionaries and entrepreneurs around health technology."​ Musienko explains, "I spoke to lots of researchers and shared ideas with them and discussed what’s the future of preventative medicine. That’s when I had the idea which would lay the foundation for Atlas Biomed – taking a personalised proactive approach to health care by predicting conditions and doing everything we can to prevent them.

“Back then, in 2011, companies were offering affordable genomics tests but these tests were in their really early days and there was a lot of criticism that they couldn’t tell you in a precise way what’s likely to happen to the person’s health. Of course with all these common but complex issues, like chrone’s disease, diabetes, obesity, lifestyle has a huge impact as well as genes.

“I realised if we want to personalise healthcare or nutrition in an accurate manner it has to be a combination of different factors and that’s how we came up with the concept of multiple tests – a saliva test for genes and a stool sample test for the microbiome which covers changes in diet and lifestyle.”

The company launched its DNA and microbiome tests commercially in Europe in 2017 and since then it has quickly expanded with sales in 17 countries across Europe as well as Canada with hopes to establish itself in the US soon.

The rapidly evolving universe of probiotics, prebiotics and the microbiome will be discussed in-depth at the upcoming Probiota 2020​​ in Dublin on February 10-12.

From microbiome advances, to start-up game changers, market stats, crucial clinical science and regulatory knowledge, this is a congressional must-have. 

Will you be joining your peers in one of Europe’s greatest cities?

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