Annabel de Gheldere and Micol Hafez have created the personalised nutrition startup Womco, with tech wizard co-founder Ilyas Jaan, in an aim to help women utilise nutrition to help get relief from the many hormone related burdens that women can struggle with throughout their lives.
"We have been through a lot of challenges regarding our own hormonal health, suffering many symptoms and we struggled for years to find effective solutions," explains de Gheldere.
"After doing our own research and speaking to specialists, we realised there have been so many studies showing there’s a food-hormone connection. You need different nutrients and calorie amounts at different phases in the cycle and several micro and macro nutrients have been found to help reduce some hormonally induced symptoms.
"This means women with hormonal imbalances can improve their symptoms by eating the right foods.
"After discovering this for ourselves we wanted to create a platform, that’s accessible for all women, to gain the same information we had gathered.”
De Gheldere and Hafez will be speaking as part of the Women's Health pillar at NutraIngredients' upcoming Active Nutrition Summit, in Amsterdam, on October 9-11.
This three-day summit will bring together leading experts from the worlds of academia and industry to discuss some of the most exciting areas of the fast-evolving active nutrition market - women's health, cognitive health, life-stages nutrition, and personalised nutrition.
This summit offers more than content with ample opportunities to network and get involved with live Q&A, Wellness Programme, Speed Networking, Roundtable Lunch and our Social Evening on day two.
After gaining feedback through an initial app launched earlier this year, they have developed a second version which is set for commercial launch in late 2023. This version gathers data via questionnaires and blood tests in order to understand how the consumer’s health concerns and symptoms relate to micronutrient deficiencies and hormones.
De Gheldere adds: "We ask for basic information, such as age, BMI, contraceptive method, any menstrual cycle symptoms, dietary requirements…
"From there we can see if they have regular cycle, if they are ovulating, if we need to tailor nutrition to the phase in their cycle.
"We then look at symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches, which might be affected by certain foods and micronutrients, such as iron, magnesium and vitamin C."
Hafez explains: "There are certain times of the month where our cravings for sugar are much higher and it’s easy to reach for sweet foods but these cravings can be reduced if we start the day with a savoury, balanced breakfast that will reduce sugar spikes."
The service includes blood tests which analyse key hormonal and nutritional biomarkers.
“The tests we conduct are bespoke to the symptoms of the user. If we see the person is struggling with fatigue, for example, then we know to test for iron deficiency.
"If we find they are low in oestrogen, which occurs in perimenopause and menopause, then we can provide nutrition advice to raise their consumption of phytoestrogens.”
The duo have received advice from dietitians, gynaecologists and doctors to help design this new app which they plan to sell on a B2B basis, to companies that want to improve the wellbeing of their female staff.
Discussing the current lack of research into women's specific nutrition needs, Micol explains they hope their growing database will lead to new discoveries into how nutrition can support women throughout their menstrual cycle and life stages.
“We’ve been able to connect certain nutrients with certain conditions and so, as we build our database, we hope to be able to conduct our own clinical studies and advance research in this space.”
The app will be made available to companies in the UK from the end of 2023, with the plan to expand to elsewhere in Europe in the near future. They are also looking at opportunities to work with benefits platforms and insurance companies.
de Gheldere explains: “We hope that by using the B2B strategy we will be able to reach more women, faster, and the service will be opened up to women who wouldn’t have the means to pay for this service themselves.”