The Power of Personalized Nutrition Mariette Abrahams, of Qina.

The Power of Personalized Nutrition Mariette Abrahams, of Qina

Episode Overview

Episode Topic:

In this episode of NutraPreneur, we get into the fascinating world of personalized nutrition with Mariette Abrahams, CEO and founder of Qina. Discover the journey from traditional nutrition to the cutting-edge field of personalized nutrition and how technology is revolutionizing the industry. Explore the challenges and opportunities in bridging the gap between research, consumers, and practitioners. Get ready to uncover insights into the evolving landscape of nutraceuticals and the role of data and AI in shaping the future of nutrition.

Lessons You’ll Learn:                                                                                     

Listeners will gain valuable insights into the intersection of nutrition, technology, and entrepreneurship. Learn about the importance of staying ahead in the competitive nutrition market and how Qina leverages data and technology to innovate. Understand the significance of personalized nutrition and its impact on consumer health and wellness. Discover strategies for success in the nutraceutical industry and lessons learned from Mariette Abrahams’ entrepreneurial journey.

About Our Guest:

Mariette Abrahams is a pioneer in personalized nutrition with over a decade of experience in the field. As CEO and founder of Qina, she combines her expertise in nutrition with a passion for entrepreneurship to drive innovation in the industry. With a background in dietetics and a PhD in personalized nutrition, Mariette brings a unique perspective to the conversation. Her journey from clinical practice to founding Qina offers valuable insights into the evolving landscape of nutrition and health.

Topics Covered:

In this episode, we cover a wide range of topics including Mariette’s inspiration for founding Qina and her journey in the nutrition industry. Explore the concept of personalized nutrition and its implications for consumer health and wellness. Learn about the role of data, technology, and AI in shaping the future of nutrition. Discover how Qina stays ahead in the competitive market and the importance of regulation and transparency in personalized nutrition. Join us as we explore the fascinating world of personalized nutrition with Mariette Abrahams.

Our Guest:
Revolutionizing Nutrition – A Conversation with Mariette Abrahams, CEO of Qina

Mariette Abrahams is a trailblazer in the field of personalized nutrition, boasting over a decade of experience and expertise. With a background in dietetics and a PhD in personalized nutrition, Mariette brings a unique blend of scientific knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit to the table. Her journey from traditional clinical practice to the forefront of personalized nutrition reflects her commitment to innovation and excellence.

As the CEO and founder of Qina, Mariette has carved a niche in the nutraceutical industry, specializing in bridging the gap between research, consumers, and practitioners. Her passion for leveraging technology to revolutionize nutrition has propelled Qina to the forefront of the market. With a focus on personalized dietary and lifestyle advice, Mariette and her team at Qina are dedicated to empowering individuals to take control of their health and wellness.

Throughout her career, Mariette has been a driving force behind the evolution of personalized nutrition. Her insights into the intersection of nutrition, technology, and entrepreneurship offer valuable lessons for professionals and enthusiasts alike. With a keen eye for innovation and a commitment to scientific integrity, Mariette continues to shape the future of nutrition, one personalized solution at a time.

Episode Transcript: 

Bethany Jolley: Welcome back to NutraPreneur, the hub for unveiling groundbreaking insights into the nutraceutical industry. I’m your host, Bethany. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Mariette Abrahams, CEO and founder of Qina. With over ten years of experience in the nutrition industry and a PhD in personalized nutrition, Mariette is a pioneer in bridging the gap between research consumers and practitioners. At Keenan, they specialize in developing strategies, conducting research, and providing domain expertise in the personalized nutrition space. Welcome, Mariette. It’s so great to have you today.

Mariette Abrahams: Thanks  Bethany for having me.

Bethany Jolley: First off, I think it would be great if you could share with us the inspiration behind Founding Qina and your journey from its inception to leading this innovative company.

Mariette Abrahams:  My background is actually in nutrition. I trained as a dietitian.  and I thought my career path was quite straight, that I would, you know, specialize in something and then go on to maybe be a manager or do a PhD.  and it didn’t turn out that way. So clinical wasn’t, wasn’t the, the, the big dream that eventually when I did it, I was like, I don’t think this is going to be the rest of my life. I’ve always been a little bit, you know, entrepreneurial, I guess. I already looked like within the first six months, I looked into, okay, what else can I be doing?  that can complement my nutrition, background.  and then somebody suggested, you know, why don’t you do an MBA? And that’s, kind of changed the course of where I thought I was heading.  the MBA then opened up a whole new world for me in terms of looking at how you can, you know, spot opportunities, the way you think, the way you can create, you know, creatively. Problem solved.  and then I ended up in the industry. I moved from the kind of clinical public health area to then the industry. And that then shifted my career trajectory completely.  but at that time, when I moved into industry, it was kind of using a combination of my nutrition and my MBA. Then, and I was already specializing in this area, you know, inflammatory bowel disease, which was looking at, you know, does genetics play a role in individuals having flare-up in Crohn’s disease? That piqued my interest into, hey, you know, genetics is coming up.

Mariette Abrahams: And this nutrigenetics area is like really interesting. And that got me onto okay, personalized nutrition. This is the thing and wasn’t the point even personalized nutrition at that stage. This was around 2012. And then I ended up moving to Portugal and then, I honestly, I couldn’t find a job because, I moved to a country where I didn’t speak the language, where really there isn’t an entrepreneurial network, or so I was looking at. What can I do? And I thought, well, maybe, like really honing in on this personalized nutrition area. This is kind of it. I started, doing some consultancy projects and then it, like, all fell together, and like, this is it, this is the area now. It combined my entrepreneurial spirit with my nutrition background and started something completely new using my business skills. And that’s how it started. I kind of started consulting, with biotech companies, with nutrition companies, and then it kind of expanded. And by 2018, then I was, okay, well, maybe it should be a full company now. And that’s how it became Qina. before it was all like freelance consulting. And by 2019 it got official with them naming it, naming the company Qina.  and that’s how we started. it was then, you know, cumulative, you know, knowledge, all the product.  that’s okay. This is a thing here. There’s a there’s a gap. There’s a real gap here. And that’s where it’s like, okay, this is it, this is the area that I’m going to focus on. Yes.

Bethany Jolley: And I think, you know, personalized nutrition is something that everyone is talking about these days. And how has Qina managed to stay ahead in the competitive nutrition personalized nutrition market?

Mariette Abrahams:  I think I think we are different in that we didn’t come from marketing or we didn’t come from fighting like we came from nutrition. we were already doing personalized nutrition, you know, since graduating. And that meant, kind of personalizing the dietary and lifestyle advice that you give to someone based on who’s in front of you. you would look at their social determinants, you would look at, you know, their lifestyle, you would look at, you know, what are the barriers to making behavior change. What makes personalized nutrition different is that we didn’t have technology at that stage. we had paper diaries. We had, you know. Paper files. We wrote out, you know, the handwritten notes or maybe printed out. That was the technology that our printers were, our technology. And all of a sudden you have apps that can track you, can you have intake forms that you can, you know, send to somebody before they come into the clinic. we were focusing on kind of dealing with individuals who were already sick.  they already had some kind of a disease or condition. And now the opportunity is leveraging technology to personalize that advice by making it more actionable, by making it more personalized, by understanding how people behave in the real world, because people come into the clinic every 2 to 3 months, you don’t know what they are doing in between.

Mariette Abrahams: You don’t have an idea unless you do a blood test or unless you put them on the scale. We know some give you some kind of a hint that they’re following the advice. Otherwise, you don’t know. But now technology allows you to see what they’re eating in real time. They can send you pictures, you can give feedback in real-time. You can they can step on a scale and they can send that, you know, blood pressure in all these different things. And that’s really where we saw the opportunity and saying, there’s an opportunity to combine what we already know from the clinical setting, what works and what doesn’t work, to combining the scientific knowledge and seeing what is coming out in the science to understanding what do consumers do in the clinic, because we know what kind of questions they are asking in the real world. And then combining that with, okay, we can see what’s happening. We know why it’s happening. We can, you know, put that in a scientific context.  but then how do we then help the industry to create new products to take those insights, into, you know, into their roadmap, for example?  and that’s where we are different.

Mariette Abrahams:  we can have analytical brains, but we also think in the real human sense and have empathy in terms of knowing people are going to cook a new recipe every single day. It’s just not doable if you’re a busy mother or father, who works like, you know, ten-hour shifts or something like that. it’s bringing the scientific expertise and then trying to see how you can you convert that into kind of digital features or behavior change techniques to then help people, understand what they need to do. we were I think we are we were ahead because we have spotted the gap.  but then we also can see, okay, we understand data, we understand science and we understand humans. Humans change data changes. But if you can make sense of those three things, and also, I would say the fourth one is how does that impact society as a whole? That’s where we are different and that’s where we are not a standard communications agency or we are not a standard, market research company, or we are, a combination of the things that have already, existed, the services that are already existed but created or carved out a new niche for ourselves.

Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. And personalized nutrition, I think as you describe it, it’s very complex. Can you explain the role of the Sina Platform and how it helps companies develop personalized nutrition solutions?

Mariette Abrahams:  the so the so the platform came out only in 2021.  it’s still relatively new. But it was kind of, you know, a build-up of all the knowledge that we gained over the last ten years, say, from understanding what kind of questions companies have, like what keeps coming up? The same questions came up. What do you think are good companies? What do you think? Who do you think are the good stakeholders in the ecosystem? What do you think? it was like, well, every time you jump on these calls and you’re answering the same questions, and we said we need a platform as we need like a way of tracking what’s happening in the marketplace. And how are companies evolving, and then how is the industry evolving? And that’s really what the platform did.  it started as a spreadsheet, so we could keep on going back to the spreadsheet, like what was the name of the company again? What was that study again? Or who published that again and who did what did they add again?  the platform was, you know, evolved from our knowledge, and then it could help companies to then easily find, you know, companies in a specific segment. at the moment, how it helps the companies is, number one, they can find who is in the competitive landscape, because even with personalized nutrition it’s a new area.

Mariette Abrahams: Right? It’s not wellness because wellness isn’t necessarily scientifically oriented. We think of personalized nutrition as something that’s rooted in the scientific evidence base, even though it’s still new. that’s why companies need to know what is personalized nutrition and who is playing in the industry. So that’s the first thing so they can find out who is in the industry. What did they say? Solutions entail? Like, what do they even offer? Like, how does personalization even happen? Like, is it by survey? Is it by a blood test? Is it by like, how does it happen?  but then they can also understand why it’s happening. we provide insights into the company so that they know, okay, well, if we’re going to create something, we’re not just creating a me-too of something that’s already existing because what’s the point, right? We need better products so they can help them position themselves knowing who’s in the industry and why are they industry in the first place. Or like why did that happen?  why is there interest in menopause, for example?  you know, why is the growth in active nutrition company. we provide the market intelligence of the competitive players, but also insights into the marketplace. And then also we want to, be a kind of a benchmark for companies within the industry. we have created a keener score, which ranks companies on different criteria.

Mariette Abrahams: if companies come to us and say, well, there are five companies in the segment, who should I work with? Then we can say, well, this one is actually, I would say ranks high in terms of science because they published it, you know, they validated maybe their algorithm, maybe they’ve partnered with specific or maybe their product is more actionable. And that’s why consumers like it so much. You know, the UX is better or are they good at privacy? we’ve taken these different categories. it helps companies to see if they have a product. How do they rank in terms of the segments amongst their, you know, competitors?  but it also helps to raise the bar in terms of, you know, what do you need to do to get an A grade, for example? it raises the bar for everybody as a whole. this really can then be used not only for, industry but also for practitioners who may be sitting in the clinic thinking, hey, somebody just walked in and bought this test. But, you know, what does it do and how does it work? And why is it why does it even exist? How credible is it? it helps them as well.  that’s how it helps companies to innovate, to know what’s going on in the market, and also to get insights, but also how they position themselves with a new product.  and then.

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Mariette Abrahams: How? How does that rank in the marketplace with their new solution?

Bethany Jolley: That’s great. It sounds like the platform is a great tool for multiple types of users. So that’s great.

Mariette Abrahams: Yes. I mean, we try to,  be a hub that can connect the consumers with industry and healthcare because of my background, we are sitting a little bit more in healthcare than we sit in. Like, you know, what is the latest food flavor that you need to create? We are not there. We are not there. We are more focused on how can we help, the industry create better products and how can we help practitioners recommend those products that are rooted in evidence-based so that we can help society be healthier. That’s essentially the impact that we would like to have.

Bethany Jolley: Absolutely. And we’ve kind of touched on this a bit already, but the personalized nutrition market is rapidly evolving. So how has Qina leveraged data and technology to stay at the forefront of this industry?

Mariette Abrahams:  I mean, so because of our background, we’ve always been the one data point I would say has always been science. Like what is the science? How is the, you know, science conducted? You know, how relevant is this for, you know, the individuals that you are maybe recommending, these the advice for and but what’s new is now of course, people don’t work or operate, in silos.  So now individuals are looking for not only scientific expertise. So why should I be eating, in a certain way or specific products or specific ingredients? But I also have a wearable, you know, I also have sensors. I also have, you know, a specific need, that I have. This data can come from food diaries, it can come from image logging. It can come from your smartwatch, for example. It can come from your scales, you know, devices at home, for example. we are living in a world where having things automatically recorded, and having data automatically recorded becomes real. When it becomes more difficult how do we make sense of that data? How do we know that you need this kind of because we are not there yet from a scientific point of view? So, for us, what we’ve how we’ve leveraged data is not only to track the market intelligence. We also track the signs and what’s happening in the industry, for example.

Mariette Abrahams: And we make sense of that by leveraging AI, for example, natural language processing, to then combine these disparate data sets to say, hey, what has happened in the last six months and why did it happen? And then it can say, well, actually, these companies got more investment and over the last six months, and this seems to be the area that then we can see that is getting most investment is, for example, food as medicine. Let’s say that for the last, you know, six months, food is medicine is trending. The reason why it’s trending is because we can see from an ROI perspective, like the return on investment, the stakeholders that are involved, and the events that are happening. This is what’s driving the momentum in food is medicine, and that’s how we make sense of the data points. If you are just focusing on one area, just looking at the science, you’re missing everything else. you can see that just taking food as medicine, as an example, you know, the regulators are on board, the NIH is on board, the academics are on board. The practitioners are on board. The insurers are on board.  if you are just focusing on the science, you’re going to miss it. And that’s why I give you that opportunity to connect the dots to make sense of it and then serve it up as a report or as a presentation. And that’s really where so that’s one area where we leverage AI because we collect the data, and we curate the information just on personalized nutrition.

Mariette Abrahams: And then we have a tool which is called Clean Aware, where you can then identify what are the hidden patterns and trends based on specific categories.  if you want to know what’s happening in metabolites or what’s happening in symptoms or conditions, then you can do that based on, you know, what you are looking for.  but we’ve also leveraged, AI with all the content that we have created in the last six years putting ChatGPT, on top of our, curated library.  because now if you’re a busy executive, you don’t have time to read all through all our 30-page, 60-page reports. you can now just ask a question because we’ve done the legwork, we’ve done the homework, we’ve done the deep dives in looking into specific areas. So ChatGPT is another one, that, you know, kind of powers the chat function. But we also use sentiment analysis, like how do people feel about microbiome testing? How do people feel about, you know, a specific topic? That’s another way. And then we can also see, topic modeling, for example. we can see. Well, over the last six months, food medicine has increased, but so have metabolites maybe sensors, you know, or CMS. And there’s a connection between the evolution of these different areas.

Mariette Abrahams: So that’s uh also another area. Then we use natural language processing also for help us with our qualitative research. if we do, you know, interviews for example, as part of projects, then that helps us together with our domain expertise to quickly, I would say validate. we do our analysis first and then we see, you know, I sometimes come up with more ideas or more, you know, it can remove some of that bias that we already have from using our nutrition, you know, background.  and that’s another way we use it. there are different ways. And of course, this is how we also learn to say, hey, actually, I didn’t know we could use it in this way. I didn’t know we could use it in this way. And it just opens up, opening up so many different ways. And that’s how, we stay ahead.  because we are doing it. It’s not just a hypothetical. Let’s just, you know, plant AI in there and just see what happens. It’s a use case where we see there’s a gap or here, we can automate.  and that’s how AI and machine learning have helped us to kind of be at the forefront and still be the only platform that curates and connects all these different data points, specifically in personalized nutrition. I hope that answers the question. Yes.

Bethany Jolley: No, I, I mean, it just fascinates me how far it’s come and how it can be utilized by so many different industries. It’s incredible.

Mariette Abrahams: the potential is huge. But like I said, some too many people say, I use AI when it’s not AI or I’ll just, you know, I’ll just create something and this, you know, put AI on it. Well, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be successful and weakens because we use it ourselves. We know if it’s not, you know, spitting out a correct answer or if something is not right or, you know, and that’s where you still need the human in the loop. And we can see that from an operational, you know, efficiency. I kind of feel like how can you do without it? I know, I know.

Bethany Jolley: I use it almost daily now. but you must be still, you know, fact fact-checking everything.  it’s in case because, you know, there’s there still can be some hiccups with technology.

Mariette Abrahams: Exactly. And we also think it’s important, you know, because our library is created by. Some of the content that we write. we can guarantee that, okay? If you look at where did it come from? Well, there is always a reference. it always tracks back to where you get that information. How did you come up with that answer?  and that is very important, especially here as we are now. our chat, our kind of does not really, hallucinate. It will say, well, we don’t have that answer. Maybe you should look or, you know, on Google or on the tariff, but it won’t hallucinate, because if we didn’t do it, then we don’t have it. We’ve had some people, you know, asking some very scientific questions on it, and it will say, no, we can’t answer that question because ours is really industry-specific. Yes.

Bethany Jolley: Keenan also collaborates with various stakeholders in the food and beverage and ingredient and health industries. can you share with us any particular success stories from these collaborations?  I mean.

Mariette Abrahams: I can just give you high-level ideas, of the kind of things that we workers are. I would say the most important point about working with this kind of companies, they are open to, trying new things. So that I would say is those are the kind of people, companies that we attract and we love working with them.  because as you noted, also personalized nutrition is still new. what we know is that consumers are looking for kind of this holistic, you know, improvement of their health. They’re looking at how can I use digital to kind of track if it’s working. It’s not working. Where should I improve? Where can I do less?  and knowing that I’m on the right track. Some of these food and ingredient companies are looking at okay. So just getting, you know, doing focus groups and then putting out a product out there is it’s not working. You’re all we need new ways of doing that. And that’s where we come in., we can do kind of job to be done interviews to look at. What are consumers? Sometimes practitioners do. What are they thinking? What do they see as kind of the barriers for, you know, what are they using even how are they doing things? Because most of the time a lot of these companies don’t go out of the building. it’s kind of like, well, we are in the room and we’ve done all this research, but nobody talks to consumers like, what do you what do you do? One of the things that I love about this kind of project is starting with these job-to-be-done interviews, and then also kind of knocking our own bias out the door and saying, okay, actually, we’re also wrong.

Mariette Abrahams:  those are the kind of real job-to-be-done interviews that then feed into, kind of scoping out a project. you start from scratch, scoping out the project. Then we manage the project, we execute the project, and then we also get to write up the project and say, okay, why did it work? Why didn’t it work? And we help the companies to find stakeholders in the industry, find these innovative startups that have developed a tool or an app or a platform or some kind of a, you know, innovation.  that is big, on the ground, let’s say they are very much closer to the consumer than some of the bigger, I would say, food companies or ingredient companies are. So that’s where we are, the connection. And that’s why I say that’s where some of these successful projects come, come off is, is, is really to not be some kind of an innovation company that says, okay, give us, and then we just execute and we’ll come and report back in six months. We are in touch with our clients every week. Every two weeks we update, and we say there’s a problem here. We should shift it this way. This is up and coming. it’s evolving.

Mariette Abrahams: And those are the most successful projects. But I must say again it is a big leap for companies, you know, legacy companies, you know, to shift into a more agile or being more in the, in the real world, understanding and accepting their digital and direct-to-consumer as kind of the way for people check everything, people research, you know, they compare, they will do their research for months on end before they invest in a brand or a product or some kind of an innovation. this is the world that we know. They read, they read feedback, they will check on, you know, every platform.  if you don’t have the data in terms of, you know, transparency and efficacy, you’ve done the work, then you’re going to be into trouble. Because now people now people have the tools to check. This is why these tools exist. There’s of course, a lot of controversy around how validated are they, and how accurate are they. But as you can see from I, it’s out there. And as it learns, it’s learning faster and it’s learning at a faster pace. that’s what companies have to deal with. It’s not the age-old, you know, taking, you know, a year, two years to launch a new product. It’s like being on top of what are consumers saying. What are they what are they needing? What do they want? What are they crying out for? And that’s where we can connect the dots from our scientific expertise and translate it into a business solution. Yes.

Bethany Jolley: And you bring up a lot of great points. And I think consumers are becoming more educated. And it is. It’s easy to read reviews. It’s easy to see things that consumers like what they don’t like and what they’d like to see in the market.

Mariette Abrahams:  absolutely. The times have completely changed from our paper, like, do this, go to the shelf and buy that. It’s completely changed.

Bethany Jolley: how do you ensure Keena’s services remain innovative while adhering to rigorous standards and consumer needs?

Mariette Abrahams:  I think that’s a very, very good point. Because like I said, if you just focus on the science, you’re going to lose the rest of it. So of course, we found that we had to learn a lot about regulation because personalized nutrition, kind of sits at this intersection where you’re thinking about, you know, functional fluid. because people want to have food and beverages that have health benefits, well, in that case, companies work in one kind of regulatory area. But if you’re advising people on, you know, reducing their cholesterol or their blood pressure, then you are playing in the medical nutrition area again. And then if you have an app that you know that delivers that advice and uses blood tests or anything like that, you’re a medical device again. we’ve just found that all of a sudden, this regulatory area that we are not trained in, is impacting personalized nutrition. And now we have AI and AI ethics that is coming in as well. we keep a close eye on what regulation is coming in. We are active in some kind of, you know, especially in AI ethics that we’re passionate about. we are involved in some of these working groups. we do keep an eye on what is happening and share that information with, you know, our subscribers and our clients. And we of course have, partnerships with other companies who specialize in regulation that we can always divert, companies into. But things like privacy are a hot topic.  you know, wherever you are, but especially as a, as it pertains to personalized nutrition, because sometimes you’re working with personal data, sometimes you’re working with, you know, biological data.

Mariette Abrahams:  we don’t work with it personally. But of course, if you’re going to help companies collaborate, those two will need to make sure that they understand that data. And does the consumer know that their data is being shared? there’s a lot of, you know, things to consider. And of course, we keep an eye on or keep up to date on what is the latest regulation, who it impacts, which kind of vertical does it impact, and knowing what to advise and when to, you know, divert or get, you know, professionals, consultants or lawyers, involved in, in the conversation.  but I would say it’s an area where personalized editions are still near. even the regulators are catching up with how do we regulate this area, should we regulate it or should we? It’s a largely unregulated area because it’s such a gray zone in between food and food and health. Really.  but of course, people will be catching up. that’s why we stay at the forefront while everybody is learning. We are very strict on GDPR as our main one because of course people sign up for the platform. That’s good. If we have projects that is GDPR. You know, we work with a very, very secure environment in terms of how we collect data and who we work with. but on the other hand, you know, it’s mainly advisory on, on, on our account.

Bethany Jolley: Yes. Transparency and education are core values for Qina. So how do you promote understanding and personalized nutrition benefits to the public?

Mariette Abrahams: we have um we’ve been involved. We still are involved with several initiatives. one of the areas we are involved in is the Personalized Nutrition initiative at the University of Illinois, actually, in Chicago. they are like, the academic music industry, collaboration or initiative.  that helps too, not only conduct research in the area of personalized nutrition and sponsored research projects but also develop public-facing modules. at the moment, looking at developing Coursera posts for the public on personalized nutrition. I am delivering, a few modules on, you know, what personalized nutrition is, why it’s important, how is it evolving, what kind of, you know, devices are solutions out there for people who are looking for personalized nutrition.  and what the future looks like.  but then also, I lecture at university, looking at, you know, behavioral design thinking for nutrition students who, of course, are very strongly trained on the nutrition side, but not really on the technology and kind of design side, innovation side. So that’s another, area. And then one of the other exciting. That being said, we are working on it MIT has a nonprofit arm that is looking at developing a data nutrition label that helps companies and the public to know where the data source comes from, that trains the AI algorithm. So like you have a food label where you know, these are your protein, carbs and fats you know, micronutrients.

Mariette Abrahams: Now we can also know how which data sets are being used to train this AI algorithm. if I, used a study, with research done in China, it would not be relevant to you. if that label then says, well, the reason the AI uses the data set from this study and the humans actually that was part of the study were Chinese, then, you know, actually this product might not be relevant to me.  or, you know, it’s not representative in terms of the conclusions that were made in terms of the research. And that’s exciting, I think because AI is a reality that we, we’re going to face.  And like I said, you can have your electronic health record, you know, connected to your, to your Fitbit data and, your wearable or anything. But once they start talking together only through AI will you be able to make sense of this. if you’re going to provide recommendations based on that, you need to know if those recommendations come actually from reliable data.  and that was ethically collected as well.  and that’s representative. And that’s a really exciting area that we are working on because it works both with, AI is known to be kind of a black box.  you can’t interrogate the algorithm. You don’t know how companies came up with a recommendation like, it’s IP, but if there’s a label, at least you can say, okay, well, use these different or use this kind of, you know, genetic data or microbiome data or whatever the case might be.

Mariette Abrahams:  I think that’s a really exciting development. So we are looking at, using our score in combination with the data nutrition label and helping them to kind of, make the solutions in the area, in the industry more transparent about the data that they’re using to provide recommendations. Because if people look at their smartphone and it says, hey, you know, eat five apples sometimes not everybody, but, you know, you need to question where those recommendations came from, right? You can’t just jump five times. Okay, maybe not so bad, but if you’re going to tell me to eat in a specific way for the next 2 or 3 weeks or a month, I would want to know why. that’s that’s really where we are heading why we are early in the journey. It’s important to plant the seed about this is how we can help to make, AI solutions or personalized nutrition solutions more transparent so that if we’re going to build trust not only from CMS but also from practitioners, we need to have some kind of a label to make sure that everybody knows exactly in an easy way, in a very understandable way, know what it means. And that’s what we are working towards as well.

Bethany Jolley: Yes. And I know you’ve probably had to navigate a lot of different challenges in this rapidly growing market. So what advice can you give to budding entrepreneurs looking to enter the personalized nutrition space?

Mariette Abrahams:  I mean, I would say I always like to say when I started in the industry, there were about 12 companies in the industry. We are now almost on 700 with a lot of closures as well. It is not like everyone that was in 2012 is still around. the market has evolved. It’s been very dynamic, but one of the consistent things that has come through, I would say over the last few years is personalized nutrition is nothing if you don’t have behavior change. if you can’t help people to make a change in terms of their behavior, then it’s just data. Are you just collecting your Fitbit and your blood test and are you just collecting stuff, but you’re not going to act on it? unless the company makes it actionable in the way that it is relevant to the individual, then we’re not going to get anywhere. That’s number two. you need to have behavior change built into your solution if you’re going to develop anything. The second thing is if it’s not affordable, then it’s not going to work either. Because if you’re going to make, you know, the people who can pay 500, 600, 700 for a solution, they’re already healthy, they already invested in their health. So unless you are thinking more broad spectrum and see how can you make an impact, you need to think about how you crack this, the problems of how we can address health and social impact by, you know, creating more affordable solutions.

Mariette Abrahams: That’s I would say the second thing, the third thing now where this is I would say the third phase that we have now is efficacy. Once this shiny. Tool syndrome has worn off. People want to see efficacy. They want to see that actually what it says on the tin works. And we’ve had so many, you know, reviews or reports now that some of these apps don’t have any meaningful benefit to them. They don’t have, you know, result in significant weight loss, for example, they don’t result in significant, change in biomarkers. unless we can demonstrate that having some kind of a digital, actually works at the moment, we know it works with it works best with human interaction. You’re not going to work. don’t create a solution that is just an app. And you think, I’m just going to push it into the world and people will love it and they will just follow the advice you know, it’s hunky dory. It just doesn’t work like that. don’t create a me too.  always, always design with behavior change at the beginning. Think of how you’re going to demonstrate efficacy. And it needs to be, affordable.  and always, always, always work with experts. Yes. Definitely.

Bethany Jolley: Yes. That is all great advice. Well, thank you once again, Mariette, for joining us today and for sharing Qina’s captivating journey and how you are redefining personalized nutrition for listeners who are eager to explore Qina further or to review their services, we’ve provided the necessary links. Do subscribe, drop in your thoughts, and join us in spotlighting the nutraceutical world on social media until our next episode. Stay informed and inspired and the vast expanse of nutraceutical innovations.