The 1950s and Exercise
It seems strange now but not around sixty years ago the connection between exercise and better health wasn’t a widely-held belief. As early as the 1950s there was scepticism around the hypothesis that middle aged men who were engaged in physically active work experience less coronary artery disease than men who did not engage in active work. It was only until further research was carried out that proved the theory did governments begin actively promoting the benefits to their citizens.
Likewise nutrition and its effect on performance is only a relatively new belief and it wasn’t until the 1970s – thanks inpart to the influx of bodybuilding – did exercise physiology laboratories at universities spring up to study trained athletes.
The 1980s and Nutrition
The 1980s saw the introduction of the field of sports nutrition according to Human Kinetics and by the 1990s “athletes also began to train harder and for longer periods than in the past. Nutrition was widely recognized as a way to support training and speed recovery. It became clear that the intensity and duration of training were major influences on athletes’ nutritional needs.”
The 2010s and Technology
Today in 2013 we are at the very beginning of the digital health revolution and the third strand to optimizing health and performance will be of course the convergence of technology and biology. Digital disruption is nothing new and has brought down barriers in many industries and health is no different.
Included in this health disruption will be blood bioanalytics. Understanding biomarker levels in the blood can, according to InsideTracker’s Gill Sander, enhance your performance, raise your metabolism, reduce pain, improve sleep, boost energy, and optimize mood.
So of course blood bioanalytical services are springing up to help people from all walks of life – from athletes to health enthusiasts to self trackers – to know more about the ‘quality’ of their red stuff. As it always has, technology is disrupting the traditional model and bringing down costs. Some of these new services are more established, others are yet to launch and only time will tell on their future. What is certain however is that blood monitoring is a growing and innovative area with new ways in analyzing biomarkers springing up all the time. Here are some leading the charge.
Boston based InsideTracker is a bioanalytics service which analyzes your blood for up to twenty biomarkers. InsideTracker has an agreement with LabCorp. and customers can visit a clinic to have their blood samples drawn from a LabCorp. professional. The biomarker levels in the blood are then analyzed and uploaded to your InsideTracker dashboard where nutritional recommendations are made.
Like InsideTracker, WellnessFX is a bioanalytics service which analyzes your blood. Unlike InsideTracker, WellnessFX doesn’t make nutritional or dietry recommendations but allows the user to speak with a healthcare professional about their results.
Talking20, which began as an Indiegogo project, is bringing at-home blood tests for a low cost. Users are sent a blood testing kit where they add a couple of drops of blood on a filter card and mail back to Talking2o which then provides the results online or via an smartphone app.
Talking20’s model brings the cost of blood testing right down. As an example, a user can pay $995 for 24 blood tests over a two year period for every biomarker (seventeen I believe) they cover, allowing self-trackers to consistently analyze and make improvements to their blood.
4. Sano Intelligence
San Francisco startup Sano Intelligence has developed a small, wearable patch sensor that can read and transmit blood chemistry data to an external device like a smartphone. The company call it “an API for the bloodstream” and the unobtrusive patch attaches to the body and analyzes blood biomarkers such as glucose and potassium. Having real time data of blood levels can benefit a range of people from diabetics to athletes to those who just want to ensure their body is optimized appropriately. And of course a patch sensor takes away the time consuming, inefficient and, to some, worrying process of injecting needles.
5. The V-Chip
As reported in PSFK, the V-Chip runs fifty different biomarker tests at once with just a single drop. “The V-chip (volumetric bar-chart chip) was created by scientists at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Preliminary tests of the device have been published by Nature Communications.”
6. Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale device
Swiss scientists have developed a biomarker analyzing device which sits under the skin and gives real-time results via a smartphone. While still in early stage the currently unnamed device from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland, has been successfully tested on animals and researchers say it can reliably detect both cholesterol and glucose in blood as well as some other common substances doctors look for.
Do you use any of these services? What other bioanalytics companies are out there?