Healthcare Technology Featured Article

August 18, 2017

How New Tech Is Redefining How We Think About Nutrition



Technology is revolutionizing how we communicate, how we travel, and how we learn new information—but it’s also advancing how we eat, and that may be even more important. Our nutritional needs are highly complex, requiring us to pay attention to total caloric intake, how we balance macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and our balance of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. Things get even more complicated if you have special dietary requirements, such as a dietary preference or an allergy to certain ingredients.

Thankfully, tech is helping us meet and understand these nutritional needs in some pretty significant ways—and it’s only going to get more advanced from here.

Tech Influences on Nutrition

These are some of the main areas where tech is catching up to nutrition:

Nutritional research. First, and perhaps most obviously, technology is connecting us to more research and more authorities than ever before. A quick search can connect us to the American Society for Nutrition, and dozens of scholarly journals dedicated to advancing our understanding of optimal nutritional intake (including the long-term effects of certain consumption habits). Nutritional research is notoriously difficult to conduct and maintain, since individual differences are so impactful and studies occasionally seemingly contradict each other. It’s vital that we’re plugged into the latest recommendations, and tech is helping us maintain that connection. Apps like Fooducate provide a shortcut for this process, displaying nutritional information in real-time when you’re shopping or ordering food at a restaurant.

Tracking apps. Knowing what you’re supposed to eat is one thing. Understanding what you’ve already eaten is another; that’s where nutritional tracking apps come into play. Apps like MyFitnessPal have exploded in popularity, allowing users to chronicle their eating habits and exercise patterns to better understand their health. The tech behind these helpful apps is rarely sophisticated, but their mass availability is helping consumers become more aware of what they’re eating.

AI and recommendation. Though just starting to bud, we’re beginning to see the development of artificial intelligence (AI) programs capable of making individualized recommendations for people, including what food to get, and how to prepare it. Hello Egg is one example of a gadget designed for this purpose, but apps will only grow in sophistication from here. In the future, we’ll likely have access to wearable devices capable of automatically analyzing anything we consume, making real-time recommendations on our subsequent eating decisions to keep us in good health.

Why Bother?

So why is this such an important area of tech development? There are a few different motivations at play here:

Athletic performance. Part of the motivation here is to improve athletic performance, which is highly dependent on an athlete’s nutritional intake. It’s hard to keep track of everything precisely enough to be reliable, so nutritional trackers and analyzers make the job of trainers and athletes easier. This is especially important for high-profile athletes, like those in professional sports or those training for the Olympic games.

Money. Obviously, software is a major source of profitability these days. Add that to the fact that America is facing an obesity crisis and most Americans are willing to pay significant money for any convenient option that allows them to lose weight, and you have a recipe for a money-making machine. The nutritional app space is crowded, but all it takes is one unique twist or feature to stand out from the crowd, and once the downloads start rolling in, a tech company can easily make enough revenue to sustain itself comfortably.

Lifespans and quality of life. There’s also a secondary motivation to improve health for the general public. Not everyone has access to high-quality education, and not everyone makes their personal health a priority. Providing the information and direction necessary to live a healthier life could help the public maximize their lifespans and quality of life.

Thanks to these critical motivations, we don’t have to worry about the momentum of our nutritional technology fizzling out anytime soon. If you aren’t already, consider taking advantage of apps and gadgets within this family of technology, and use them to improve your own life. 




Edited by Alicia Young




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