Food emerges as “new class” of medicine for clinical care, flags newly merged Mend
04 Aug 2021 --- Society is on the “precipice of major breakthroughs” surrounding food as medicine. This is according to the co-founders of Mend and Upgraid, who speak to NutritionInsight about the two businesses’ merger.
The new US-based combined company, which is also called Mend, aims to make food as medicine accessible for everyone.
“We are all waking up to the reality that we need new solutions. What we ingest is core to our health, and we can design nutrition solutions that are specifically targeted to improving the most important risk factors that lead to poor health,” explains Eziah Syed, Mend co-founder and CEO.
Prior to the merger, Mend was creating clinical nutrition products that enhance patient outcomes and address undernutrition in patient populations. It has been particularly successful in the orthopedic space.
Meanwhile, Upgraid makes safe and effective organic alternatives, including behavioral support for a preventative lifestyle. Late last year, it partnered on research with Naturex.
Knock-on economic impacts
Syed adds that as science is advancing rapidly in the food as medicine area, there is a “massive opportunity” that will have profound consequences for human health and economic prosperity.
Notably, there are two billion overweight or obese people on the planet, and a third of adults live with multiple chronic conditions and are taking multiple drugs.
“Recent analyses have shown the direct relationship between health and economic prosperity. Next to education, societal health is the most important contributor to gross domestic product growth.”
“There is a great consensus that food is a major component of one’s health, and unfortunately, the compliance and access to affordable healthy foods have been difficult for so much of society,” Syed continues.
Building on brand identities
The mutually agreed 50-50 merger will use Mend’s branding because of the equity built with the hospital networks and engagement from prominent physicians.
The combined company platform targets specific health conditions and outcomes, prioritizing potent plant-based, organic ingredients.
This prevention-focused lifestyle aims to reduce reliance on chemicals and synthetic drugs. Mend is working on broadening the solutions available in the product portfolio that will impact consumers’ health and the efficacy of targeted nutrition in healthcare.
Landing US$3.7 million
The joint venture also recently received US$3.7 million from major investors, including Keen Growth, Tech Council Ventures, Blue.IO, H/L Ventures and KDC Earth.
“We plan to introduce our brand to the world and invest in market education. We will also use this capital to further our scientific research and scale the application and uses of our products worldwide,” says Syed.
Mend is already selling through some of the top US hospitals, but it also just executed an exclusive distribution arrangement with orthopedics entrepreneur Goran Petrovic and his group Repair Nutrition based in Australia.
“With this growth, we are investing in our sales channels with experts from the field to continue our advancement through the hospitals, physical therapy clinics, active military and professional sport teams.”
Justin Kamine, Upgraid’s co-founder, adds that they are talking to the world’s largest corporations about employee health programs and enhanced productivity. “Overall, we continue to develop new solutions that will help as doctor-recommended adjunct therapies for the biggest health challenges we face.”
Gaining medical endorsement
Kamine believes that endorsement from the medical community is a key validation of the quality and efficacy of Mend’s scientific approach to developing its products.
The company conducts double-blind placebo trials on its final formulations. Also, its products are specifically targeted for proactive health, wellness and recovery.
In a recent panel discussion on clinical nutrition, Dr. Michael Suk, chief physician officer at US-based Geisinger Health System, stated relating to clinical nutrition and Mend: “We’ve been able to cut our lengths of stay by 50 percent and save the system over US$1.5 million annually from clinically driven protocols that include clinical nutrition.”
Natural approaches on the rise
Meanwhile, Helene Rutledge, co-founder and president of Upgraid, explains that the organic ingredients serve as an indication to the market that the business is serious about quality and remaining as natural as possible.
“We do our best to stay attuned to what is important to our customers – natural and organic are important trends. Driving toward more natural solutions that prioritize plant-based and organic, without synthetic chemicals, is where Mend will continue to lead the space.”
Food as medicine and other natural approaches have been the subject of significant industry attention. In March, The American College of Lifestyle Medicine launched its first food as medicine course, with the executive director highlighting how this can target chronic disease.
The following month, a Kerry scientist weighed up the rise of nutritional immunology – a field of research on how diets and diseases affect the development and function of the immune system.
By Katherine Durrell
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