MyAir marries big data with superfoods in personalized stress-busting bars
05 Jan 2022 --- Ancient concepts like “plants as medicine” are being given a 21st-century reinvention featuring technology like artificial intelligence (AI), as seen in myAir’s personalized plant-based nutrition bars, which target stress.
CEO and co-founder Rachel Yarcony speaks to NutritionInsight about the third generation of personalized nutrition, the role of technology and how stress has become a daily part of life.
“Using plants as medicine is not new, but as we gain more research and data about the power of superplants, we understand that nature created the first strong technology. Plants have adaptogens that connect to our cognition and support our mood, and we accept food that works for us – meaning food for mood.”
The start-up brings together two arms of science – the science behind plant-based formulations and the science of big data (AI) to develop personalization and deep profiling.
Harnessing big data
In a preliminary study based on AI, myAir discovered that different consumers generally have different dominant stress symptoms.
“We use big data and ongoing machine learning mechanisms to dictate the best personal profile per user. From the feedback we currently get from our consumers, our algorithm succeeds in dictating the best personal mix for each consumer,” explains Yarcony.
The personalized combinations are available through a subscription service and are delivered monthly to the consumer’s doorstep.
“We have thousands of different combinations, based on our proprietary formulations and our patented AI deep profiling mechanism.”
Additionally, the affordability of big data, microbiome markers, DNA markers and psychological and physiological markers are all driving consumer segmentation. “People now are focusing on the prevention and management of chronic disease through nutrition.”
According to Yarcony, personalized nutrition will continue to grow “tremendously.”
“Since I began my career in the food industry 20 years ago, I have watched how it has evolved from taking out harmful ingredients to adding ‘better-for-you’ value with the introduction of natural ingredients and superfoods in order to align itself with quality and wellness ideals of consumers.”
She continues that now in the third generation, there is a gravitation to more personal nutrition based on tailored nutrition advice.
“Driving to a new location was challenging ten years ago; you’d have to either memorize directions or print out a paper map. Today, hardly anyone drives to a new location without using a GPS. That’s exactly what the future holds for our diets.”
Yarcony elaborates that in five years, AI technology will influence the food we eat in the same way GPS controls our navigation.
Blending adaptogens with plants
MyAir’s functional date-based bars combine adaptogens with plants like hops, sage, passionflower, ginseng and ashwagandha. These connect with the receptors of the endocrine and autonomic nervous system to counteract the effects of stress on the central nervous system by moving the body towards homeostasis.
According to the company, the ingredients also work synergistically to exert a specific stress-countering effect, whether to sharpen focus, revive energy, reduce anxiety, support relaxation and promote quality sleep.
Notably, a study carried out with wearables company Garmin found that 73% of participants experienced reduced stress with myAir’s stress-less routine, and 84% had improved sleep quality.
Coping with the new normal
Yarcony emphasizes that the bars are rolling out at a time when stress is a part of daily life.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has further amplified the importance of this megatrend as employees work from home and meet colleagues and customers over Zoom meetings. The pandemic has spurred heightened levels of stress.
She continues that isolation and fear of leaving the house have incurred feelings of loneliness, which is affecting the US and Europe alike. Therefore, she argues “we are what we eat,” and “food for mood” approaches can help consumers cope with the “new normal.”
Stress as a global epidemic
Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the World Health Organization had declared stress a global epidemic, Yarcony points out.
Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death in the world, and in the US alone is estimated to cost US businesses up to US$300 billion each year.
“According to the American Institute of Stress, 83% of US workers suffer from work-related stress. Stress is a global crisis that relentlessly beckons a comprehensive call to action,” she notes.
Additionally, stress has many facets, as seen in the different stress symptoms seen between consumers.
“For example, stress affects me mainly in the mornings, so my energy levels and focus are decreased. My partner feels the stress at night and occasionally has problems getting fulfilling sleep. Each of us needs a personalized solution. This is where myAir has redefined the paradigm,” Yarcony concludes.
Last March, the company also launched a platform that allows companies to maximize marketing efficiency by gathering consumer data and research on plant-based formulations.
By Katherine Durrell
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