The day comes for all of us, and the day I’m speaking of is that day when our once loose jeans and baggy shirt become a bit tighter around the waste. It’s at that time we decide to get down to business, hit the gym, and skip the cookie aisle at the supermarket, because the diet starts now.
COVID hits and it’s not that easy to get our work out on. Still we wake every morning and go for a run, even buy weights, do the research and plan out are meals. After chugging down a protein shake, suddenly losing those extra pounds feels easy. However, then, with the runner’s high wearing off, a bag of Cheetos, a few beers, and more than one off-day later, and you realize that this is going to be an uphill battle.
Leveraging NLP and AI capabilities to keep your nutrition goals
Israeli startup Newt and its founder and CEO Gil Kerbs understand the struggle of maintaining a healthy diet and schedule. The company developed an AI-powered platform that uses your daily habits to generate a personalized regiment to keep your nutritional goals on track. Or as Gil puts it “Our product interacts with users daily to understand and aggregate all information needed for health / nutrition based decisions, and then provides daily support to start shifting their behavior towards healthier habits.”
With the year of COVID coming to a hopeful end, it was definitely a great year for remote technology, from medicine to fitness, the global pandemic did change the way people interact virtually. So how has personalized nutrition gained such popularity? GIl says that “It's kind of the 'perfect storm'. We are so focused on our health and wellbeing due to the pandemic - we finally REALLY know that actively staying fit and healthy can help prevent harsh impacts from sickness, such as with COVID. We are also witnessing the rise of AI, allowing for true personalization - a personal fitness coach that is really 'personal', and now with Newt, a personal nutritionist that really tailors everything for you.”
Gil explains that he sees preventative care as the future of personalized medicine, “not only giving you the 'right' medicine when you need it… but rather helping you make the right daily decisions that eventually shape your long term health.”
Yeah, this is probably not the first fitness/nutrition app you’ve heard of, but Newt does things a little different, actually putting your habits in the center to better motivate you. But how is it done? “In one word - "behavioral personalization". We are not aiming for a quick perfect, but for the closest to optimal that you can sustain for the long run. Our Behavioral expertise stretches from Prof. Adam Grant (Wharton, world leading motivation expert), and Stanford Mind&Body lab who focus on use of psychology for wellbeing. Our goal is to make not only the best clinical knowledge available, but rather to combine it with cutting edge psychology/behavior knowledge that makes behavior and diet change a real possibility in the long run."
Gil’s attachment to the subject comes from his years in the medical industry as part of Medtronic China, where he notes that “it was very rewarding to help add 1-2 years to people's lives, but I wanted more - 20-30 more years, with better quality - and this could not be done when the patient is already in the OR. So, I got into preventative medicine, and there's nothing bigger for your long term health than your nutrition... All of us at Newt have this motivation - helping people keep healthy, by harnessing the strongest force available to everyone - daily nutrition."
He adds that although intervention healthcare isn’t going anywhere and will maintain an important part of medical care but preventative can be better for humanity as a whole, “Take cancer - surgery's solution is to take it out or 'kill it' (radiation), but not to solve what caused it, yet. This is a short term solution due to the limitations of our knowledge. Think about it this way - 5 year survival rates for various cancers are still very low, despite utilizing cutting edge technology to treat them. Preventative healthcare is much less 'high-tech', we don't need robots - nor huge amounts of dollars - it's rather cheap - and it really helps dramatically reduce chances of getting sick. The real problem is that it's a marathon, and not just a sprint intervention, making it psychologically harder. That's why we at Newt focus on behavior so much.”
Founded in 2019, Newt has received backing from Welltech1 - a wellness microfund, and angel investors. And according to Gil, the company has a few partnerships in the works. Cool idea and all but why the name Newt? “We wanted something short that sounds like nutrition, but is also a name of a character. We see Newt as a personal guide for nutrition. It's also a really cute animal,” said Kerbs.
Ok, last thing, even though it’s been a weird year, we’re sure people will keep in the tradition of failing at their New Year’s resolutions (myself a victim), so we asked Gil to take from his nutritional expertise and offer some advice: “...In general I'd advise people that next time they 'fail' with a resolution, they should not beat themselves up about it, but rather think how to better approach it next time. Usually, there's a fun, easier way to achieve success and give you great results in the long run.”