Hillel's tech corner: DayTwo: Your personal dietitian algorithm

How is it that I eat a slice of pizza and see the weight immediately, and my friend can eat a pizza pie and remain slim?

DayTwo (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Here is an experiment for you to conduct: Next time you are with friends or family, try telling them that you have started a new high-fat, high-protein diet that totally eliminates carbohydrates from your menu. See what happens.
You don’t have to actually try this experiment. Let me save you time. Everyone will have an opinion, and the opinions will all be conflicting. Some will say that they are on the same diet and it is the best thing since sliced bread (no pun intended), and others will say that this type of diet is horrible and will give you heart disease. Interesting how the same foods can have people telling you how healthy they are and others telling you how they are dangerous.
Some more food for thought: You know those friends who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight? How is it that I eat a slice of pizza and see the weight immediately, and my friend can eat a pizza pie and remain slim?
Well, it is not about the food, it is about the person. Health guidelines are constantly telling us that certain foods are good or bad for you. The general public takes those statements and applies them across the board. In reality, a healthy diet is an extremely personal matter and what works for you won’t necessarily work for others.
DayTwo – founded in 2015, now with 65 employees, over 30,000 customers, a deal with HMO giant Clalit and a newly built lab in Israel – offers its customers a completely personalized diet of what they should eat in order to maintain balanced blood glucose levels.
I recently gave a talk to a delegation of American executives visiting Israel. After I spoke, DayTwo CEO and cofounder Lihi Segal stepped up to the podium. She explained how the company provides personalized nutrition and insights that allow you to live a healthier life by maintaining normal blood sugar levels. DayTwo accomplishes this by studying your individual biometrics, including your microbiome (the collective genomes of the microbes in your body) and lifestyle. The product is based on five years of research conducted by Prof. Eran Segal and Prof. Eran Elinav from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. The research was funded solely by Weizmann, and upon its completion the technology was licensed to the company.
I was blown away by Lihi’s presentation, not only because of the company’s incredible impact but also because I was not familiar with DayTwo. It always amazes me how, after all these years working in the Israeli tech ecosystem, I am still meeting incredible entrepreneurs building the most meaningful companies.
FAST FORWARD nine months to a summit produced by aMoon, a leading venture capital firm in the healthtech and life sciences sector. That day I met people from some truly remarkable companies, yet many people who know my affinity for quality cuisine asked me the same question, “Are you familiar with DayTwo? You have to be.”
I spoke to Lihi to understand more, and suffice to say, they were not exaggerating. Lihi explained, “We are a gut-microbiome, precision-medicine company. We use artificial intelligence, machine learning, a unique platform and our database to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and personalized nutrition recommendations based on our gut. We want to help the world become healthier. We want to become the new standard of care for diabetes and be able to make medical claims, such as reducing blood glucose levels.”
The product was based on scientific research showing that one’s clinical and personal parameters, including the individual gut microbiome – the ecosystem of trillions of interacting bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes in our digestive tracts – influenced glycemic (glucose in the body) response, and that machine-learning algorithms could predict the personalized blood sugar response to any food or meal with high accuracy. This finding yielded intriguing results: bananas but not cookies might spike blood sugar in one person but have an opposite effect for another.
Here’s how it works: Following registration, DayTwo provides an easy-to-use stool-sample kit. You are asked to fill out a questionnaire with blood test results, including HbA1c. Processing can take two weeks, and once sequencing is complete, DayTwo connects each customer with a registered dietitian who explains the findings and how to benefit from them by using DayTwo’s mobile app, which recommends foods and meals by how well they moderate sugar spikes.
DayTwo raised an initial $5 million from Marius Nacht, and in June of 2017, raised an additional $12 million in Series A funding, led by new investor Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Nacht, aMoon1, Mayo Clinic, Seventure Partners, and several individual investors with additional participation by existing investors. They are now in the process of raising their Series B funding.
DayTwo partners with self-insured employers, health plans, dietitians, primary care physicians, and endocrinologists. Their direct to consumer strategy includes some heavy-hitter ambassadors including leading athletes like NBA player Omri Casspi using DayTwo to increase performance.
The reality is, this company can confidently declare that the entire world is their target market.
DayTwo has a lot of work ahead to increase adoption of its product, but one thing is for sure, while everyone else is focused on a reactive or a preventative approach, DayTwo takes the proactive route to help us live healthier lives based on our own biology, separating them from the rest.
An artificial intelligence algorithm that acts as a 24/7 personal dietitian – it’s a great time to be alive.