Purpose driven nutrition: Amit Srivastava, Phoodhacker

It is a healthcare company’s responsibility to understand ”Responsible Nutrition” with a purpose through nutrition science says Amit Srivastava*

Nutrition is often taken as granted. That’s because we have a sense of “we know it all”. We deal with nutrition as second thing after we are born. First is cry, second being mother’s milk.

We get hungry, we eat. Eating is a daily cycle and hence boring. How do we make it exciting? Senses! More taste = Senses gratification = More fun.

This more fun loses the objective of eating food (balanced nutrition for our body), and focusses on satisfying 3.3 inch of our body- the tongue. In pursuit of gratifying 3.3 inches, we end up loading disproportionate amount of organic – inorganic chemicals. Our body does not know what to do with this.

Body has about 7000 reactions happening at any given period of time and there are about 3000 enzymes working at any given time to catalyse reactions. Now these reactions have to cope up with unexpected overload of new chemicals or common chemicals needed by these reactions. This alien treatment to these reaction triggers overwhelming chain of reactions called as Reactive Oxidative Stress (ROS). These ROS are the genesis for any metabolic disease that may come up over a period of time – including cancer.

People believe that they have a solution to this- anti oxidants. These chemicals try to stop these oxidative stress reactions. I have a question here. If the source of ROS is getting continuous rich fuel ( In pursuit of gratifying 3.3 inch tongue) then how does few capsules of antioxidants stop ROS? Aren’t we fooling ourselves? I may buy-in the possibility that the metabolic pathway diseases may come up little later in life if we are heavy on antioxidants. So is it a bargain we are making by consuming anti-oxidants?

This behaviour reflects on most humans, be it a doctor, pharmaceutical executive, health support professional at hospitals, or billions of consumers out there.

There is a belief that there are medicines to cure or manage. Trust me manage is a disguise.

How about I phrase it this way “You have cancer. You cannot live more than three months. But, I have a solution. I can extend your lifetime to a year or may be longer or maybe get you out of this (Really?), make your quality of life relatively better but at a cost. This cost is directly related to your or your family emotions towards you. (Are you reading the hidden message?)

So the bottom-line message is right nutrition. Food primarily is a complex chemical cocktail needed to run our body. This is the sole objective. In reality, the power of 3.3 inch overtakes any effort to rectify this behavior and hence we have booming lifestyle diseases management industry.

What can we do as a healthcare company?

I often see healthcare companies getting carried away by the nutrition business opportunity rush.

There are plethora of nutraceuticals flooding the market with target indications. Is this a responsible nutrition?

Is it so easy? Actually not. Let’s understand that we humans are made of ingredients casually called as Nutrition/ Food. These ingredients not only drive 7000 reactions leading to multiple outputs in our body, but also support 300 trillion probiotics living in our gut. Giving a nutraceutical supplement with reductionist (molecule) approach of pharma for an indication in metabolic disease patient will not yield any reasonable outcome.

This calls for understanding systemic metabolic condition and the medicine being given at that period of time. It’s important to understand how the metabolic conditions change with disease progression and change of medicines.

If we take a step back from going in second generation , third generation and nth generation drug step up to manage the condition but actually put the patient on specific nutrition cocktail that eases the condition leading to maintaining low doses of medicines. How does that sound?

Welcome to Responsible nutrition. It is a serious responsibility for healthcare companies offering nutrition to be careful of what they offer. A simple whey protein for a type II diabetes patient could trigger faster progression of diabetes because of rich methionine or beta casein. Same Whey protein could be the fuel to aggressively growing cancer cells due to rich source of glutamine and aromatic acids. A well balanced nutrition could be more dangerous to patient than anything else. If the metabolic conditions have changed then how come nutrition remain same as normal humans? For example Hydrolyzed protein that does not give out glutamine and Aromatic amino acids coupled with high MCT and minimal complex carbohydrates could possibly aid in slowing down the chemo aggressive therapy.

This is because the cancer cells may start dying due to starvation by simple modification in nutrition.

Cancer cells cannot derive energy from ketones processed from MCTs.

To add to cocktail what if we add targeted proteolytic enzymes to lower the oxidative stress and also inhibit metastasis? Isn’t it adding value to chemo therapy?

Above is just an illustration of responsible nutrition. For healthcare companies; nutrition and nutraceutical should be given as a purpose. The purpose of better health outcomes for a specific metabolic disease while the objective of tackling medical condition is being done by the drugs. Since its purpose driven nutrition; it would also call for changing nutrition cocktail for different stage of metabolic disease.

This calls for studying nutrition more as a science and not as an enhanced food support for some indication. This also means building therapy and metabolic stage driven strategy nutrition cocktail tools for effective disease journey management. These tools give body an opportunity to revive and combat the health condition while the objective of direct treatment with drugs continue.

Author Profile:

Amit Srivastava describes himself as a Responsible Nutrition Protagonist/ Evangelist & a passionate Phoodhacker, who believes in hybridizing precision of pharmaceutical science and the food science to hacks the bio-system to modify a favorable health outcome. He currently heads Start up for Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in Medical Foods, Co-Rx foods and  nutraceutical OTC for India and Emerging markets (Russia, South Africa and China)