“A revolution in nutrition that has no parallel in the market right now” – that’s the promise of BioLumen, a caloric elimination technology that promotes a healthy gut and improves metabolic health.
But how does it work? And how effective is it really? We talked with Paolo Costa, the founder and CEO, to find out more.
The idea for BioLumen came to me on a plane, when I was given plane food that looked really calorific and unappealing. I have a background in Polymer engineering, and I remember thinking, what if I wrapped this food in plastic?
I started talking about this idea to some Stanford gastroenterologists. They were enthusiastic about it, but plastic was not a viable proposal, so we switched it to a natural compound always present in food – cellulose.
BioLumen’s product is a cellulosic form that can be mixed with food or taken by itself. Once in the stomach, it expands by up to 100 times, enabling it to absorb sugar and fats. It then slowly releases a consistent amount of nutrients to the bacteria in the colon to feed them.
Not only does it reduce calorie intake, but this slow release also protects the liver from sugar spikes.
Essentially, we get the best of three worlds: low blood glucose, caloric elimination, and the release of fatty acids. It’s a revolution. It means you no longer need to use artificial sweeteners, which are bad for your health. Just consume normal sugar, and we’ll take care of it.
Does eating an apple equate to drinking a glass of apple juice? No. The apple juice gets immediately absorbed by the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The fruit is much more difficult to absorb because its nutrients are inside a lattice of insoluble and soluble fiber (cellulose).
So it’s important to consider not just the presence of fiber in our product, but also the structure. A dense network of fibers is weaved inside these nutrients, which are released slowly.
For many years, the human digestive system processed food that we found in nature, which was much “stingier” in releasing its calories compared to the food we consume today, which is converted to sugar immediately.
Nowadays, we wouldn’t even need eight meters of gastrointestinal tract! Modern food is already predigested. But we still have eight meters, so the fuel we supply to our bodies is not the same fuel that our bodies were designed for.
According to scientific papers, people’s health is not improving. Modern diets are the main culprit: you might live longer, but with poorer health. We’re trying to reverse this trend by reversing what processing food does to the raw ingredients.
No – we are the first!
We’re creating a new and important space, including the concept of “negative calories”. We can put our material in a chocolate bar, for instance, and our fiber would expand to absorb not only the chocolate coating, but everything else in the stomach fluid. A chocolate bar could therefore be a “negative calories” food rather than a “zero calorie” product.
We’ve been working with a PepsiCo accelerator. It’s the second-largest food company in the world, and we aim at inserting our material in its most popular snack in a bid to make it much healthier.
We can work in different markets, selling our tablet to the end consumer or having our material inserted into food to retail.
The scalability. Our material is not easy to make. We can’t use ingredients other than food to generate it and we have to engineer it. The digestive system is very complicated, and it’s very challenging to reproduce in the lab.
In practice, this means it’s difficult for us to understand which combination and configuration of our material is most effective. In the end, the body will tell us what we need to know – although every person is different in their digestion and microbiome. In general, we’re good for everybody, but we can be 20% better or worse for some.
Our goal is to be on the market as soon as possible. Our US social media marketing plan will begin in the spring.