Jeremy Poland, co-founder and CEO of NGX, shares his passion and knowledge of nutrigenetics – the study of the relationships among genes, diet, and health outcomes.
A success story from the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, he believes personalized nutrition is the way forward for personal best results
The idea was born out of doing a DNA test for myself and realizing that there are immense potential health benefits in doing so. Your DNA informs everything about you; your eye color, hair color, weight, height, etc. Similarly, nutrition also plays a role – there are just certain genetic mutations that impact how well you process, metabolize, and store those nutrients.
I realized we could personalize a diet off the back of DNA testing and get great results, but it’s an extremely complex and challenging process to fully personalize the right amount of nutrients on a regular basis. We wanted to create something that was simple and package it all up into one product to give people something that would really help them optimize their nutrition on a daily basis, allowing them to exceed their fitness, health, and wellbeing goals.
Our NGX BodyFuel meal-shake is a high-protein product containing approximately 150 calories. We keep it quite lean and personalized to individuals. It can be taken as a breakfast or lunch replacement but it really depends on your goal – if you're looking to build muscle and bulk up a little, for example, you would enjoy it in addition to food. Because it's a high-protein product, it's very filling, so it's ideal for muscle growth.
We use vegan-friendly ingredients, with pea protein being the main component. It’s generally much better than whey protein from a taste point of view and also from a sustainability aspect.
Compared with a non-personalized product, that's a simple answer! Our genetic variants impact our individual nutrition requirements, and the genetic mutations we receive highlight very big swings in what people actually need compared with the average amount of nutrients generally offered. And yes, some people need this standard amount, but individually we have very different levels that are needed for optimal performance.
We match those levels so that, as an individual, you're hitting your targets. And obviously, when you get the right nutrition, everything else works better – mind and body. No one else is doing what we do currently, so the choice remains simple.
NGX is for people who are looking to achieve their best results and for those who are interested in personalizing their diets. Our personalized product is more premium than standard off-the-shelf meal-shakes, and they really speak to people who are constantly seeking improvement across everything they do.
Nutrigenetics is gaining more and more traction. I think an interesting place to start with that question is looking at the number of nutritionists offering personalized, DNA-based diets. And although, as I said, no one is doing exactly what we're doing, I have seen DNA-based meal delivery services.
All this leads us to believe that using DNA insights is becoming more of a mainstream way of thinking and that people are keen to improve their nutrition and overall health. It’s actually been around for a while now, having come about off the back of the Human Genome Project, completed in 2003.
There are, of course, similarities. Certain people will have the same genetic mutations, but we’ve now tested well over 1,000 people, and I've not seen one report that’s the same. In addition, not one single person has been on the “average” line (as in the average nutrient requirements that are stipulated by food guidelines).
From a nutritional point of view, I think it's definitely worthwhile, especially if you’re interested in your personal health, fitness, and wellbeing. I think people start to show more of an interest once they reach their thirties, as they suddenly realize they’re no longer “invincible”.
If you look at the broader tests – like the 23andMe that I did – you’re given information on things such as disease, propensity, and whether or not you're at risk of certain cancers, for example, and you can then make lifestyle changes as a result. It’s useful and actionable information that can have a genuinely meaningful impact on your life.
At the moment our focus is on growth in the UK. We’ll then be looking at the US, as well as Europe. We have many plans but for the immediate future, it's a question of building our acquisition in the UK market and then we’ll take it from there.