Page 9 - Food & Drink Magazine May 2021
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                 Genes made to fit
Can you have your cake and eat it too – or just a slice? Doris Prodanovic speaks with Be Fit Food CEO Kate Save and myDNA co-founder Allan Sheffield on their collaboration for personalising meals by combining the science of food with genetics.
WHEN the team behind meal plan service Be Fit Food appeared on TV show Shark Tank in 2017, they were not anticipating the response that followed. In an old fish and chip shop turned commercial kitchen, bought for a single dollar, production went from 1000 meals a week to 20-30,000 meals a week.
Be Fit Food CEO and co-founder Kate Save tells Food & Drink Business that they didn’t know there was a wider audience for their product.
“We just thought the people who wanted our programs were people seeing dietitians and weight loss doctors.
“We realised there was a much bigger demand when we hit 50,000 visitors on our website within minutes of the episode airing,” Save recalls.
Save, an accredited dietitian and diabetes educator, launched the company in 2015 with bariatric surgeon Dr Geoffrey Draper.
Their goal was to help Australians eat healthier and reverse the rising rates of obesity. They had worked together for a decade, helping around 20,000 patients, and in doing so recognised a gap in the market for a weight loss program and meal plan service that was backed by science and also delivered long term results.
It was in February this year that the Be Fit Food team began its partnership with Melbourne- based genetics company myDNA to take its meal plans to a new level of personalisation.
“The myDNA team approached us and said they loved the science behind what we did,” says Save. “For me, I
don’t understand why people can’t know what their DNA is – it’s your blueprint – you should be able to understand your individualised DNA to make your own decisions.
“In very layman’s terms, we should know why one person can eat cake because of their genetics, while someone
else’s genetic make-up means they shouldn’t be. This is extremely simplified, but that cake will react completely differently in different human beings – why don’t we know that about ourselves?”
When Save found out through myDNA that the science was available, she knew it would be the way they “could truly be able to change the health of Australians, by giving them the right information.”
myDNA launched its health and wellness mobile app last December with an emphasis on personalisation. Professor Allan Sheffield, myDNA co-founder, tells Food &Drink Business the goal was for people to learn about their genetics and to then take action.
“It’s about looking at someone’s genetics and helping them learn more about their body so they can make better and more individualised choices based on their DNA,” says Sheffield.
“A lot of members on the app chose weight loss as a goal and we saw a strong alignment with what Be Fit Food was doing already with personalised meal plans. With genetics, you can take it down another layer and personalise it even further, which excited both of us.”
To find out their genetics, a
customer’s DNA is collected with a painless cheek swab. The swab is sent to the myDNA lab where the team extracts the DNA material.
myDNA then works with Be Fit Food by testing around 60 genetic markers on each customer’s results.
From there, individuals are categorised into one of four diet profiles that have been developed in partnership with the CSIRO – Mediterranean, Protein Balance, Clean & Lean, and Lite & Trim. The results allow myDNA to maximise the macronutrients of proteins, carbs, and fats in each of the Be Fit Food profiles, ultimately providing a more personalised meal plan.
“For example, there’s a gene whereby people are predisposed to snacking more often,” explains Save. “There’s lots of scientific evidence to show that protein can help regulate your appetite regulation, and therefore a protein-balanced diet will keep you fuller for longer and help with your snacking habits.”
BELOW: The personalisation of food. Be Fit Food CEO Kate Save and myDNA’s Allan Sheffield have developed meal plans tweaked to a customer’s genome. | May 2021 | Food&Drink business | 9

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