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A note from the editor: Can tech help us be healthier?

Rationalising the way we eat has spurred a raft of food and nutrition startups to use technology to transform our diets and health

Our cover story goes into the science behind personalised nutrition (iStock)

Shedding those stubborn kilograms is a very real struggle for many, and for those with lifestyle diseases like diabetes, dependence on medication is lifelong. But what if it didn’t have to be so? What if each person just responds differently to various kinds of food and therefore is more prone to obesity or diabetes? This is the idea that has inspired a clutch of startups to use technology to transform healthcare by rationalising the way we eat to prevent and reverse lifestyle diseases. This new crop of founders—many of whom have struggled with lifestyle diseases themselves—aims to improve metabolic health and boost energy levels with personalised food and fitness road maps. They use monitors and apps to track a range of markers—from blood sugar and gut microbiome to sleep and stress levels—and choose foods best for you. Their work is based on a line of thinking that takes the guilt out of being overweight or diabetic. It’s not that you don’t have self-control, they tell you, it’s that no one explained to you how your metabolism works. This is still a minority view in the medical world, but for those who have tried these methods and seen results, it has been life-changing. Our cover story goes into the science behind personalised nutrition, a multibillion-dollar industry globally that is growing rapidly in India.

Pivots, going digital, and startups seem to run through the stories in this issue. The pandemic has pushed traditional artists online, forcing them to take to social media to sell their work. It’s a slippery slope—they have finally made a shift that should have come earlier but they are also competing with larger brands that have digital marketing muscle. We have a story on the challenges that private space startups face, from finding technical expertise to financial backing for their efforts to study the cosmos. Also in this issue is a profile of B. Amrish Rau of Pine Labs, providers of the technology that powers credit-card swipe machines, and he says fintech is one of the sectors that has recovered fastest from the covid-19 blow. Debates over too much tech and too little privacy continue but there’s no question it improves quality of life.

Write to the Lounge editor @shalinimb

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