We’re hearing buzzwords like digital health tech, biohacking, health optimization and digital health monitoring, but what do they actually mean when it comes to our wellness?
They may sound impenetrable, but essentially they all refer to the many sophisticated ways that are emerging to improve specific aspects of your health that go beyond the usual advice to eat well, exercise and take whatever vitamins your doctor thinks you need.
It can be as simple as having regular blood tests to determine precise vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or it can be a complex, bespoke service combining personal data, bloodwork and artificial intelligence, algorithms and even virtual reality to keep regular track of the ongoing balance of supplements and doses to help you lose weight, improve brain, gut or hormone function and even help avoid diseases to which you might be genetically or environmentally predisposed.
In short, they are preventative measures as much as tools to help people regain or maintain a healthy status.
These sorts of digital health optimization services, which are available to both individuals and corporations, are a fast growing industry both globally and in the UAE.
“Health tech in general is an industry that is considered to be ‘the new fintech,’ explains Vadim Fedotov, CEO and co-founder of bioniq, a research-based health optimization system that is available in the UAE, Russia and the UK. “This sector has been growing in double-digits for five plus years, but the growth has been particularly stimulated by the Covid pandemic, which made everyone re-assess the importance of taking care of one’s health.”
All that has transformed the digital health tech sector into big business. When Fedotov was in Dubai in February, he said the global digital health market was valued at US$111.4 billion in 2019; it’s expected to reach $510.4 billion by 2025 and $885 billion by 2030.
So, Covid aside, what is behind this newfound interest in the details of our health?
“Some of the key drivers of the health tech industry are the explosion of health data and technological innovations such as edge computing, AI, and VR,” Fedotov explains. “We all agree by now that health is the new wealth. One doesn’t have to wait until one gets very sick in order to have no other choice but to proceed with complicated, tiring and costly medical procedures.”
Fedotov believes that the Middle East is a region that needs his company’s latest offering: bioniq Life, a subscription-based service that cross-checks and tracks your health and nutritional status, providing in-depth information and recommendations based on your personal data, blood test results and a unique AI-powered algorithm.
“Unfortunately, the statistics are showing that a significant part of the population in the GCC area is struggling with issues such as high cholesterol and diabetes,” he says. “Our goal is to promote a sustainable healthy lifestyle by changing people’s perception of the process of managing one’s health. It doesn’t have to be complicated or painful.”
There are obstacles, however. Cost is a big one, with bioniq subscription starting at Dh1,500 a month. And then there is helping potential clients understand exactly what’s involved and what results they can expect. Fedotov helps to explain.
Why is health optimization important?
Consistent health monitoring and optimization are powerful because you are able to maximize your physical and cognitive functions, as well as identify any health issues at early stages before they become something that cannot be fixed.
How do you use it in your life?
Every two months I do a bioniq blood test, which checks 50 parameters including liver function, vitamins and microelements, cholesterol, as well as some hormones. This way I am able to reflect on the changes in lifestyle that have an impact on my health. Nutrition, quality of sleep, activity level, stress levels, even something as simple as the change in seasons can significantly impact your health status. I also like to try new gadgets when it comes to health monitoring. One of my favourite gadgets is Oura ring, which tracks your sleep quality.
What are the most common deficits?
It is interesting that almost everyone around the world has vitamin D deficiency, even in the GCC area, where it is sunny all year round. It is a known fact now that one needs to spend hours outside in the sun every day without wearing any sunblock and remaining active throughout the process in order to maintain one’s vitamin D level. However, doing that can result in skin cancer. Therefore, without taking supplements it is almost impossible to maintain your vitamin D at an optimal level.
We’ve also noticed that women tend to have iron and ferritin deficiencies. A lot of the time this is down to them following restrictive diets to try and lose weight, which ultimately leads to undesirable consequences in other aspects of health.
What personal data is collected?
We test 50 blood test parameters and ask our clients to fill out a health form providing all details about their health history, including any allergies, surgeries, chronic diseases, age and lifestyle.
In the near future we will be offering DNA and microbiome testing, which will further develop the system, enabling it to offer personalized products that the world has not seen yet.
How is it used?
We have concluded over 24 clinical trials and tested more than two million-plus parameters, which helped us create a unique algorithm prescribing personalized solutions. We are consistently working on our system to enlarge the pool of smart data. Adding DNA testing, for instance, will allow us to further advance our technology and provide our clients with bespoke, medically proven solutions.
How are the supplements prescribed?
Each bioniq formula is made of SWISS granules, which are gluten, colourant and preservative-free, and also suitable for vegans. It’s a patented technology that allows a much better absorption of the components and is proven to be more effective.
What sort of results can clients expect?
Based on research, 96 percent of our clients see a significant improvement in their health during the second blood test, if they take the formula regularly and stick to the advice from the nutritionist. After our clients’ bodies achieve the optimal level of health status, our system helps to maintain and preserve.
How long should a client stay on the plan?
Bioniq should be a part of your lifestyle, as it supplies your body with micronutrients that your body cannot produce by itself. One bioniq LIFE cycle includes one blood test and a micronutrient formula that will last you two months. We encourage clients to do at least two or three cycles (that is, four to six months) in order to collect enough data that will enable the client to compare the results achieved and understand how well his or her body is able to absorb the nutrients.
How important is diet?
Sorry to disappoint you, but bioniq is not a ‘magic pill’ that will solve all issues. Seventy percent of your health depends on your diet. That is why we include a consultation with a nutritionist in every bioniq LIFE cycle. Based on the blood test result, our clients receive individual recommendations in regards to their diet in order to maximize the effect of the formula intake.
Devinder Bains is journalist of 20 years, working as a writer and editor on some of the biggest national magazines, newspapers and online publications in the UK and the Middle East. She specialises in women’s empowerment, fashion, race, culture and travel, and as a qualified personal trainer and nutrition coach, she is an expert in health and fitness. She splits her time between freelance writing and running Fit Squad DXB – Dubai’s largest personal training and wellness company.