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Ria, World's first Artificially Intelligent Conversation Nutritionist Launching Mid-Jan: Tushar Vashisht-HealthifyMe

With the high levels of stress and anxiety plaguing people today, keeping ones health and wellness in check is a necessity

Resolutions are still trickling in the wake of the New Year. Topping the list are health and fitness goals.

The best way to know how you are doing and to keep you on track is to have measurable outcomes.

HealthifyMe is a mobile health and fitness app that combines the power of technology with real human services to deliver measurable impact. It was co-founded in 2012 by Tushar Vashisht and Sachin Shenoy, and incubated by Microsoft Accelerator.

With the high levels of stress and anxiety plaguing people today, keeping ones health and wellness in check is a necessity. There are many fitness apps in the market today but HealthifyMe is India’s largest digital wellness platform catering to 3.6 million users with over 250 coaches.

Tushar has been a health enthusiast and a 'nutrition techie' since he moved back to India. He gained 18 kg after moving to India due to unhealthy food habits with limited access to exercise. By tracking his diet/nutrition and getting motivation from his friends/family he lost those pesky pounds.

He calibrated nutrition value of Indian foods while living on Rs 32/day, an experiment that went viral and led him to this health entrepreneurship venture.

While Tushar doesn't have nutrition science education, he works with more 200+ qualified nutritionists & fitness trainers. They have special plans for clinical conditions where coaches provide guidance based on the ailments any person has. Some of the most popular plans are for Diabetes, Hypertension, PCOS, and Hypothyroid (for women)

The Healthifyme app recognizes whether a user is a vegetarian, non-vegetarian, eggetarian, or vegan on the basis of the foods they track. Once a user gets on to a premium plan, their coaches and nutritionists then take over and offer the users plans keeping in mind their diet preferences.

HealthifyMe's advisory board include Dr. Ambrish Mithal (Padma Bhushan, Endocrinologist, Chairman Medanta), and Ritika Sammadar (Head, Dietetics, Max hospital), Dr. Sesikaran (former Director of National Institute of Nutrition) who guide and advise him and the company.

The company has already seen a spurt in the engagement on its platform with the sheer number of Indians having established health resolutions on the app from more than 200 cities in India.

Tushar shared the common resolution trends that have emerged from their research so far:

1. Losing weight is the single biggest new year fitness and health resolution. Gaining muscle, getting off junk food, avoiding oily foods, avoiding sugar, eating more fruits, exercising daily, waking early, jogging daily are the most common.

2. While there is an almost equal split of men and women on the platform, the men have resolved to take 5000 steps a day, while the women have resolved to take around 3500 steps a day for the new year.

3. Apple, boiled eggs, cucumber, and oranges are the most popular healthy foods that the “new year resolutionists” want to eat more often.

4. Samosa, mutton curry, and french fries are the most popular, yet unhealthiest foods that the “new year resolutionists” want to eat less often.

5. Overcoming medical conditions (Hypertension, Diabetes, Cholesterol for men; PCOS, Hypothyroid for women) is a keen desire for many.

Resolves to be made

Tushar believes that the biggest change one should resolve to make for better health and fitness levels is prioritising health. Fixing a time for the fitness routine. Proper planning and stocking up the needed ingredients / healthy snacks for the whole week. To eat “mindfully” and being aware of the nutrients and possible chemicals in any processed food packet.

Quality of food

He has noticed that People are becoming aware of the quality of what they are consuming.

“There seem to be more and more homegrown organic farmers. People should aim to eat natural foods as they are always better. However, this may not always be practical, if processed foods are to be eaten, the selection should be basis the nutritive content, ingredients used and calorific values, these would be the three most important parameters to be considered.

Diet

Balanced meals with the right combination of macro (protein, fibre, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (Vitamins and minerals) would ensure the body gets the nutrition it needs on a daily basis,” he stressed.

Processed food

He strongly believes that processed foods and bakery items should be avoided as much as possible. “People should cut down on artificial colors, flavors, emulsifiers, transfat, interesterified fat, GMO foods, sugar substitutes, MSG and refined flours, chemicals (and the list goes on) used as ingredients. Limits should also be placed on sodium, simple sugars, saturated fat in regular cooking,” Tushar emphasized.

Fad diets

He strongly advocates staying away from fad diets, “As they are a temporary and not a permanent solution. They lead to nutrient deficiencies and deplete the body's nutrient reserve as well. Lifestyle modifications by eating healthy, getting into a regular fitness routine by breaking the sedentary lifestyle and getting proper sleep are the only ways to achieve sustainable, long-term health,” Tushar claims.

Eating raw 

Eating raw as prescribed by The Health Awareness Centre Mumbai or by Sharan and many other integrated nutritionists is something great in his opinion, but not always sustainable and doesn’t suit everyone. “Gauging one's tolerance levels for raw foods is very important before making a decision to shift completely,” he feels.

On Veganism

Vegans often have a tough time in meeting their daily protein, calcium requirements and a few other micronutrients especially when their physical activity is high. Supplementary options need to be looked at such as soy and its products ( soymilk, tofu, soy chunks etc). Vegans also need to focus more on green leafy vegetables and millets to meet their daily demand for calcium and micronutrients. Almond and other nut-based products are also a great source of proteins for Vegans. 


Protein options for vegetarians


Quality of protein is more important than quantity. Quality of protein in Milk and its products, soy products, spirulina, mushroom are very good compared to other veg protein sources like dals/lentils and nuts. Cereals, dals, and lentils need to be combined in meals to ensure intake of the right quantity of proteins.

Small meals 

Eating small portions frequently help in stabilizing the blood sugar and avoiding metabolic disorders as compared to eating heavy meals with long gaps in between.

How this app helps in attaining fitness goals


Tushar highlighted that the Healthifyme app enables users to attain their goals by tracking their food, water intake, suggesting healthy alternatives and by engaging users with the right coaches, nutritionists at the right time. “Tracking foods makes a person "mindful" of what they are eating, where they have to improve and the suggestions guide them to healthier alternatives. The app recommends a calorie budget based on the user’s goals, allows the user to track their workouts to check the calories burnt and step counts as well. The platform also has a team of over 250+ elite nutritionists, trainers who guide the users in achieving their fitness goals. The coaches guide the users by providing customised diet and workout/yoga routines according to their needs and time availability. The In-app groups help like-minded fitness enthusiasts share goal progress amongst one another serving as a source of motivation, making their respective fitness journeys "social", he pointed out.

HealthifyMe’s latest foray is Ria-the world's first Artificially Intelligent conversation nutritionist.

“Ria learns from 200+ million foods that our 3.6 million clients have tracked and 10 million messages that they have exchanged with their nutritionists. Ria can help you evaluate what you should eat and what to stay away from given your specific goals, and preferences. She also motivates you daily with engaging information about you. Ria is available as part of HealthifyMe premium plans starting mid-January 2018,” Tushar shared.

HealthifyMe, intends to help millions of Indians keep their 2018 resolutions by offering personalized diet, fitness and health recommendations. This would be delivered through a combination of their patented technology platform that combines the power of artificial intelligence with the human know-how of their extended team of nutritionists, dieticians, and coaches spread across the length and breadth of the country. The company also has plans of helping people keep up their resolutions by offering regular reminders, healthy diet alternatives and personal trainers.


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