SHOULD your diet be high-fat or low-fat? Low-carbohydrate or low-sugar? Atkins or Paleo? Carnivore or vegetarian?
We know more now than ever before about how the food we eat affects our bodies, and yet all this extra knowledge seems to be throwing up more questions than answers.
City health food chain Vita Mojo believes it has the solution; feed your genetic makeup.
The salad bar, which currently has sites in Spitalfields and St Paul’s, will be the first in the world to create meals based on a person’s DNA profile through a partnership with genetic profiling start-up DNAFit.
Founder Nick Popovici says the function, which rolled out across the stores last month, is an extension of Vita Mojo’s broader philosophy that healthy eating should be easy, transparent and tailored to the individual.
“We’re really passionate about personalisation – we think it should be the norm when it comes to eating habits – and the most obvious extension of that is to personalise food around your DNA,” he says.
“Your DNA offers a lot of important clues to how you should be eating – whether a low fat or a high fat diet is good for you, your body’s response to carbohydrates, certain minerals – it all depends on your genes.”
The DNAFit partnership has been built into Vita Mojo’s cashless system of ordering where customers select their meal and customise the quantities of ingredients to maintain full control over their intake of calories, macros and any potential allergens.
DNAFit will map a customer’s DNA for a one-off fee of £200, then share their genetic information with the Vita Mojo app, which adds the information to the customer’s profile, advising them which foods to eat more of and flagging which ones to avoid.
The Vita Mojo chefs are currently working on designing full meal plans based on DNA profiles, but for now the function exists more as an educational tool.
“If your DNA profile suggests you should be avoiding red meat or gluten, we’ll still let you pick your own but it might have an exclamation point over that particular food group as a warning,” he says.
“It was important to us that the customer maintains control but be as informed as possible… obviously we’d prefer they eat with us, but at the end of the day if they can take that knowledge away and apply it elsewhere then that’s OK too.”
The company is currently undertaking a round of crowdfunding to expand outside of London and make their ordering function available to other restaurants.
DNA-based diets have been growing in popularity over the last 12 months, with a number of start-ups like DNAFit offering home test kits that generate genetic profiles. Some researchers believe the global market could be worth more than £7.7billion by 2022.
Nick says that while the science is nothing new, the concept of fresh-made meals designed to suit a person’s individual genetic makeup is “a world first”.
“You can send away your results in advance and receive a couple of weeks’ worth of pre-packaged meals, but nobody wants to pre-plan dinners anymore – they want it fresh and on-demand.”
St Paul’s, 20 Carter Lane EC4V 5AD
Spitalfields, 5 Steward St E1 6FQ