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Behind the Scenes at InsideTracker Part I: An Insider’s Guide to the Segterra Algorithm

By Meghan Johnson, November 4, 2014



Nutrition and Health Information Tailored to You

What makes InsideTracker unique is its ability to segment the vast landscape of nutrition and health information that exists, and to tailor recommendations to an individual’s needs. There is no shortage of health information available, making it difficult (and time-consuming!) to sort through the various sources and sometimes-conflicting results that turn up in magazines or on the evening news. InsideTracker created a unique algorithm to provide the most accurate nutrition, supplements, exercise, and life style recommendations for its clients, based on cutting-edge scientific research. 

A Peek Inside the InsideTracker Process

A blood sample is the most accurate way to tell how much of a nutrient is actually absorbed by your body. Nutrient absorption is a complex process; simply looking at what you’re eating isn’t enough to tell what’s actually going on inside your body. Certain foods facilitate the absorption of vitamins and minerals better than others, while some nutrients actually block absorption into the bloodstream. So to truly know what is going on inside your body, you need to measure your blood. Your blood diagnostic results provide the basic measurement of how much of each nutrient is stored in your body.

Each of the nutrients we look at in InsideTracker have a commonly accepted diagnostic range of values which are considered ‘normal’.  But these diagnostic ranges just weren’t precise enough for what our team of scientists, dieticians, and health professionals wanted to provide to its users – a chance at optimal health and performance. So our team identified over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers to create narrower recommendations than what diagnostic companies typically provide. For example, a diagnostic test will say a woman’s level of ferritin, a blood marker for iron, should be between 12 and 150 units. But after reviewing what the scientific literature says, InsideTracker recommends that a 20-something active female should really fall between 40 and 150 units for optimum performance.

We further improved our ability to define a personalized optimal range through a comprehensive analysis of a very large database of US consumers examining their demographic traits (such as age, gender, smoking, ethnicity, athletic, ability, and alcohol consumption and many more) and how they are connected to individual biomarkers. The combination of this database and the deep literature review allows InsideTracker to develop nutrient ranges based on individual characteristics and lifestyle traits that can then be tailored for each person’s InsideTracker plan.

In addition to developing tighter nutrient ranges associated with optimal health, we also reviewed relevant scientific literature to answer three additional questions:  

1) Why do I care if I am low/high in this nutrient?

2) What are the nutrition interventions to correct it?

3) What else can I do to help correct it? 

If you’ve ever tried to do even a simple Google search of, say vitamin D, you may find information from the Mayo Clinic, the Vitamin D Council, the National Institutes of Health, WebMD and Wikipedia as well as ads from a supplement company and an article from USA Today - all on the fist page of search results. Navigating the information from so many different sources of information can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know the difference between a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), and Adequate Intake (AI). And deciphering what information is scientifically sound is a different language entirely. But don’t fret. InsideTracker does the grunt work for you by reviewing the scientific literature and relevant clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals and providing them to you in an organized and easily digestible way.

Finally, InsideTracker combines the information each user provides about himself/herself in the Assessment Questionnaire with his diagnostic results, and InsideTracker’s robust scientific knowledge-base to create uniquely targeted recommendations in our product.  InsideTracker provides a filtered lens to view the vast nutrition landscape in order to help you meet your fitness and nutritional needs. It’s all about personalization.