Late last year, the health-care startup Viome raised $15 million in venture-capital funding for at-home fecal test kits. You send in a very small package of your own poop, and the company tells you what’s happening in your gut so that you can recalibrate your diet to, among other things, lose weight and keep it off. In the company’s words, subscribers get the opportunity to explore and improve their own microbiomes: Viome “uses state-of-the-art proprietary technology” to create “unique molecular profiles” for those who purchase and submit their kits.
This language says a lot about how Viome and an ever-increasing number of new health companies are encouraging people to think and talk about nutrition: as a problem of personal technology, where losing weight isn’t an experience of self-deprivation, but one of optimization, not unlike increasing a year-old iPhone’s battery life or building a car that runs without gas.
Viome and other startups in its market don’t characterize themselves as diet companies, but weight and other nutrition-adjacent health concerns are the chief things around which many of them are oriented. 23&Me wants to help you eat and exercise according to your genetics. Bulletproof wants you to change your morning coffee routine to increase your work performance and reduce hunger. Habit promises to study your personal biomarkers to tailor a nutrition plan just for you. Need a few hours of supposedly superhuman mental acuity and calorie-burning? Pound a ketone cocktail and keep it moving. Can you control your body’s need for fuel through “intermittent fasting”? There’s an app for that.
Silicon Valley, not content with external devices, has pivoted to the self as its next great frontier. And in order for its vision of your body to take hold, it needs you to speak its language. Dieting is no longer a necessary problem of vanity, as it has been historically termed, but a problem of knowledge and efficiency—a rhetorical shift with broad implications for how people think of themselves. Where bodies might have previously been idealized as personal temples, they’re now just another device to be managed, and one whose use people are increasingly expected to master. We’re optimizing our performances instead of watching our figures, biohacking our personal ecosystems instead of eating salads.
In one way or another, all of these new services generally boil down to elaborate, expensive instructions to eat more of one thing and …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Health