Dr. Gil Blander
Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, InsideTracker
Leveraging biotech and AI innovations, an evolving digital platform is helping create personalised nutrition and lifestyle programmes . For one athlete it allowed him to return to sport following a heart attack.
Professional triathlete Tim O’Donnell was pushing hard in the Challenge Miami middle-distance triathlon, a third of the way through the cycling sector having completed the swim, when he started getting chest pains. “There was a shooting pain down my left arm and my jaw started to lock,” he recalls, looking back to the events of March 2021.
The athlete in him knew it was not normal race pain, but he pushed on to finish 11th and then called his doctor back home in Colorado, who advised him to head to the hospital.
Understanding the prognosis
Tests confirmed he’d suffered a heart attack. A blocked artery was cleared and a stent fitted, enabling Tim, now 41, to begin the long road to recovery, regaining fitness and again race at the highest levels.
Unaware of a family history, it emerged he had a genetic predisposition to increased arterial plaque and inflammation. This means keeping an eye on the blood biomarkers tied to cardiovascular health is essential for him.
“Because I was healthy and all my other vital signs were good, no-one saw it coming,” says Tim, who is married to three-time IRONMAN World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae, with two young children.
Cleared last October to return to training, he partnered with InsideTracker, which helps him fine-tune exercise, nutrition and lifestyle for performance and longevity. He is currently working to qualify for the IRONMAN World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
I have learned so much happens inside the body that we need to pay attention to.Tim O’Donnell
The road back to competition
That road back saw him compete in an exhibition event with Mirinda in early March 2022. “There was some trepidation at the start of the swim, but I soon started getting back into the race mindset,” adds Tim, who uses the platform to keep a close record of his blood biomarkers, diet, sleep patterns and other vital signs.
Tim continues: “I have learned so much happens inside the body that we need to pay attention to. With the blood biomarker tracking and DNA insights I can get background information that might raise some flags I can adjust for or take to my doctor before anything happens and help me stay on track, particularly as I start back into full training.
“Being able to monitor how I am doing under the stress of training with my condition is going to be a very important part of the comeback.”
Making actionable plans
InsideTracker is a human optimisation platform that analyses blood, DNA, and fitness tracker data to provide personalised, science-backed nutrition and lifestyle recommendations that optimise for strength, endurance and longevity.
“The biggest benefit beyond just getting the data is how to take action on it,” he adds. “The fact that it is a holistic approach is important to me as well.”
A personalised platform
Dr Gil Blander, co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of InsideTracker, had a scientific interest in ageing and related diseases before coming up with the platform to help people “live a healthier, longer life based on what happens inside the body.”
InsideTracker uses an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to analyse a panel of up to 43 blood biomarkers, individual DNA profiles and fitness tracker data.
“That allows us to get a high-resolution picture of your body and, based on that, we can give science-backed recommendations of what foods to eat, what supplements to take, exercise and what lifestyle changes to make,” says Dr Blander.
“InsideTracker is for two different personas of people : the athletic active population who want to improve performance and people who want to live healthier, longer lives . The major idea is that it is really personalised.”
“I’m grateful to Gil and InsideTracker who put as much emphasis on longevity and healthspan as performance,” says O’Donnell.