The pandemic and parenthood haven’t been great for my eating habits or activity level, not to mention the two-month-old grandparents’ visit when we brought Mirren home.
Here’s my approach to my snacks: “I finished this candy too fast. I can never buy it again.”
Here’s my father-in-law’s take on my snacks: “I saw you finish the candy so I ran out and bought you more.”
So it wasn’t too surprising when I got my results back from Base (a personal health company based on subscription data also in the BBV portfolio) that my cholesterol, particularly LDL (bad cholesterol), had risen to point I needed to do something about it. Cholesterol issues also run in my family, which I don’t actually think is as genetic as our love of cheese and ice cream, but still concerning.
My general approach to healthy habits has been to scour the interwebs for ideas and see what I think I can incorporate into my lifestyle that is backed by real science. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when the numbers don’t move as much next time.
Fortunately, that’s when I met Culina Health, a new startup whose seed Brooklyn Bridge Ventures co-led with Healthworx, the investment arm of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Culina is a personalized nutrition platform powered by registered dietitians to help patients prioritize the way they want to live. What I realized when I was googling for ideas, I was missing the actual experience of how to integrate these ideas into my diet: the right amounts of various supplements that would make a difference, which ones have solid scientific evidence, etc. —not to mention an honest conversation about what habits I would keep given my behavior patterns.
In addition, they make nutritional care covered by insurance accessible. As a result, I am covered by my insurance for a certain number of visits per year with a registered dietitian. Being a registered dietitian is key. The additional schooling and certification required to be an RD is significant, and it is this level of experience that an insurance company is willing to foot the bill for, which they won’t for someone who is a nutritionist. Accreditation is key in the insurance market.
In 60 days, I dropped my LDL from 144 to 58!! I have also been able to increase my HDL by 70%, all without any drastic changes to my diet.
Interestingly, my HDL, while improving, is still stubbornly low, thanks to a totally random alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency that I only knew about from 23andMe. I never knew about the possible connection until I talked to my Culina RD about it.
There’s not a lot of research on this, but it’s there and it’s a strong theory considering what I eat.
It was a fun scientific rabbit hole and so we are doubling down on addressing this issue in my diet. Working with a trained medical professional is a next level experience for me, and not something I would have ever considered.
That’s one of the things I love about Culina is the impact it can have on a wide variety of customers.
It worked amazingly for me, but it also works for people living with chronic conditions, and especially GI and autoimmune, whose care can be daunting. Getting your symptoms under control while balancing lab tests, specialists, nutrition, lifestyle modifications, and medication is overwhelming. Culina can work alongside your existing care providers as part of your care team.
Insurance companies are realizing that for both these expensive chronic care patients and myself, making dietary changes has a strong positive ROI for both short- and long-term health care costs.
I didn’t have my daughter Mirren until I was 41, so I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m thinking about my long-term health.
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