The Nutrive App Is Helping to Take the Mystery out of Managing IBS

The end of a delicious meal is, for many, dedicated to perusing the dessert menu, having one more nightcap or happily taking a passeggiata home. But that culinary pleasure comes at a cost for an estimated 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is painful, uncomfortable and utterly distracting in everyday life. The worst part is there is no clearly prescribed path to ease the inexhaustible pain.

“When I got my diagnosis, that’s where my journey in the health care system ended,” says Nanda Zaanen, founder of Nutrive, a brand-new app here to bring some sanity to you and your gut.

Zaanen struggled with IBS for years before a diagnosis, but even then her doctors couldn’t offer her a solution to the problem, which didn’t make sense to Zaanen. Having worked as an engineer and product manager, building big data and AI products in the semiconductor industry, she “always loved solving problems through product.”

It was time to come up with a solution that could help her — and millions of others suffering with IBS — live a more normal life. Nutrive is built around the number one thing that Zaanen, and dietitians nationwide, found to help with IBS symptoms: evidence-based nutrition choices that won’t cause further irritation and are simple and accessible. And that’s what the app does: makes diet suggestions based on these recommendations.

The low FODMAP diet is a reduction of fermentable carbohydrates to reduce distress in the GI tract and is often the prescribed treatment given by dietitians to patients with IBS. But the diet can be incredibly restrictive. Curating a personalized daily diet to such restrictions takes an enormous amount of time, mental resources and frankly, self-restraint (say goodbye to the dessert menu).

“I knew I could make evidence-based nutrition for IBS much simpler through a great product and personalization,” says Zaanen. Nutrive offers FODMAP instruction so that all users can learn how to personalize their diet and manage their digestive symptoms. Then, users can search through hundreds of recipes that adhere to that diet in the app.

Already, Zaanen talks about the success story of one user who is low FODMAP and vegan. “Basically every Sunday she had to sit down for hours and hours doing meal planning and research on how she could get by during the week,” Zaanen recounts. “And we took away all of those steps for her.”

Nutrive is focusing on IBS relief for now, but Zaanen sees a bigger-picture possibility. “We are just starting out in the food and medicine space. There are many more chronic conditions where if you change your nutrition, you can really transform how you feel.”

Research is starting to show that diet can positively impact autoimmune disease, kidney disease and even cancer. It turns out, you actually are what you eat.