IBM's Watson supercomputer
Photograph by Carolyn Cole, LA Times via Getty Images
By Laura Lorenzetti
December 10, 2015

Nutrition is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, and it becomes even more important during pregnancy. After being inundated with all the ‘what to expect when you’re expecting’ manuals, figuring out the best diet can be daunting as a newly expectant mom. IBM’s Watson is teaming up with Tel Aviv-based Nutrino, a nutrition insights platform, to make smarter eating decisions even easier.

Nutrino and IBM (IBM) announced the launch of the Nutrino App Powered by Watson Thursday, which provides expectant moms with real-time, science-based nutritional insights. The app gives personalized meal recommendations and round-the-clock nutritional support by combining Nutrino’s nutrition database with Watson’s natural language capabilities.

“Much of health happens outside a doctors office,” said Kyu Rhee, chief health officer for IBM Watson Health. “For women interested in nutrition during pregnancy, the Nutrino App Powered by Watson is a unique resource to help them make informed decisions based on available peer-review evidence.”

Women initially input their information into the app, including pregnancy status, individual health goals, dietary needs, food preferences, and eating habits. They can then choose from a list of common pregnancy-specific nutrition questions, like “Is it okay to eat eggs during my first trimester?” The app then uses the computing power of Watson to reference the hundred of thousands of data points within Nutrino’s platform and compares that against each user’s individual profile to provide customized answers, which become more tailored over time.

In cases where reliable yet conflicting studies exist, Nutrino will surface the opposing views to let a woman review her options in order to make the decision that’s best for her. For example, here’s the answer that would come up for the common question, “Can I drink coffee?”

There is conflicting data on how much caffeine (a stimulant that exists in coffee) is safe to consume during pregnancy. Most of the data does not suggest an increased risk of adverse pregnancy when consuming less than 300 mg per day of caffeine. In order to stay on the safe side, many nutrition authorities recommend limiting caffeine consumption to under 200 mg per day. This means that you should not drink more than about two cups of regular coffee per day (1 cup = 8 oz). Please remember that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. Cola, energy drinks, black tea and chocolate also contain caffeine. If you consume any of them, you should limit your coffee intake even more.

The studies that are the basis for this recommendation are also included in case a user wants to dig more into the evidence.

Nutrino developed the app as part of the IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator Program in Israel, the only IBM sponsored accelerator worldwide. Nutrino’s aim is to cut through the mass of often conflicting nutrition information to provide highly personalized recommendations. The Nutrino App Powered by Watson is its second initiative.

The new app is now available on the Apple App Store and costs $15 for 42 weeks, the length of a standard pregnancy. It will eventually be available on Android, as well.

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