Back in 2014 I reviewed the diet aspect of the DNAfit genetic analysis service. Recently DNAfit contacted me again to give them some feedback and potentially review the latest iteration of their services, and this time offered me the full package (diet and fitness recommendations, and a one-on-one consult with an expert to interpret my results).
Category: Health/Body-hacking (Page 1 of 11)
Two-and-a-half years ago I received an email from a young man named Rob who was developing a hair regrowth technique based on intensive, long-term scalp massage. He had read my post Modulating Testosterone Levels (For Men) and had some thoughts about DHT and hair loss. Rob agreed that male hair loss resulted from DHT shrinking/inactivating hair follicles, but he disagreed that hair loss had anything to do with circulating levels of DHT. It was the accumulation of DHT in the follicle due to reduced blood supply and calcification of the scalp that caused the problem.
This theory matched my intuitive observations. My own hair loss, starting in my early thirties, hadn’t coincided with raging male hormones, but rather with an unhealthy period of my life that included too much alcohol, many late nights, a high carbohydrate diet, significant weight/fat gain, and most likely lower levels of testosterone and DHT. Just an n=1 observation, but the idea of a direct correspondence between hair loss and circulating DHT left something to be explained. I was intrigued by Rob’s idea.
Within the last year the understanding of schizophrenia has advanced considerably. Most notably, the origins of the disease have been traced to an overactive expression of the C4 (complement component 4) immune system protein, which is responsible for tagging neurons for “pruning” (destruction) in the adolescent and young adult brain. This “overdrive brain pruning” leads to the devastating symptoms of schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, difficulties in planning and life management, paranoia and social isolation). Earlier research, in 2014, linked ultra-high-risk individuals (in terms of developing schizophrenia) to overactive microglial activity. (Microglia are the macrophage immune system cells of the central nervous system, destroying “plaques, damaged or unnecessary neurons and synapses, and infectious agents.“)
Cancer. It’s one of the few diseases with a personality. The F*ck Cancer meme is much stronger than the F*ck Heart Disease meme, even though both kill a similar number of human beings. While both diseases can develop with no obvious warning signs, cancer is perceived as a sneakier, meaner disease.
Maybe that’s because cancer is mysterious. There are more than 200 different types, and risk factors and causes are multitudinous: genetics, chemical exposure, radiation exposure (including sunlight), age, certain viruses, smoking, alcohol abuse, lack of exercise … the list goes on.
But cancer isn’t a death sentence. As several of the older members of my family have experienced in the past few years, cancer can be successfully treated. Though my family members used both conventional treatments and lifestyle changes, sometimes cancer goes away with lifestyle changes alone.
About half of people in developed countries will be diagnosed with some kind of cancer in the course of their lives. 100% of middle-aged or older people will have small pockets of abnormal cell growth — microcancers — most of which will be either too slow-growing to ever cause a problem, or will be eliminated by the immune system. And if you get cancer and beat it, the only way you know for sure you are “cured” is when you die of something else.
Nobody is totally safe from cancer, but there are things we can do to improve our chances of not developing the disease in the first place. While genetic risk factors play a significant role, so do environmental (lifestyle) factors. The clinical research is there to prove it. We can prevent cancer (or at least improve our odds) in at least seven ways:
As part of my daily writing log I also track my mood and energy levels. Over the past few years I’ve noticed a trend — my mood and energy levels are consistently “good” or “very good.” This wasn’t always the case. Though I’ve never suffered from major depression, I know that I’m vulnerable to anxiety and mild depression, especially during times of stress (I wrote about one such time here).
When I’m not under stress my baseline mood is pretty good, but I’ve been wondering what’s going on with my increased resilience over the last few years — feeling steady and optimistic even in the face of big stressors (members of my extended family have weathered some serious illnesses — both physical and mental — during that same time period).
Could be I’m just older and wiser. But I’m not that old, or that wise. I suspect my nutrition and supplement regimen has the greatest effect. This post lists my “core five” substances for mental health and improved disposition.
Lately I’ve been eating a bit lighter to compensate for some overindulgence over the holidays. January is typically no-sugar month around here (fresh fruit allowed) but the meal pictured above goes a bit further: no animal products, no grains, no legumes. I wouldn’t recommend paleo-vegan as a diet (not enough protein, hard to get enough calcium, B12, and calories) but if you want a filling, inexpensive, nutrient-dense meal with a light environmental footprint, you could do worse. The salad above includes the following:
- organic greens
- olive-oil roasted yam cubes
- cherry tomatoes
- mini-bell peppers
- raw sauerkraut
- roasted sunflower seeds
- roasted almonds
- seasoned with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and paprika
It’s easy to get too much protein on a paleo diet (eggs for breakfast, chicken lunch, steak for dinner, etc.). Too much protein is acidifying and can potentially leach calcium from bones. Animal protein is generally expensive too. There’s no reason to eat more than you need.
The ingredients to make the salad above cost less than $2.00. With the exception of the roasted yam cubes that were leftovers from another meal, assembly (including “clean as you go”) took less than 10 minutes.
The salad lunch is a good way to go even if you throw some blue cheese or sardines in there. Fast, cheap, nutritious, delicious, and no post-meal sleepiness.
Please be respectful of other people’s dietary requirements and choices in the comments. This post may be worth a re-read.
Good health to you!