Far be it from me to say but I am guessing this post could turn out to be one of the most significant ones – not because I have any earth shattering things to talk about, but knowing how long it took to get to this point, I feel like that’s the closest thing I can call it – a grand experiment (coming to an end, almost). 80% humble 30% brag, how does the math work anyway….¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Over the past five and half years, I have been tracking nearly hundred different biomarkers analyzed through WellnessFX’s blood testing service (for the most part, I focused on inflammatory markers and the rest were a bit cursory). It first started as a curiosity, however, it quickly began to grow on me, so I continued with the practice. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, is what I say. To optimize for a healthier result, I paid a great amount of attention to what I was eating – primarily relying on nutrition rich in protein/saturated fat, and less on carbs (and sugar). There wasn’t calorie counting or anything crazy like that; I mostly followed a simple regimen.
“Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites”. John Nash, ‘A Beautiful Mind’.
It pretty much sums up my philosophy as well. Which meant, I mostly stayed away from processed foods, grains, vegetable oils etc. By the fifth year, I had collected enough data and it dawned on me that I should just create a chart – so I can visually look at baseline, patterns, outliers in my test results. I then decided to publish it because I figured I have benefitted tremendously from the insight and knowledge (and in some cases, results) shared by the experts in this area, particularly Dave Feldman, Ben Greenfield, Dr Malcolm Kendrick, Ted Naiman, Nina Teicholz, Dominic D’Agostino, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Peter Attia, Colin Champ, and others, I felt I should pay it forward – so, with a bit of help, I went all in and created a dashboard.
As I move past the ‘proof of concept’ phase, I am not sure for how long will I keep tracking these markers, and I am certain my eating habits will change over time, however, I feel like I have gained a good understanding of the inner workings of my body. It gives me enough foundational data points to work on – and also to keep iterating on, as I update my a priori knowledge based on new info. Wish there was a clever way to compress the time it took to collect and analyze these bio markers, but I guess, anything that’s worth doing takes time. The process of cellular change seems glacial – and understanding the bio mechanism of cause and effect of nutritional and chemical elements entails multiple trials. However, negotiating with the mother nature is not an option, I hear. Or is it?
– I have come to a realization that Total Cholesterol (TC) is not a reliable indicator. Instead, HDL (good cholesterol), trig, inflammation, insulin, glucose levels can be more telling. Cholesterol is so critical that apparently our brain makes it’s own cholesterol/fat, #mindblown!
– Autophagy as a detox mechanism. I have been intermittent fasting twice a week for well over a year and am convinced that fasting usually for ~16-20 hrs does wonders. I feel as rejuvenated as ever and its cognitively stimulating as well – I suppose it has something to do with mitochondria (mitophagy). May need to check for NAD/H levels at some point.
– As far as supplements go, these are the ones I currently take: vitamin d3, magnesium, and occasional fish oils. It may change over time however. I can never be so arrogant to believe that my body can organically provide these elements at all times. And at the opposite end of the spectrum, I am not naive enough to think that medication is the remedy for everything – goes to show you why I have not taken antibiotics, tylenol, advil etc in my adult life, ever.
– Perhaps due to the lack of carb/sugar in my diet, apparently I don’t need much sleep. Average 6.5 hrs/night w/o depleting energy. Side effect: think of all the extra hours, its like I get to enjoy eight days in a week! The reason I am saying this is I tend to naturally wake up after 6.5-7 hrs of sleep and I can’t understand why; interestingly the cycle shortens to 5-6 hrs if I stay up late (past midnight). Luckily, I don’t have sleep apnea or problem falling asleep either. However, if I get less than 6 hrs of sleep, it does make my day a bit challenging and I need to rest up late in the afternoon. Would love to get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep and am planning to track my sleeping pattern, circadian rhythm, REM sleep time etc via Ouraring starting next month.
– Improved dental hygiene. Frequent ingestion of sugar/glucose provides plenty of time for the bacteria to turn it into acid, which eventually leads to cavity. Lack of sugar pretty much avoids the problem.
– Been exploring compound exercises (pull ups, deadlifts, dips, chest press, squats etc) for about a year (should have been serious about this shit a bit earlier though). Muscle tissue atrophies as we age, and Sarcopenia is real problem, which occurs naturally. Best to prevent muscle loss by actively engaging the tissue whenever possible.
– Like oil and water, glucose/carb does not play well with fat, it turns out. In particular, when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is exposed to glucose, it damages the LDLs due to oxidation – which worsens the inner walls of arteries. For some reason, they just don’t like each other, Romeo and Juliet, they are not. I suspect, in these situations, understanding the cholesterol levels and inflammation markers (LDL, Trig, HDL, HbA1c, Blood Glucose, hs-CRP) becomes particularly critical however.
– More importantly, this is n=1, meaning it works for me. I can’t convince others which diet is best for them. So, please don’t come @ me. Who knows who is right, who is wrong. Let the universe surprise us again, I guess.
* Ed Sheeran approved this headline, I am told.