The general theme of my previous post in this series was “how healthy am I?”. However, if I break it down, what I am really interested in is trying to answer the question “how healthy can I become” and this post attempts to convey the outcomes of a self directed experiment in which the inputs were primarily self educated.
Stage 1: Personal Systems Biology Baseline
Like any well designed experiment, having a controlled baseline seemed like an important first step. Given that one of the inputs for my experiment was going to be nutrition, I decided to stop taking any supplements for a period of 90 days – this is approximately how long it takes for your body to completely replace its supply of blood. I then took my first set of diagnostics which included blood, saliva and urine samples.
To be clear, the purpose of this diagnostic assessment was not to provide me with data to improve my wellness, it was a baseline test designed to provide me a comprehensive set of historical data to look back on in 4-6 months. As such, I resisted looking at the results or having anyone interpret them for me.
Stage 2: Self Educated Interventions
Having finished reading Ray Kurzweil‘s Transcend and talking to a nutritionist I decided to tweak my diet, which in my mind was already pretty good, as follows:
- Increase overall nutrition load (more salads and dark vegetables, higher concentrations of dark fruits etc)
- Decrease overall glycemic load (mainly less processed carbs)
- Eliminate intake of processed and unnatural substances such as sweeteners etc
- Increase intake of oils (olive oil, hemp seed oil, flaxseed oil…)
- No change – maintain my fairly high levels of cardio heavy exercise – off trail running, road biking and swimming.
Six months later I repeated the diagnostic assessments and for the first time, with the help of an Integrative MD, went through both datapoints line by line. The results were interesting.
As it turns out, the answer to the question ‘How healthy am I’ was, at least according to the diagnostics, positive. It also seems that the experiment worked as most of my biomarkers seemed to improve including my basic lipids and a couple of the most important lipid fractions including LDL Particle Count and Apo B.
Although only two data points in (the chart below shows four data points however at this point in time I only had the first two), it was hard to see any real signal, it seemed that the overall trend was that I was lowering my total cholesterol, which includes my LDL (bad) and HDL (good). As a general rule, you want to lower your LDL and increase your HDL – this early trend suggested that I was lowering both so I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t the case.
Looking back, the interesting thing about this self directed experiement was that I was basically guessing… it seemed to work this time but with all the conflicting advice out there, it could have easily gone in the opposite direction.
Part three of this blog series talks about how, with the help of additional data and a few more expert practitioners, I started to move these numbers around through a combination of nutrition, supplements, and exercise.