Long-term Nutrient Logging and Systematic Analysis

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Self researcher(s) Alan Gale
Related tools phone
Related topics Food tracking, Diet and weight loss

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Show and Tell Talk Infobox
Featured image Longterm-nutrient-logging-and-systematic-analysis.jpg
Date 2013/10/10
Event name 2013 QS Global Conference
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Long-term Nutrient Logging and Systematic Analysis is a Show & Tell talk by Alan Gale that has been imported from the Quantified Self Show & Tell library.The talk was given on 2013/10/10 and is about Food tracking, and Diet and weight loss.

Description[edit | edit source]

A description of this project as introduced by Quantified Self follows:

Alan Gale is a chief biomedical engineer for Biologic Health. Alan became interested in nutrients when he was an undergraduate student at CAL while working for a health food store. In the talk, he shares his experiences and discovery. He learned that we can increase our average lifespan by reducing the risk of the major causes of death like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes through optimized nutrition. He also learned that we can increase our maximum lifespan, which is defined as the average lifespan of the longest living 10% of the population, by reducing caloric intake to a point, while again maintaining optimized nutrition.

Video and transcript[edit | edit source]

A transcript of this talk is below:

Alan Gale - Long-term Nutrient Logging and Systematic Analysis

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for coming to such an awesome conference and quantifying your lives. You’re helping revolution science and medicine and I’m honored to be among you. My name is Alan Gale and I’m the chief biomedical engineer for Biologic Health. And I’m here to talk about I’ve come to believe that we can add about five hours to our life span each and every day. My story started more than 20 years ago as an undergraduate at CAL, working in a seemingly cool health food store in Telegraph where I was told I would be fired unless I learned all the thousands of supplements that they sold. I was asked to memorize all the nutrients, and all these supplements, their ideal dosage, and every health condition that they could possibly effect; Crazy right? I needed a translator to go between the nutrients and the biology. So I went down the street to Moe’s and some other used book stores, and I found dozens of books about hundreds of supplements, and nutrients, elixirs, and old world alchemy that promised to cure every health condition I could ever be afflicted by. I went to the library on campus, and I found thousands of peer reviewed studies, some of which were showing a very strong correlation between nutrients and health conditions. Well this got me interested. Turns out, that food matters; listen to your grandma. Eat your vegetables. Our very existence as a species is intimately connected to our diet. Nutrients in our food turn genes on and off. They’re involved in thousands of biochemical reactions throughout the body. Nutrients are the basis for our biology. I’ve learned that we can increase our average lifespan by reducing the risk of the major causes of death like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes through optimized nutrition. I learned that we can increase our maximum lifespan, which is defined as the average lifespan of the longest living 10% of the population, by reducing caloric intake to a point, while again maintaining optimized nutrition. Optimized nutrition is finding the right sets of nutrients in the right amounts for all the health conditions throughout the body to have a nutritional component. Nutrients form the building blocks for our biological health. So this presented three major issues; how dry organize all of this information? How do I implement it? How do I validate it to make sure that it is true? So this is what I did wrong; I read the books, I studied the science, I trusted the sources. I drank the Kool Aid and I became a supplement junkie. I joined the cult of cures. It was all legal over-the-counter, but at my peak I was taking over a dozen supplements daily on faith that they were having their desired effects. I became so enamored with the possibility that I became blinded to the possible consequences. So despite this period of blissful ignorance I learned a few other things. First is that it’s better to get my nutrients from food than from supplements. Processing alone can nullify the potency of many nutrients. Second and most important, some nutrients in excess are really dangerous. Too much vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage. Too much calcium can cause kidney stones. High sodium can increase blood pressure. I needed to quantify the nutrients in my food. This would help me identify which foods have the needed nutrients, and to the extent that I couldn’t get my nutrients from food, I would know how much to take as a supplement without taking too much. So I stopped taking handfuls of supplements. I started tracking about 150 nutrients in my food, including all the major vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. I set up quantified nutrient goals in terms of a daily minimum target and maximum amount for about 80 different health conditions across all the systems in the body, including cardiovascular, neurological, and digestive systems. And I then compared my nutrient intake against my goals. And I collapsed the data down to a single health store for each health condition. This feedback allowed me to check my status during the day, look at trends over time, and identified health conditions with the greatest risks. I did this using a mobile app built by my team and I. We use the USDA database to identify foods in our nutrients. We set nutritional goals, based on peer reviewed studies that were curated by teams of doctors, government, and non-profit organizations. We set up everything to be customizable so that different people could test different nutrient goal theories for different health conditions. What works for me may be very different than for my mom. I learnt that I was low in selenium and copper and some omega 3 fatty acids. I was high in sodium and folic acid. This put me at risk for inflammation and problems with my cellular membrane. I learnt that I could decrease these health risks by consuming a Brazil nut, drinking some almond milk, taking a fish oil supplement. I no longer needed to take handfuls of supplements just to make sure that I got all my nutrients. This changed my relationship to food and supplements. I now see food as a collection of raw materials for all the systems in my body. Supplements now are just that; supplemental to my diet, not replacements for it. I see food as information, coded as nutrients occurring to different frequencies, acting as the primary input to my body, which when used correctly can produce time as an end product. I still need to validate many nutritional theories, and possibly improve on them. And in many cases I use output biomarkers like blood tests and vital signs. And my cardiovascular nutritional goals are correct I would expect good blood pressure measurements and cholesterol. I also need to look at the network and the interconnectedness of the systems within my body. If my digestive system is impaired, then it might also affect my immune system. I need to look outside of myself to data from other people, and genetic information. Lastly, I now look at my phone differently. I see it as a digital extension of my body, performing analysis and control, using feedback to optimize the underlying biology. This is a powerful capability that we all can utilize.

So thank you very much for your time and attention, and if you are interested in for more information or an early release of the app, please send me an email.

About the presenter[edit | edit source]

Alan Gale gave this talk.