Hacker Perspective: Health + Nutrition

Caveat: this information on this web page is based upon material gathered from a number of sources including the internet. Therefore, use this material cautiously at your own risk and only with the advice of a physician

Executive Summary
  1. 500 calories from carbohydrates will have a completely different effect on your body than 500 calories from fat
    1. calories from simple carbohydrates (like refined sugar and white flour) race into the bloodstream causing a spike in serum (blood) glucose.
      • The pancreas reacts to the spike by releasing a large volume of insulin into the blood stream which then triggers fat-storage (dietary sugar is stored as fat; dietary fat must be first converted into sugar before storing it as fat) 
      • Insulin production does not terminate quickly which means that glucose removal usually goes too far (causing hypoglycemia) which triggers new hunger pangs. That's when you reach for more food.
      BTW, alcohol is a simple carbohydrate which, like sugar, contains a lot of chemical energy. Now you know why you wolf down "bar snacks" when you drink alcohol.
    2. calories from complex carbohydrates (whole grains) move into the bloodstream at a slower pace thus triggering a lower insulin response
    3. calories from fat move into the bloodstream very slowly causing almost no insulin response
  2. Replace simple carbs (white bread, white rice, white sugar) with complex carbs (whole grain bread, wild rice, etc.)
  3. Replace most carbs with good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
  4. Dietary fats and proteins are required for the production of hormones and enzymes
  5. You must consume one multi-vitamin tablet every day
  6. you must consume 1000 IU of Vitamin-D each day but no more than 2000 IU (higher values may lead to constipation, depletion of magnesium, depletion of vitamin-K)
    caveat: you should never take Vitamin-D without taking a calcium supplement. Minimum Calculation: multiply vitamin-D (in IU) times 1.3 to get the amount of calcium in mg. So 1000 IU of vitamin-D requires a minimum of 1300 mg of Calcium.
  7. We all need daily physical exercise (45 minutes minimum; five days out of seven). Good health comes from "sensible nutrition" and "sensible exercise".


Thinking their bodies are like automobiles, many people incorrectly think that food is just a fuel. In reality food is both "a fuel" and "raw material to enable self-repair and growth" 

Overloading Man and Machine:

A wise biologist once said:

  • If you put a 9-HP (horse power) load on a 8-HP electrical motor, the overloaded motor will burn out.
  • However, if motors were biological and behaved like the human body, then placing a 9-HP load on an 8-HP motor would cause the motor to become (over time) a 9-HP motor.
Technology Maximum Rating Applied Load Result
Electrical Motor 8 HP 9 HP Motor will burn out
Human Muscle 8 HP 9 HP Muscle and skeleton will grow (over time) to support the new load

Under-loading Man and Machine:

Unlike gorillas, the human body is always engaging in resource conservation. Since it takes a lot of energy to maintain muscle tissue, the human body will dismantle (cannibalize) under-used muscle and supporting bone. This is an example of the "use-it or lose-it" scenario which was first made apparent after once-healthy long-duration cosmonauts returned to Earth only to discover that they could not walk.

Technology Maximum Rating Applied Load Result
Electrical Motor 8 HP 6 HP Nothing. It is more efficient and safer to use an overrated motor
Human Muscle 8 HP 6 HP Muscle will shrink (over time) to support the new load.
Bone will shrink to match the weaker muscle.

But consider this extreme example which we see in human society:
Technology Maximum Rating Applied Load Result
Electrical Motor 8 HP 1 HP Nothing. But some oils may dry out over time allowing oxidation
Human Muscle 8 HP 1 HP Muscle will atrophy in a very short time and function will be lost
  • Non-exercising cosmonauts lost the ability to walk after only 10 months
  • Non-exercising astronauts lost 2% of their bone mass every month.
    (bone minerals were excreted via their urine)

Food as a Fuel

  • Caloric measurement is performed in a device known as a calorimeter. This device burns test material (usually food) in an enclosed volume with a constant supply of oxygen while measuring the amount of heat released into a larger volume of water over the time of the complete burn. Although this is a good starting point, a calorimeter is nothing at all like the human body.
  • In physics, one "calorie" (lower-case or small "c"; also known as a "gram calorie") of thermal energy is required to raise one gram of water by one degree Celsius. This equates to 4.2 Joules.
  • In nutrition, a "Calorie" (upper-case or capital "C") represents one kilocalorie which is one thousand times larger. This is the amount of energy required to raise one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. This equates to 4.2 kilojoules.
  • Since there was already great confusion by the common use of an upper-case or lower-case starting letter, the calorie was not merged into the System International which is why scientists use the term Joule. 
  • Don't like metric measurements? An alternate unit is the BTU (British Thermal Unit) which is the amount of thermal energy necessary to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. While BTU is often used for industrial heating and cooling, I have never heard of it being used in human nutrition.
  • Measuring the caloric content of food assumes that food is just fuel, rather than a mixture of fuel and raw material to enable self repair and growth.
    • Carbohydrate (sugar, starch, etc.)
      • these burn the easiest because they contain with their own built-in oxidizer (oxygen atoms)
      • dictionary definitions:
        • noun (1869): from carbo- "carbon" + hydrate, denoting a compound produced when certain substances combine with water.
        • noun (current): Any of a group of organic compounds that includes sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums and serves as a major energy source in the diet of animals. These compounds are produced by photosynthetic plants and contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, usually in the ratio 1:2:1.
    • Fat
      • these burn less easily than carbohydrates because an external oxidizer must be provided (usually by breathing). The human body can make use of certain essential dietary fats so it is not always a good idea to restrict dietary fat intake. It is a good idea reduce saturated and trans fats. (see below for details)
    • Protein
      • while it is true that human animals can burn protein as fuel, it makes much more sense to use this material for tissue growth and repair.
  • All three food categories are capable of increasing serum (blood) glucose levels after digestion.
  • Most people know that nerve tissue will die quickly without access to glucose or oxygen.
  • Many people seem unaware of the fact that nerve tissue (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves) can burn out (die) when exposed to high levels of serum glucose. To prevent this, the body has developed an elaborate monitoring and control mechanism involving the release of Insulin by the pancreas which signals fat cells to begin removing glucose from the blood. (there are also other mechanisms that involve the conversion of glucose to glycogon for storage in the muscles)
  • All foods ingested do not have the same bioavailability or bioactivity.
    • Grasses
      • Unlike cattle, humans cannot digest grass. Grass does contain calories as measured in a calorimeter and yet almost none of those calories will be absorbed by the human body. (even cattle cannot directly digest grass; they employ bacteria in a special stomach compartment to perform the conversion)
    • Simple Carbohydrates
      • Simple carbohydrates, like refined sugar and starches, don't need to be digested and therefore race into the body causing a spike in blood glucose levels. This event is noticed by the pancreas (note: both the "current level" as well as the "rate of increase" are important) which releases the hormone Insulin in response. Insulin signals other body parts, like fat cells, to begin to "take up" the serum glucose.
        It should be pointed out that a large release of insulin usually causes an over reaction which can drive the blood glucose levels from a state of hyperglycemia (too high) to a state of hypoglycemia (too low). In healthy people this will trigger hunger pangs which will cause the whole ingestion-digestion-compensation cycle to repeat.
      • Starch is nature's stored form of sugar and comes in the form of bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta. A starch digesting enzyme called amylase can be found all through our digestive tracts starting with the saliva in our mouths. To experience this digestive process, place a small piece of white bread into your mouth and wait 10 to 30 seconds while the enzyme converts some of the starch into sugar. It will begin to taste sweet, and this one reason why some people refuse to give up white bread. This is another reason why eating slowly is more satisfying. The conversion from starch into sugar will continue inside your stomach but there are no taste buds down there to enjoy it.
      • Avoid refined sugar entirely
        • it has only been available to modern man in large quantities for the past few hundred years and humanity was not meant to consume it
        • many people don't know that jam is sweet because the high sugar content is toxic to most bacteria and mold. In this case sugar must only be thought of as a preservative.
      • Avoid white bread entirely
        • its popularity has fluctuated greatly over the past few hundred years but the most recent round occurred when people were convinced to purchase bread products rather than make it
          • retail bakers discovered that white bread has a much longer "shelf life" than whole grain bread. The problem here is that the bread now lasts longer because many nutrients have been removed. The retail bakers then tried to fix this problem by adding vitamins and minerals to "enrich" the flour.
          • many commercial bread manufacturers scammed us for many years by selling caramel colored white bread (simply labeled "brown bread") as if it was the healthy brown bread. If you eat bread you want course-ground whole-grains. (due to larger surface area, fine-ground particles are digested faster than course-ground; you always want to digest slowly in order to avoid spiking your serum glucose levels)
      • Limit white pasta + white rice
        • since fully cooked white pasta will quickly convert into sugar, try preparing it al dente (under cooked). Undercooked pasta will convert to sugar much more slowly.
        • serving pasta covered with a light coating of olive oil will slow the digestion rate which will produce the same amount of sugar but over a much longer time period.
        • replace pure white pasta with brown, green and red pasta (provided the coloring is natural and not artifical)
      • Avoid soft drinks entirely
        • most soft drinks contain between 4 and 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
      • Limit fruit drinks
        • In the wild, you would never be able to eat more than two apples or two oranges so why do people think it is good to serve large glasses of apple juice or orange juice? Just because something is natural doesn't mean it is good for you. 
    • Complex Carbohydrates
      • Complex carbohydrates, like whole wheat bread and under cooked pasta, require digestion. Blood glucose levels will rise more slowly and the pancreas will be able to react in a more precise and controlled fashion. The rule of thumb here is the more complex the carbohydrate, the slower the digestion, absorption, and pancreas reaction.
      • Despite the fact that blood glucose rates will rise much more slowly, they will still rise. Overeating will still cause a larger release of insulin with some of the negative side effects (like triggering fat storage).
    • Fats
      • Fats require just as much (if not more) digestion than complex carbohydrates and will never cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels. But as previously mentioned, overeating will still cause a larger release of insulin with some of the negative side effects (like triggering fat storage).
      • In the early 1990s marketing bozos used pretzel logic to convince consumers that eating fat makes you fat. Before too long almost everything purchased in a super market contained a "low fat" label. However, fat gives food its taste, and low fat food tasted bad, so they compensated by adding carbohydrates. In most cases the "low fat" version of any food had the same number of calories as the "normal fat" version, but the "low fat" version could actually trigger more "fat storage".
        • labeling caveat:
          • low fat foods contain low fat but may be tweaked with high carbs
          • low carb foods will help you restrict fat creation and subsequent fat storage
    • Proteins
      • Proteins are the base material for all tissues as well as enzymes and hormones.
      • Although they can be burned, it is much more efficient to use them for other purposes.
      • Proteins are composed of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids of which humans can make only 12 which means that the other 8 must come from our diet.  (Rats, on the other hand, can make all 20). If any one of the essential 8 amino acids is missing, protein synthesis will stop.
  • Errors in early dietary recommendations were based upon simple interpretations of the following facts:
    One gram of this:  Yields This Many Calories: 
    carbohydrate 4
    fat 9
    protein 4

    So at first glance, it looks like eating fats will make cause you to take in more calories.

    However, eating simple carbohydrates...
    • will trigger the largest insulin release...
    • which tells fat cells and muscles to remove too much glucose from the bloodstream...
    • which will causes new hunger pangs...
    • which will cause you to to eat more food thus triggering a new vicious cycle
  • Marketing
    • low-fat foods
      • In the late 1980s and early 1990s, some smaller food manufacturers believed calorie facts "as-is" then began to market "low-fat" snack food.
      • Big companies (who can, and do, employ nutritionists and scientists) should have known better but decided it was better to sell the pubic what the public wants.
      • It only took 10 years to see obesity as a problem.
      • It only took 20 years to see obesity in epidemic proportions
      • Reminder: Much Low-fat food (which has been tweaked with sugar to improve the taste) will make you fatter than food with a higher fat content. Always inspect the labels
    • soft drinks
      • How many people remember the tiny 6.5 once (5 cent) soft-drink bottles sold from 1960s vending machines?.
      • Now every convenience store stacks 32-once torpedo bottles.
      • The movement to much larger bottles was also due to a marketing war between the soft-drink vendors (their cost between the contents of small and large bottles is negligible)
      • If you must consume soft-drinks then make sure it is either low-cal or zero-cal. Although artificial sweeteners come with some risk, being obese is also risky as well as undesirable.
    • fruit drinks
      • How many people remember ordering orange juice in a restaurant then having it served in a 7 once "juice glass"? For some reason I don't understand, many young people today have never heard the phrase "juice glass".
      • What is worse is this: No one can eat more than two apples or two oranges due to the fiber content. And yet a children are often handed a glass containing the equivalent of many more than two pieces of fruit.

Food as a Building Material

  • As stated earlier, all nutritional food falls into three (or four) major categories
    1. Carbohydrates
      • sugars, starches, etc.
      • only used as a fuel source
      • never used as a building block
    2. Fat (lipids)
      • can be used as a fuel
      • can be used as a component of building block material
        • cell walls are composed of a water tight material known as lipoproteins.
        • myelin is a fatty substance used as an electrical insulator to protect nerves. Loosing Myelin is similar to allowing wires to short out.
        • some are considered essential fatty acids and only come from our diet
      • dietary fat comes in four chemical categories (ranked in order of good to bad)
        1. monounsaturated
          • each molecule is one hydrogen atom away from being saturated
        2. polyunsaturated
          • each molecule is many hydrogen atoms away from being saturated
        3. saturated
          • each molecule is saturated (can't add any more hydrogen)
        4. transfat
          • in biology, the prefixes cis and trans signify chemical differences that can make a molecule twist to the right or to the left. In chemistry, these prefixes indicate which versions of the molecule are flexible verses rigid.
          • although trans fats exist in nature, they are usually produced during the manufacturing of processed foods and are associated with coronary disease.
            • these molecules are known to move from the digestive tract into the body where they clump up
            • some researchers believe these molecules get pass the blood-brain barrier and play some kind of role in Alzheimer's disease
            • these molecules have been known to block the cellular absorption of amino acids (components of protein)
          • In the 1950s people were convinced to switch from butter to margarine. Butter tended to be naturally hard or soft based upon temperature while margarine has been moved from a liquid phase to a solid phase by industrial hydrogenation.  This same process resulted in margarine containing much more trans fat.
    3. Protein
      • Although it can be burned, it is more efficient to use it for other purposes.
      • Proteins are the base material for all tissues as well as enzymes, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
      • Proteins are composed of amino acids (the amino acid order determines the function). Think of protein as a necklace and the amino acids as pearls.
      • There are 20 amino acids of which humans can make only 12 which means the other 8 essential amino acids must come from our diet.  (Rats, on the other hand, can make all 20 which is one reason they are so successful at survival). Whenever any of the essential 8 are missing, protein synthesis stops.
      • Eating too little protein...
        • can hinder certain kinds of chemical processing including digestion. (protein is the substrate for all hormones)
        • will have a degenerative effect on the endocrine system (including signaling via protein messages)
        • can result in certain kinds of nutrition-deficient nerve and brain disorders.
          • It is my personal belief that dietary protein is one component necessary for good mental health.
        • can result in a weakening of the immune system (B-cells, T-cells, CD4-cells, CD8-cells etc. are all built from protein)
      • Unlike fat, protein is not stored in a long term fashion for future use so our bodies will preferentially cannibalize internal protein structures as required (thus treating them like storage containers). These include:
        • breaking down immune system cells (ever wonder why you sometimes get a cold sore after a few days of too much exercise combined with too little nutrition?)
        • breaking down muscles in the extremities (arms and legs) to save muscles in the core (heart)
    4.  Vitamins, Minerals, etc.
      • Vitamins
        • When they were first discovered, scientists where looking for amino-acids and mislabeled these substances "vital amines" which was later shortened to vit-a-mins. In fact, these substances really fall under the category of coenzymes (except vitamin-D which is a steroid) and act as a catalyst in enzyme related chemistry.
        • Vitamins are classed as water soluble (all the B and C vitamins) or fat soluble (all the rest). Ingest too many water soluble vitamins and you'll urinate away the excess. Ingest too many fat soluble vitamins and their storage in your body may approach toxic concentrations.
        • Certain vitamins like vitamin-C are necessary for normal life. English sailors several hundred years ago endured gum disease and premature tooth loss until they were given a daily ration of limes to stop this disease. Ever since then they were known as "limeys".
        • Scientists have known for quite some time that human cancer rates increase in proportion to the distance from the equator. It was always believed that this was due to industrial pollution which tends to be greater in the north. Around 1980, some American doctors believed that this might have something to do with vitamin-D which is normally produced when human skin is exposure to sunlight (which is much lower in higher latitudes -OR- non-existent if you wear a sunscreen with SPF-8 or higher). Since that time there has been quite a bit of evidence that human cancer rates are much lower in in higher latitudes when a daily vitamin-D supplement is consumed. Supplementation is even more important today since fewer adults eat fish or drink milk (which is usually fortified with vitamin-D).
          • I'm am 53 years old (in 2005) and have been been consuming a single 1000 IU tablet of vitamin-D3 daily for the past 3 months. This stuff is really cheap ($7 per bottle of 100 tablets) but has completely changed my physical health for the better.
            • Previously I had chronic tooth aches with no tooth decay but X-rays by my dentist revealed nothing. After one month of vitamin-d supplementation the chronic pain has totally stopped.
            • I always suspected that some teeth were getting loose (I thought I could feel movement whenever I chewed my food). All my teeth now feel rock solid and this is not surprising since bone and tooth growth are not possible without Vitamin-D. BTW, I still have all 28 of my original adult teeth (wisdom teeth were extracted due to lack of space).
            • I was becoming intolerant to coffee. So much so that I could enjoy a cup in the morning but a cup in the middle of the afternoon would interrupt my sleep at night. I'm now back to 2 cups a day with no coffee related interruptions.
            • Even after I totally gave up coffee a few years back, I would wake once or twice per night to urinate. This has stopped and I always get 7-8 hours even though I'm drinking coffee again.
            • For the past 10 years I've been suffering from a mild form of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which starts near Halloween and doesn't seem to go away until Christmas. My emotional state was a mixture of dread and depression but I am only able to endure it because logically I know it is related to the loss of sunlight. This year I still seem to be enduring a bout of SAD but the mental load seems 50% to 75% lower than in previous years. Since natural vitamin-D is associated with sunlight, and SAD is associated with a loss of sunlight, I wonder if I've stumbled onto something here.
          • In 2006 I increased my daily dose to 2000 IU and have continued this into 2013. Never ingest a Vitamin-D supplement without also consuming a calcium supplement.
          • Caveat: higher does of Vitamin-D may deplete your magnesium levels (which can cause constipation) as well as deplete Vitamin-K (which will reduce the clotting of blood). As is true with all nutrients, too much can be just as bad as too little.
        • It has long been known that some vitamins can have an anti-oxidizing effect in the body which will result in the reduction of "one of the risk factors" associated with certain kinds of cancer. That said, preventing cancer and eliminating cancer are two completely different things. No nutrient therapy has ever been known to cure cancer. If you suspect cancer then see a doctor immediately AND read all you can on the subject (but beware of anything that sounds like somebody's "get-rich-quick scheme" because snake-oil salesmen have always preyed on the gullible public and no one will be more desperate than someone who has just been told they have cancer.
      • Coenzyme Q10
        • Every cell in your body contains an energy-producing organelle called a mitochondria or mitochondrion. Some body organs never sleep which means their cells host more of them. Heart cells may have several while liver cells often contain many more. The problem with mitochondria is they get tired as they get age -AND- they require a better supply of Coenzyme Q10. There is not much you can do for a worn out mitochondria other than hoping your body will kill the host cell then cause a neighboring cell to replicate. But you can improve things by consuming an Coenzyme Q10 supplement.
        • Speaking of tired (lazy?) mitochondria, they host a chemical process known as the Krebs Cycle which involves Citric Acid.  Therefore, you should not attempt to get through life living on Vitamin-C supplements but no citric-acid containing fruit.
      • Dietary Minerals

Nutritional Summary

  • undo the error of the early 1990s
    • decrease dietary carbohydrates (if at all possible, eliminate simple carbs like refined sugar and white flour).
      On a microscopic level, cell division (specifically, DNA duplication) is one of the most energy intensive operations in the world of biology. On a macroscopic level, the human brain requires more energy than any other organ. Reducing carbohydrates will adversely affect these two examples.
    • increase dietary fat (in this order: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, trans, saturated)
  • undo the error of the early 1950s
    • switch from white bread back to whole grain bread.
      • This will have the additional benefit of increasing dietary fiber which will have a cleansing effect on the lower digestive tract.
    • switch from margarine back to butter (or cream cheese)
    • switch from butter to cream cheese
  • eat more protein. Every system in your body will benefit from this.
  • give up sugared soft drinks entirely. All meals should be consumed with either:
    • water
    • milk - preferred since it acts as a natural emulsifier allowing oil and water to mix in the stomach.
    • beer or wine (never more than 2 servings of alcohol per day)
  • reduce or eliminate fruit juice. The sugar may be all natural but it is still too much, too soon
    • It is much better to eat an orange than drink the equivalent amount of orange juice
    • It is much better to eat an apple than drink the equivalent amount or apple juice.
      • Apples are also an excellent source of dietary fiber which means you will be unable to eat many of them (everybody can eat one but very few can eat three). Now consider how much apple sugar you ingest when you drink apple juice (it's way more than you could eat directly from the source).
  • Magic Ratios
    • some nutritionists have said that the best diet consists of:
      • 3 parts carbohydrate, 2 parts fat, 1 part protein
    • some sports medicine people have stated that the best diet consists of:
      • 2 parts carbohydrate, 2 parts fat, 2 parts protein
    • The diet that's correct for you is probably somewhere between these limits

2015 Addendum

  • Biologist and humanitarian Norman Borlaug kicked off the Green Revolution which is responsible for saving billions of humans from starvation. If life were fair then "every citizen of planet Earth would know this man's name" and "we would all participate in a world wide holiday celebrating his accomplishments" (I vote we declare January-1 as Norman Borlaug Day).
  • There is no way I can do justice to his life's work on this page but I will say this: I have seen some (rational) online discussion suggesting...
    His numerous techniques for increasing annual productivity (including the use of both organic and inorganic fertilizers) can leave the soil somewhat overtaxed. While you can get a second growing season out of many plots of land, plants may not have the levels of iron, magnesium or copper they might have had naturally. Even still, a slightly less-nutritious plant is a million times better than starving
  • This is why you need a single multivitamin tablet each day: Nutritional insurance

    comment: I realize it's not natural (or how we evolved) but the same could be said for what we're doing to the planet. Stop thinking about Homosapien and start thinking Homo technologicus

You Need Physical Exercise!

  • In the very early 1900's, approximately 90% of North Americas were involved in agriculture and food distribution. Much of this was manual labor associated with farming.
  • One hundred years later this figure has dropped to 2% leaving the remaining 98% of our population mostly sedentary
  • This is the first 100 years of mankind's existence where a strenuous lifestyle is not required in order to live. We were not designed to operate in this environment. We all need physical exercise.
  • Biology is "Demand Driven":
    • SKELETON: While attempting to prevent osteoporosis, you could eat huge quantities of calcium but very little will be utilized by osteogenesis (bone growth processes) until a physical load is placed upon your skeleton. Whether we're talking about bones, muscle or brain, we must always remember the biological truism: "use-it or lose-it"
    • METABOLISM: If you've never exercised but then decide to go for a short jog or run, you will quickly loose your breath. As you repeat this on a daily basis, you will gradually increase your endurance to the point that you will no longer loose your breath. The reason for this change is that your body noticed you were out of breath and so compensated by manufacturing additional red blood cells which will enable more oxygen to be transported from the lungs to your muscles. This added oxygen will have the effect of raising your resting metabolism. When you stop exercising it only takes 14-21 days for the body to get rid of the (now unneeded) excess red blood cells. This will slow your resting metabolism which will cause you to gain fat and loose muscle. Scientists tell us the oxidative damage is caused by metabolic body processes with insufficient oxygen (partial burning). I have always wondered if extra red blood cells would reduce this since much more oxygen is available (complete burning).
    • EYE DISEASE: One type of macular degeneration is caused by an excessive growth of blood vessels in the eye. Normally, angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) is caused by a lack of oxygen. Rather than growing new blood vessels, it might make more sense to get some daily exercise. In the short term, this will oxygenate more of the body while you are exercising. In the long term your body will increase the number of red blood cells which will allow more more oxygen to be delivered to various parts of the body whether you are exercising or at rest.
  • Isaac Asimov (PhD Biochemistry)
    • Died in 1992 at age 72 from complications related to AIDS.
    • He contracted this disease (AIDS) during a blood transfusion in 1984 after a triple bypass.
    • If he would have exercised moderately and monitored his diet, he would not have needed the bypass surgery or the blood transfusion which resulted in the infection that killed him. Had he lived 10 more years, he probably would have published a few dozen more books (Asimov's 15 most popular sci-fi books).
  • My Father
    • Died in 1988 at the age of 63
    • Had a physically demanding job as a butcher so appearing strong and vigorous while working
    • He smoked cigars all his adult life but only drank alcohol occasionally and never to excess
    • He retired at age 62 and seemed to lose biceps size in 3-4 months
    • After 10 months of retirement he died of a massive heart attack (the coronary artery splits into 3 branches; the lowest branch was totally occluded while the middle branch was only blocked to the 50% mark)
    • Although many believe that it's the sudden stop that gets you, the truth of the matter is that you can get away with a few of life's vices provided you have a physically demanding life. But you will live longer if you exercise daily and skip these same vices.
      Except for one thing:
      for some unknown reason people who drink no alcohol have a similar mortality rate as alcoholics. People in the middle who only drink 1-2 ounces of alcohol per day seem to live longer. Perhaps alcohol thins the blood; perhaps social contact of a bar room reduces stress. For more information try searching the phrase J-curve alcohol in Google. Also check out the book "The Healthy Barmaid" by Doctor W. Gifford-Jones http://www.canadafreepress.com/medical/alcohol041295.htm
      p.s. pregnant women must never consume alcohol since the baby's underdeveloped body is incapable of filtering and removing alcohol

Stress + Inflammation


Biology can be best described as the merger of two related process: anabolic and catabolic. The anabolic process builds while the catabolic process destroys.

    Metabolic = Anabolic + Catabolic

A short time after we are born anabolism (building) is running high while catabolism (destroying) is running low. As we age anabolism starts to drop while catabolism starts to rise. Once catabolism rises above anabolism, natural death is not far behind.


The hormone symphony that controls our lives is nothing short of a miracle and yet some hormones have a much greater effect than others. Anabolic hormones like testosterone (which exists in both men and women by the way) help us grow and maintain muscle mass but catabolic hormones like cortisol make sure we won't keep that mass unless we exercise.

One of the more negative aspects of cortisol is that it is released during times of injury or stress. One of the more diabolical facts associated with aging is that the body's sensitivity to stress increases with age which only results in more production of cortisol. So although it is not a good idea to try to eliminate cortisol from the body, it is probably a good idea to control your stress so cortisol is not released too often or too long.

For some reason that medicine does not yet understand, this age-related sensitivity to stress can be reduced with moderate daily exercise.
Exercise lower stress
No Exercise higher stress

Your car might last much longer if you didn't use it but it is just the opposite for your body. It doesn't make sense but it is true.

Omega-3 vs. Omega-3-6-9

Many people supplement with Omega 3 to reduce the action of cortisol in inflammation. These people seem to forget that people with Addison's Disease (John F Kennedy was one notable example) cannot produce sufficient cortisol. On top of all this, cortisol is one mechanism used by the body to cause fat cells to empty (the opposite action of insulin). For this reason alone, people supplementing with Omega-3 should switch to Omega-3-6-9 so that cortisol is controlled but not eliminated.

Additional Resources

  • Read the book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes
  • Guaranteed Human Life Extension - quantity as well as quality. This is not a joke or scam but it will cost you $6.00 per month.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_paradox
    • many people in the west think this is due to wine and Resveratrol
    • many Europeans think this is due to life-style (fast-food in the west vs. the slow-food cultural movement in Europe)
    • it may even be due to higher levels of trans-fats in the west vs. low levels in Europe
  • Diabetes comes in two major categories and here are some very simple descriptions:
    • Type 1 Diabetes is caused by the pancreas producing insufficient amounts of insulin. The only treatment here is injecting insulin because you can't live without it.
    • Type 2 Diabetes is caused by a life-time of consuming too much sugar. Your pancreas is releasing insulin but insulin receptors (special cells that listen for, and react to, the insulin signaling message) throughout your body have become so tired from a lifetime of use that they have become deaf to the signal. If you don't ever what to find yourself in this situation then you need to reduce your consumption of simple carbs, especially sugar, immediately. DO NOT BURN OUT YOUR RECEPTORS!
    • A third type has the unofficial name of Type 3 Diabetes and this involves the inability of the brain to utilize serum glucose (sugar). Think about all those people with, what appears to be, dementia (probably slapped with an Alzheimer's label). Many of these people are eating (or are being force fed, perhaps intravenously) but their brains are unable to utilize glucose. This is one reason why some appear to be in a sleepy stupor while others appear like sleepy drunks. Research is in early days here but it appears that type-3 diabetes may come in two flavors.
      • What I call Type-3a (think 3-one) involves insulin not being able to transition across the blood-brain barrier (caveat: some recent publications indicate that the brain manufactures its own insulin). Since this form of diabetes is similar to type-1, adding insulin can temporarily improve the situation and this is done with a custom inhaler (it is like you are snorting insulin)
      • What I call Type-3b (or, alternatively, Type-2b where b = brain) is similar to traditional type-2 where insulin receptors in the brain are worn-out and so are no longer listening to the insulin message
    • Food-for-thought:
      1. Alzheimer's Disease is almost always associated with the buildup of amyloids plaques which occur naturally in the body. Question: Is it possible that a natural garbage collection process in the brain is underpowered due to the brain's inability to utilize glucose? Perhaps.
      2. Are all of the optic nerves inside the brain or out? Many people go blind in old age and I wonder if this is related (in part) to a lack of chemical power (glucose)
      3. It is a well known fact the the brain uses "a lot of energy" with guestimates varying between 25% and 40% of the total energy available. That would require "a lot of insulin" and I wonder if the brain produces it -OR- is it more likely that the brain produces a substance to escort insulin across the blood-brain barrier.
    • Links:

Vaccines (a miracle for humanity)

A brief list of known "memory systems"

(some) Non-biological memory systems

  • Stone Inscriptions
    • carvings on the surfaces of ancient pyramids (Egypt, Mexico, Cambodia, to only name three of many)
  • Wooden Inscriptions
    • totem poles
  • Books
    • human-written records (fictional and factual)
  • Video
    • VHS tape, Laser-disc, DVD, Blu-ray
  • Audio
    • wax cylinders, plastic discs, magnetic tape (open reel, 8-track cassette, compact cassette, CD-ROM)
  • Computers
    • human records (everything including: books, audio, video, games, programs, accounting records, etc.) 
    • human initiated machine-collected data (everything from seismometers and storm monitors to space probes)

(some) Biological memory systems

  • DNA
    • long term memory of the genetic subroutines of our ancestors
  • RNA
    • short term copies of DNA segments (messages) sent throughout a cell to accomplish some task
  • Brain
    • short term memory including stuff like "what I ate for dinner yesterday" or "where did I park my car?"
    • long term data including everything from "how to catch a frog" to "the knowledge of math and science"
  • Spinal Column
    • reflexes, like "how to retract from a hot object without thinking about it"
  • Immune System
    • memory of all the diseases encountered by the host body

The many paths to knowledge

While it is possible for every human brain to redevelop everything (like math and science) from first principles, it is much more efficient to attend a school where the factual information is passed from instructor to student. This way, all students can avoid the failures and dead-end paths taken by others.

Likewise, an immune system can learn about diseases it has not yet encountered by being exposed to the protein coats associated with viruses collected by scientists. The end-product is known as a vaccine and the information download process is known as an inoculation. In most cases a vaccine is a collection of multiple viruses that have been sliced-and-diced by enzymes during the manufacturing process (rendering them non-infectious). The resulting protein segments of these viruses are then injected into the body where the immune system notices something foreign then begins manufacturing protein anti-bodies for an attack which never materializes but is remembered.

Caveat-1: some viral diseases are so dangerous that it is unlikely you will survive your first natural contact. Or if you do survive, you will never be fully returned to a pre-diseased state. One example is Polio (Poliomyelitis) which was rampant during my childhood in the 1950s but another example is hepatitis which is rampant in human society today. Benjamin Franklin said it best: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of inoculations this might be rephrased: A nanogram of vaccine is worth a kilogram of cure.

Caveat-2: Most modern people today would be embarrassed to admit they are functionally illiterate. So if inoculations are a form of learning then shouldn't people be just as embarrassed to admit their bodies haven't be educated? I suppose ignorance is a form of bliss but this form will get you killed.


Fully 20% of all cancers are caused by viruses with some scientists speculating that the number is as high as 40%. One nasty virus is HPV (human papilloma virus) which comes in ~ 130 versions with the most benign forms responsible for ten kinds of warts. However, there are other versions of HPV which are responsible for skin cancer, genital cancer, anal cancer, and 90% of all cervical cancers.

Two vaccines are available to prevent infection by some HPV types responsible for cervical cancer. Inoculate your daughters to reduce the danger of cervical cancer in their bodies then inoculate your sons to protect your future daughters-in-law.

"Egg Allergies" and "Herd Immunity"

A very simple explanation

During the creation of a vaccine, live viruses are evolutionarily adapted to non-human hosts by being transferred into three-to-four generations of chicken eggs. During the transfer, the virus becomes more bird-like which means it becomes virtually harmless (before slicing-and-dicing) to humans. It also means that people with allergies to egg protein will not be able to utilize a vaccine prepared in this way.

But it is not necessary for everyone in society to be inoculated (although those who are not are in greater danger than those who have). If a significant majority of the population is inoculated then herd immunity will prevent the disease in question from becoming an epidemic (thus protecting un-inoculated people in the herd)

Inoculations do not cause Autism


  • Males experience Autism at rates ~4 times greater than females and this magic ratio reminds me of other sex-chromosome linked diseases like Hemophilia.
  • By law, 100% of the health records of the citizens of Denmark must be sent to the government which are then made available to researchers (personal data is not disclosed). These records contain information about who has, and who has not, received childhood inoculations. By analyzing this data it can be seen that autism rates are virtually identical for the inoculated group vs. the un-inoculated group.
  • It is true that there are higher autism rates now, but this primarily due to the fact that some other afflictions are now being labeled as autism (this disease became a so-called spectrum in the 1980s)
  • To learn more:

Comments: The medical community published this information in 2001-2002 but internet-based conspiracy theorists and weirdoes have kept the Autism scare alive. I worry about parents who lose a child to a disease which could have been prevented with a vaccine. But in the end it is all up to choice: do you want to live in the modern scientific world or live like the Amish?



Biohacking technology is much too primitive in 2019 so my advice to you is to not mess around with it. Here is my advice for good health:

  • eat properly
  • remain hydrated
    • limit diuretics like caffeine and alcohol
    • water is superior to any soft drink/soda
  • get plenty of sleep
  • sign up for every vaccine available to you
    • 20% of all cancers are caused by viruses but some researchers are now speculating that the real number might be 50%
  • talk to your doctor and/or schedule a yearly checkup
    • actors and silicon valley engineers have not been to medical school so their advice should always be considered suspect
  • you need 45 minutes of exercise per day (but 60 minutes would be better); exercise will help you to stay asleep at night
  • consider occasionally fasting (for health; not religion)

Intermittent Fasting (for health; not religion)

Why fast?

  • Humans evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment so did not have daily access to high quality food. Today's bodies cannot (easily) tolerate this new situation where food is 100% available (at least in the west)
    • The skyrocketing rates of diabetes may be one symptom of too many available calories in a non-hunter-gatherer society.
    • The exploding frequency of "age related dementia" (and dementia in general) may be another symptom
      1. some dementia may be associated with type-3 diabetes (type-2 diabetes of the brain)
      2. some dementia may be associated with Alzheimer's disease
      3. some dementia may be associated with a failure of "brain waste removal" by the Glymphatic system
      4. some dementia may be associated with the accumulation of senescent cells
      comments: in 2019 it looks like item-3 might be partly linked to item-2; but then again they may all be linked in some fashion; fasting might help item-4 (and item-1 to a lesser extent) 
  • It has been long known that brief fasting can sharpen the mind.
    • Some people have speculated that the mind becomes sharper so you, the animal, can be better equipped to catch a new meal
    • Recall that old saying: The thin mouse forages while the fat mouse sleeps
  • Science reveals more: when you do not have enough food-calories in your system, your body will switch over to autophagy which will:
    • cause cells to cannibalize defective or inefficient organelles; this is intracellular autophagy
    • preferentially cannibalize senescent (zombie) cells; this is intercellular autophagy
      • This happens in both the body as well as the brain. Recall that senescent cells are usually large, bloated and resistant to dying. They have been known to generate a lot of intercellular inflammation. When they do die (or are killed by autophagy), a healthier neighboring cell will usually divide to replace it.
  • Autophagy can be stimulated by certain plant-based nutrients like Quercetin


Informal Techniques:

Name Description
sleep Sleeping people are living off stored bodily resources which means they are also fasting.
Eating in the morning is called breakfast because that is when you are breaking your fast.
day light
  • this is what many Muslims do during the lunar month of Ramadan
    • some sects avoid food between 6 AM and 6 PM
    • other sects avoid food during daylight hours
      • this can be harder in locations further away from the equator when Ramadan lands in a month longer than 12 hours
      • this happens because lunar months drift through the solar calendar
  • some Christians fast on Good Friday (two days before Easter)
  • some Christians give up something (including food) during the 6-weeks of Lent (ends on Easter)
5:2 eat normally five days; fast for two days
6:18 eat normally for six hours; fast for eighteen hours
36 hours this is what I am told to do before a colonoscopy (others are only told to fast for 24 hours which means "I am full of it" :-)
6:1 eat normally six days; fast for one day
this is the only thing I would ever recommend to anyone
I'll leave it up to you to decide if the fast will last 12 hours or 24 hours

My Informal Introduction To Fasting


  • No one thinks they can fast until they are forced to do so. For me, that happened in 2014 when I was ordered to fast for 24-hours before a colonoscopy. I didn't find fasting as as inconvenient as the two other instructions:
    • take two small pills (laxatives)
    • ingest 4-liters of water along with a dissolved power called Peglyte
  • After the procedure my surgeon questioned me about fasting and colonoscopy prep because (apparently) I was not totally cleaned out
  • Colonoscopy Results: my surgeon found then removed 3 polyps. Here is the recommended follow-up chart for Ontario, Canada.
    Polyps Repeat Procedure Comments
    5 one year  
    3 three years looks like I have to go back in 3-years
    1 five years  
  • Fasting Results: I was not ravenously hungry but I was noticeably that I was much more mentally focused (I seemed to have a razor-sharp mind - a subjective statement since I didn't do anything IQ tests ).


  • When I repeated the colonoscopy in 2018, I was instructed to fast for 36-hours (but still was required to swallow the laxative pills and drink the 4-liter fluid)
  • Colonoscopy results: my surgeon found then removed 1 polyp.
  • Fasting Results: similar to 2014; I was not ravenously hungry but I was noticeably that I was much more mentally focused (this feeling fades over a few days)


  • Strictly as a personal experiment, I began Sunday fasting in March (nothing to do with religion) and may only do this for 8-weeks
  • This is easier than you think since you have already been fasting from 21:00 (9 PM) the night before. You might experience very minor hunger pangs at 9:00 and 12:00 but they will only last 15-minutes 
  • I resume eating at 18:00 (6 PM) on Sunday for a family meal

Miscellaneous Stuff (copied from elsewhere)

Question: What is life?

kerosene lampQuestion: What is life?

Answer: I don't know but putting reproduction aside for a moment, I have always associated respiration (the chemistry of animal life) with that of a burning candle where, once lit in a stable environment, the candle will burn evenly until all the fuel (in the form of wax) is consumed. The wick doesn't burn until all the fuel surrounding it has burned.

What happens when we die? The simplest explanation is that we go to the same place as the flame when the wick is pinched. It ceases to exist in the physical world and no scientific experiment will ever prove otherwise.

Therefore, a candle is a man-made device that provides a delicate balance between hot and cold. It does this by ensuring the burn is slow and even.

===== ===== =====

Sticking with the candle metaphor for a moment, think about matches. Once struck, then burn very hot for a short time (presumably so you can use them to light a candle in a more hostile environment where a light wind blowing or the candle wick is either cold or damp. Although a match has much less fuel (paper or wood) than a candle, the hotter temperature causes the match's lifetime to be very short.

===== ===== =====

Now think about kerosene lamps (like the one pictured to the right) whish is a human-engineered improvement on the candle. This appliance employs a wide, flat wick which burns much slower than that of a candle. Why? This wick draws up liquid fuel from the base. The liquid becomes a vapor as it approaches the flame where it ignites. At this point, like the candle, the heat is carried away from the wick via convection (hot air rises). A glass chimney ensures a uniform temperature around the flame which to minimize flicker while maximizing air flow. This has the effect of moving more air into the combustion area (air flows from holes below the wick, around the flame, then up the glass chimney). On top of all this, it is possible (although dangerous) to refill the base without disturbing (too much) a burning flame.

Question: So what does this have to do with human health?

Answer: If you want to live a long time then try to operate you body as if it were a lamp. Keep the temperature down by eating a little less food (16:8 fasting or 5:2 fasting) or less energetic food (replace simple carbs like sugar with complex carbs). Get an appropriate amount of physical exercise to ensure bloodflow is efficient while airflow in-out of your lungs is unrestrained. This includes giving up smoking and/or vaping.

Tattoos etc.

Tattoo inks may be toxic.

BRUSSELS - Fans of tattooing are putting poisonous chemicals into their skin because of widespread ignorance about the substances used in tattooing dyes, the European Commission warned yesterday.  "Would you inject car paint into your skin?" the commission asked in a statement accompanying its report on the health risks of tattooing and body-piercing.  It said most chemicals used in tattoos were industrial pigments originally used for other purposes, such as automobile paints or writing inks, and there was little or no safety data to support their use in tattoos.  In addition, laws demanding tattoo artists use gloves and sterile needles did not include rules about the dyes, meaning they could be impure and dirty without breaking the law. The report said that as well as the risk of catching diseases such as HIV or hepatitis from dirty needles, tattooing could cause skin cancer, psoriasis, toxic shock syndrome or even behavioral changes.

(Toronto Star - July-20, 2003)

Aspartame (a.k.a. NutraSweet)

  • Personal Note: I personally experienced massive headaches and memory loss associated with the consumption of Aspartame (NutraSweet) in the form of Diet Coke during the mid 1980's. After seeing an episode of Nova which stated "almost 1/3 of North Americans experience unwanted side effects from the consumption of Aspartame", I stopped consuming Aspartame entirely. The head aches went away with in a few weeks and my memory slowly returned (to 95%, I think) within a few years.
  • These links seem to think that consumers should proceed cautiously:
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy
    • www.howstuffworks.com/question536.htm the digestion of Aspartame produces "Methyl Alcohol" (a.k.a. Methanol or Wood Alcohol) which is then converted into Formaldehyde by enzymes in the liver. Formaldehyde can cause some damage to proteins until it is converted into Formic Acid which then interferes with mitochondria
    • Dr. Gabe Mirkin/nutrition/N238.html
      • Aspartame and saccharin continue to be blamed for a wide variety of ills, even though research has shown them to be safe if eaten in reasonable amounts (question: what is the definition of a safe amount? This may apply to maintaining your current weight but probably doesn't apply to correcting an over-weight situation
      • Aspartame breaks down into two chemicals, formaldehyde and phenylalanine.
        • Formaldehyde is a known cancer-causing agent.
        • Phenylalanine is an essential (to human nutrition) amino acid but will cause problems in humans diagnosed with PKU also known as Phenylketonuria
    • www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov    (you will need to search from here)
    • www.medscape.com    (you will need to search from here)
    • www.medbroadcast.com    (you will need to search from here)
  • Post Script
    • The Aspartame molecule exists in two major forms, Alpha and Beta, with the Beta form causing more problems in humans
    • The Alpha form converts to the Beta form when exposed to acids over time, which can happen to any brand of soft drink sitting on the shelf for a while.
    • Since the speed of chemical reactions is faster with heat, soft drinks stored at room temperature may be more dangerous than those stored in a cooler or a chilled vending machine.
    • The Alpha form (in dry products like gum, Jell-O, vitamins, etc.) isn't known to convert to the Beta form. It was the dry form which was originally submitted to the government for safety testing and approval.

Additional Links

Important Alert

Back to Home
Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.