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
  1. catalysts increase the speed of chemical reactions by a factor of hundreds to thousands times
  2. enzyme catalysts are proteins which can catalyze (speed up) biological processes.
  3. vitamins are coenzymes which facilitate enzyme catalysts.
  4. Every citizen should consume one single multivitamin tablet every day "just to be sure that a sufficient minimum amount of vitamins are present in the body".
    caveat: if you are cautious -OR- on a tight budget, then just break one in half.
Executive Summary 2
  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. Your pancreas will react quickly to this spike by releasing a large volume of insulin into the blood stream which triggers fat-storage ("dietary sugar" is stored as body fat; "dietary fat" must be first converted into sugar before storing it as fat but this takes time; generally, eating fat will not make you fat). Insulin production does not terminate quickly which means 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.
    2. calories from complex carbohydrates (whole grains) move into the bloodstream at a slower pace thus triggering a slower, 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. If possible, replace most carbs with good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Always avoid bad fats (saturated and trans)
  4. Dietary fats and proteins are required for the production of hormones and enzymes in your body.
  5. You must consume one multi-vitamin tablet every day. If you are cautious, or on a tight budget, or worried about calcium carbonate, then just break them in half.
  6. You should consume somewhere between 400 IU and 1,000 IU of Vitamin-D each day (higher values may lead to constipation, depletion of magnesium, depletion of vitamin-K).
  7. If you consume Vitamin-D with calcium, or calcium alone, then you must also include magnesium. Why?
    1. most supplement manufacturers make use of calcium carbonate which is less expensive than calcium citrate. But calcium carbonate is associated with constipation
      quote: Too much calcium causes the walls of the colon to contract, making it harder for feces to pass. The longer stool sits inside the colon the more dehydrated it becomes, making it even more difficult to pass normally.
      Note that a magnesium supplement can counteract this effect effect. You may also need to employ some Restoralax.
    2. Calcium constipation appears to be more common in older people (comment: so I now wonder manufacturers of multiple vitamins targeted at people older than age 50+ are not already swapping out calcium citrate for calcium carbonate.)
    3. A safer view: you must never consume a calcium supplement unless directed otherwise by a physician or healthcare professional. Why? It is now known that consuming too much calcium can cause constipation, as well as increase the risk of a heart disease and stroke. ref: This Book Could Save Your Life (2020) by Graham Lawson (page-134)
  8. We all need daily physical exercise (minimum of 45-60 minutes - five days out of seven). Good health comes from "sensible nutrition" and "sensible exercise".


Thinking their bodies are similar to 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:

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
(provided sufficient quality food, water, sleep)

Under-loading Man and Machine:

Unlike gorillas, the human body is always engaging in resource conservation. So in order to save energy, the human body will dismantle (cannibalize - catabolize) under-used muscle along with the associated 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 modern 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 lose 2% of their bone mass every month.
    (bone minerals, like calcium, were excreted via their urine)

Food as a Fuel

Food as a Building Material

Nutritional Summary

2015 Addendum

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!

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 without 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 the sane is not true for your body.

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

Many citizens supplement with Omega 3 to reduce the action of cortisol in inflammation. People with Addison's Disease (John F Kennedy was one notable example) cannot produce sufficient cortisol so you want to balance between too little and too much.

Additional Resources

Vaccines (a miracle cure for humanity)

A brief list of known "memory systems"

(some) Biological memory systems

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.


Comments: The medical community published the above information in 2001-2002 but conspiracy theorists have kept the Autism scare alive. I worry about parents who will 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?

Summary - Departing Thoughts


Here is my advice for good health:

Departing Thoughts

The world is gray, not black and white which means there can be many reasons for our problems. What follows has very little to do with peer-reviewed science.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Intermittent Fasting (for health, not religion)

Why fast?


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




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.

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 ignited, 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 (wood or paper) than a candle, the hotter initial temperature causes the match's lifetime to be very short.

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

Now think about kerosene lamps (like the one pictured to the right) which is a industrial age 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 minimizes 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 blood-flow 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)

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Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.