Personal Science Week 30 Jun 2022
A longevity "Blueprint", Refrigeration and more
Bryan Johnson is an entrepreneur and investor who takes healthspan seriously. During 2021 he developed a comprehensive “blueprint” to reduce his biological age, and his first results appear to show success. Through changes to diet and lifestyle, he claims to have reduced his measured age significantly:
Like the “DailyViz” site we discussed in Personal Science Week 16 Jun 2022, Bryan Johnson pours immense effort into tracking and optimizing every dimension he can imagine, costing him about $2200/month (mostly in food and supplements). Because Blueprint is focused on a specific goal — reduce various metrics associated with aging — I expect to see much more success than other self-tracking projects, and I’ll be watching it closely to see how Bryan is able to maintain his discipline over time.
Bonus: if you like Blueprint, see Michael Lustgarten’s site for even more extensive longevity optimization tracking. As an MD whose day job includes research relevant to longevity, Dr. Lustgarten has more technical detail and actionable tips, and he’s been watching this space for more than a decade.
A cold truth about food
Food vendors in the US seem to put ice into every drink, whether you want it or not, which begs the question as to why this habit exists. After all, once that ice melts, the drink will no longer be pure. It’ll be, well, “watered down” — a phrase we use to something that is less than pure. So why do food vendors routinely stuff extra ice (water) into our drinks?
Note that this is a uniquely American ritual. In other countries, you have to ask for ice — and in many cases they’ll look at you strangely when you do. When a US flight attendant asks me what I’d like to drink, I always say “X with no ice”. On non-US airlines, it’s the opposite: if you want your drink extra-chilled, you’ll need to request it.
I think this habit of dumping ice into everything started with the invention of low-cost artificial refrigeration in the early 1900s. Before that, ice in the summer was a big deal: somebody needed to carefully preserve ice, usually underground, from the winter, an expensive luxury item that literally melted away over time. Ice was a status symbol, and somehow it remains that way.
Like most technologies, refrigeration has both good and bad consequences. The New York Times once estimated that the US and China both throw away about the same amount of food. In China it’s due to the lack of refrigerated storage and transport; in the US it’s because people buy more than they can eat. Refrigeration enables food to make it to your table before spoiling, but it also dampens demand for other, often tastier forms of preservation, like salting, fermenting, brining, or drying. And refrigeration also results in a more homogeneous (and boring) market, because foods can be shipped from farther away without spoiling. Food growers face nationwide competition, driving out many of the local varieties of plants that often form the basis of different regional cuisines.
Think about how you might reduce your dependence on refrigeration.
Scan for everything
I don’t yet have a strong opinion about the value of full body scans, but two companies in this business have recently caught my eye:
PreNuvo offers full-body MRI scans and consultations at offices throughout the United States. They’re not yet available in my geography, but I’ll definitely check them out when they offer services here in 2023.
Open Cures, founded by a cancer survivor who believes in the value of preventative diagnostics, they have one clinic — in Novato California — but are working to expand their services nationwide. Worth following.
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People who do science for a living are professional scientists. Personal scientists do it for themselves. But you don’t practice science by watching, no matter how wonderful you find nature or technology. Personal scientists treat science as a verb: something you do, not something you read about.
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