Latest Articles

Help Get More Standing Desks in Schools

Kids need movement to support their health, brain development, and academic performance. But, between the elimination of PE programs to video games that use the most powerful engagement tricks to keep kids locked to a controller (literally controlling them), the statistics on kids and physical activity are bleak. One easy and effective way to improve the situation is for schools to provide standing desk options for the kids. Learn more about how the StandUpKids.org is helping to solve this important issue!


A New Product to Significantly Reduce Jet Lag – Interview with Stanford Professor, Jamie Zeitzer

In Professor Jamie Zietzer’s recent research on light and the timing of biological rhythms, he noticed something curious: brief flashes of light have a greater ability to adjust body clock timing than continuous light exposure.

For instance, let’s say you wanted to adjust your body clock to wake up earlier than you typically do in the coming days (a common scenario for those who travel across time zones). In order to make this adjustment, on the morning before you leave, you could wake up at 4:00am, turn on the room light and go back to sleep. This technique can adjust your clock by about 35 minutes, which means that if you typically awake at 7:30am, you could naturally wake up tomorrow around 6:55am (and the timing of all your other body processes would shift accordingly, too).

On the other hand, if you were to get 2 millisecond flash of light every 10 seconds starting at 4:00am (instead of laying in a room with the light on) – something Jamie’s research has demonstrated you can sleep through – you could advance your clock by about 120 minutes – over 3x more than continuous light.

What does this mean? Well, one thing it means is that it would be a heck of a lot easier to be up and ready before your typical natural wake time in those moments when you have an early start to your day (e.g., early plane flight). The ability to affect your body timing in this manner is more than a mere luxury; it’s also about personal safety and performance. None of us want to be on the road with sleepy drivers, and likewise, no one wants to have to perform at a time when you’re too sleepy to keep your eyes open. This is pretty exciting technology!


Is Good Cholesterol Overrated? How to Make Your HDL Work Better

For years, we’ve heard that there are two primary types of cholesterol on a standard lipid panel that really matter for heart health.

The first one is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol,” which you want to keep low. The other type is high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good cholesterol,” which you want to have as much of that as possible. Right?

Well, recent research has suggested that the relationship between HDL cholesterol and cardiovascular disease is far more complicated than previously believed. In fact, having high HDL may not necessarily mean that you’re at reduced risk of having a heart attack.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at HDL, and discuss some important nuances.


Saturated fat – What’s the real story? Interview with Dr. David Katz

Dietary fat is a class of nutrients of which there are many different types. Some types appear to have clear beneficial effects on human physiology in certain contexts, like for example olive oil, while others appear to impair our health when they comprise too high a fraction of our calorie intake over time. Saturated fat has been called out for decades by health authorities as something we should monitor and limit. Recently, however, this idea has been called into question by several meta-analyses, which is a type of scientific examination where all the research on a subject pooled and analyzed together to help determine what the weight of the evidence tells us on that subject. In this interview with Dr. David Katz at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, we discuss not only the findings but also how to best interpret them so that you can continue to make good dietary choices in your own life.


Young Forever? We’re Actually Getting Closer (Interview with Aubrey de Grey)

Can we really stay young forever? This has been a goal of humans since the dawn of time. I know I would like to keep my peak abilities and not see those diminish over the decades. Aging is a subject that I have become increasingly interested in and it’s not necessarily because I’m getting older. Understanding it can help guide how you live, even way before you start to feel old. Plenty of things we can do today can help us live longer by not dying early from disease. Diet and lifestyle make a huge difference here, but this podcast is really about something entirely different – it’s about using cutting edge biotechnology to actually keep the aging process at bay far beyond what good lifestyle practices could achieve. We’re talking about staying close to your peak abilities in life through the age of 130 to 150, or even longer.


The Most Advanced Understanding of How to Optimize Motivation, with Dustin DiTommaso

Where to you get the energy to do something hard or inconvenient? It matters because so much of what’s important in life comes from finding that strength. The topic of the discussion in this podcast is motivation, which can be described as the activation energy needed to do most-to-all volitional activities. Specifically, we’ll be discussing the leading behavior model of motivation called Self-Determination Theory. Like most complex subjects, motivation is NOT a monolithic entity, although it’s usually referred to as if it were. Rather, there are different types of motivation, and these different types have different affects on behavior. The good news is that with a greater understanding of the subject, you can better strategize when to use the specific types and, ultimately, how to use various the types together to stay engaged with something that is important but hard or inconvenient, long term.


How Olive Oil Keeps Your Blood Vessels Healthy

We’ve known for a long time that people who consume more olive oil – as opposed to other sources of dietary fat – are protected in certain ways from heart disease. And some recent research has started to uncover the reasons why.

One compelling and unappreciated way that olive oil prevents cardiovascular disease has to do with its impact on blood pressure.

High blood pressure is often characterized as a “silent killer” because it can cause permanent damage throughout the body without any obvious symptoms. Tragically, by the time the problem becomes obvious, it is sometimes too late to reverse the damage.
About 70 million adults in the US have hypertension – that’s 1 in every 3! And only around 52% of people with hypertension have it under control. It is also likely that many are walking around with the condition who don’t even know they have it.

In this post, we will discuss why consuming extra virgin olive oil seems to help keep blood pressure in check – and how you can best take advantage of this in your own diet.


Lifestyle Modifications to Extend Life by Limiting Growth

Does the ideal diet change across the lifespan? I couldn’t help circling back to this idea regularly while writing this article. In the last article on this subject of growth promotion and better aging, we discussed the concept of antagonistic pleotropy, which suggests that natural selection may favor genes that increase reproductive potential – even at the expense of long-term vitality and longevity. But can we harness an understanding of this idea to alter how we live in our post-reproductive window, to stay younger and live longer? In my latest post, I address just that – lifestyle modifications that may not only be effective to help us surviving longer, but also to live better along the way.


Attention Deficit: Biological Condition or Cultural Creation?

What is attention deficit disorder?

In this latest episode of HumanOS Radio (iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube) I speak with Professor Stephen Hinshaw of UC Berkeley. Much of his research has focused on the causes of and treatment for hyperactivity and similar behavioral problems in children and adolescents.

In our chat, we discuss the background of ADHD, how it was historically characterized and diagnosed, and some of the many theories of what causes the condition. Then we will explore some of the most common treatments, as well as some of the unique challenges associated with understanding and resolving mental illness in general.


Sweeteners Part I: Sensation & Metabolism

We evolved to love sweet food – which is an adaptive preference for a hunter-gatherer. But in the modern world, we are inundated with tasty sugary treats 24/7. For many of us, this ready access to palatable food has come to the detriment of our waistlines, and has driven demand for sugar substitutes. Ostensibly, this might allow us to continue to fulfill our urge for sweet stuff without paying the price in extra calories. But is this safe? Or is it even an effective strategy?

In this article series, we will examine some of the evidence surrounding these sugar substitutes, and try to determine if they are indeed safe and effective. We will begin by discussing how these sweeteners are sensed by the body, and how the body handles them once they are consumed.