Latest Articles

Considering Genetic Testing? Here Are Some Things to Think About

Have you had your genetics tested?
If you have, you’re not alone, for interest in genetic testing has risen remarkably of late: In 2017, suppliers sold more to-consumer genetic testing kits than in all previous years combined.
People purchasing the tests probably felt that knowledge of their DNA could help them tailor their lifestyles to their genetic code, thereby optimizing their health and performance. But does genetic testing actually help people feel and function better?
If you collate the results of relevant studies, it seems that receiving information about genetics scarcely affects the health decisions people make. And because some believe that their genetic blueprint strongly determines their lives’ trajectories, numerous studies have shown that many individuals feel disempowered and distressed on learning their genetic dispositions to disease.
Until recently we knew nothing about an important question related to this though: What are the effects of an individual learning whether he or she has a beneficial or detrimental variant of a gene on the person’s subsequent physiology?
A team of researchers set out to answer this question, and their results are fascinating.
Read on to find out more!

How to Perform Better at Work. Podcast with James Hewitt

Many of our jobs are changing rapidly. As technological progress continues with little restraint, numerous workplace tasks are likely to become automated, and economists from the University of Oxford recently estimated that nearly 50% of jobs in the US are at high risk of computerization in the near future.
To consistently be at our best in the workplace, we need to recognize the complex array of factors that affects our performance. But we also need to understand ourselves.
At what times of day are we best suited to particular tasks?
In the attention economy, how can we shape our environments to make it easier to stay focused?
And how can we balance work with recovery so that we consistently perform well at work in the long term?
In the latest episode of humanOS Radio I speak James Hewitt about what we can do to be great at your job and ensure you thrive in the workplace for years to come.

humanOS Year in Review (Part 3 of 3): Circadian Rhythms, Sleep, and the Brain

In the third and final instalment of this series, we look back on what we learned about circadian rhythms, light exposure, sleep, and the brain in the last 12 months. We review:
The preeminent roles of our bodies’ clocks in our health.
The importance of light exposure to blood pressure, brain function, and perhaps even metabolism.
Numerous things we can do to sleep better.
Interesting ways to durably affect brain health and function.
To end, we look to 2019 as we peer into the pipeline of humanOS.
Happy New Year, and here’s to a terrific 2019!

humanOS Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Hot Topics in Nutrition in 2018

In the last blog we began by reviewing how humanOS evolved in 2018. We ended by focusing on what we learned in 2018 about the science of aging. In this post we turn our attention primarily to new developments in the science of nutrition. 
How does diet affect aging?
How shall we eat to help our bodies recover from intensive exercise?
Is there a supplement that helps people cope with sleep loss?
What are smart ways to implement fasting?
And why are people so fascinated with ketosis at the moment?
Read on to find out more!

humanOS 2018 – Year In Review with a Focus on Aging (Part 1 of 3)

As we approach the end of the year, we’ll publish a series of blogs reflecting on our work from 2018, including 1) the most important health concepts we’ve shared and 2) the advancements we’ve made to our application to help you turn helpful ideas into results. In this first post we look back on the evolution of humanOS this year and summarise some of the key ideas we’ve shared about the science of aging.

Writing a To-Do List Might Help You Fall Asleep Faster

From time to time I struggle to fall asleep. Sometimes this is because of something to do with my sleep environment. Maybe it’s too hot or cold, for example. At other times I’ve eaten too much, too late. And now and then it’s because it’s Saturday night and I’ve been reckless and had too much booze and caffeine… again.
However, most of the time my difficulties falling asleep arise from rumination on something related to work. And it turns out that I’m not alone. About 26% of US adults struggle to fall asleep at least a few times each week, and preoccupation with worries may be a key contributor to this difficulty. When we don’t get as much work done as we intend, many of us cogitate over our perceived shortcomings. This deliberation can disrupt sleep, especially among people who expect a lot from themselves.
The good news is that new research has shown that we can use a simple strategy at bedtime to unclutter our minds and thereby free ourselves to doze off faster. So, what is this strategy and how can we try it? Read on for more!

How Blue Light Lowers Blood Pressure (Plus New TEDx Talk on Light and Health)

You are probably quite familiar with the pivotal role that visible light plays in the circadian system. Ambient light regulates circadian rhythms by interacting with light-sensitive cells in the eye, which in turn transmits a signal to the brain’s master clock. This enables our body to “know” what time it is, and modulate various organ systems accordingly.

These cells are particularly sensitive to blue light, which of course is why people are being more mindful about the timing of their exposure to bright light and light-emitting devices.

But we are increasingly realizing that blue light may affect the body in other surprising ways, beyond just circadian alignment. For instance, animal research has shown that inadequate exposure to blue light may impair memory and cognitive performance. And even our fat cells contain light-sensitive proteins, suggesting that blue light may be a regulator of fat cell function and metabolic health.

A new study has revealed that blue light may also play a role in blood pressure regulation. In fact, the study found that prolonged blue light exposure might even reduce blood pressure as much as an antihypertensive medication! Sound crazy? Check out the article – I’ll break down these findings and what they mean.

Ketones for Brain Injury? Podcast with Tommy Wood

Brain injury is more pervasive and problematic than many people think. Every day, about 150 people die from traumatic brain injury-related deaths in the US alone, and whether you participate in a contact sport, work in the military, or simply travel on roads, you may at some point suffer the kind of event that incites brain injury. The problem is that brain injury is associated with numerous negative health consequences, including mental health issues and diseases such as Parkinson’s. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to help us protect against the negative consequences of brain injury. There are good reasons to think that we may benefit from using exogenous ketones for brain injury, for example. In the latest episode of humanOS Radio, I speak with Dr. Tommy Wood about why.

Making Intermittent Fasting Easy: Fasting Fridays

Fasting has enjoyed a remarkable surge in popularity. Unless you have been living in a cave for the past two years, I’m sure you have noticed that. 

This might give the general impression that fasting is a fad, but fasting as a health practice is nothing new. Indeed, we know that Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – advocated periodically abstaining from food as a way to stave off disease. And of course, for most of our history as a species, humans fasted (involuntarily) for periods of time due to a lack of continuous food availability. This suggests that our bodies evolved to endure it, and could be a hint that doing so intentionally might be advantageous.

But going without food is pretty hard. Sure, it’s easy to implement and study fasting with animals living in cages, who can only eat whatever is given to them. It is way harder with free living humans. This is especially true in the modern environment, where we have relentless access to hyper-palatable foods, and other people encouraging us to eat at all hours. Everything seems to work against us.

We have been contemplating the challenges and the benefits associated with fasting, and how to make it work. In this blog, I’ll very briefly review what fasting does in the body, and some of the basic methods out there. Then, I’ll talk about our own super easy approach to fasting – that pretty much anyone can do – and how you can implement it yourself.