humanOS 2018 – Year In Review with a Focus on Aging (Part 1 of 3)
As we approach the end of the year, we are going to publish three 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.
There is a lot of competition for your attention in the health space. We are proud of our approach to provide you with high-value health information and tools in a manner that fulfills our goal: All you need to bring is interest and we will make the understanding and doing processes easier and achievable. There are so many aspects of health that can’t or should not be outsourced to a product or provider. So, how do you work towards developing expertise at taking care of your own health? This pursuit provides a lifetime of enrichment for you, the people you touch, and the work you do as direct beneficiaries. We all care about our own health and recognize that health is far more than the absence of disease. It is a force that influences your daily experience and so nurturing it is a part of the essence of a good life.
People in our community understand these big ideas:
- Tending to my health is a daily process over a lifetime.
- My daily pattern of living is not my doctor’s responsibility.
- Living in the modern world, without making efforts to counteract its forces, leads to subpar health and eventually to premature health failure.
- Understanding how to make my body work in an optimum way is a fun process when I embrace it, but it does require both ongoing learning and trial and error.
- Tools, like humanOS or my Fitbit, aren’t healthy for me but power my efforts to live into my health potential.
People in our community should regularly revisit these key questions in their health journey:
- How do I make today a healthy one?
- How will I be better at serving my health one year from now?
- What do I want to learn well?
- What do I want to try?
- What do I want to maintain?
- What do I want to change?
- What will I spend this year getting better at?
With that backdrop, this blog series is going to look back at what we created and covered this year. In doing so, we’ll ask you to contemplate your own health resolutions for 2019. What do you want to achieve and how are you going to get there?
New humanOS Features in 2018
Since the launch of the humanOS.me subscription service in February of this year, we rolled out many new app features as well as many new learning and implementation materials, including:
- Course achievements badges (more development of these coming in the next few weeks!)
- Course tile progress and completion markers
- Course progress notification emails
- Course stats (how much time and how many lessons per course)
- Box-breathing tile
- Daily Performula emails delivering workouts and recipes of the day to your morning inbox
- Garmin health tracker sleep data integration (in addition to daily steps)
- 7 how-to guides
- 4 daily workout programs
- 6 daily recipe packs
- 4 programs
- 24 micro-courses
- Weekly newsletter
Blogs and Podcasts
This year, we were also hard at work publishing 45 blogs as well as 23 podcasts. In these publications, we cover things from brain science and productivity to how to age better. Now, we will review some of what we covered in the enormously exciting science investigating how to help humans age better. Innovation taking place in this space right now will lead to the next major step-function improvement in human health. Essentially, the work happening here can be roughly translated to youth maintenance as we age. Imagine you’re 90 years old but you feel and look 40 – this is the promise modern aging science offers and real-term solutions are on the near-term horizon. Let’s look at what we covered this year.
Cutting-Edge Aging Science
In our first podcast this year on the subject of aging, I spoke with Ira Pastor, CEO of the pharmaceutical company, Bioquark. This company is creating ‘combinatorial biologics’ that harness our knowledge of living organisms’ inbuilt regenerative potential to help humans regenerate, too. Think of how salamanders can regrow their limbs if they lose one. What allows this regenerative capacity to take place and can we create therapeutics based on our understanding of this biology? This is what Bioquark is working towards.
In a related episode, Mike West, CEO Of AgeX – a company that recently went public on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol AGE – discussed innovative, near-horizon, stem cell therapies his company is advancing. Stem cells can transform into just about any cell type in the body and therefore function as reservoirs of regenerative potential in times of need. One problem, however, is that the ability for our stems cells to transform into a functional muscle cell, for example, is hampered as more senescent cells (zombie-like cells) accumulate during aging. Why? Because senescent cells release many different inflammatory proteins into their surrounding and some of these molecules can prevent the differentiation process stems cells need to go through to become a functional tissue type. Additionally, some types of tissue simply have poor regenerative capacity. So, the scientists at AgeX are creating a line of over 200 different tissue types that can be implanted into the body to reestablish better function. They have two different cell types in clinical trials currently, one to help replace damaged heart tissue and the other therapy-line is to use stems cells to create brown fat (aka: ‘anti-fat’). Why might this be a good thing? Because implanting glucose-consuming brown fat could be a windfall for helping to prevent and treat diabetes. This is brilliant, actually.Could science on how to defy aging produce key medical breakthroughs in years to come? Click To Tweet
Speaking of senescent cells, possibly the hottest topic in aging at the moment revolves around senolytics and senomorphics – strategies to either clear senescent cells or render them harmless, as Paul Robbins recently explained. Also as we age, our mitochondria mutate and in doing so become less effective at producing the energy we need to support literally all body functions, as Bruce Hay illuminated in our interview with him. Interestingly, Bruce and his team at Cal Tech are exploring ways to reduce mutant mitochondria. As a reminder, there are hundreds to thousands of mitochondria in every cell, and mitochondria have their own DNA. Oxidative stress near the mitochondrial DNA can cause them to mutate. As the mitochondrial DNA mutates, the protein structures used in energy production are affected, rendering a reduced energy producing capacity. If we can reconstitute cells with fewer mutant mitochondria as we age, we could maintain more youthful energy production levels, which would translate into better system-wide functioning of our bodies.
In a conversation that dovetails nicely with the above mentioned mitochondrial work of Hay, we also spoke with Professor Michael Ristow, Head of the Institute of Translational Medicine at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, about his work on antioxidants. For a long time, it was thought that free radicals were exclusively a bad thing and that minimizing them with antioxidants could help us live longer. As it turns out, the free radicals that antioxidants quench play a very important signaling role in our cells. Essentially, we need the right balance of free radicals to trigger second messenger systems in the cell that then trigger a host of favorable pro-survival responses that actually help us be healthy. In fact, overdoing it with exogenous antioxidants, like from supplements, increase the risk of certain cancers. The better approach is to eat a robust amount of phytonutrients from plants, for example, which actually create small amounts of free radicals in our cells and thus stimulate pro-survival mechanisms. So, eat your plants but don’t take high-dose vitamin E. For more on this, see our new course on smoothies (which is really a course on how smoothies are a great way to get more phytonutrients in your diet).
So let me clear something up here. Above, I mentioned that oxidative stress can mutate our mitochondrial DNA. Then I said that we actually need oxidative signals – free radicals – to stimulate pro-survival mechanisms in the cell. So, what is it – are oxidative signals good or bad? The answer to that question might lie in the location of oxidative stress signal. It appears that targeting antioxidants to within the mitochondria could be key. The science is backing up the theory. Mitochondrially-targeted antioxidants, like methylene blue or commercially-available MitoQ, does just this: they get into the mitochondria where they can protect damage to their DNA. What this new class of mitochondrially-targeted antioxidants don’t do is quench free radicals in the cytosol of the cell, which as we discussed, would limited pro-survival mechanisms.
Some of the therapies discussed in these podcasts have not yet been shown to be safe in humans, but they seem to be promising avenues to explore as we strive for medical breakthroughs in the near future. Speaking of which, inappropriate use of antibiotics is rife, one result of which is the acceleration of the development of pathogenic microorganisms resistant to antibiotics. This could be very troublesome in years to come. Fortunately, new technology may help counter the worrisome trend of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, as Paul Garofolo, CEO of Locus Biosciences elaborated in this podcast on CRISPR-Cas3.
We look forward to bring you more cutting-edge information in aging science with key players in the space in 2019. In part two of this series, we’ll turn to what we’ve learned about food and diet, including alcohol if we want to live long and prosper.
Make 2019 your best year yet in your pursuit to master your health. A Pro membership of humanOS.me costs just $9.99 per month, and when you go Pro, you get access to all our courses, how-to guides, tools, recipes, and workouts. Pro members also support our work on blogs and podcasts.
Greg wrote the first draft of this blog.