Natural Products Expo West is an annual event in Anaheim in which nearly 3,000 food, drink, and supplement exhibitors come together to showcase their latest products. With the colossal number of exhibitors and more than 86,000 attendees, it can be tough to navigate an expo of this size. Fortunately, however, several members of the humanOS dream team came together to make sense of the bedlam, and in this blog we share the trends that were on show, also highlighting some products that piqued our interests.
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!
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.
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!
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.
If you value how you look and feel, you probably dedicate considerable time and effort to your physical fitness. But how often do you pause to ponder the state of your mental fitness? If you’re mentally fit, you’ll make better decisions and thereby enhance your ability to achieve goals, whatever they pertain to: physical performance, work, relationships, and the list goes on.
In this episode of humanOS Radio Greg speaks with Dr. Andrew Hill about how to improve brain health and performance. Dr. Hill founded the Peak Brain Institute where people go to train and thereby improve their brains. Tune in to find out more about what you can do to boost your brain health and function!
Many other organisms have superhuman abilities, such as the capacity to ward off cancer, periodically reverse aging, regenerate limbs, and even regrow brains. Yet these non-human species share many genetic similarities with us. This naturally raises the question of whether we can learn from other animals in our quest to delay aging, reverse disease, and – dare I say it – return to life from the empty expanse of death. These lofty goals bring us to today’s episode of humanOS radio in which I speak with Ira Pastor, CEO of Bioquark.
If you are alive today, you’ve benefited greatly from humankind’s ability to deftly handle infectious agents via antibiotic medications. In fact, probably the single greatest achievement of modern medicine remains our ability to thwart (many) deadly microorganisms. But our high usage of antibiotics has put great pressure on these pathogenic bacteria to mutate for their own survival. As a result, deadly strains of bacteria have become more virulent and more resistant to our medications, creating so-called “superbugs.” For instance, an increasing percentage of tuberculosis cases worldwide are attributed to bacterial forms that are resistant to multiple drugs and require more complex treatments with an array of different medications. Eventually, former wonder drugs, like penicillin for instance, can be rendered ineffective.
This is a very scary proposition and this problem is not likely to go away on its own. We need new ways to control bacterial infections and we need them fast. And that brings us to my guest today.
In this episode of humanOS Radio, I speak with Paul Garofolo. Paul is the CEO of Locus Biosciences, a biotech company that is developing a novel class of antimicrobials that take advantage of the CRISPR-Cas system. If this pans out, it would offer a viable alternative to conventional antibiotics, and would presumably be less subject to the known mechanisms of drug resistance. Secondly, this method could be targeted to specific pathogenic bacteria, thus leaving your friendly bugs alone. This seems like a win-win that is both lifesaving and health promoting, potentially (depending on the context).
Do we really need less sleep when we get older?
We know that as people age, they tend to get less sleep. But older people also seem to suffer less when subjected to sleep deprivation, compared to younger adults. This has led some to conclude that older people get less sleep simply because they do not need as much.
However, recent brain studies have revealed that the aging brain changes in ways that makes sleep less restorative. This suggests that the real reason why older adults get less sleep than their younger counterparts is because they are less capable of generating the sleep that they really need.
In this episode of humanOS Radio, I talk with Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral fellow in the Matthew Walker Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at UC Berkeley. Bryce and colleagues recently wrote a review that explores how sleep changes as we grow older, and the potential long-term implications of these alterations. Perhaps most alarming, research has shown that a lack of deep sleep is associated with higher levels of amyloid beta, which are the toxic misfolded proteins that accumulate in the brains of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.
This raises a number of interesting questions. If we could test for sleep disruption, could we determine who is susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease soon enough to intervene? And could we find ways to enhance slow wave oscillations as people grow older, so that we can enjoy high-quality restorative sleep our whole lives? Listen here to learn more!
Modern technology is messing with our sleep. But what if someone could develop a device that actually helped us fall asleep faster?
In the latest episode of humanOS radio, I talk with Kelly Roman. Kelly is a co-owner of Fisher Wallace Laboratories, a progressive medical device company that aspires to treat insomnia and depression in novel ways.
Fisher Wallace is introducing a neurostimulation product called Kortex to the market. This device non-invasively delivers a low dose of electrical stimulation, combined with a virtual reality headset that delivers relaxing VR content to the user.
And unlike reading on your phone, Kortex might actually *help* you to get to sleep faster, and experience deeper and more restorative sleep. Kortex stimulates the brain to produce serotonin and melatonin, while lowering cortisol – thus helping people manage stress and sleep without prescription drugs.
To learn more about this intriguing product, and the research leading up to it, please check out my interview with Kelly here.