This article by Dilberts author Scott Adams is awesome:

Sciences Biggest Fail

Basically says that diet and nutrition are complete failures as sciences.  I would STRONGLY AGREE.  It is a fact that time after time what appears to be “scientific backed good sense” advice by nutritionists and others who “say it’s a good idea or you should” turns out to be no more than POPPYCOCK.   This is why science does work.   You keep trying and improving based on real data not letting your own intuition lead you astray.   This science proves how “common sense” is frequently wrong.  Almost all of this advice you read is NOT backed up with science but seems to be based on common sense that nutritionists are taught or believe almost like a religion.      They cling to what seem like “ideas” and then start to make conclusions that in fact are not really conclusions that can be drawn from the available data.

Woody Allen in the movie “Sleepers” was surprised to find out that in the future they had discovered nothing wrong with Chocolate cake and ice cream.  🙂

The fact is I ignore 100% what “scientists say”, “what they say” about nutrition and diet.  98% of diets don’t work.  What they say is almost always wrong.

I won’t recount as Dilbert did some of this for us in his amusing and factual article the failures.

The problem in my opinion is that the vast amount of research conducted in this area is frought with huge numbers of problems.   These are known problems that people ignore.  They don’t know what they say they know.  This is the same phenomenon in some other sciences or areas.   People say they know things that in fact they DON’T.

It is hard to “know” something.   What you may know is that if I do this I will succeed but I don’t know if that is the reason I succeed or that the information will carry over to anyone else.   I hesitate to give advice unless I have high certainty.   I have found that people can succeed in life with many and varied beliefs and systems.   I prefer to let you find your own way and not presume I know better unless I have pretty certain reason to believe something.

An example of “knowing something,” is about eating fish.   Studies of the most long living people demonstrates they eat more fish than many others.   Does this mean that fish is a holy grail?  Not necessarily.   It means only that eating fish probably doesn’t harm you.

A very important aspect of nutrition that is misunderstood is how much each person reacts differently to food and supplements.  This article done in Israel is extremely important to read:

‘Healthy’ foods differ by individual

So why do I take supplements if this is all a lot of poppycock?

I strongly believe that supplements can have a major impact on your life and health.  When I started down the road to this I was looking for a very specific result.   My HDL was too low.   I wanted to increase it because it showed I was potentially at risk for heart disease considering my long history of a bad total cholesteral : HDL ratio.   I succeeded.  Using blood tests and modifying a set of supplements combined with a limited change in behavior I have tripled my HDL and discovered a lot about supplements.

It has been a “Personal” journey in the sense that I was doing something others didn’t necessarily need to do and I didn’t know if it would work but I had decided that I would not take the chance doing nothing would work out.  I concluded I had bad genes like my family had heart attacks fairly early so I decided to try and be proactive.  So far it has succeeded more wildly than I ever would have presumed.

I have gotten my blood parameters in excellent shape.  All of them I am aware of.  That means glucose, PSA, liver enzymes, heart risk factors.  By continuously measuring my blood over 20 + years and modifying my recipe systematically I have achieved what I didn’t know was possible.  In the process I feel a LOT better.   My immune system seems incredibly strong and I have energy and I have done this with only a little exercise and minimal change in my eating habits.   These things are really hard to change.

I knew from the outset I wasn’t a very strong minded person when it came to things like diet or exercise.  I hated exercise.  It was with dread I did any.  I also loved cake and sweets and drank coke all the time as well as almost everything else that tasted good.   I have reduced my intake of red meat dramatically and I don’t drink as much coke but that is because I’ve replaced it with other things that just taste better.   I still drink coke.   I gained a lot of weight (for me 20lbs over 30 years) then lost it but during this whole thing over the last 20 years my blood levels have consistently improved.  I still eat sugar, ice cream and other stuff.   I still don’t exercise much.  3 to 4 times a week for half an hour.   I definitely don’t belong in the “athlete” category of some executives who marathon or bike 100 miles.  I like to hike, always have.

Nevertheless, I feel like I have made enormous progress in my health and I owe it primarily to supplements.      So, you have to wonder how do I reconcile the first part of this article about the weakness of diet and nutrition science with my conviction that supplements works for ME.

The Problem of Nutrition Science, Medical Tests, Supplements etc.

The problem I have which is the problem anyone has who goes down this road is that the science and information on supplements is extremely weak.   The science is beset by enormous problems.

  1. Studies are way too expensive meaning the number of studies is a small number
  2. The variables to control for are huge.  The effect of anything you do to your body depends on your history, your current state, random factors in the environment and what you do to change things.   All these variables have many many variations.
  3. Much of the data is poorly collected or even self-reported data
  4. It almost never is double – blind.
  5. The analysis techniques in many cases are poor

Here is an excellent article on a giant problem around trying to find generic advice about nutrition I highly reccomend:

For me what this means is I need to read several studies about something before I even start to think I might try it.   If the stuff I read looks promising then I may add it to my recipe.   I try it until I either have a bad reaction, no reaction or read more that tells me it won’t work.   Things are taken out of my recipe constantly.  I determine that they are either not helpful, not helpful enough, actually seem to be bad everytime I create a new recipe every 3 – 6 months.   I can see if something is working by looking at blood work, by how I feel.

I don’t know if the results I’m getting are repeatable to other people.  I guess some of them might but I know many people react completely differently.

All the variables missing from those studies are crucial in determining if the supplement will do something for you.   There are exceptions.   I think there are some things that work pretty universally.

What will fix this?

The main point of this article after all this is simply this.   The only way to fix this and discover what supplements really do help is to go down the bigdata road.   We have to have MORE data, much more data.

I know that these supplements can have a major impact on you.   That is shown and something I can say I know.  (Like I said I don’t say I know something lightly.)   The problem is that getting down to much more specific is very hard.   I don’t know specifically which supplement(s) is responsible for the state I feel or is doing the goodness.   I don’t know if modifying my recipe reducing or increasing one thing or another would make it better.   I can’t identify in most cases precisely what supplement is the cause of X, Y or Z and I don’t know if some of the supplements are doing anything good for me at all.   This is still an experiment.  20 years of just studying myself isn’t enough even for me to isolate the effects on me.   What I do know is that I do feel and am better.   I have not had major illness nor any precursor sign of such illness.  (Thank god.)   I have seen some evidence of continued aging but I do feel like it is slower than in some others.  I don’t know if that is caused by the supplements.

I have during some times taken less supplements to see if I would backtrack.   In fact this worked.  I.e. when I cut my supplements in half I started getting sick again (colds) and felt worse in other ways.  So, I can say objectively that they are doing something good for me at least short term.

I have already past the ages of death for my father and first onset of major disease for my parents and most of my siblings.    So, I think I can be pretty certain it is helping at least a little.   Whether all my efforts will actually stop me from getting cancer or eventually dieing of heart attacks I don’t know but in the meantime the benefit has proven to be worth it even if it DOESN’T do those things.   I feel better and have less sickness so my quality of life is improved.   That’s important.   I still eat what I want, do what I want generally so I have lots of freedom and feel like it’s worth the cost.

I want more

My concern is what I stated in the previous paragraph.   I DON’T know if it will stop cancer even though some things seem to have pretty good data they could be useless or even worse making it worse.   I don’t know if I will live longer than I would have but I am pretty sure that is the case.

I want to know more.   I believe that almost everyone could benefit from better information.   I am on a crusade to get bigdata for healthcare.  NOT FOR DRUGS but for PREVENTION.

Most medicine in today’s society is designed for after a major event has occurred.   I frequently point out that is the worst case scenario.   If you get heart disease, a stroke, a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, … you are in for a massive change in lifestyle and expectation.   Your youth is GONE when this happens.   Your body cannot recover completely from such devastating damage.   This is the WORST case scenario.   The goal of all this is to PREVENT the worst case scenario.   You must prevent getting the disease.

BIG DATA Is the answer

There are several sources of information that can help us avoid the worst case scenario, i.e. actually getting a major disease.

Electronic Medical Records, test results, history:  Crucial information to determine what your specific issues are that may need immediate addressing.

Genetic information:  If it is possible we would like to know how different people’s genetic basis affects how they respond to the environment and things they do or happen to them.

Consistent measurements of absolute body conditions, i.e. frequent blood tests or tests of all types to determine the objective state of your body and mind.

Internet of Things monitoring is an adjunct to the above testing.   It can provide consistent and accurate information on information about what your body is going through, what it is experiencing.

Self-reported data.  This is sometimes called the quantified self.   I have more or less been doing this for 20+ years.   Tracking how I feel, what happens when I do this.  What I’m taking or not taking.    Experimenting with varying the inputs and seeing the results.

If we could gather this kind of data from millions of people we could get answers that would be amazing that would transform our lives, prevent disease easily, increase quality of life dramatically and drastically reduce the cost of medicine.

In my opinion this is one of the most important things we could do for the next generation.   If we could all become guinea pigs for the next generation so they can know more precisely the answers to all these questions and turn nutrition into the biggest joke of a science into a critical science to our health then that would be a worthwhile goal.

I hope some who read this also share my passion and enthusiasm.   It has come to me because of experience and long work over many years.   I am convinced that this is part of making the life of every human better.

I realize some day i will get a disease and will need medical system.  I don’t eschew the medical system or ignore them.   I realize that if my body does get to the point it is damaged then I will need their best information but I am hoping that most of us can avoid dealing with disease far longer.  That’s the goal.  We can’t live forever but we can try to put off the damage today.   That means being consistent and learning and constantly experimenting.