Justin Wehr asked me some interview questions and decided not to publish my answers. I thought they were good questions. Here they are, reworded slightly, and my answers.
QUESTION Of the experimental treatments you have studied, which ones have the most positive effect on your life?
ANSWER From more to less effect:
- Effect of morning faces on mood
- Effect of fermented food on health
- (tie) Effect of animal fat on health
- (tie) Effect of omega-3 on health
- Weight-control experiments.
QUESTION What about everyone else?
ANSWERÂ It depends on how far in the future you look. The morning faces stuff is the most important, I’m sure, but it’s also the hardest to implement. The fermented food stuff is easy to implement. It’s easy to eat more yogurt. So I believe that in the short term, the fermented foods stuff will have the most effect on others, in the long term, the faces stuff.
QUESTION Much of your research is related to the idea that we get sick because we live differently now than long ago. Can you explain this? Are there exceptions?
ANSWER Our genes were shaped to work well in one environment. Now our environment is quite different. All sorts of things go wrong — we don’t eat an optimal diet, for example — and our bodies malfunction in all sorts of ways. The exception is that once we know what an optimal diet (or environment) is we can assure it. For example, we can make sure we get the optimal amount of Vitamin C. The health problems caused by progress can be fixed, in other words, and we can emerge in better shape than ever before.
QUESTION How much time a day do you spend on self-experimentation?
ANSWER About ten minutes. Measuring various things, such as blood pressure and brain function.
QUESTION Why do few people self-experiment?
ANSWER Millions of people self-experiment. For example, millions of fat people try many different ways to lose weight. Professional scientists (e.g., med-school professors) do not self-experiment, at least publicly, because it is low-status, because it is frowned upon (by their colleagues), because it might be hard to publish the results, and because it won’t help them get grants.
QUESTION How do you determine an appropriate dosage for treatments that might have a good effect on what you measure but a bad effect on other things? For example, maybe animal fat is good for sleep but bad for other things.
ANSWER I don’t worry about it. Just as all electric appliances are designed to use the same house current, I’m sure all parts of our body are designed to work best with the same diet.
QUESTION Could advances in medical technologies (such as regenerative medicine) replace the need to live healthily? For example, if we could easily replace livers, maybe people could drink more.
ANSWER Not likely. Except that the more we know about nutrition the more we can replace our ancestors’ diet with a diet made up of the necessary nutrients. For example, I drink flaxseed oil to get omega-3. I’m sure our long-ago ancestors got omega-3 in other ways. So I no longer need to be like them. Basic nutrition isn’t medical technology, but it is a way in which it is easier to be healthy.
QUESTION What don’t you know, but wish you did?
ANSWER How to make book-writing as addictive as Wii Tennis.