Which Ideas of this Blog are the Most Useful?

“Your writing has dramatically improved my health in a number of ways,” a reader said. I asked for details. He replied:

I’ve tried most of your health interventions. The first was SLD. Overall, I lost about 90 lbs. Roughly half of this was from a more traditional diet of eating whole foods esp. vegetables and exercise. I had plateaued until I discovered SLD and lost the rest. I added flax oil, butter and homemade kefir to my taste free meal over time. The butter helped me lose more weight. At the same calories, the saturated fat was somehow more filling. Initially the butter made me happier but that wore off after a few months. My HDLs and triglyceride levels are better than when I was training for a marathon and not eating this stuff. The flax oil has improved my gum health. I can’t really see a direct result from the kefir. I’m more eating it on faith. I skinned my knees quite badly a while ago. My wife commented on how quickly I healed. So maybe the kefir and other items are helping me heal faster.

I tried morning faces twice over about a week without success. My job exposes me to a lot of evening fluorescent lights. I picked periods when I wouldn’t be exposed, but even if it worked, I couldn’t have maintained it over a long period.

Insomnia has been a long-time problem for me. One legged standing didn’t have a noticeable impact. Shifting my vitamin D3 to the morning seemed to help a bit. Bedtime honey has led to a big improvement. It’s uneven, but more often than not I’m sleeping much better. Even when I don’t sleep as well, I don’t feel as tired as I did without using honey. My mood has also improved. I’m calmer and happier. The honey seems to reinforce my circadian rhythm. I have more energy in the morning and am tired in the evening. I’m currently tracking what else I’m consuming and when to see if I can figure out how to get the benefits on the honey more consistently. My wife and friend have tried honey at bedtime and both report improvements.

My view is that of the cause-effect relations I have emphasized, the most useful will be (a) the effect of morning faces on mood (hard to use at first), (b) the effects of sweets on sleep (easy), and (c) the effects of foods on brain functionb. Bedtime honey is just the first of the sweets effects and flaxseed oil and butter are just the first of the brain effects. Full understanding and use of the morning faces discovery lies many years in the future. Of the various methods I’ve developed, I think the most useful will be the use of reaction time measurements to improve brain function (and, probably, overall health). At the level of what might be called “meta-methods” (the usual name is big ideas), I think the most useful will be that people who aren’t health experts can discover important things about health.

13 Responses to “Which Ideas of this Blog are the Most Useful?”

  1. Al Says:

    What is the long term effect on the pancreas of eating that teaspoon of honey each night?

    Seth: I don’t know. But better sleep –> better immune function –> less of many diseases, including cancer.

  2. Sara Says:

    Al, you know that tens of millions of Americans eat cookies or ice cream before bed each night, right?

    Visit your local market around 10 pm any night and see what’s being scanned at the registers.

    Seth: No, I did not know that. That’s a very interesting idea, that there is a shift in what is bought toward sweet stuff in the evening. Where I live in Beijing there is a massive shift in what is sold in the evening: fruit is much more available after 6 pm than before because a bunch of fruit vendors open for business.

  3. Kelly B Says:

    I’d vote for honey (still going strong!) and just the general promotion of self-experimentation science; that we can and should set up n=1 controlled trials of our ideas and look hard at the results, rather than waiting for the rest of the world to come up with the “Way to be Healthy (TM)”.

  4. Xav Says:

    Two results I have had from two ideas on this blog :

    1) Flaxseed oil, which has mostly fixed my problems with bleeding and painful gums.

    2) Probiotics. Unexpectedly, a long standing, nagging pain in my right hip has almost gone since I started taking a daily probiotic supplement to improve my gut microflora.

    Taking the probiotic, and adding more prebiotics like leeks to my diet, are the only major changes I can think of that happened at the same time. It may just be coincidence – however a Google search for people with conditions like Crohns and IBS and with hip pain brings up quite a few results, so who knows there may be a connection.

  5. Jake Says:

    The greatest benefit I have received from this blog is the idea of being a personal scientist. Try new things and evaluate the results. I try to inspire my friends to do the same thing.

    Seth: Thanks!

  6. nansen Says:

    Item [b] (bedtime honey) helped me with item [a] (morning faces).

    Since I have been on hemo-dialysis, it’s been very difficult to get out of bed around 5:30 am PST in order to get a strong effect from the faces. With the honey, I have plenty oomph even on only 5-6 hours sleep. (After the treatment, I can take a nap to catch up.)

    Thank you!

  7. John Smith Says:

    I really like the idea of do it ourselves science, especially if you can pull a bunch of like minded people together, Seth. Not that there is a great dearth of good science, but mostly the good stuff is too controversial so it gets swept under the carpet if favor of something more ‘politically correct.’

    Even on a full tummy, sugars can find space, hence we can always roll up for pudding regardless of having gagged previously on turkey. Just as water will find room in a jar full of marbles, sugars can squeeze into a glass full of water without changing the volume.

    Seth, what do the Chinese think of honey? Is real honey vs analog honey an issue there? I hear they are keen importers of Australian honey yet are regarded statistically as the world’s greatest exporter of ‘honey.’

    Seth: The Chinese think honey is a health food. Many vendors sell only honey. However, I don’t hear about it being associated only with bedtime. I can buy Australian honey at stores that sell foreign products but not most stores. Most Chinese food stores sell only honey from China.

  8. Jack Says:

    I have tried taking honey before bedtime(I tried 1,2,3 and 6 teaspoons on different occassions) and in every case I could not get to sleep for hours! It kept me awake for hours and acted like a strong stimulant! I felt terrible and mean in the morning every time; not well rested. So like most things, Honey before bedtime may help some people sleep better but may not work for everyone.

    In Chinese Medicine, honey (and/or sugar, liquorice or anything that tastes sweet) is used to cure ailments of the stomach and small intestine. It is a YIN energy tonic, taken for enrgy. It is also good for the lungs and large intestine but bad for the kidneys, bones, teeth,sex organs and hair on the head. Sweets are also used to water down the effects of stronger herbs and medications. Two tablespoons of sugar in 12 ounces of water will usually cure nausea or stomach aches quickly. Also Seth, I’ve been wanting to tell you how foolish it is that modern medicine uses sugar pills as placebos for medical studies, because sugar itself is a medicine and cures many ailments it cannot be considered a placebo. And as you have proven, it can also be used as an appetite suppression. And Seth,it’s amazing but oil and butter fall into the same Chinese medicinal category as honey and sugar… so strenthening the stomach and small intestine may be yet another benefit of the Shangri-La diet!

    And as to Honey, the great mathematician Pythagoras is known to have eaten only bread and honey all of his life, and he lived to be well over 100 years old.

  9. JM Says:

    Sorry Jack, but if you check wikipedia you will find that very little is known of Pythagoras actual life (we are talking Greece circa 500 BC) and even how and when he died is in question so I wouldn’t put much stock in that bread and honey story.

  10. funder Says:

    Nobody’s mentioned Vitamin D in the mornings yet? Totally changed my life.

  11. Anne Says:

    I am so very gratefull for this blog. I have learned D vitamin in the morning, for me it is a life saver. I live in the nordic countries and have problem in the winter. I also find it helps me sleep better. Sunglasses in the evening when looking on TV or computer, makes it much easier to go to sleep. Earlier I had to stop at 8pm to be able to sleep in normal time.
    Omega tree helps my gums and I do not need to go to the dentist so often. I used to have severe gum problems with a lot of inflammation and bleeding, as i lost my own teeth in a car-crache back in the 70. As I think gluten is not that good for me anymore, so I make crackers out of flaxseed to have for breakfast instead.
    I also use a lot of butter today and I feel it is good. I am raised in the fat fobic generation, I did not eat any butter or fat for more than 30 years.
    When I work a lot from home I do faces in the morning, but when I work I meet a lot of people early in the morning
    I of course tried the bedtime honey sine a couple of week, I cannot for sure say if it is very good or only good. Some nights I wake up at 02.00 am on honey, I mix with a green banana before bedtime. On the banana I do not wake up at 2 am. But I am more alert the day after on honey before bedtime.

    Perhaps those that get insomnia on honey react different. Like some people like my self cannot drink coffee later than 3 pm and other can drink coffee just before bedtime.

  12. Draga Says:

    For me, I’d say the “most useful” was just seeing another academic say some of the things I’ve been thinking about (but seemed crazy). For example, “appreciative” vs “critical” thinking. Stuff like that.

    On self-experimentation front, eating food with no taste (noseclip) is so effective it’s like cheating.

  13. Bill Says:

    Sleep and allergies have been your most useful subjects for me.

    A subject you haven’t covered, but which might be popular, is female hair loss. It seems possibly more treatable than male pattern baldness — there are hints of nutritional or hormonal causes (lysine, iron, thyroid, estrogen, etc.) — but it does not seem to have the full attention of the normal medical community.

    I wonder if you have any self-experimenting readers out there who have succeeded with this.