After reading an excellent overview of inflight wifi, I decided to try a few experiments on my flight this week to New Orleans.click to continue...
Your gut microbiome changes constantly in response to everything from diet to exercise, so when looking at multiple uBiome test results side-by-side it can be complicated to figure out what caused a particular change. What if you could wipe the slate clean; start over with a completely new biome and just track that, along with precisely what you eat afterwards? What could you learn?click to continue...
You just received an email that uBiome has finished processing your sample. Now what do you do?click to continue...
Anthropologists Gandhi Yetish, Hillard Kaplan and their colleagues just published the results of some experiments that show hunter gathers get much less sleep than the eight hours we supposedly need. In fact, their sleep patterns closely resemble mine, despite the conventional wisdom that my average 6.5 hours per night is too little. click to continue...
So today, imagine my surprise when they sent me a nice note announcing that they’d re-run my latest skin sample and found something! click to continue...
The Gut Guardians podcast interview with Alanna Collen included an interesting reference to the FUT2 gene, which the podcast hosts says has been linked to response to high fiber diets. One of the alleles, referred to as the non-secretor type, offers a genetic immunity to infection by the Norwalk Norovirus, also known as the “cruise ship virus”.
Alas, I’m not immune to that particular virus, but if you have to choose I think it’s better to have the “secretor allele”, like me. Overall, secretors seem less susceptible to many influenza strains and pathogenic bacteria, perhaps due to our better response to high fiber.
What’s especially interesting is that how FUT2 also seems to be associated with your microbiome. Secretors have noticeably different levels of various bacteria, including missing Bifido species that are known to play a role in health. This is another example of how genes don’t have the final say: you may not get the full benefits of being a secretor if you don’t eat enough fiber.
If you have your 23andme results, you can check your FUT2 status too.click to continue...
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My results are too preliminary to get excited yet, but at least for my short trial, the smaller amount seems to help. Interestingly, my overall sleep doesn't change much, but I do notice more dreams, and Zeo confirms that my REM sleep is up quite a bit.
Here's the raw data (dumped straight from the R software I use to track everything). The one marked in red below is the most interesting number:
I tried potato starch on 91 days, and I have Zeo sleep data for a total of 45 of those days.
On 19 days I took exactly one tablespoon. On 6 days I took more than 0 but less than 1 tablespoon.
For total sleep (Z):
- P-value on days when I had any potato starch: 0.3109656
- P-value on days when I had exactly 1 TBS: 0.2020084
- P-value on days when I had more than 0 but less than 1 TBS: 0.3041962
- P-value on days when I had any potato starch: 0.2505854
- P-value on days when I had exactly 1 TBS: 0.0603005
- P-value on days when I had more than 0 but less than 1 TBS: 0.0012399
- P-value on days when I had any potato starch: 0.5148044
- P-value on days when I had exactly 1 TBS: 0.7402774
- P-value on days when I had more than 0 but less than 1 TBS: 0.3264305
## days Z.Mean REM.Mean Deep.Mean Z.SD
## 0 128 6.364245 1.817969 1.048698 0.6971406
## 0.25 1 7.000000 2.100000 1.133333 NA
## 0.333333333333333 5 6.526667 2.136667 1.096667 0.5198290
## 1 16 6.609979 1.975000 1.064583 0.7015906
## 1.5 1 6.283333 1.300000 1.083333 NA
## 2 7 6.111905 1.676190 1.019048 0.6943365
## 2.5 1 5.750000 1.983333 1.250000 NA
## 3 5 6.873333 2.050000 1.036667 0.6796241
## 4 8 6.402083 1.752083 1.068750 0.7167186
## 8 1 6.000000 1.433333 1.250000 NA click to continue...
23andme says I’m a slow caffeine metabolizer because I have the AC genotype at SNP rs762551. You’d think that means I’m extra sensitive to caffeine before bedtime, but that’s not the case: I sleep just fine even if I have a cup of high-octane coffee after dinner. My 99-year-old grandmother drinks coffee by the potful, crediting its warmth as a calming effect to make her drowsy.
This week's Economist points to a new study in Nature by Javier A. Ceja-Navarro et al that names Pseudomonas Fulva as a bacterium active in the guts of a coffee bean pest. Caffeine is normally toxic to insects, but P. Fulva neutralizes the caffeine, apparently using the demethylase ndmA gene.
I wish I knew enough genetics to test a theory that occurs to me: maybe my own caffeine metabolism is also affecting by a similar gut bacteria that I have in abundance but which is missing in other people. I already checked for Pseudomonas Fulva — I don’t have it in any of my uBiome samples. I do have abundant levels of the genus Pseudomonas, but that is not the same thing.
It should be possible to screen every one of my gut bacteria demethylizing ndMA gene, but I’m not sure how to do that. If I did find the gene in one of the gut bacteria I harbor, then that would be pretty cool: a microbe that helps me drink coffee.
click to continue...
if you want to figure something out via data collection:Worth reading the entire four-part blog post. click to continue...
1. Do something. Don’t give up before starting.
2. Keep doing something. Science is more drudgery than scientists usually say.
3. Be minimal.
4. Use scientific tools (e.g., graphs), but don’t listen to scientists who say don’t do X or Y.
5. Post your results.
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