The first question I usually get from people is, “so, what are you tracking?”, so I have compiled a list of self-tracking and biohacking experiments I am currently (and plan to be) conducting, which I will update regularly. For me, “tracking” is simply the collection of data – the real fun is constructing experiments around that data to identify correlations or test theories.
One challenge is that I can only conduct a few experiments at any given time – otherwise, actions related to one experiment can interfere with biomarkers that may need to be tracked in another experiment (especially when trying to establish baselines). Another is that some experiments can take a really long time to conduct, especially when trying to establish baseline numbers (see previous point) or waiting for test results (i.e., telomere testing currently takes around 8 weeks to get results). This also explains why I haven’t been posting as frequently as I would like!
I will continue to update this list, and as I complete my n=1 experiments, I will link them to their corresponding write-ups. Don’t hesitate to reach out (you can email me at [email protected] or @QuantifiedBob on Twitter) if you’d like more info or if you working on similar experiments!
(updated August 2016)
Previous QS and Biohacking Experiments:
You can click here to view a complete archive of my prior experiments or follow some of the links below:
- Measuring My Indoor Environment – Air Quality, Water Quality, EMF and Radiation
- “Mimicking” the Fasting Mimicking Diet
- Bulletproof Diet and Intermittent Fasting – My 1.5 Year Results
- Hacking (and Tracking) My Glucose
- Quantifying My Personality Type
- What “Moves” Me – Visualizing 2 weeks of Passive Location Tracking
- Quantifying the Thrill of Gambling
Infrared (IR) Sauna and Niacin Detox
Infrared saunas are proven to help the body pull toxins from tissues deep in the body and sweat them out. Niacin (aka Vitamin B3) has shown to greatly assist in detoxification by causing lipolysis (rupturing of fat cells, where most toxins are stored), while also causing blood vessels/capillaries to dilate. This one-two combination can create a potent detoxification. I am conducing a 30-day experiment where I combine high-dose niacin and daily IR sauna sessions to see how much I can reduce my toxic burden.
Vitamin D Tracking
I stopped taking any exogenous Vitamin D supplements at the end of the spring, with the goal of maintaining optimal 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D levels by being outdoors in the sun and eating Vitamin D-rich foods. I’m using a few tools and apps as well to see how accurately they estimate my levels versus blood tests.
Central Nervous System (CNS) Training
Last year I began training with the folks over at EVO UltraFit on a custom strength program that combines an Electrical Muscular Stimulation (EMS) device called a POV with “extreme isometric” and rebound-style exercises to improve neurological/motor efficiency and correct compensation patterns/movement imbalances. To use an analogy, I can go to the gym to lift weights and build muscle (“software”), but this program is upgrading my “hardware”. My friend Dave (who is also training with EVO) has a great writeup of his experience so far. I will also incorporate a daily CNS finger “tap test” and take waking pulse readings to track my neurological well-being each day (or when to take it easy).
I’ve been a casual poker player for years but it wasn’t until recently I became more interested in figuring out ways to hack the game to my advantage, with the ultimate goal of finishing in respectable manner in a tournament. I am in the process of increasing my working memory to be able to calculate odds on the fly by using spaced repetition and LOCI memorization techniques, and learning how to analyze opponent behaviors (betting trends) as well as physical tells (both my opponents as well as my own).
Another area I have become somewhat obsessed with is the effect our environment plays on our health, in particular exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene and exposure to electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) and even artificial light. I will bring in professional environmental testers to analyze both my home and work environments, and I will also wear a low-tech monitoring kit on my body to track my exposure to VOCs such as benzene throughout a 24-hour period (home, work, commuting). I then plan on deploying sensors throughout my home and work environments to provide constant monitoring.
Stress Management with Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Training
Managing stress and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) are areas I am extremely excited about, since they can provide some of the biggest insight into one’s overall well being. For this experiment, I will take a 1-week baseline of blood pressure readings (using my Withings Blood Pressure Monitor), then conduct HRV training using my EmWave2 device to improve my “coherence”, and see if there is any affect on blood pressure/hypertension.
Quantifying Biological Age
Using a combination of DNA and telomere analysis, I want to better understand the concept of “biological age” and look at ways things like environment can affect gene expression.
Quantifying the Value of My Time (Time Optimization)
The irony of this experiment has been that I’ve been putting it off for close to a year! The reason has been that I wanted to first establish a baseline of what my typical week looks like, but I now realize there is no such thing as a “typical” week! When “quantifying” the value of my time, it’s less about calculating how much money I make per hour (since it’s not about working more hours to make more money given I’m salaried) but rather determining the opportunity cost of any action in relation to others, then determining an optimal schedule that maximizes my personal benefit. The goal of this experiment is to develop a framework (using some AI and machine learning) to optimize my schedule based on importance of tasks, flexibility in it’s time (i.e., spending time with your children or time at work may be more inflexible than, say, times you can go to the gym or go shopping), pleasure/benefit it provides (i.e., yes I could entirely outsource having someone walk my dog but that is time for us to spend time together), and corresponding opportunity costs (there may be cases where I simply can’t do everything I want so need to make sacrifices).
Cognitive Improvement using Dual N-Back Training
While I can remember/recall lots of trivial things such as identifying a song after just a few notes or dozens of passwords, I’ll admit I am terrible with remembering things such as names. Research has shown that there is a correlation between training memory and improving fluid intelligence. This has made me realize that my brain can really use a tune-up! First, I will establish a baseline for recall (names, US state capitals, Mandarin characters, etc.) and intelligence (IQ test or some variation thereof). I will then use dual n-back training software (such as Anki, which is free) to track progress over 30 days, then re-test. After the first phase, I will incorporate a nootropic such as Aniracetam or Alpha Brain to see if this provides any added “boost” to memory and overall cognitive function.