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Old science extended lifespan, added illness; new science trains us on how to optimize health
Founder and CEO of HumanOS sits down with Bambi Francisco Roizen for the VatorNews podcast.
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(Editor's note: On May 19 we will be hosting the Future of Mental and Behavioral Health 2021 virtual event. We'll have top-level VCs and C-level executives from the leading mental and behavioral companies, such as Teladoc's BetterHelp, Amwell, Doctor on Demand, Kaiser Permanente, Bessemer Ventures and more.
In 2021 it’s finally okay to talk about our mental health and that’s why we’re excited to be sponsored by BetterHelp. But what IS therapy? It’s whatever you want it to be. Maybe you’re feeling insecure in relationships or at work, or not very motivated right now. Whatever you need, it’s time to stop being ashamed of normal human struggles and start feeling better. Because you deserve to be happy. BetterHelp is a customized online therapy that offers video, phone, and even live chat sessions. Plus, it’s more affordable than in-person therapy but just as effective. See if it’s for you.
This podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp and VatorNews listeners get 10% off their first month at BetterHelp.com/Vator. This podcast is also brought by Octave, your partner for mental health and emotional well-being. Learn more at FindOctave.com. Also thanks to NeuroFlow which is working with hundreds of healthcare organizations to provide best-in-class technology and services for the effective integration of behavioral health. Learn more at neuroflow.com)
Here's some takeaways:
- To develop health mastery is to develop the right techniques to help people become good at their health. Traditional healthcare is being treated by experts. Unfortunately, our current healthcare system is predicated on not finding the best intervention, but looking at the window of treatments available.
- What's the opportunity gap? Since many of the diseases are lifestyle oriented (changes in lifestyle can eliminate 80% of chronic conditions), there's an opportunity to create technology that helps individuals make better decisions about self-care. We need doctors who aren't trying to provide the treatment for a sickness, but understand and appreciate and leverage these new technologies to train people to take better care of themselves.
-8:06 Different approaches to health: There's an evolutionary biology approach that says health is adaptation. Fitness is how well adapted you are to your environment. Adaptation is retrospective so everything about what you're adapted for happened in your ancestry. So the big question today is how is our body adapting to modern life? Due to the unprecedented rapidity of technological change, there's a mismatch between our lifestyle and our bodies.
- How to define health? Health is not the absence of disease, but it is a continuum where you have high-buffering capacity, high resilience or high functioning within your life. As you move down that continuum, your buffering capacity is reduced and you’re more likely to have negative health outcomes down the road. So we need to push people toward the optimal side across our lifespan.
12:44 - The new branch of healthcare: Self-care. New information such as circadian rhythms or gut microbiota are now in our models to predict or explain why health is occurring and how to fix it. We have an increasing appreciation that these things matter. Now that we know these matter, we can train our capacities or our buffering capacity. That’s the optimal term -- training. Our healthcare system is a sick care system. It's there when we break a leg or get sick. It's needed. But the other branch of care, self-care can't be outsourced. It’s a different paradigm. If you want to get good at soccer or guitar, you can’t outsource that. You can get a coach to train efficiently and to motivate you to train. But you can also do this on your own. This is why coaching is so popular now because they’re training us to build these capacities.
- Sick care solutions aren't helping now. 12% of adults have metabolic health, meaning 88% don’t! 60% of people have a chronic disease, 4 out of 10 have two chronic conditions. We do need the infrastructure to target these chronic illnesses or a physical injury. But the success in creating these tools and extending our lifespan (we're living 70% longer than before on average) has led us down a path that says we can use the same tools for "all" our health.
- The US was designed to confront infectious diseases. With COVID-19, we can appreciate what a massive issue this is. Then there was an interweaving of pharmaceuticals with the healthcare system. Unfortunately now we're trying to solve a diverse set of problems with the same tools. We cannot medicate away all illnesses. When you engage in lifestyle activities, you have this pleiotropic effect (single gene affecting multiple systems or determining more than one phenotype). There’s multiple biological systems and outcomes affected. Pharma is good at stopping disease or interrupting the disease process. But it's not good for causing the same mechanisms that take place when you exercise or get sun exposure or better sleep. So we have to learn how to get better providing those ourselves.
- Our healthcare system had conditioned us to spend all this money on research and development to fight off diseases, we end up this paradigm of always looking for diseases. We therefore pathologies everything that is often normative. There’s a number of research papers that identify phytochemicals that can have a positive effect on the human body. You'll note that on each of these papers is a suggestion that the end goal is to find a way to turn it into a medication. That’s the orientation of our healthcare system. It’s why we focus on microbiology or molecular biology, which has dominated healthcare vs lifestyle. If you think about it, where can you go to get lifestyle training?
35:43 - There is a major decline in health, starting at age 27.
55:54 - Religion and its role in mental health. There's a lot of health benefits for people who participate in religion. Can those benefits occur outside of a religious context. Probably. But are they? Religion will provide a structure for people to address important life questions, have community, understand suffering, brave in the face of fears, overcome challenges in life. Lots of parallels that you could refer to it as mindset training. If you’re faced with a challenge, are there stories that can help you deal with those challenges. A lot of people don’t have religion as a source of those stories. Lack of religion can cause a deficit in building resilience by hearing how people addressed challenges in the time passed.
- It's difficult to understand the benefit on our health at the level of a hormone, such as the happiness hormones - oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, serotonin. Their impact is complex.
- In the work place, we could see a new role: Chief Health Officer. This transcends someone who manages medical insurance and team retreats.
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