Tag Archives: scientific research

The Diet Resolution: Start the New Year with a Healthy Eating Lift

I’ve never stuck to a diet – except when I tried going gluten free (it was difficult and I ended up eating a lot of gluten free pizza, cookies, and candy, defeating the purpose of a healthy alternative diet). Now with Lift to keep me on track, I look forward to tackling a month of diet change.

This year, Lift is launching a Quantified Diet Month where you can either pre-select a diet or use a diet Lift selects for you. For the month of January, Lift will encourage, teach, and help you through the diet via the Lift app. The app will measure and survey you regarding your weight loss, mood, energy, and adherence to learn more about dieting and what works for you.

Here is the list of ten diets you can choose from, below. To learn more, check out this post.

  • Paleo: eat like a caveman, mostly veggies, meats, nuts. Advised by Paleohacks and Nerd Fitness
  • Slow-Carb: lean meat, beans, and veggies; abstain from white foods like sugar, pasta, bread, cheese. Based on Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body
  • Vegetarian: vegetables, but no meat. Cheese and eggs are optional. Advised by No Meat Athlete
  • Whole foods: eat only recognizable foods and avoid processed ones. Advised by Summer Tomato
  • Gluten-free: no wheat, rye, barley or wheat-based foods
  • No sweets: a simple diet change that affects your insulin swings
  • DASH: USDA’s current recommendation
  • Calorie counting: the old standard
  • Sleep more: the science says this should work. Advised by: Swan Sleep Solutions
  • Mindful eating: learn mindfulness to recognize when you’re full. Advised by ZenHabits and the Center for Mindful Eating
Tagged , , , , , , ,

Interview: Dr. Mike Tsai, Chairman and CEO of Salutron, Maker of LifeTrak

The LifeTrak Move C300 is a wrist wearable fitness and activity tracker that automatically tracks steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. The device fits comfortably on my wrist and with one push of a button I can see my heart rate, calories burned and weekly workout progress among other things.

Wearable fitness monitors have dominated the quantified-self market these past several years and trackers are starting to differentiate themselves. I spoke with Dr. Mike Tsai, Chairman and CEO of Salutron and Dr. Jin Lee, Chief Technology Officer and SVP of Engineering, to learn more about what sets the company apart from the rest. After Mike’s first company went public, a close friend of his suffered a fatal heart attack while playing basketball, which made Mike wonder about what he could do to prevent this occurrence from happening to other people.

Salutron has been in the fitness and ECG space for almost two decades and last year merged with Linea Research. The partnership with Linea Research is an important one – Linea is a leading research facility, focused on sensor integration and signal processing solutions specifically for health and wellness technologies. Through their past (and ongoing) research with NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security, Linea has improved the way body monitoring is measured for astronauts and soldiers and has brought that technology to the everyday consumer through Salutron.

So what exactly makes the Move, backed with NASA and DOD research, so powerful? When asked which key features stood above the rest, Mike noted, “the Move has an extensive ECG hardware component to it. It has the capability to accurately measure your heart rate, unlike other competitors in the market, which is also essential in calculating your real calories burned.”

Additionally, the device runs on low power, which means that the battery won’t need to be recharged for a year, after which it can be replaced like a watch battery. Users can wirelessly sync their Move data to an assortment of apps, more of which are developed each day using the system’s open API. The Move is waterproof and swim friendly, and the price point of $59.99 makes it much more affordable than other trackers. “We’ve been at this since 2005 and we are able to offer a more reasonable price through our very efficient supply chain,” states Dr. Tsai. The company has also white-labeled their devices to partners like New Balance to reach more athletes.

Salutron is targeting the launch of its next device, the Fit, by the end of the year. In addition to all the specs of the Move, the Fit will also have a sleep monitoring piece that will automatically recognize when the user falls asleep and when he or she wakes up, which hasn’t been perfected by any other wearable device in the market. I certainly look forward to the Fit but for now, all I need is the Move to get me moving.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Diagnostics For All: Simple and Low-Cost Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostics For All (DFA) is a nonprofit organization working on bringing healthcare to places with limited access to precise and affordable care. One of their main projects is to create cheap and convenient diagnostic tests using their patterned paper technology that only needs a drop of blood to give a result. This technology is essentially a piece of paper grooved with wells that are filled with assay reagents. As a drop of blood is placed on the paper, the assays change color to reflect the result of the test. About the size of a quarter and much cheaper than traditional tests, these point of care indicators are also lightweight and durable, easy to use, reliable and simple to manufacture.

Currently they are focused on making a test for liver damage, which is a known side effect from taking drugs given to tuberculosis and HIV patients. In poorer countries, these paper tests could replace having to use traditional labs and all the equipment, electricity and turnaround time that goes along with them. DFA is working on using their paper based tech to test for other diseases and has garnered support from large foundations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Tagged , , ,

DNA Data Storage: Replacing Your Hard Drive

DNA, nature’s data storage vehicle, has been successfully converted into storing personal files and photos – perhaps eventually replacing the hard drive. Of course any practical use is decades away – but scientists (Ewan Birney, Nick Goldman and collaborators) were able to store a complete set of Shakespeare’s sonnets, a PDF of the first paper to describe DNA’s structure, a mp3 clip from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a text file of an algorithm and a JPEG of the European Bioinformatics Institute, where the research was conducted. As stated in their paper published in Nature, “Digital production, transmission and storage have revolutionized how we access and use information but have also made archiving an increasingly complex task that requires active, continuing maintenance of digital media. This challenge has focused some interest on DNA as an attractive target for information storage because of its capacity for high-density information encoding, longevity under easily achieved conditions and proven track record as an information bearer.”

The process is expensive and time consuming, but the research team found it very accurate and hardy. DNA, when properly treated, can stay intact for thousands of years. The data to be stored is first decompressed and translated into the four bases of DNA – A, G, T, C, using software that Goldman designed, and then those bases are synthesized into strands of DNA. When you want to look at your saved data, simply sequence the DNA strands and then plug the string of AGTC’s back into Goldman’s software, which will convert the data into its original file form.

For DNA data storage to really take off, the price of synthesizing and sequencing DNA needs to be cheaper and easier. Perhaps one day, it will become more of a reality.

Tagged , , , , , ,