Tag Archives: InsideTracker

Unlocking the Answers in Your Blood

ForgetNormalChallenge

 

Last week, together with our friends from InsideTracker, we ran a short contest to see what kind of experiments and tracking projects could be supported by having access to InsideTracker’s Ultimate Panel biomarker tests. And wow, the response was amazing.

We received so many great entries from the community. From individuals wanting to understand how their training and activity affect their hormones, to people just wanting help figuring out how chronic conditions are affecting them. It was hard to choose just two winners, so thanks to the generosity of the team over at InsideTracker we were able to choose three!

Congratulations to Dana Greenfield, Mary Eggers, and Felipe Gerhard! We’ll be doing more in-depth follow-ups with each of the winners here on the blog soon, but until then here are the great experiments and projects they proposed:

  • Dana Greenfield - “I want to learn if certain foods I eat –such as spearmint tea, or omega-3 supplements–have actual effects on free testosterone or other altered biomarkers associated with my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome diagnosis…”
  • Mary Eggers - “I’ve been a triathlete for 20 years. Multiple Ironman races and and high volumes of training have left me with anemia, high levels of cortisol and some other issues. In August after age group nationals I’m going to switch my focus to swimming, with the goal of competing at USMS nationals. When I return, what will happen then? I am also switching from a paleo based diet to plant powered for this journey. What will that effect? This would be a fantastic chance to properly measure change…”
  • Felipe Gerhard - “I want to study how a diet based only on Soylent will affect my overall health, hormones, and energy levels. How will I do it? I will switch to an almost exclusive Soylent diet for at least two months with one cheat day per week (~85% caloric intake from Soylent). One InsideTracker Ultimate Panel will be performed in the beginning to establish baseline value and a second one towards the end, 6-8 weeks into the diet. During the experiment, I will supplement with creatine, vitamin D, and any additional supplements recommended by InsideTracker after the first blood panel. I will continue ongoing tracking of basic QS stats such as body weight, body fat percentage, Fitbit data, daily and weekly habits, and sleep. I will start to track compliance with the diet and my energy levels through a subjective rating scale. What will I learn? Changing to Soylent as an almost exclusive source of food is a radical change in diet (#ForgetNormal). Though there are anecdotal long-term reports of people switching to Soylent, these reports are typically not accompanied with such an extensive blood panel that is offered by InsideTracker. In addition, there have been discussions around potential negative effects on hormonal levels. Therefore, tests for Testosterone, DHEAS, Cortisol, and other hormones included in the Ultimate Panel will be a crucial component of this experiment. I am personally interested in improving my sleep and energy levels and hope to see a correlation not just with the change of diet, but potentially also with the range of biomarkers that InsideTracker provides…”

Want to learn more about InsideTracker and what you can learn from blood and biomarker tests? Come see them in person at our QS15 Expo! Tickets are now on sale and readers of the blog get a special $10 discount! Register today!

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Forget Normal: A QS + InsideTracker Challenge

ForgetNormalChallenge

Most people think of blood tests as medical procedures ordered by a doctor, but in the Quantified Self community we’ve seen many fascinating self-experiments using biomarker panels to answer personal questions about sleep, stress, mood, exercise, and more. Thanks to our long time friends and QS sponsors InsideTracker, we’re inviting you to take part in an exciting challenge to develop new ideas and questions about what we can learn from unlocking the information stored in our blood.

Participating in the challenge is easy. All you have to do is propose your own self-experiments using InsideTracker’s extensive biomarker analysis capabilities.  Use this form to tell us what you want to learn about yourself and why your question is important to you.  We’ll select two ideas that we think will be especially meaningful for everybody to learn from.  The winning ideas will receive two free Ultimate Panels (valued at $499 each) to support their project, and be asked to present their ideas and initial data virtually or in-person at the QS15 Conference & Exposition. All entrants, whether selected as winners or not, will receive a discount on InsideTracker, and a $100 discount on QS Conference registration. We’ll be accepting entries until May 30th, so act fast!

Enter Now!

 

Not sure where to start? Here’s a great example from our friend and QS Seattle community member, Mark Drangsholt:

We’re sure that you have some great ideas for what you could do with access to the answers in you blood. Share your ideas with us and the Quantified Self community on Twitter using #UnlockBlood. We’d love to see how you want to learn!

Want to learn more about InsideTracker? Read this great ToolmakerTalk with Gil Blander, founder and chief science officer. 

Want to meet the folks behind InsideTracker in person? Come to our QS15 Expo, where you can hear more from Gil and the InsideTracker team! Quantified Self website readers get a $10 Discount on tickets so act fast. Register now !

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Mark Drangsholt: Deciphering My Brain Fog

One of the benefits of long-term self-tracking is that one builds up a toolbox of investigatory methods that can be drawn upon when medical adversity hits. One year ago, when Mark Drangsholt experienced brain fog during a research retreat while on Orcas Island in the Pacific Northwest, he had to draw upon the self-tracking tools at his disposal to figure out what was behind this troubling symptom.

Watch this invaluable talk on how Mark was able to combine his self-tracking investigation with his medical treatments to significantly improve his neurocognitive condition.

Here is Mark’s description of his talk:

What did you do?
I identified that I had neurocognitive (brain) abnormalities – which decreased my memory function (less recall) – and verified it with a neuropsychologist’s extensive tests.  I tried several trials of supplements with only slight improvement.  I searched for possible causes which included being an APOE-4 gene carrier and having past bouts of atrial fibrillation.

How did you do it?
Through daily, weekly and monthly tracking of many variables including body weight, percent body fat, physical activity, Total, HDL, LDL cholesterol, depression, etc.   I created global indices of neurocognitive function and reconstructed global neurocog function using a daily schedule and electronic diary with notes, recall of days and events of decreased memory function, academic and clinical work output, etc.  I asked for a referral to a neuropsychologist and had 4 hours of comprehensive neurocog testing.   

What did you learn?
My hunch that I had developed some neurocognitive changes was verified by the neuropsychologist as “early white matter dysfunction”.  A brain MRI showed no abnormalities.  Trials of resveratrol supplements only helped slightly.   There were some waxing and waning of symptoms, worsened by lack of sleep and high negative stress while working.  A trial with a statin called, “Simvastatin” (10 mg) began to lessen the memory problems, and a dramatic improvement occurred after 2.5-3 weeks. Subsequent retesting 3 months later showed significant improvement in the category related to white matter dysfunction in the brain.  Eight months later, I am still doing well – perhaps even more improvement – in neurocog function.

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Toolmaker Talk: Gil Blander (InsideTracker)

This is the third post in the “Toolmaker Talks” series. The QS blog features many stories by those conducting personal QS projects that are about: what did they do? how did they do it? and what have they learned?  In Toolmaker Talks we hear from those closely observing all this QS activity and developing appropriate tools: what needs have they observed? what tools have they developed in response? and what have they learned from users’ experiences?

The two primary sources of data for most self-trackers are self-observations and  consumer-oriented sensor gadgets. Data from laboratory tests is generally limited to whatever you get from your doctor. Segterra, a new Boston startup, has launched a new service InsideTracker that makes personalized blood analysis much more accessible.

Founder Gil Blander explains what led to its creation and the impact it has had.

Q: How do you describe InsideTracker? What is it?

Blander: Segterra’s InsideTracker is a new web-based service that  automatically-generates a set of nutrition and lifestyle recommendations based on a panel of blood biomarkers and the person’s goals, circumstances and preferences.

I am sure QS’ers appreciate the adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure and unfortunately most of us don’t have any real data about what is happening inside our body, so it is difficult to know if our efforts to be healthy are really moving us it the right direction.  That is the problem that InsideTracker solves.  Quite literally, InsideTracker gives you a window into your unique biochemistry so that you can make better informed decisions to manage and optimize your health and performance.  Depending on your personal goals it can help you to run faster or farther, have more energy, be more productive and in general feel healthier.

InsideTracker includes the following key components:

  • Measurement of a number of key blood biomarkers through a simple blood test, and analysis using InsideTracker’s proprietary algorithms
  • Individualized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations based on your diagnostic analysis and a rules-based expert system that matches the individual’s input data with a knowledge base of facts about the relationships between the biomarkers and the desired health and wellness outcomes, such as body weight, physical performance, and subjective criteria of wellbeing.
  • Ongoing testing lets you assess progress.

Q: What’s the backstory? What led to this service?

Blander: The creation of InsideTracker is a culmination of my fascination with the aging process, and a passion to preserve health and vitality throughout our lives.  When I was 12 I had a close family member die and it triggered in me a desire to know everything I could about why people age and become sick.  I did my postdoctoral work at MIT in Dr. Leonard Guarente’s Laboratory for the Science of Aging and came to appreciate the strong connection between aging and overall health.

While at MIT, I caught the entrepreneur bug, but I didn’t quite have a clear product idea. Then I met David Lester. David’s career path has taken him from academia to government, to industry, giving him a rich perspective on all matters of health.  David was interested in using systems approaches to create segments of populations based on outcomes. Could we segment the field of health information according to specific populations, even individuals, to improve quality of life?

‘Systems thinking’ is the process of understanding how segments influence one another within a whole. It is taking individual and dynamic characteristics (like biomarkers) and looking at them in terms of how they act as part of a larger environment (like the human body). The combination of using systems thinking plus affordable diagnostic results from a blood sample to create uniquely personal recommendations was something that no other company was offering so we jumped in and launched Segterra to provide that kind of service – and that is how InsideTracker was born.

Q: What impact has it had? What have you heard from users?

Blander: While InsideTracker is still in its infancy, early adopters and participants from our pilot have been enthusiastic about their experiences. One user had been concerned about vitamin D deficiency, but using InsideTracker discovered he was fine. Another had been confident about his nutrition but learned he was in fact low on iron. A third has been able to make some minor changes to his diet to move several biomarkers in the right direction.

Q: What makes it different, sets it apart?

Blander: Several aspects of InsideTracker are unique:

  • We have made using blood results more affordable so that you can use it as a metric to measure health on a recurring basis.
  • We have made it easy for the consumer to access and interpret this information and to see time series so they can understand positive or negative trends and take the appropriate action.
  • We have defined personalized ‘optimal’ ranges for each of the blood markers we include in the service.  A general Lab report that your doctor sees has universal ‘norms’ for each value.  A 18 year old man and an 80 year old woman both have the same range of ‘normal’.  We’ve been able to bring a lot of science to bear to define optimal ranges for individuals based on demographic and lifestyle differences.  It is the difference between knowing what is pass/fail and knowing what gets you an ‘A’ on health.
  • We’ve made our recommendations engine very flexible so that personal preferences and needs can be easily managed.  If you are low in iron and don’t like spinach, we can make recommendations that reflect these preferences and still help you meet your goals.

It is also worth noting that InsideTracker is not affiliated with any supplement vendor and that micronutrient recommendations are based solely on the biomarker results.

Q: What are you doing next? How do you see InsideTracker evolving?

Blander: There are a number of directions that we can take InsideTracker in terms of additional functionality, but we want to do a good job listening to customers and let them drive our priorities.  We will continue to enhance our algorithms to incorporate the latest scientific literature and are looking at integration with other tracking tools, adding additional blood markers to our panels, community-building functionality to our website, and a variety of other features, but the exact sequence of things will be driven by customer feedback.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

Blander: We love what you are doing with Quantified Self and we are looking forward to becoming more involved with the community. We think this audience can be power users of the service and give us valuable input on how to make InsideTracker better.  As a reflection of our commitment, we want to offer a special discount code to QS members that will allow them to save $50 when they purchase the service.

Product: InsideTracker
Website: www.insidetracker.com
Platform: Web
Price: $169 or $249 — QS Member Special Discount Code: QSNATM11156

(If you are a “toolmaker” and want to participate in this series, contact Rajiv Mehta at rajivzume@gmail.com)

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