Exoskeleton (wearable robot) with EMS (electrical muscle stimulation)

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Someday it will be common for senior citizens to compensate for lost strength and stability with an exoskeleton, or in other words, a wearable robot.

When people hear the word ‘exoskeleton’ they, unfortunately, think first of Iron Man, but instead our wearable robots will be inconspicuous, more like polio braces than a flying suit of armor.

I predict that these will also include electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to counter muscular atrophy. The more you use your exoskeleton, the stronger you’ll get, not the weaker you’ll get.

But for that to catch on, we’ll need to find a way to activate the muscles through clothing without directly contacting the skin with electrodes.

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The health benefits of fasting without feeling like you’re starving — the “fasting mimicking diet” from USC

Recently the media has been spreading the news about the USC “fasting mimicking diet” that seems to achieve the well-known health benefits of fasting while still letting you eat some food.

Here’s the science and an interview where the researcher warns about “attempting the fasting mimicking diet without first consulting a doctor and seeking their supervision throughout the process”.

The formula is to mimic fasting 5 days per month for 3 months, by on the first day eating 1090 calories as 10% protein, 56% fats, 34% carbs, and then on the next 4 days eating 725 calories as 9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbs.

If we suppose that protein and carbs contain 4 calories per gram, and fat contains 9 calories per gram, then on the first day 27 grams of protein, 68 grams of fat and 97 grams of carbs, and on the next 4 days 16 grams of protein, 35 grams of fat and 85 grams of carbs.

At risk for type 2 diabetes? Take a walk after meals

Summary: A leisurely stroll after a meal is often enough to prevent a dangerous spike in blood sugar.

According to Adam Khan in “The Moodraising Effect of Constitutionals

A walk taken regularly for the sake of one’s well-being is called a constitutional. […] Gandhi, Darwin, Emerson, and many creative (and long-lived) people throughout history took constitutionals often.

He recommends

Walk at a pace that’s easy and pleasant. Don’t make your constitutionals do double duty as an exercise program. A constitutional is closer to meditation, but it’s not a “discipline.” It’s more like a vacation, and that’s exactly the attitude to have.

and

Walk for longer than fifteen minutes. A half hour to an hour is good. You need to do it long enough to let your mind relax. This is a temporary vacation from our compulsion to do, and it needs to be long enough to have an effect.

It turns out that a constitutional is not just good for your brain, it’s also good for your blood sugar level after meals. According to Ingrid Spilde in “An easy walk lowers blood sugar level: A leisurely stroll after a meal gives a dramatic drop in dangerously high levels of blood sugar

“Just getting up and walking about is enough to prevent a rise in blood sugar considerably, in fact as much as medicines designed to curb high blood sugar levels,” says Professor Arne Torbjørn Høstmark.

and

An easy stroll giving a pulse just barely above the normal resting pulse rate prevented large increases in blood sugar levels. In fact, the effect appeared to be roughly equivalent to the results after the slightly more demanding cycling experiment.

One thing, however, that did make a difference was the duration. A 40-minute stroll lowered blood sugar much more than one lasting just 15 minutes.

That was confirmed in another study, this time with 11 women, all of them Pakistani immigrants. In Norway, they belong to a high-risk group for elevated blood sugar levels and diabetes 2.

This study also showed that a very easy walk lowered blood sugar levels significantly and that a 40-minute walk helped more than a 20-minute walk.

Increasing weakness with age is not a law of nature

According to Birgitte Svennevig in Surprising diversity in aging revealed in nature

There is no strong correlation between the patterns of ageing and the typical life spans of the species. Species can have increasing mortality and still live a long time, or have declining mortality and still live a short time.

“It makes no sense to consider ageing to be based on how old a species can become. Instead, it is more interesting to define ageing as being based on the shape of mortality trajectories: whether rates increase, decrease or remain constant with age”, says Owen Jones.

and

Not all species weaken and become more likely to die as they age. Some species get stronger and less likely to die with age, while others are not affected by age at all. Increasing weakness with age is not a law of nature.

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have studied ageing in 46 very different species including mammals, plants, fungi and algae, and they surprisingly find that there is a huge diversity in how different organisms age. Some become weaker with age – this applies to e.g. humans, other mammals, and birds; others become stronger with age – this applies to e.g. tortoises and certain trees, and others become neither weaker nor stronger – this applies to e.g. Hydra, a freshwater polyp.

and

In lab conditions, [a hydra] has such a low risk of dying at any time in its life that it is effectively immortal.

“Extrapolation from laboratory data show that even after 1400 years five per cent of a hydra population kept in these conditions would still be alive”, says Owen Jones.

Several animal and plant species show remarkably little change in mortality throughout their life course. For example, these include rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), great tit (Parus major), hermit crab (Pagurus longicarpus), common lizard (Lacerta vivapara), collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), viburnum plants (Viburnum furcatum ), oarweed (Laminaria digitata), red abalone (Haliotis rufescens), the plant armed saltbush (Atriplex acanthocarpa), red-legged frog (Rana aurora) and the coral red gorgonian (Paramuricea clavata).

Cheapest, fastest path to development is deworming, immunizing, antibiotics, clean water, …

According to Hans Gosling in one of the most famous TED talks

I would like to compare Uganda with South Korea with Brazil. You can see that the speed of development is very, very different, and the countries are moving more or less at the same rate as money and health, but it seems you can move much faster if you are healthy first than if you are wealthy first.

and

Health cannot be bought at the supermarket. You have to invest in health. You have to get kids into schooling. You have to train health staff. You have to educate the population.

According to Physorg.com, regarding the scientific study “Parasite prevalence and the worldwide distribution of cognitive ability” by Christopher Eppig, Corey L. Fincher and Randy Thornhill,

Researchers in the US have noted areas of the world with the lowest average intelligence quotient (IQ) also tend to have the highest rates of infectious diseases, and suggest the energy required to fight off the diseases may hinder brain development in children because both are metabolically costly processes.

and

Eppig points out the study does not suggest “that parasites are the only thing affecting the global diversity of intelligence,” but that it may be even more important than factors such as wealth and access to education. He said disease saps the body’s energy and in the early years of childhood a lot of energy is going into building the brain. “If you don’t have enough, you can’t do it properly.” If the results are right, the IQ of a nation will not be raised unless the burden of disease can be lifted, Eppig said.

An obvious example are the helminth infections that, according to WHO and UNICEF, affect at least 2 billion people, because

Studies have shown clearly the detrimental effects of infection on educational performance and school attendance, as well as the significant improvements in language and memory development that can be realized following treatment. Helminth infections are also associated with nutritional deficiencies, particularly of iron and vitamin A, with improvements in iron status and increases in vitamin A absorption after deworming.

It would be so cheap to stop wasting this human potential! The above study says

Deworming improves health, nutrition and physical development, makes pregnancy safer and improves birth outcomes. It is inexpensive, with a school-based deworming programme typically costing between US$ 0.25 and 0.50 per child per year.

By the way, did you know that pneumonia is the #1 killer of children worldwide, killing about 1.4 million children under age 5 each year? According to WHO fact sheet 331

Pneumonia can be prevented by immunization, adequate nutrition and by addressing environmental factors. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, but around 30% of children with pneumonia receive the antibiotics they need.

and

The cost of antibiotic treatment for all children with pneumonia in 42 of the world’s poorest countries is estimated at around US$ 600 million per year. Treating pneumonia in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – which account for 85% of deaths – would cost a third of this total, at around US$ 200 million. The price includes the antibiotics themselves, as well as the cost of training health workers, which strengthens the health systems as a whole.

According to Gourdas Choudhuri

The role of vaccines in preventing the disease cannot be overlooked. However, a vaccine may work well against some of these but not all. So it is difficult to have a complete vaccine for full protection.Some vaccines, like the Hib vaccine, are good and a must, which can be given routinely. The pneumococcal vaccine is another good vaccine. But the issue is whether the strains causing the disease, which are present in the community, are the same as those present in the vaccine, otherwise the vaccine will not work, and the money spent will not get the protection one is expecting. Pneumococcus, one of the germs that cause pneumonia in children, has many strains. The vaccine, which is currently available, has strains that are found chiefly in the western world, and its profile does not match with the strains found in our country. So a routine immunization with one vaccine may not work.

Humans spend US$ 2 trillion per year on the military. It would take a tiny sliver of that to crush helminths, pneumonia, and the rest. Humanity chooses to let its children be stunted and killed.

A question I’d love an answer to: If I wanted to tithe some portion of my income to defeating the parasites, viruses, and bacteria of children, which avenue of donation would save the most lives per dollar, and which would save the most cognitive potential?