Quantum Nutrition: A Short Introduction

In 2013, in my first semester of graduate school, I had an idea:

“What if we could trace the effects of a single nutrient from physics/chemistry/geology up through biology, past neuroscience and behavior, through all other areas of the university, from economics and art history to geopolitics and beyond?”

Not until 2017 did I realize this is what the true scientific study of “nutrition” attempts to do. It simply lacks an adequate theory to make testable predictions and unify other related scientific fields.

 


Table of Contents


Current Definition and Problems

 

Archaic definitions

Here are a few conventional definitions of the word “nutrition” from the web:

Websters’:

the act or process of nourishing or being nourished; specifically : the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances. / foods that are necessary for human nutrition

Cambridge:

the process by which the body takes in and uses food, esp. food that it needs to stay healthy, or the scientific study of this process

 

There are several major problems with these and other standard definitions of the word nutrition:

  • They use the word “food” or “nourish,” which itself, being from the Latin nutrire, centers around the idea of “food.” This may be useful for those with more philosophical conceptions of the word “food.” Unfortunately, in modern America and conventional “nutrition science,” the word food is usually conceptually disconnected from the concepts of air and water, even more necessary to nourish life. Modern “nutrition science” essentially ignores air, water, and their nourishment.
  • They often refer anthropomorphically to the human body, as opposed to the biological concept of the cell (or another accepted model) or the concept of any multicellular organism.
  • They fail to account for essential subatomic particles and processes.

 


From “Vitamins and Minerals” to “Minerals and Molecules”

Worse, the term “vitamin” has no good scientific definition, and the archaic “vitamin and mineral” model is outdated and nearly useless. Here are three reasons:

  1. “Vitamin D” (cholecalciferol) has been well known for decades, scientifically, to be a hormone. It is not an essential dietary nutrient; rather, it is an essential hormone synthesized by human skin when cellular processes use light to convert the molecule 7-Dehydrocholesterol to “previtamin D3” and later cholecalciferol itself. However, the subatomic particle known as a photon (at 290-315 nm) is a necessary nutrient, absorbed in humans by the skin and used as noted.
  2. Most “vitamins” are actually groups of molecules, such as the A group, the B group, the E group, and the K group. To my knowledge, only “vitamin C” refers a single individual molecule: ascorbic acid.
  3. With each passing year, it appears that there are other “essential molecules,” such as the so-called pseudovitamins and phytonutrients, potentially known molecules like caffeine, nicotine, or DMT, and many others. Given the complexity and ability of the various micro-biomes to evolve and synthesize molecules based on other nutritional inputs, some humans may have bacterial synthesis of essential dietary molecules whereas others do not, so the word “essential” is quite problematic. However, there are certainly undocumented essential molecules (just as there are undocumented essential elements).

We must therefore move towards a better categorization of nutrients.

While subatomic particles must be technically included (below), the phrases “atoms and molecules” or “elements and molecules” are scientifically accurate phrases to replace “vitamin and mineral.” However, I suggest the phrase “minerals and molecules” for the public, using the periodic table for the former, and reminding the public that a molecule is simple an individual arrangement of bonded atoms. The term “mineral” from “minerals and molecules” would be technically inaccurate, since elements on the periodic table like Carbon and Nitrogen are not minerals per se, but “minerals and molecules” serves as a better phrase for public adoption to promote education and awareness. (Unless the public forgets that for humans, the photon is also an essential subatomic nutrient.)

While these are good starting points to inform public opinion, we still need acceptable scientific definitions in order to make testable hypotheses, to carry nutrition into the modern century, and to prepare it for the next.


A New Theory

 

What is the definition of nutrition?

Nutrition is the study of nutrients and their effects.

What is the definition of a nutrient?

A nutrient is a particle without which an acid-based (amino acid, nucleic acid, etc.) function or reaction cannot occur. For the public: a nutrient is a particle (subatomic, atomic, or molecular) used in a biochemical reaction.

 

How can we categorize nutrients?

Nutrients should be categorized based on standard models from the physical sciences:

  • subatomic particles (photons, electrons, protons, etc.),
  • atoms (lithium, oxygen, sodium, sulfur, etc.),
  • molecules (ascorbic acid, α-Linolenic acid, etc.),
  • and even (optionally) whole cellular organelles and/or organisms.
    • Note: It does not seem likely that whole organelles or cells are used as “nutrients” without being broken down into component macro-molecules and smaller particles first. However, from another perspective, it not only seems likely, it seems a historical biological fact: the “first” mitochondrion was likely an independent cellular entity, consumed or assimilated, in a sense, as a mutually-beneficial symbiotic “nutrient.” Perspective indeed!

 

Naming a Theory

Quantum or quanta may have a few varying definitions in the physical sciences. While the word comes from the Latin quantus, meaning “how great,” in the early 1900s it came to signify the smallest measurable unit. This is especially true of the electromagnetic force, as quantum came to signify the smallest relevant particles: a single electron, a “fermion” with mass; or the photon, a type of “boson,” the massless force-carrier of the electromagnetic force. Quantum often now refers to both indivisible sub-atomic particles and the unpredictable nature of studying these particles.

Quantum is thus a perfect, relevant word for a unifying physical theory of nutrition, although it need not be used only to refer to the electron, photon, and other subatomic particles. Here, the word quantum can be used in a general sense: the smallest useful subatomic, atomic, or molecular unit of nutrition. This is critical, because these three divisions must form the foundation of the future study of nutrition; for example: an electron or photon, versus a single lithium or sodium ion, versus molecular oxygen or caffeine. While larger molecular elements — long chain fatty acids and peptides — are obviously nutrients, they work well under the third molecular division, studied individually or collectively.

As such, a unifying theory of nutrition should be called quantum nutrition or quantum nutrition theory.

 

Questions

This presents numerous questions (thousands, actually). For example:

  • How can we define and differentiate an “essential” or “beneficial” nutrient?
  • What is the difference between a nutrient and a drug?
  • How can we organize nutritional molecules into useful categories?
  • Might there be an organizational approach similar to the standard model or periodic table for these molecules?
  • How can we account for modern, unique, synthesized molecules, which often have negative effects on whole organisms?
  • How can we define “life” and account for entropic decay?
  • What individual diseases, cultural adaptations, and societal challenges are predicted?

 


 

The Future: Unifying the Scientific Disciplines

From physical vs. social sciences towards a unified concept of the sciences

Because nutrients influence all known biochemical processes, nutrition connects physics, chemistry, and other physical sciences to biology, psychology, and all associated scientific disciplines, such as economics, culture, religion, and philosophy. An effective model of nutrition bridges the “gap” between the so-called natural vs. social sciences, allowing, at long last, us to retire the concept of “social sciences.” At some point this century, an effective model of nutrition will allow us to make predictions based on the effects of nutritional photon intake on economic decision making in northern latitudes; or, if all else could be controlled for, nutrition could make predictions on how varying soil levels of magnesium in Northwest vs. Southeast African populations affects leadership styles of elected politicians. This may take decades, of course, but the basic ideas already exist.

We need only connect the dots.

Where to begin?

 

Question: do you think lithium specifically affects athletic performance?

A few months ago, a member of my gym asked, “You recommend lithium for everyone, but do you think lithium specifically affects athletic performance?

Yes, yes I do.

Like much about biology — and everything about lithium — we don’t understand the exact mechanisms very well. But here’s why lithium affects athletic performance.


 

Table of Contents

 


 

Overview

 

Question: do you think lithium specifically affects athletic performance?

The incorrect assumption in the question is that athletic performance — or more precisely, muscular activity — exists in isolation from the rest of the body.

That’s silly.

Disconnect those muscles from the blood that fuels them, the neurons that control them, the liver that provides their short-term glucose or micronutrients, the fat cells that provide their fat-soluble micronutrients (and fat!), the kidneys that filter the blood, the lungs that provide the most important energy source (oxygen), the heart that moves the blood, the skin that protects those muscles from the millions of types of external cells that would eat them alive if possible, and other organs…. and those muscles wouldn’t work at all.

Exercise: A Single Rep Without Air

Blow out all air in the lungs and hold your breath.

You’ll be able to do a few repetitions before you pass out or breathe, and more with training (Wim Hoff method, for example), but not much. Few can go over a minute, I’d doubt anyone in the world can do more than a few minutes of significant muscular work without oxygen. But let’s start there: you can do a minute of “athletic performance” without oxygen. So let’s only note the major organs involved: the muscles and the nervous system (brain and rest of CNS/PNS).

Since lithium is involved in neuronal development, it’s already highly important in physical activity. But let’s continue with this line of thinking.

Now let’s exercise for more than a superman-minute-breath-hold, and breathe during repetitions or during rests…

Exercise: Breathe!

Now we’ve involved more than just the stored glycogen in the muscles…we’ve involved new organs: the lungs, the heart, and the whole cardiovascular system, including the kidneys to clean the blood and the bladder to store the waste. Don’t forget testosterone, which means basically the whole reproductive system (of both sexes) is involved. So those are necessary for “athletic performance,” and by extension, every micronutrient (magnesium and zinc are each involved in hundreds of enzymatic reactions all over the damn body!) that has anything to do with any of those organs is going to be involved with athletic performance! 

So micronutrients are important for athletic performance!

But let’s go beyond just one simple breath and let’s do a longer workout that includes a few pauses/rests.

Exercise: An Entire Workout

These rests might be:

  1. long, comfortable rests between a power lifter’s squat sets,
  2. voluntary rests during a RFT/AMRAP/etc., or
  3. regular rests at intervals, like EMOM/Tabata or similar interval programming (most importantly, I’d argue, because these rests tap into the body’s rhythms).

Anyway, now our workout is over a minute or two and we’re breathing. What organs are involved now? Basically everything. Blood is flowing quickly, the body is heating up, and we’re sweating, so that’s the skin. All sorts of internal organs are changing (kidneys and reproductive system above), but now it’s even more complex. Digestion slows, so you could arguably include every cell in the whole body. Certain individual muscle cells might have “consumed” all or most of a certain micronutrient (B-12 or Li+, pick one at random, it doesn’t matter) for a certain reaction during the exercise, so those cells send a signal of some sort that they need more of that micronutrient: the liver is probably the recipient, which increases output of said stored nutrient.

That’s a bit inexact, because I’m not an exercise physiologist and it’s not worth the time to look for exact examples in metabolism, but the point is: if we’re breathing more than a few breaths, the liver is involved, and we can ignore individual micronutrients like lithium, because the entire body is involved. The liver needs to start breaking down glycogen and releasing more glucose into the bloodstream for those muscles to re-stock their own glycogen stores. This is what great burst/HIIT/etc. athletes get good at during regular rest intervals: often closing eyes and resting as completely as possible during breaks to prepare the muscles as much as possible before the next round. (Maybe it’s actually better to jump rope/walk to stimulate lymph flow: I have no idea.) But anyway, the liver is involved now, digestion is slowed, so all micronutrients that affect those organs are going to impact athletic performance.

And we didn’t even talk about the most abundant minerals stored in bone: calcium, magnesium, etc. For example, bone constantly sequesters/releases calcium as necessary to maintain the right level in the blood. Calcium? Nerve conduction. See http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v477/n7366/images/477546a-f1.2.jpg if you need a refresher.

But remember that pretty graphics of biological, cellular systems are a joke: biology is a warm, disgusting mess of atoms, molecules, enzymes and more bumping into each other… often at random! There are many sorts of ions (magnesium, lithium, sodium, etc.) flowing into and out of all sorts of cells all over the place. Biology is a mess.

Any workout (longer than the time it takes to pass out if you’re holding your breath) involves the whole body. Evolution produces pretty efficient systems, and we’re no exception: it’s all connected.

Life Without Skin

You could theoretically exercise without the skin, without dying, for a number of minutes… But the pain would stop you from actually moving, so it’s only theoretical. Well, I can’t speak for others; perhaps you could push through the pain and bend down and touch the barbell or reach up and touch the bar. But me? I would be on the ground screaming in agony… all while the viruses and cells from the floor and air entered my bloodstream and began to quickly overwhelm the lymphatic system, eating me alive.

Ah: life without skin. Fun thought.

Alright, so hopefully I’ve addressed that issue: micronutrients are important for athletic performance, because everything in the body is connected to everything else.

Conclusion: Back to Micronutrients, Including Lithium

Now: lithium is involved in neuronal development. Most of the research I’m seeing (consuming all the information I can is one of my most important goals for this year) is related to neurons. This is why lithium at extreme doses is such an effective drug: it’s a nutrient involved in neurons everywhere. We are basically walking bags of neurons (a brain) along with everything necessary to run them effectively.

Moreover, there’s a key aspect of fitness that many uneducated “athletes” don’t realize: athletic performance isn’t so much about having a ton of muscle tissue as it is, more importantly, about accessing as much muscle tissue as you can, on command.

The first is simply bludgeoning through the competition by having the most muscle tissue: want to win a squat competition? If your competitor has X amount of muscle tissue and can lift weight Y, you simply build up X+1 amount of muscle in order to lift Y+1. This also works very well for bodybuilding/photo competitions. The smaller the size of the population in the competition, the more this is likely to work. Spend more time training, lift heavier weights, eat more food, build more muscle, win! It’s simple, and at smaller scales like local competitions, it often works. Moreover, since most of us never care to become professional competition athletes, it’s all most of us think about.

The second is far more useful for large region or worldwide competitions — especially those in CrossFit. Accessing/controlling more muscle tissue is entirely neuronal, right? Sure: the brain sends a signal down a particular network of neurons, and those last few neurons “innervate” the muscle tissue at the neuromuscular junction. Anecdotally, we all “know” when we’re weaker or stronger in the gym from week to week, based on how well we can access the full power of our muscles. That’s simply “accessing,” if you will, a certain “percentage” of our power. This is where all the different aspects of true athletic performance come into play: low-repetition neurological training, sleep, diet, sex, social life, stress and calm, intellectual accomplishments, and more. This is where the whole body concept for athletes, including every single micronutrient in the body, comes into play. (I pity the athletes who think they can win with processed foods and enough supplements. Some win a few competitions, but most are simply sacrificing their long-term health and longevity for short-term physical performance. Sadly, even the “healthiest” of competitors these days will need to do this to some extent, which is one reason I’ve never been interested in being a professional athlete. My main opponent is myself, thank you.)

Anyway, since lithium isn’t yet a recognized nutrient by the FDA/WHO, it won’t even be adequately tracked in foods for many years. (I’ll add a food section to the /lithium page later this year, but still recommend supplementation.) Thus, the question is, are we getting enough lithium in our diets? Like magnesium (/pills), most of us probably aren’t.

Here’s to your health — and competitions!

 

A Letter to My Unborn Daughters, or: Why American Women Aren’t Leading Anymore

4,200 words
Read time @ 250 words/minute: 17 minutes

 

Dearest young ladies,

Throughout your lives, you may notice more principals, presidents, pastors, and other leaders from all walks of life as men, rather than women. Surely we will have a thousand conversations on this matter, and shall often remind ourselves that life is not fair. But something more is going on. Women make amazing leaders, as I have learned from your mother and others, but the women in this country simply aren’t leading. 

So, you will ask, why not?

The real reason, girls, is physics. But this is simpler than a physics lesson: American women aren’t “leading” because they are destroying their connection to the physical world. They are destroying their connection to their own bodies, bit by bit. And while we will travel many countries in our lives, much of the world looks up to ours, so what American women do, women around the world will, too.

These are the ways in which I see the women of my generation destroying that connection. Know them so that you may choose wisely as you age.

 


Table of Contents

 


 

The Skin

The skin is the largest “organ” of the human body, and one through which minerals, toxins, and other molecules can be both secreted and absorbed. It forms our defenses from the outside, helps hold us together, cools us, warms us, and more. But nevermind the science. Nevermind what marketers call “natural” creams and gels and lotions, among other words they use to sell their products. Nevermind that everyone with the slightest idea of nutrition agrees that we should reduce “processed” food in our diets, all the while half of our population is drowning their skin in “processed” creams, lotions, and other pastes. Nevermind the science, because much of it only comes from money and may not even exist when you begin making your way in this world.

The skin needs more than an avoidance of human- and machine-based concoctions.

To lead, what your skin needs is a return to nature. Do not underestimate the skin, and do not neglect it. Simply let it be.

Related to the skin are a number of other areas:

 

Temperature, both cold and hot.

Cold exposure, to ice-baths, showers, and cold bodies of water is becoming increasingly common in my day, and is slowly being investigated by scientists. The science may matter to you or it may not. Simply understand that the greater the range of temperatures your skin is comfortable with (via air or water), hot and cold, the healthier it is. Use this as a good starting point.

Sunlight.

Ignore the women lathering themselves with protective creams. Ignore the fear of the sun, remembering that the skin can both protect and heal itself, and it is natural that we spend much time outside under the sun, clouds, and stars. Avoid sunburns, but work around your schedules to have a healthy tan on your skin (preferably away from the eyes of male onlookers). These creams are useful, of course, and it is good to understand when to use them, but understand that in general, they do more harm than good to our societies.

Diet

There is little to say here, as you will likely be experts on your body’s dietary needs and the many ways to use food wisely, and the link between diet and the skin will be well established by your time. Humans have known, of course, that what we eat becomes our bodies in a very real sense, but we seem to have forgotten this truth for about a century. Sadly, many teens of my and my parent’s generations were told by “expert” doctors (called dermatologists) that diet has no effect on the skin. This was foolish and egotistical of them, as will be known in your day, but is still not common knowledge even in our time now. Only recently are we re-accepting that ancient truth: our food becomes our bodies — including our skin.

Hair.

Our hair exists for a reason. This is a /hypothesis of mine, as I write this letter, and may be more supported or disproven in your day: hairs may actually store trace minerals for future retrieval and for some sort of communication through the air. Perhaps it is some sort of dispersal of molecules (along with the skin), or an electro-chemical signal through the air. I recall a bacterial “cloud” around each person being investigated by one scientific study, and other early evidence may be there long before you are born. Anecdotally, it is not uncommon to hear one say that “you could feel the electricity in the room” in tense meetings, with great public speakers, and at other moments throughout life.

But the science matters little. It is easy to accept that hair is not simply a relic of our early shared primate ancestors, hair is useful today. We simply do not fully know how.

Do not ignore the truth in anecdotes and early scientific ideas, and do not destroy the hair on the surface of your skin without deep contemplation first.

Take shaving very seriously.

 


 

Makeup

Along with the voice, the face is where we judge honesty, emotions, status, and far more. The face is the home of nearly all the senses, along with the sense that connects us most consciously to others: vision. Eye contact is one of the most powerful conscious experiences humans can have together, but who uses it wisely in today’s world? Very few. Eyes flutter and evade left and right, jumping from other eyes to screens to blank stares, and I imagine this will only be worse in the world in which you grow up.

 

The dangers of makeup are threefold:

 

First, makeup products are foreign concoctions on the face.

Your mother once stumbled into one of the most expensive makeup retail vendors in Manhattan. It must have been among the most well known in the world, I imagine, as women were forming a crowd wrapping around the block in long lines for free or highly discounted samples of their latest offerings. She entered a section where another potential customer was considering a skin product for her cheeks. Assuming your mother had the product on, she commented, “wow! your skin looks wonderful! How long have you been using this?” and couldn’t believe when she realized your mother wasn’t using makeup that day!

You already know I’m always proud of her, and won’t be surprised how the scene ended: she left the store and purchased nothing!

Women not only apply typical skin products to their faces, they apply far more: ever more intricate concoctions of shadows, balms, sticks, creams, liners, primers, glosses and more. One needs a textbook just to stay abreast of the terminology of phony facemaking. And women fall pray into believing in “natural” products and ingredients, as if such words even had valid definitions. Creams and pastes become layers of the skin, one designed and purchased to solve the problems created by the others!

Best to abandon them all at once.

 

 

 

Second, makeup wastes money and time. 

Women are at risk of grossly mismanaging their finances as opposed to males, as many spend significant portions of their income on such products. They may even pay premiums for feminine “versions” of items. For example, in my day, we have “male” razors and “female” razors. The latter are simply made of pink plastic instead of black and cost twice as much! Females may as well be indentured servants to the feminine products industry.

But time and mental energy are far more important than money. Women, in my day, desire to “get ahead” of men, earn more money than them, and succeed “equally”. But how can equality be possible, even ignoring menstruation below, when women devote a half hour of their conscious, early-morning rituals, to “making up” their faces and bodies to look good? Obviously, equality is not. Morning rituals are critical, and women are only hijacking their own lives and contentment when spending quality morning time on such trivial matters.

Learn from the mistakes of my generation, and avoid them in your own lives.

 

Third, makeup distorts your self-image. 

In short, women seek an image of themselves that “compares” to the professional models they see in the media, and continue seeking the impossible for two reasons. First, that version of themselves is only possible with great sums of money and time to prepare the look. Second, that version of themselves is only possible without the use of mirrors, because mirrors reverse the image itself. See the “mirrors” section for more.

 

A good diet, a little sunlight, fasting, sweating, and the natural look are far more powerful than makeup.

Diamonds are only valuable because they are rare! In today’s world, the natural “glow” of the honest female face is far more attractive than the photos in the media. A healthy face shines from a healthy woman inside, and that kind of beauty takes months and years of letting the body heal itself. But it is worth it, and others know it.

As a man in love with your mother, I will tell you the secret that whole industries do not want you to know: men want women, not dolls. Know how to use a few essentials of makeup if you desire, but do not become enslaved by an industry that neither cares for you or respects the beauty which is already within you.

 


 

Smell

If the strongest conscious connection to other humans is vision, the strongest subconscious connection is smell.

Indeed, being among the initial wave of Americans to begin supplementing with the nutrient /lithium, I noticed my sense of smell improve within a month. You won’t want to hear this, but I found myself even more attracted than ever to your mother’s natural smell. It was powerful, yet it’s sad that most humans do not know this about human sense of smell. But this, too, is the subject for another day.

Yet women destroy this connection to the physical world, too, with both skin-products discussed above and perfumes and other scents. Some males use these scents, too, meaning that two humans can now meet and be even more confused than ever before in what they want from each other, biologically.

Women who over-use external and other purchased scents may also distort their mind’s concept of “who” they really are, and walk around with an altered view of themselves.

Early links even show that more than other senses, smell is quantum in practice. This means that, while physical building-block like molecules are involved in receptors in the nose, the strange quantum world, too, is involved. To say that smell, in a sense, can travel fast is a ridiculous understatement. Quantum-paired communication can travel faster than light: fast indeed! It might be inaccurate to say that we can “smell” faster than light, because clearly there are physical molecules traveling through the air to “smell,” but it should highlight how important our sense of smell truly is. Smell also bypasses more “conscious” parts of the brain, going directly to the more ancient/core regions. Smells often make us have thoughts or reactions… before we consciously think about them! (Predestination if ever there was such an argument, but I digress.)

A healthy sense of smell — and personal scent — are important and underlooked factors in the world we are creating for you girls. Understand both your sense of smell and your own scent, and do not underestimate their power or change them without deep thought.

 


 

Menstrual Cycles

Each decade, more and more women simply choose to ignore their own menstrual cycles. The specific technology — pills, patches, an implanted device — doesn’t matter. What matters is the concept: they are ignoring their body’s own monthly cycles in order to “trick” it into believing it is unnecessary, for whatever reason, to ovulate*. The exact details may vary, but these methods simply “trick” the body. It should not surprise you that women are sometimes unstable and confused inside. This must not be interpreted as an insult, because the deepest parts of their being — their cells and their inner minds — are confused, shouting out, “There is no ovulation, no menstruation, no baby, no lactation, no menopause, and we are part of a young female body. What is happening?!”

Many women are simply experts at hiding how they feel, or they are disconnected from those feelings.

There is even early evidence that hormonal birth control methods change your preferences in mates! In the worst case situation, you might be attracted to a partner while living with modified hormones (and preferences). Then, when “deciding” to become more serious together, marry, or have children, you may base your decisions on a false attraction. Worse, you may find it is difficult to concieve, and notice the love fading away, all because of these biochemical and hormonal tricks. In the least disastrous case, you might simply be less satisfied with any partner chosen while using hormonal birth control.

Women use birth control for various reasons, usually to avoid pregnancy or to get ahead in their “careers,” whether financially or productively. The latter is a ridiculous notion, as hopefully is well known in your time. Actually, having children helps parents prioritize and become even more productive by ignoring the unimportant. But that is the subject for another day.

Now, you certainly don’t have to get pregnant a few short years after puberty. (I would not approve!) Indeed, there are many great reasons to wait well into your 20s or 30s, and you may even choose never to have children.

But this isn’t a reason to completely ignore your body’s cycles.

Instead, embrace them! We don’t — as I write this and you are still just little concepts in my heart — yet know about how fluctuating hormones each month change nutrition requirements, intellect and behavior, voice and charisma, and more. All we know is enough to say that we know nothing. I would imagine that each week a woman might want to shift her diet, activities, and goals slightly. Perhaps you might desire more “busy” social time (meetings, collaborative work, time with friends, etc.) closer to ovulation, and more intellectually “focused” but alone time (studying, reading, writing, creative work, watching movies, playing games and the like) closer to menstruation, and more menstruation.

As a man, I have no idea! But there are women who are understanding these concepts faster than the scientists, and I recommend you learn from them. Seek them out, join them, and help educate other women. Lead.

There are far better ways to avoid pregnancy than modifying your own hormones. Total abstinence. Partial abstinence (ask us). “Natural” cycle tracking. Condoms. And more. None is perfect, but all are preferable to the tricks involved in such hormonal changes.

Learn modern science, as it is useful. But know when to trust your instincts more than anything else. Do not be so quick to experiment with your own hormones without deep thought beforehand.

Tread carefully, and above all, know yourselves.

 


 

Use Technology, But…

Every section here involves some form of technology, but today, electronic technology pushes the very pace of our own development faster and faster. Understand the technologies of your day — you may even wish to become professional experts with some — but do not become enslaved by them.

Allow me to share that old story about your mother once again, this time in writing.

I met your mother when she quite young, with ten years between us. After some initial joking about our ages, we quickly became accustomed to the differences and similarities between us. One of those was maturity.

Within a few weeks of dating, I was making fun of her for using a five- or ten-year old “dumb” phone, far simpler and less capable than even the earliest of “smartphones” for our time. Many foreigners can’t afford the latest electronic technology marketed at rich Americans, Europeans, and Asians, but I still saw smartphones everywhere around us and knew that there were models well within financial reach of her family. She said she had owned such a smartphone, but only up until a few months ago. She wasn’t certain whether it was stolen in public transit or she lost it, but in any case, it was gone. She explained having switched from her old phone to this “new” and “better” device only a few short months before we met, and remembered being barraged by a constant stream-of-consciousness from the outside: notifications, messages, emails, thoughts… being plugged-in. No, she was glad she no longer had that phone. I will never forget what she said: “It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”

She felt “freeer” without this device.

She had learned a lesson in her early 20s that many American women do not learn until decades later, and I instantly saw a maturity in her youth. Modern technologies, like early knives and hammers, are powerful tools which can help us greatly enjoy our lives. But unlike our early tools, our modern ones can enslave us. Know yourselves to understand how to avoid this.

Use these tools to increase the rate at which you can learn, at which you can create, at which you can enjoy life, and at which you can help others. But take the time — the long march of the years and decades — to also learn how to walk in a forest alone, connected with the dirt and the trees and the wind. Take the time to learn to have a proper human conversation, without note taking or disagreement. Take the time to cultivate patience. Take the time to know yourselves.

Use technology, but do not let it enslave you.

Especially such an ancient technology as this: mirrors.

 


 

Mirrors

Early in our relationship when I began consciously using mirrors less, I noticed something odd from your mother: she complimented my looks more often and said my eye contact was even more powerful than before. This surprised me, since I hadn’t started doing anything new. I had simply started taking less time than I already did in the mornings and evenings with the mirror. However, over time I realized her improving perception of me was due to my reduced mirror usage.

I had changed my own self-perception without actually doing anything new.

Indeed, our ancestors would seldom have seen their own reflection, and only for a moment in a calm pool of water or a shiny piece of rock before the natural world pulled them away.

Allow me to philosophize for a brief moment: realize that the “reflection” you see in the mirror isn’t actually what you look like. It’s a 50-50 left/right flip. Most people will think this doesn’t make a big difference.

They are wrong.

Today, the obsession women have with mirrors is destroying them, moment by moment.

 

Let’s consider what we know today, in the early year I write this to you. Although there are many overlapping sections and functions, in general, the brain is divided into hemispheres, left and right. Each hemisphere controls the other side of the body. Thus, the right motor areas of the brain control, in general, muscles on the left side of the body. This is true for vision, as well, but since visual fields overlap, it is much more complicated. Suffice it to say that the left visual portions of the brain process the right visual field (vision seen on the body’s right side and through the right eye), and vice-versa, although it’s certainly more complicated than this in practice. What about when we consider what happens in the brain when we look at a face? (Also known as facial information processing.) It gets even more complicated, and is well beyond the scope of this letter to you.

But what happens when that natural face has been flipped left-to-right?

To the brain, that’s a completely different face. It’s difficult to see consciously, but subconsciously, it’s true. That is not your face.

Here’s my point: American women grow up from very young girls with an “image” of themselves in the mirror. They compare this image in the mirror to every model and star and actress they see in magazines and movies and photos in their lives, and that comparison is its own problem. But the situation is far worse: women don’t even know what they look like. The average woman might see a few pictures of herself in a week — or more if she’s younger — but spends far more time with mirrors. That’s my argument: not only is it dangerous to compare what you look like with supermodels and “fake” women, you’re not even comparing the face that’s actually yours. You’re comparing a false face.

The girl in the mirror isn’t who you are.

That’s not what you look like.

And women “project” that self-image of themselves when they’re talking to a friend, walking in the street, or smiling for a photograph. This false self-image from mirrors eventually becomes engrained in the woman’s subconscious, and she lives her whole life with a mis-representation of who she is. She doesn’t even know what she looks like. No wonder a girl says, “I don’t like what I look like in that photo.” Her mind is expecting the false-image she sees in the mirror everyday. When she sees the “real” image of herself in the photo, her mind is confused and she thinks she doesn’t look “as” good.

You will never be able to make the girl in the mirror look like the models on television!

Always remember: those models a) have professionals who do that for them, and b) those professionals use their actual face as the basis for where they “make up” the girl! You can never see that girl in the mirror: what you see is a lie! If, in your day, there are live video cameras embedded in large screens to help with female makeup preparation, those would be ideal. Of course, I would still recommend minimizing make-up, but at least you will have an accurate 2D image of how you look to others.

Know that you are beautiful. What you see in the mirror will never represent you, it is not even a whisper or a shadow: it is a left-right alteration, an imposter, a lie. The true you is beautiful, regardless of who you think you see in the mirror.

 


 

Conclusion

Ask advice from everyone and you will find it is easy to ignore the bad advice; but if you never ask for advice, you can never know what you don’t know. It pays greatly to learn everything that you can.

Know that you will grow up in a home where the ideas in this letter are common for us, but not for the outside world, and sometimes it may be hard to empathize with other girls.

Know that sometimes when people in the world treat you unfairly, they are simply jealous of your beauty. We men see women treated unfairly and harshly all the time, especially by other ladies! Know that each woman has her struggles and challenges, regardless of income or class or looks, the same as each man. Many people, when “mean,” are simply lashing out at others from their own pain inside.

Have compassion and patience for others, and most of all, for yourselves.

 


 

I have lived my whole life trying to communicate to women the thoughts in this letter, and I hope that in your day, it is irrelevant. I hope that it becomes well known, and that women understand the role that all these technologies can play in their lives, but that they may also avoid being slaves to them. I hope that with this letter, men might better express what we feel when we shout, for the fourth time on a date night, “You’re beautiful as you are! You don’t need makeup!”

I hope that this letter becomes a relic of the past: something for you to look on with curiosity and wonder at such a strange generation of unhealthy, disconnected humans.

I hope you grow into a world where all women lead, no matter their daily lives. I hope you see the world for both what it is and what it needs: a civilization of half-female leaders, where all of us realize how connected and necessary we are, and that together, we are stronger.

Most of all, I hope you understand that leadership begins within: you must first lead yourselves. In time, others will follow you.

All my love,

Dad

 

 





 

Notes:

  • *among other technical methods

[Edited 1 June 2017. Minor edits, such as the addition of the “makeup in manhattan” story, after partner helped me revise. Lesson learned to do that before posting the next long essay! She also noted that I didn’t even talk about implants, surgeries, or sexuality. Removed paragraph below:

The best I would suggest, if you feel you must have makeup, is to have a roommate or someone near you help. Ask for help! Teach the nearest friend or neighbor what to do, and ask them how you can help in return. Many males such as myself won’t initially care, but if you tell us honestly that you need our help and you teach us how to assess the work you’re doing, we will learn more quickly than you might think. Knowing what’s at stake for our world, most males will learn to help. Over the course of a few weeks of this, you’ll become an expert at reducing the make-up you do use, and applying your own make up without mirrors, and then you’ll quickly receive suggestions and make quick corrections based on the suggestions of your friends.]

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Mary Roach (2013)

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Mary Roach (2013)

Mary Roach’s Gulp was everything I’d hoped for, and a wonderful book for me to read. To call it interesting would be a massive disservice – the content is rich in story, wild yet grounded facts, and prose colorful enough to stimulate any sense while reading. It should be required reading for students of medicine, anatomy, nursing, and similar fields; and it’s one I imagine any human with even the faintest interest in her health would enjoy.

Yet Roach connects all of this to science, with a refreshing perspective of both history and the present state of thinking on each section. Note the colon, which she reasonably claims, we may know much less about simply because of its natural smell and disgust.

I particularly like her organization. Each chapter is exactly focused on its topic; transitions are quick but fluid.

In both her introduction and final chapter, she enlightens the lay reader of a little of the history of Elvis Presley’s final years and ultimate death: it was likely due to megacolon, if only proximally. We feel particularly empathetic for the artist, whose colon was many inches in diameter at times, lived for hours in his bathroom, and, at the end, had part of a barium-drink clogging his colon for months. I’ve felt IBS pain, and cringed to read these sections.

The chapter on saliva was perhaps my favorite – what a wealth of information I had no clue about! Her discussion of the double standard of saliva and other bodily fluids – how these are perfectly acceptable within our “body,” but repulsive and unacceptable once the fluid leaves, except for those we love – is spot-on. Indeed, she notes another culture finds the fact that we collect and store our nasal excretions while ill to be particularly brutish!

The chapter on the stomach discusses the purpose of the organ, competitive eating, and what happens when it is filled far beyond a natural capacity.  In another, she reminds me, we should really eat more organ meat – especially liver, stomach, and bone marrow.

I’ve read “Bonk,” and this book convinced me to consider reading the book on cadavers. I look forward to her next book!

She ends with the microbiome, and notes how effective modern treatments – fecal transplants – have been. Unfortunately, insurance companies are incredibly slow to recognize these procedures (even with a 93% success rate, in one review!), and the sick are actually performing them on their own, at home. One reason I love biology – the study of life! – is for the humility it imparts on me in my human shell. Fittingly, she closes the book with one of my favorite, most humbling quotes:

We’re basically a highly evolved earthworm surrounding the intestinal tract,” Khoruts commented as we drove away from his clinic the last day I was there. Eventually, the food processor had to have a brain attached to help it look for food, and limbs to reach that food. That increased its size, so it needed a circulatory system to distribute the fuel that powered the limbs. And so on. Even now, the digestive tract has its own immune system and its own primitive brain, the so-called enteric nervous system. I recalled what Ton van Vliet had said at one point in our conversation: “People are surprised to learn: They are a big pipe with a little bit around it.”

Poignant notes on Science:

  • The moral of the story is this: It takes an ill-advised mix of ignorance, arrogance, and profit motive to dismiss the wisdom of the human body in favor of some random notion you’ve hatched or heard and branded as true. By wisdom I mean the collective improvements of millions of years of evolution.

  • It takes a sizable sum of arrogance and ignorance to second-guess human anatomy and the evolutionary fine-tuning that produced it. The colon that Lane would so cavalierly lop from his patients’ interiors is more than a simple waste-storage facility. The bacteria feared and despised by the likes of Lane and Tyrrell and Kellogg—the germs that live and thrive and ply their trade within our waste—are not only harmless, they are critical to good health.