If you give a hacker a new toy, the first thing he’ll do is take it apart to figure out how it works. ~ Jamie Zawinski
40 friggin’ grams of fish oil a day? Yeah, and for 30 days no less. The background story behind the how’s and whys of this particular hack can be found here, followed by a 3-weeks-in update. Spoiler alert: some definite upsides, with no real negatives. And no (visible, at least) gills were sprouted.
Now that we’re all up to date, let’s look at the results.
So the blood draw for this test was done the morning after I ended the 30 day run. And the results are a mixed bag. Some expected. And some, well… head scratchers.
For one thing, although my omega 3 scores are generally high across the board, they’re not the “off the friggin’ chart high” scores I might have expected. 40 grams per day is A LOT of pure oil, and yet my total omega 3 in HUFA (highly unsaturated fatty acids) came in at 58. Which is extremely high for the generally sick and broken US population, but still trails Japanese and Greenland averages. Aside from being a testament to understanding the power of the “control group” when assessing a study’s findings, this is probably indicative of a hack being no match for a lifelong healthy habit. A close corollary to this might come from the training world, where we know it’s a hell of a lot easier to stay in fighting shape than to get in fighting shape.
And I didn’t start off completely broken in this realm either. My usual dose of fish oil couple of years has been approximately 4 grams / day (which I’m back to now), the dose included in my ID Nutrition. This is what my Omega 3 situation looked like after having been on the 4 gram / day regimen for a few of months. Much, much better than my initial test (see below). And better than my US counterparts. But that’s like being tops in an “everyone gets a medal” event.
For comparison sakes, here’s what my profile looked like back when fish oil supplementation to me meant “eating a lot of fish”. Abysmal, by any measure.
We can see that 40 grams / per day had a significant positive impact across all measures. And by subjective measure, I felt great for the duration. The only real problem being that it was a hassle to ingest all that oil. Not so bad when I was at home, but traveling presented some interesting dilemmas.
So, where to from here?
We’ll we know now that the protocol can be tolerated with no ill effects. At least among the 7 or so people I know who where in on this lose “study”. A few people did notice a loss of thirst signal during the protocol, and had to “remind” themselves to drink enough water during the day. This, however, did not happen to me.
I think one interesting measure to track would be saturation point. In other words, what would it take for me to reach Greenland measures? If we stick to a 30 day run, what dose would be required? And if we stuck to the 40 gram / day protocol, who many days would it take to reach “Greenland saturation”?
Another interesting question: what “maintenance dose” would be required to keep me within striking distance of the Japanese average?
And, too, what of the genetic / epigenetic question? Am I (a) even “wired” to support / maintain a Greenland-like omega 3 level? And (b) what part does my normal diet and environment play? I’m assuming “quite a bit”; but by what measure, and how so? Parsing a large swath of participants in an endeavor like this vs their genetic profile (here’s mine) would be really interesting. Is there a particular genetic play common in Japanese / Greenlanders that would support greater sequestering / storage of EPA and DHA?
Unfortunately questions like this won’t be answered by mainstream science anytime soon. Even though I’m quite sure the big players in the fish oil industry would be more than willing to pony-up for such a study, there’s no way a 40-ish gram / day dosing will ever successfully pass an IRB. So it’s up to ballsy citizen scientists to run with this. Mainstream science (and we can include NASA here as well) is just to overly risk-averse to make any meaningful significant progress in pushing human performance forward.
More on that in future posts.
Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world ~