IN PURSUIT OF HEALTHIEST LIFE!

`Hacking Health’ by Mukesh Bansal, Penguin Viking, An imprint of Penguin Random House, hardcover, Rs499.

By Pankajbala R Patel

YOU want to pursue health first, get this book. It comes from an all-Indian author who doesn’t write for a living but is India’s largest fashion clothes retailer — Myntra! Mukesh Bansal is also the co-founder of CureFit Healthcare amongst other things which testify to his genius as a technology entrepreneur (he is a computer science engineer from IIT Kanpur). Bansal has pursued the subject of what goes into the making of fighting fit health with serious determination (courtesy his own recovery from meningitis in California in the May of 2007.
So he became what is popularly called a biohacker or someone who questions everything to do with modern healthcare and its medicines. So we have here both an adventure and a discovery of so many things many of us may have some vague idea of but not for sure! Say it is a travelogue in human health some of which we may know but most of which we may be interested in knowing for our own good.
The secrets of healthy longevity? You’ll find them in this book in chapters tracing the fundamentals of good health to the story of health, health rules, food and diets, the importance of sleep, breath and meditation…you want to tackle health goals, keep diseases at bay, manage your mind better – the author offers a lot of vital inspiration in his book. One is tempted to ask, in the end is the future all about ageing gracefully and longer to become superhumans? Well, make up your mind individually and collectively before it is too late and you’re gone with the wind!
There are too many health books today wooing readers into converting their lifestyles of ill-health to lifestyles of health. In the countries of the West (or rather first world Western civilisation countries) more people are conscious of what it takes to be healthy. More doctors from mainstream medicine are looking close-up at the alternate traditional systems of medicine coming from India, China, Africa, Egypt, Turkey, Persia… and wherever else there have been civilisations learned in the science, art and skills of staying fit and beautiful.
A myriad cultures have their own schools of healthcare and beauty! But in our mod con world of some 100 years it’s been a long run of mainstream Allopathy, dependent and driven by the pharmaceutical industry of drugs, newer vaccines, newer diseases and hi fi medical robotic technology, etc. Yet for some time now there’s been a growing revolution of sorts against mainstream medicine, it is too overwhelmingly commercial and perhaps no longer the noble profession it once used to be to begin with. Why is all the research funding concentrated here?
In ground level more mainstream healthcare doctors are opening up their minds to the advantages and benefits of the alternate medical systems of the ancient world and welcoming associated relationships to be built upon and this may or may not prove to be good, bad or ugly. The lines have still to be drawn on how much and not beyond real limits.
This is to say with more Indians taking an interest in body beautiful and reaping good health naturally it is interesting to find someone like Mukesh Bansal (call him a biohacker if you like) doing a book titled “Hacking Health, The Only Book You’ll Ever Need To Live Your Healthiest Life.” This is a different kind of book from the general run-of-the-mill health talk books from India! Bansal says he is building a next generation health platform that makes holistic health easily accessible for everyone. All this and much more, clearly here’s someone to catch up with in a book offering much to think about and act on.
As N Chandrasekaran says in his Foreword,“ Weaving together history and science, anecdotes and tips, Hacking Health takes us on a fascinating journey through the world of health….With refreshing honesty, Mukesh also gives us a glimpse into the ups and downs of his own health journey. Based on his experiences and experiments with everything from diet and fasting to sleep and tracking devices, he has created a road map and a tool kit that can help every reader begin their own health journey.” The Managing Mental Health chapter is especially welcome for the longer we live (stressfully and lacking in real nutrition) the more we fall prey to the dementia diseases in the autumn and winter of our life when caretaking may turn into a nightmare at home.
Needless to say the various stresses with we cope with life has a lot to do with mental health, and as Bansal observes, “Much of the stress we experience in our lives today emerges from disruptions to our psychological and social wellbeing. In addition, the complexity of our brains and our ability to think about the future means that sometimes even the anticipation of an event, or the possibility of a disruption, can cause stress. Therefore, neither is the stress acute, nor does it pose an immediate threat to our physical wellbeing. Yet the body is constantly preparing itself to go into full fight mode. Thus, our bodies and minds are constantly on alert, ready for action, even when there isn’t a tangible, real-life stressor – only one that is in our heads or in the distant future.”
It’s a timely book for us in India! Readable, plus it offers very useful summaries with action plans at the end of each chapter. Read it for very practical reasons – many of us are seeking health first nowadays. Here’s reading which may turn you into your own best friend instead of your own worst enemy…as we witness so often around us. If you wish life to be about loving, caring, sharing, Mukesh Bansal’s “Hacking Health” is a generously caring, loving and sharing book.

Excerpted from `Hacking Health, The Only Book You’ll Ever Need To Live Your Healthiest Life’ by Mukesh Bansal….

IMMORTAL CELLS
The incredible power of our cells is immortalized in the amazing story of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who died of cervical cancer in the 1950. Cancer is a disease of mutation in which due to genetic changes, the cells keep dividing uncontrollably. One of the doctors treating Henrietta had removed some of her cancerous cells, and later observed that these cells continued to divide and double every twenty-four hours in the cellular medium in the lab. The his division seemed to have no limit, unlike normal cells of the human body, including the most cancerous ones, which eventually stop dividing.
A scientist named George Gey at the same hospital came across these cells and recognized their immense potential in research. He started creating large quantities f the cells and shipping them to various research centres around the world. This cell line has come to be called HeLa, after the first two letters of her first and last names. The cells continue to live and divide even sixty years after Henrietta’s death and play an immensely significant role in research around the world. This is just one example of the unknown properties that lie dormant within our genetic code, which a chance mutation might spring to life. As we understand the working of stem cells and our own genetic code more, we can harness this knowledge for novel treatments and lifestyle changes to stay youthful and vibrant through our adult lives.
Some of the best minds in the world are working on unravelling the mystery of ageing, and they pursue the ambitious goal of curing ageing, they are piling up one impressive breakthrough after another. The founders of Google have funded a company called Calico Labs, whose explicit purpose is to cure ageing. The similarly heavily funded Human Longevity Institute has undertaken advanced genomic research to find potential solutions to radically alter what we think of as a healthy lifespan.
We may not be able to predict when and how much the human lifespan will increase but it is a safe bet to say that many of us alive today can expect to live to the age of 100 to 125 years and perhaps even longer (that is, if you don’t manage to kill yourself with a lifestyle disease before). These possibilities have immense implications for how you live your life and what choices you make. Many of the old models of ageing, retirement and gracefully walking into the sunset may not apply, and we may have to rethink our lives on a very different timescale. Whether living very long is on your wish list or not, we need to be aware of the possibilities that loom on the horizon and the best way to be ready for and benefit from these breakthroughs is to adapt the most commonsensical approach to a healthy lifestyle.

IN SUMMARY
Keep in Mind

  1. As humans live longer lives, it is becoming apparent that we do not really know the upper limit of human age.
  2. The three biggest obstacles to a better life and health span are tobacco, alcohol and sugar.
  3. Currently on the fringe, many biohackers treat their bodies and minds like machines, using data and technology to optimize them for longer life and better health.
  4. From IV infusion therapies and sensory deprivation to plasma treatments, many treatments for health and longevity are now easily available in India.
  5. By supercharging our brains to boost learning using cutting edge technology, we can achieve peak potential, not just of our minds but our bodies too.
  6. Nootropics are substances and ingredients that have brain boosting properties and are valuable for their role in slowing down or reversing cognitive decline with age.
  7. As we pursue the next level of health and chase immortality, many of the superpowers we need come from the powerful connection between brain and body.
  8. Stem cells have enormous potential in the future of health, giving us access to younger versions of ourselves even as we age.
  9. Some of the most futuristic sounding therapies might soon be at the frontline of medical treatment – from microbots to genetically engineered immune cells that can recognize and destroy cancer cells.
  10. As longevity becomes a solution many of us seek, there are clinics and centres springing up that offer cutting-edge therapies to boost health and help us live longer.
  11. Whether you believe it or not, many people alive today are likely to live to anywhere between 100 to 125.

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