Practicing Gratitude

How To Practice Gratitude

Being grateful
Being grateful

We have already discussed the benefits associated with writing and maintaining a gratitude journal. Those who regularly take time to write a journal entry daily on things they are thankful for experience many more positive feelings of emotion, they sleep much better, feel more alive, and generally express much more compassion and kindness. There have been studies done that state that they can even have a stronger immune system.

The feeling of gratitude should not be contained only for large occasions in one’s life but should and can be felt for smaller things in life as well. Even these small feelings of gratitude can lead to the above mentioned effects, claims UC David psychologist Robert Emmons. It is important to write regularly (as brief as it may need to be) on things for which you are thankful.

Since the benefits are many, I will quickly suggest ways in which you can start a gratitude journal and maintain the habit long term.

 

Variety of Thanks

Sometimes writing the same thing day after day or week after week can keep your brain from being thankful about other fresh grateful moments. You can consider writing about other things you may be grateful for, or writing the task in more detail to vary your entry for additional ‘unrealized gratefulness’. Think about what you are grateful for a bit more by asking yourself “why” up to three times. When focusing on new things around you, you will massively enhance your gratitude regimen. Doing this will slowly change the way you think about different situations in real life for the better.

You Need Momentum

gratitude thankfulness journal
“A Offline” Thankfulness Journal

Once you realize the benefits of maintaining a gratitude journal, you will want to start immediately. However the key to maintaining a journal effectively is Momentum. You need to make sure you set aside at least 5 minutes a day to write what you are thankful for, for the day. If you feel like you will be tired at night time, perhaps do a entry when you get home (from work, from school, etc), or the day after (in the morning). Keep in mind that although the task sounds simple, being consistent can be difficult, and so plan ahead and perhaps schedule your writing on your calendar (or better yet, consider adding ‘Write an Entry for my Gratitude Journal’ as part of your ‘Stack’ and set it as a reminder). 

 

The Gratitude Jar

Another common practice done by many is the Gratitude Jar, which involves writing your grateful movements on a sticky note or any piece of paper and dropping it in the jar to be reviewed at a later time. You will obviously not be able to keep track of your entries (in a ascending manner, like you would in a regular journal), but the goal here is to fill up the jar by an arbitrary time (New Years, Christmas, Birthday) at which point you can review what you were grateful for. The reason for keeping a jar and not tracking your gratitude using an app like TrackMyStack is that it keeps things more fun and exciting, see point above on keeping momentum.

Being Thankful of People

Humans are social creatures and as such it is known that if we interact with other’s, our level of happiness increases. It is no different when comes to writing your journal entries, if you focus on non material things and focus on people you are thankful to have in your life, you will see greater benefits from writing your journal. Also, consider telling your friend’s and family and having them start a journal of their own on TMS, or just let your friend know your thankful for having them in your life and why. This may lead to even greater moments of thankfulness down the line with the person.

Remember to keep ‘practicing gratitude’ fun and easy! Keeping a journal digitally has the added benefit of being able to be edited from anywhere. TrackMyStack does a great job of helping you maintain a daily gratitude journal! click here to start daily gratitude journal.

The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Cognitive Benefits & Beyond

improve-brain-power-with-fasting

Intermittent energy restriction (IER) involves intermittently limiting energy intake levels.  There are many ways to restrict calories, one method involves limiting your calorie intake to about 500 kcal a day for days to three days a week. In another method, you must consume all your daily food within an 8 hour window every day, the last way is to simply fast for 24 to 36 hours without any food. In this article, I will discuss if there is any evidence that states cognition is improved via fasting and any other interesting thing I found while doing my research that you may like as well. Let’s start by getting to know some terminology so the article makes much more sense for you.

Table of Contents
1. Key Terms & Differences
2. How It Works
3. Overall Benefits of IF
4. Results Breakdown
5. Dealing with the onset of Hunger & Brain Fog
6. Disclaimer Clauses
7. Another form of IF, BulletProof
8. Closing Thoughts

Key Terms & Differences

Intermittent fasting (IF) may sound technical. But all it really means is going for extended periods without eating anything if possible. Throughout the world tribes experience one form of IF or another. Among them, many show no signs of age-associated problems like diabetes, cancer, neurodegeneration,  cardiovascular disease, or hypertension.

Caloric restriction (CR), researchers define caloric restriction as reducing food intake while avoiding malnutrition. In animal studies, this usually means consuming 30-40% fewer calories than the standard daily requirement. That’s the equivalent of limiting daily intake to around 1,200 calories for women and 1,400 for men. CR is very different for men and women, which I explain more about below. CR has prolonged life in dogs, rodents, worms, flies, yeast,  bugs, and non-human primates by 30 to 50% (evidence below).

Alternate Day Fasts Alternative day fasting (ADF), as the name implies you do this every other day or Every other day Fast (EODF).

24 Hour Fasts, done few times a week to achieve the same results, may be more difficult for beginners.

16/8 Fasts (Time Restricted Feeding) is what we will be discussing when referring to IF below.

How It Works

  • The best way to begin fasting is by giving your body 12 to 16 hours between dinner and breakfast every single day. This allows 4 hours to complete digestion and 8 hours for the liver to complete its detoxification cycle.
  • That mean’s give yourself eight hours or more of ‘feeding time’. The rest is a no ‘feed zone’.
  • Tip: Have Plenty of Water, Skipping breakfast is a simple way to do IF. Many people do IF to go into Ketosis (fat burning mode) to shed fat and get your brain running on ketones for energy (This actually takes a few weeks for your body to get use to.)

Ketosis is characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in the blood/body associated with fat metabolism. Meaning you are obtaining your energy from fat rather then glycogen (think carbs). The brain prefers to run on fat (via ketone bodies) , these energy molecules become fuel for our brains after being converted from fat by the liver. This can only happen when insulin your bloodstream is low, the lower it is the higher the ketone production. You can be in different levels of Ketosis but scientifically if you are at 1.5 – 3 mmol/L it is considered the optimal state but from a nutritional standpoint 0.5-1.5mmol/L is considered good enough.

Benefits to the Brain from Intermittent Fasting

Brain health is very much dependent on neuronal autophagy (the act of self eating, this is when cells recycle waste and repair themselves). Without the process of autophagy, brains do not develop properly and function as intended.  Take a look at the results of the study: Energy intake, meal frequency, and health: a neurobiological perspective. The results state:

In humans, excessive energy intake is associated with increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers and is a major cause of disability and death in industrialized countries. On the other hand, the influence of meal frequency on human health and longevity is unclear.

Both caloric (energy) restriction (CR) and reduced meal frequency/intermittent fasting can suppress the development of various diseases and can increase life span in rodents by mechanisms involving reduced oxidative damage and increased stress resistance.

Many of the beneficial effects of CR and fasting appear to be mediated by the nervous system. For example, intermittent fasting results in increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which increases the resistance of neurons in the brain to dysfunction and degeneration in animal models of neurodegenerative disorders; BDNF signaling may also mediate beneficial effects of intermittent fasting on glucose regulation and cardiovascular function.

So basically, there is a increase in BDNF, but since the study was not conducted on humans, we can’t definitively state that it can increase human lifespan or overall health. BDNF is a protein that interacts with neurons in the hippocampus, responsible for regulating memory and learning. It helps neurons survive and grow new neurons via neurogenesis and increases the development of synapses between neurons.  Sounds like something those looking to keep their brain healthy and functioning optimally may want. Being low on this stuff has been linked to many diseases such as Alzheimer’s. BDNF is naturally occurring and has been extensively tested on mice and in each case it has shown to significantly improve the learning capacity, working memory (Working memory is how many pieces of information you can juggle in your mind at any given time) and cell signalling [reference].

Other Benefits:

  1. Lose Weight (Shed Fat) – Easier to maintain low body fat, via insulin sensitivity for skeletal muscles. Might be better, burning fat, using fat rather then carbohydrate.
  2. Longevity (Mediated mostly by AMPK pathways). Helps deplete damaged mitochondria and is anti-inflammatory, although not proven definitively.
  3. Blood Pressure Regulation
  4. Bodybuilding – Increase mTOR.
  5. Increased Growth Hormone – Fasting for more than 6 hours begins the cleansing phase.  The cleansing phase is catabolic in nature in that it tears down old damaged cells.  These genetic repair mechanisms are turned on through the release of human growth hormone (HGH). HGH also improves skin function, reduces wrinkles & heals cuts and burns faster. Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that men, who had fasted for 24 hours, had a 2000% increase in circulating HGH. Women who were tested had a 1300% increase in HGH.
  6. Save Time (and money?) in the morning
  7. For Epilepsy – Decreased, Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function, Mattson and another researcher reported in January in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience.”(source)

Breakdown of Results on Cognition from IF

When it comes to IF and the it’s benefits, I repeatedly came across the name Mark Mattson. Mark Mattson (a neurologist at Johns Hopkins University and the National Institute of Health (NIH) research is cited in most if not all ‘important’ papers discussing IF online. His research states (in short): Fasting reduces oxidative stress, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction that normally results from brain trauma, so when researches put rats on a 24 hour fast it proved to provide neuroprotective results.

This study discusses how Human (and non-human) studies show that IER increases synaptic plasticity (marker of learning and memory), enhances performance on memory tests in the elderly, leads to the growth of new neurons, decreases risk for neurodegenerative diseases.

  1. GeoMetric MemoryWorse
  2. Spatial MemoryLack of effect
  3. Reaction Time – Increased
  4. Processing Speed – Decreased
  5. Psychomotor abilities – Improved (Psychomotor abilities is the ability to manipulate and control physical objects.). Study on mice and rats, results seen when rats reached Ketosis. Key take aways from this study you may find interesting:
    1. With EODF implemented after rat cervical spinal cord injury was neuroprotective, promoted plasticity, and improved behavioral recovery. Without causing weight loss, EODF improved gait-pattern, forelimb function during ladder-crossing, and vertical exploration. In agreement, EODF preserved neuronal integrity, dramatically reduced lesion volume by >50%, and increased sprouting of corticospinal axons. As expected, blood beta-hydroxybutyrate levels, a ketone known to be neuroprotective, were increased by 2-3 fold on the fasting days.
    2. In addition, we found increased ratios of full-length to truncated trkB (receptor for brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in the spinal cord by 2-6 folds at both 5 days (lesion site) and 3 weeks after injury (caudal to lesion site) which may further enhance neuroprotection and plasticity.
  6. Depression – Decreased – Anti depressants are known to increase BND signaling and synthesis in the hippocampus. Most of the studies have been done on rodents but it is plausible that intermittent fasting may help alleviate depression to an extent.

Dealing with Brain Fog & Hunger

brain-fog-from-fasting

To reduce “brain fog” (Brain fog may be described as feelings of mental confusion or lack of mental clarity. While on the diet, there are two options, one is to have a low calorie drink (less than 50kcal, if your energy level is dropping and ketone energy just isn’t doing it for you, and consume it with nootropics which may potentially help with brain fog.) Consume water. Keep in mind the mind-numbing hunger feeling subsides over time, in up to 6 weeks (on 5:2 diet — 5 days off, 2 days on with CR).

Supplements & Drugs that May Help

If you are trying IF and just feel like your brain fog is not subsiding, and you are just feeling too drained, you may want to consider taking supplements that may help, some can think it is a form of cheating, but it is up to you to decide if you want to go this route.

First one would be a drug called Modafinil will suppress your diet and provide you the mild CNS stimulation you may need to ‘get work done’. I will leave you to check out the link to learn more about this one, and its similar compounds like Adrafinil or Armodafinil (Provigil).

Number two is taking nootropics such as Phenylpiracetam, Caffeine (pill, and definitely not with sugar and creamer or milk!), one will give you a jolt of energy and the other will keep your brain focused. Some people on reddit and around the web have provided anecdotal evidence of ALCAR being effective to stave off hunger, other’s have even recommended a herbal tea’s known as Kratom.

Disclaimer

Note on these supplements: The benefits should be worth your time and counteract any negatives.

As for women: Research has stated that in the long run, IF can disregulate a women’s reproductive system, but these aren’t conclusive. If you are a women, you should listen to your body and tread carefully, also watching out for signs of hypothryoidism and amenorrhea.

Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting

A new type of fast, since we are fans of Bulletproof we are mentioning it here. You could try another coffee company and any other MCT Oil (or better) just make sure you consume the right one (as described in the video). Bulletproof has been known to be somewhat of a “reliable source” for us and that is why it is being recommended and we do get referral fee if you use the link below (with no added cost to you!).

Steps:

  1. 8:00 AM: Drink Bulletproof Coffee.
  2. 2:00 PM: Break fast with foods from the Bulletproof Diet.
  3. 8:00 PM: Eat your last meal before beginning the fast.

What You Need (click to buy):

  1. Bulletproof Coffee – Said to be very low in mycotoxins and considered a premium coffee.
  2. Brain Octane Oil (18X of MCT) or MCT Oil – Ketone Energy
  3. Grass Fed Butter – Anchor brand works and use very low amounts.

My take: Although not a real fast to get your body running on ketones, this does get’s you into a mild ketosis, and maybe more ‘practical’ for most people, but needs more research. However it is simple enough to try and many communities online swear by it.

Closing Thoughts

  • Most fasters do allow themselves coffee, teas and other non-caloric beverages during the fasting. Generally acknowledged that drinking a beverage with fewer than 50 calories will keep you in a fasting state.
  • Many do not claim to really notice an increase in ability to comprehend data faster, but many have reported the ability to focus and pay attention better when on IF. (Reddit)
  • Anecdotal Evidence by members of “The fast Diet” 5:2 diet however state that they noticed up to a 50% improvement in memory. For both of these we don’t know if the member’s have any sort of memory problems, and of other confounding variables.

Additional Tools

TrackMyStack (TMS) – If you want to really try Intermittent Fasting and want a measurable way to record your general health (and performance, or ODL’s) consider using a Stack Journal to do so.  You can’t see what’s working and what’s not if you are not actively quantifying your mood, side effects, anxiety etc and we are the perfect platform to do so. I have a journal which I have been using for the past month and it shows me that I have been able to put off eating for longer amounts of time because now based on my diet, I feel satiated for longer amounts of time and my mood is generally better as well. It’s not just me that is tracking this stuff, check out this super in-depth stack of a user trying to increase BDNF.

I wish you the best of luck, IF is something anyone can try and play around with without harming themselves too much (or needing much to start). Remember, there are many types of fasts that can be undertaken if one does not fit to your liking. You may will experience grumpiness and headaches at first, but with some will power it can be overcome.

Most studies as referenced to, do link to non-humans trials but some have been tested on humans and the results are somewhat similar. The supplements mentioned above and Bulletproof intermittent fasting are some ways people cope and try out IF and you are welcome to try them (but I recommend only do so after you have attempted ‘regular’ IF.). Go ahead and get started, create a TMS account and track your progress towards better health cognitive health.

– TrackMyStack Editorial Staff
Jeff & Asher

What is a Gratitude Journal?

The Gratitude Journal

grateful mindfulnessGratitude diaries or journals (often also referred to as a thankfulness journal) are lists of things for which one is grateful for. Although TrackMyStack was not originally created as a Gratitude Journal, it certainly has the capability to act as one. Not only can it act as a Gratitude journal it would be the most feature rich gratitude journal online, as it helps you manage your entire health and not just one’s psychological needs.

A Gratitude journal is used by those generally wish to focus their attention on the positive things happening in their life. Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful and appreciating the things in your life, regardless of how big or small it may be.

This idea is gaining more and more traction in the field of positive psychology. Studies find that those who are grateful frequently are significantly happier than those who are not. This hack is enough for take people out of depression, for free without medication, over time. This is not a way to ignore any large scale problems you may have in your life that you think you can fully ignore by writing down the things you are grateful for, but it will make you feel better and healthier helping you conquer the other problems in your life.

Positive psychology as mentioned earlier is the study that help you consistently enhance gratitude levels. The most popular of these methods is the journal that TrackMyStack is capable of doing has empirically shown to relieve depressive symptoms.

The benefits of a Gratitude Journal

The act of counting one’s blessings as monitored by Emoons and Mcullough found that it led to improved psychological and physical functioning. An added benefit of maintaining a gratitude journal was that users where more likely to spend more time working out, had fewer symptoms of physical illness as well. The mind is capable of inducing physical change via a better mentality, who would have thought.

The above example was done by patients who recorded what they were grateful for once a week and mentioned five things. However if you take it a step further and start recording entries in your diary daily, you can experience enhanced enthusiasm, determination, alertness and a “general increased overall positive affect.

Other benefits included: the increased likeliness to help others, more motivation to reach personal development goals. Additionally with those with a condition like Neuromuscular disease, a journal lead to increase optimism of one’s own life and a deeper sleep, greater positive emotions of self and others.  

The Journal can be started as early as childhood and if you think writing it down is not worth it, just look at all the benefits above and think again! It is free, it makes you healthy, and it doesn’t take time, additional reasons should not even need to be mentioned. If you can not write it down, and don’t want to use TMS to record entries in your gratitude journal, try to mention it in your head before sleep and you will gain at least a partial list of benefits that were mentioned above,

Starting a gratitude journal on the TMS web app is easy, the steps include:

  1. Sign up for an account
  2. Create a stack, you will be presented with questions, such as what to name your stack. Think of this as “a title for my journal”, after which you have the option to add a description or your goal with this journal.
  3. Optional Step: Add any supplements, medication or exercise you want to be reminded about or other things you may be doing for a better health.
  4. The last step is to click, Create a StackPost, or a journal entry to record your daily information, keep track of mood and other observations of daily living (ODL) to see how you measure up.
    1. You can attach as many photos as you’d like to each post.
    2. You can post as many times as you would like a day (more on this below).
    3. You may keep your journal private or open.
    4. You can start as many journals as you like.
    5. Keep in mind your gratitude entries are automatically backed-up, you have reminders (via email), accessible from anywhere/anytime online, is constantly getting upgraded with more features, can be exported and printed, can be used as a photo journal and to share quotes as well, and can be shared if needed on Facebook or other social media.

Of course these values are self quantified and empirical, however studies like this one have already proven the efficacy of said journal. Your goal should just be to write the entries and record your mood, anxiety, depression, weight or whatever you would like to measure whenever you like and see if a pattern emerges.

How to keep a gratitude journal

The steps to writing a gratitude journal are quite simple:

  1. Start by writing the date and your current mood. If you are using our web app to track your progress, today’s date will be chosen automatically. Use the sliders to select your mood, anxiety and other values.
  2. Continue to write what you are thankful for, start your sentence like: “I am grateful or thankful for < item > because < reason >.
  3. Repeat 3-7X and click save and you are done for the night.

The way this was done by Seligman et al is:

Participants were instructed to write down “three good things” that happened at the end of each day, in addition to a causal explanation for each good thing.

Studies have shown weekly journaling works best (through experiments they noticed higher levels of happiness amongst those that did it weekly) and writing down 3 to 10 items will yield the best results. In closing if you are going through any sort of depressive symptoms, or want to feel better, under no condition should you underestimate the effectiveness of using a gratitude journal, and luckily we have the best software in town. In just 5 minutes, you can rewrite your brain! Get started now.

 

P.S. We will be rolling out to Android & iPhone very soon, use your browser till then to access your stacks/journals till then. We will announce it here when we have launched.

Importance of Personal Health Records

PHR

The more TrackMyStack (TMS) has been getting developed from a simple idea making a list of supplements that could be shared with groups or as a reference for one self, it now can be seen more as a “Personal Health Manager (or PHM)”. This is not to make TMS appear larger than it is but it is because we now incorporate to an extent recording health-related quality of life (or HRQOL) metrics and include the ability to record other day to day metrics and activities as a medication log and a symptom tracker. In my eyes when software is able to perform all of this in one place, it is much more than a personal health record but rather a health manager. In terms of HRQOL, to quote:

Health related quality of life is a complex outcome measure increasing used in clinical trials and quality of care research. HRQOL ideally incorporates multiple domains, generally from the patient’s own perspective by assessing health status and maladies such as impairment, symptoms or disability.

Recently I was reading a study on how heart patients need to adhere to their stack at a level of 80% (time and dosage) otherwise they could risk hospitalization again, and followed that with another study where: when a symptom diary is provided a patient is more likely to survive, and survive much longer. So it cannot be argued that having a adherence tool attached to a symptom tracker is effective in helping people manage their health, it is a matter of how effective and how to get more people to use it, which is the situation we find ourself in. A quick study on why it is important to track your HRQOL (with ODL’s – observations of daily living, Medical Outcomes Study Short Forms (SF-12 and SF-36), the Sickness Impact Profile, and the Quality of Well-Being Scale).hrqol

BACKGROUND:
Patients with heart failure must monitor for and recognize escalating symptoms to take action to relieve symptoms and decrease hospitalizations. One way to promote patients’ engagement in symptom monitoring is by providing a symptom diary.

RESULTS:
The intervention group had longer event-free survival than the usual-care group (P = .03). There were no differences in changes in HRQOL scores between the groups over 3 months.

With TMS acting as en entire Personal Health Manager (series of Records) Consider the distinction this way: the traditional health record and the EHR revolve around data collected at (and important to) the clinical time period. But people don’t live from clinical episode to clinical episode – and health-related information, such as whether one’s stress is elevated due to family or work pressures or whether one’s chronic pain spikes with a sudden change in temperature (which would never make it into a traditional health record), are just as important to many people as standard clinical data are to providers.

This patient-originated data presents the opportunity to create a fuller picture of health – both individually, so patients can look at analyses of their own trend information, and in the aggregate, so patients can compare their symptoms with those of other patients with similar disease and condition. TrackMyStack inherently provides an open community which let’s anyone view any treatment undertaken by patients or people with health goals. These of course can be recorded and managed privately, but by default everything is shared by being open, as it can provide support or ideas for a treatment that may benefit a patient in ways they may not have been aware of.

Conclusion

These observations can also be useful to clinicians, for whom a richer picture of a patient’s experience can yield insights that lead to new treatment plans. Both patients and clinicians benefit from systems that incorporate ODL data and other forms of patient-generated data. The overall benefits of using TrackMyStack and maintaining a personal health record are thus very simple:

better-health-lower-cost

 

Complete Health Tracking

We have been listening to our users and adding useful features at an alarming rate. We have also partnered up with many medical and supplement companies to improve our platform faster then ever. Get started now and notice a significant improvement in your adherence and overall health. TMS is more then a tool to build your daily health routine, with adherence tools, vitals/sleep/anxiety tracking, a health diary, treatment/stack reviews, we are now quickly becoming a comprehensive health platform beneficial for those with chronic illness that need help tracking their symptoms and those seeking to take their fitness and wellness to the next level.

Stack Pages

I wanted to quickly discuss the different stack pages we have on the website. As a reference, a stack in our context refers to a regimen or a routine that people undertake to accomplish their health goal or manage their chronic health illness more effectively, currently we are not restricted to medication or supplements but that is what we have started to support initially. We have built simple informative pages so users can quickly reference what drug or a supplement does and now we may be moving forward to add different medical devices and medical trackers.

Some of the most interesting (and active stack) sections on our site include the nootropic stack section, custom supplement stack pages: phenibut stacks and noopept stacks.

 

Multiple Compound Stack Search

This new feature is now on the stacks page: http://trackmystack.com/stacks You may search for stacks that have the supplements you currently want to take or are undertaking, this helps you see how other patients are using a stack similar to you and if it has been effective for them or not — provided they have used a stacklog or just made notes of it.
search-for-supplement-stacks

after clicking search you are presented with a list of stacks that are ordered by relevancy.

fishoil-piracetam-stacks

 

Commonly Stacked With

If you visit a supplement page you can take note of the most commonly stacked supplements, for example: with CDP Choline page you will see the list below showing the most frequently paired compounds. The below list makes sense because users are (probably) depleting their choline levels when supplementing with Piracetam and thus using choline to negate the possibilities of a getting a headache. However, this should just be used as a reference, as your biology is different but it provides an idea (in this case as some people may be choline dominant and do not require Choline to be paired with Piracetam).
commonly-paired-supplements

Supplement to Supplement Interactions

We are working to build a database of our drug to drug, drug to supplement, and supplement to supplement interactions that are listed automatically on your stack page. This is NOT COMPREHENSIVE and please use it as a reference AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Example, if you check out this Type 2 Diabetes stack made by the user “SupplementDoctor” you will notice the following interaction alerts:

diaebetes-supplement-interactions
Some interactions do not have a full explanation as of yet, but we are looking at it as displaying something to let users know of potential negative interactions is better then nothing, thus making our “biohacking”/quantified self community just a tad bit safer. With the addition of these features we are very far ahead of any potential competitor that may exist, and are on our way to become the primary platform for those looking to get better and feel better. Best  of all we provide access to all of this for free! Let me know if you have any questions, or concerns. Now more then ever when your doctor’s time is stretched thin, taking control of your health falls completely onto you, and TrackMyStack (TMS) provides a platform to get started managing your health that will help you and your care provider.

Medication Adherence Tools

pill adherence toolIn medicine, compliance (also adherence, capacitance) is the degree to which a patient will follow medical advice provided by their health provider. Most commonly, it refers to medication, drug compliance, but can also apply to other situations such as medical device use, self care, self-directed exercises, or therapy sessions and supplements.  The FDA states the common barriers to medication adherence:

  1. The inability to pay for medication.
  2. Disbelief that the treatment is necessary or helping treatment.
  3. Difficulty keeping up with multiple medications and complex dosing schedules
  4. Confusion about how and when to take the medication
  5. On Physical Patient Adherence Tool

Before proceeding further with my thoughts on adherence tools, apps and hardware, if you or someone you know is looking for a simple tool to remain compliant, have them sign up to our site to get started.

Medicine Compliance Technology

Recently I saw some very interesting physical medication adherence tools, these are $500 electronic gadgets, that seem like they are made by Apple and store up to 10 set of compounds that are dispensed everyday at a pre-programmed time. It is a very “cool and hip” product and definitely will help those with the some funds remain healthy and that is great, however, we have a tool in our pockets, or at most homes already, on a desktop that does the same thing.

During our initial survey of patients (especially seniors) we learned that many are not willing or don’t want to take an interest in even downloading an app that will help them comply with their medication. One of the top reasons patients do not comply to their medication is laziness, and the second being forgetfulness. These two reasons account for 85% of patient adherence levels, among those that have purchased their drugs. So what did we decide to do after learning this? for better or for worse, we decided we will postpone building a mobile app for just a tad bit longer and make our web interface better. Wait, how does that make sense? Well for one our site is fully responsive so it should render great on any phone, secondly with our medication reminder emails, you will get an alert on your phone via an email app (which many people have anyway) or natively. The seniors were not interested in learning or using a new app, but most had email software that they use to keep in touch with their relatives..bingo! The cost: free. I need to do some further research and surveys to determine how easy it is to load these devices and how often people are willing to “reload” them, I think some of them allow you to load up to 60 days worth of drugs.

Now creating a reminder app or even software is not a technological feat in an of it self, but if it is effective and it can help even a few lives, the difference is worth it, at least to us. I think the real challenge is leveraging technology to increase adherence rather in anyway rather then fixating on a reminder app, with this mindset, we can take the whole picture into account, which involves all the steps. Why is this important? In the US alone deaths due to patient medication noncompliance reaches $100 to $140 billion annually. Globally I suspect the cost is 10x this amount and will probably grow in the coming years as baby boomers age.

TrackMyStack Medication Compliance Tool
(& How we are the best!)

If you are looking for a simple medical adherence tool for your friend and understand the need to use one,  click here to read our step by step guide to using trackmystack as medication tracking tool and health journal. We are tackling the problem totally differently then any incumbents: First, we have a knowledge base of drugs and supplements, it has taken a lot of time to do research/write just the main important information on supplements and drugs. So if a patient or user wants to quickly learn more about what they are being told to take, they can without leaving our platform, there certainly is no need to “Google it”. This also removes the need for a medication compliance handouts that needs to be given or the pharmacists prescription letter to be put up on the fridge as a reminder of what dosage needs to be taken and when. However, I think the number one thing that needs to be done is that physicians absolutely need to spend more time educating their patients on the problems associated with noncompliance. Information on side effects need to be drilled into the patient, and commonly overlooked issues such as when one may be feeling better, it is critical to still complete their treatment. This, I think should be seen as the #1 compliance tool — something to ponder — are there any unethical doctors out there that may see noncompliance as beneficial for business? Let’s not go down that rabbit hole, as I don’t think it is a real problem that exists for most people.

The second thing we decided to do to improve patient compliance was journaling, journaling helps lessen cognitive load, and it will help you record any symptoms or benefits you may be noticing from your drug or supplement regimen (remember reason #2 — “Disbelief in treatment”) so here we address that as well. The way we figure out what to build next is by talking to patients and thinking like patients first, then confirming our beliefs with potential studies to prove our hypothesis. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once put it with his customary forthrightness, “Drugs don’t work in people who don’t take them.” and when a support network or a patient does not log an entry with adherence daily, the patient should understand why “the drug does not work”.

The #4 reason of confusion as to when to take one’s drugs and the quantity is the basic premise of TMS and I think we have the foundation in place and see people complying at a much higher rate than before. Another issue relating to the problem of disbelief is not the treatment being effective or not, it is that 20% of patients perceived possible side effects of taking them. We are working on releasing graphs and statistics as part of our info pages, where users can see which side effects are common and what other patients like them experienced during the course of their treatment.

Another less common reason, #7 reason for non-compliance is “Worries about the social stigma associated with taking medicines.” — I think by having a social network of patients undergoing the same treatment or taking the same drug, albeit online, may help alleviate any stigma that may persist when one may not have or know people going through the same condition in real life; support networks work, and we make it easy to see what similar patients are taking and what symptoms/conditions they deal with daily.

Patient Adherence to Medication

With our admittedly limited testing of patient adherence to supplements and with small pharmaceutical companies, we have noticed that many users are more likely to use the platform when they have a support community and I feel by making a treatment stack public (anonymously — under an online alias), patients can be held more accountable by our community and by others offline, such as family and friends if provided the URL to your stack. A lot of patients that we observed, went further and decided to create wellness stacks to prevent their health from deteriorating, prevention as they is better than the cure. Noncompliance because of forgetfulness, laziness, improper knowledge and disbelief were to put it bluntly “thrown out the door” by our users.

Hopefully this short brain dump on medicine compliance/tools and how we “stack” up against other methods was interesting to someone, and if you are a patient, a family doctor, pharmacist or someone looking to improve their own health or someone else’s, get in touch with us with tips or comments or we recommend you start using our platform (for free) to improve the efficacy of your treatment for your chronic condition or your goal by letting us helping you adhere to your stack in a more meaningful (and fun) way. Some last words below on health goals:

Compliance of Health Goals

“Compliance” implies that patients are passive actors in managing their chronic conditions. “Adherence,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), suggests just the opposite: that doctors and patients team up to help patients actively engage in maintaining their health. As I have always said, good health starts at home and now more than ever patients need to start monitoring and quantifying their own health. This does not mean do not seek medical consultation from an expert rather take your regimen a step further and actively try to manage your health with your doctor, by keeping logs of any side effects, compliance rates, mood, anxiety or anything else, you provide evidence or help your medical practitioner by giving them the data needed to try to identify any patterns quicker, they will appreciate it and you will benefit. Another term being used is “concordance”  which is intended to convey an active partnership between the patient and the health care professional, it is primarily used by the Royal
Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Many people are amazed to know the vast amount of users we have using our platform for non illness related health issues. I am talking about the amateur body builders, people with mild stress, people that want to age gracefully (the anti-agists), people that want better cognitive function (the nootranauts), etc. This can be attributed to the ease of use of our platform, the effectiveness of having reminders to help manage goals, and need I say, the fun aspect involved in working on one’s “personalized stack”. Even though a lot of these “treatment stacks” are not generally “prescribed” by health care professionals, an MD is generally there to help “fix you up to get back to normal.” I think the question asked by many quantified-selfers on our platform is “What If I can feel better than I always have, or how do I get to my peak performance?” Being healthy does not generally need to stop at not being sick, but feeling your absolute best at all times, and I think this is where and why “functional medicine” comes into play, it’s about looking at your whole body and making sure everything is running as smoothly as possible at all times. This way you will hopefully not get sick as often but you will also feel better than average as well, something current medicine does not focus too much on.

Patient care is always improving and we want to play a role in helping patients recognize the importance of routines and adherence, by providing patient education and tools that make a positive impact.

Best Anti Aging Serums

TrackMyStack is the tool to be used when one needs to adhere to their medical treatment, we do this via reminders, a journal/diary and charts, and a myriad of other tools to help you manage your treatment such as reviews of treatments and interaction checkers etc — so it should come as no surprise the Anti Aging and Longevity community has started to become more and more active on our site.

Our web app started as a way for anyone to manage their treatment stack in one place, especially those of which that have a chronic condition. Over the months it evolved to help people with their ‘health goals’ as well, which saw a shift in users interested in cognitive enhancement (via nootropic stacks), and now we have added two new sections that we think are critically important to people going through different phases in life, and they are: Anti Aging Stacks and Prenatal Stacks.

Here we will quickly review the Top 5 Anti Aging Serums recommended by experts that we consulted while thinking about adding the Anti Aging section within our stacks database. These facial serums should provide the best bang for the buck and are designed to deliver substances to the skin to keep it looking and feeling great, they are not technically creams and or liquids, thus earning the name serums. The most common chemicals in these pre-mixed supplements are: Vitamin C, Retinol, Vitamin E, Collagen. Vitamin C being the most common as it helps reduce wrinkles and rejuvenates skin without using harsher synthetic chemicals. It in the end you get what you pay for and I would much rather recommend a reputable brand rather than a cheaper alternative (especially when it comes to your face!). Without a further ado, Jennifer F. from the NaturalBeauts blog will be reviewing a few serums, click to see other anti aging treatments.

 

#5 Vitamin C Serum by Xfacio Labs – $43

A topical serum that is highly concentrated and actively bio-available that helps battle any negative side effects from things like aging and sun damage. Prevention is better than the cure, and this is perfect if you want to maintain a youthful look, this serum helps control wrinkles, fine lines, crows feet and parched skin. This is a all natural organic formula which you can feel safe and comfortable using and the results are proven quickly.

#4 – Tranquil Collection Vitamin C Serum – $28

This is a 100% organic vitamin C facial serum for moisturized lips and eyes. The positive reviews for this serum speak for itself. The ingredients in this are: Aloe, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, MSM, Witch Hazel, L-Arginine, Vegetable Glycerin, Jojoba Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin. This is a gentle serum and less irritating than other forms of Vitamin C and thus makes a great choice for those with sensitive skin.

#3 – Image Vital C Hydrating Anti Aging Serum – $44

This serum is in the top 1,000 of all beauty products on Amazon, secondly this is claimed as a clinical grade serum that minimizes and soothes visible effects of environmentally damaging skin. Read this review by an Esthetician’s:

“This product is wonderful for all skin types. Rosacea, aging, sensitive, dehydrated, and even oily and combination. However, please take my advise as a licensed professional who works with these products. Do not buy from online sources. I would recommend going to a spa that sells the product because IMAGE does not sell via online resources. IMAGE only sells to licensed Physicians and Esthetician’s. The product you purchase could be watered down or tampered with anywhere other than its original source.”

#2 – Day by Day Beauty’s Anti Aging Vitamin C Serum for Women – $19

The reviews left for this supplement are overwhelmingly positive, this is a 1 fluid ounce of Day By Day Vitamin C serum that reduces among many things fine lines, and helps fade sun spots. It is a blend of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid. The added bonus of buying this is that it has a 100% money back guarantee.

#1 – Amara Organics Vitamin C Serum with Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin – $16.99

This formula has even more vitamin C than others, to a total of 20% and is gentle and effective. It has only plant-based ingredients, no alcohol, and made in the USA. Currently this is the highest rated serum in the market and worth every penny.

Many cosmetologists recommend these directions in using this top serum:
1) Wash and pat your skin dry.
2) Use toner before the serum if need to be used at all
3) Apply a small amount to face, neck and decollete
4) Use daily as needed.

Well there you have it, reviews of the top 5 anti aging wrinkle serums for your face, that are affordable, safe and healthy. Please leave a review if you try any of these.

Health Diary

Health Diaries

Keeping a health diary can be therapeutic, it can help you track how medication, supplements and your general lifestyle can be affecting your mood, your weight, sleep and overall health & fitness. It also makes it easy for you to discover triggers that may be leading to your flare ups/symptoms. Overtime you can learn and see the pros and cons of particular treatment, realize your true adherence levels and use the journal to keep your caregiver, family and yourself aligned with your health goals. Your ultimate goal should be to:

  1. Analyze – The health problem
  2. Plan – Based on treatment provided by caregiver
  3. Track – Build your treatment stack
  4. Maintain – Daily posts to your journal

Overtime you can see how other patients just like you based on their treatment. Use it as a place for self expression and update it whenever you can as we are mobile friendly and available on the web. It only takes a few minutes to get started and especially if you have a health condition, there is no reason not to maintain one. Instead of maintaining all your notes in your head, you can offload all your health concerns in one place, that is safe and secure. We provide the ability to graph various confounding factors, and measurements from various aspects of your life.

A health diary is not limited to tracking your medicine intake, supplement intake, or sleep, there are various items being tracked by our members. Keep in mind as part of maintaining a high adherence rate, we have information pages to educate you on drugs, supplements, vitamins, and herbs — it doesn’t stop with simply using TrackMyStack as a medicine reminding app.

  • Nutrition Diary
  • Workout Diary
  • Food Allergy Diary
  • Blood Pressure Diary
  • Cardiovascular Disease Diary
  • Weight Loss Diary + Weight Gain (Muscle)
  • Gluten-Free Diary
  • Sexual Health Diary
  • Infant/Baby Health Diary
  • Maternal Health Diary
  • Diabetes Diary

We have a list of main goals that we allow you to track, the top categories are:

  1. Cognitive Enhancement or Tracking Your Nootropics
  2. Increased Energy – Get natural energy levels up
  3. Mood Diary – Mood tracking to feel better, and less depressed, see what the trigger is, and how you felt throughout the month.
  4. Stress Journal – Manage and cope with stress.
  5. Improved Sleep – Record when you slept, and for how long, and if a supplement or drug was useful.
  6. Weight Loss – Track your weight loss journey from start to finish by recording your weight and taking pictures to see a measurable difference.
  7. Build Muscle – Record your daily supplement intake and sleep patterns.
  8. Increase Testosterone – Many things can lead to dropped levels, follow your treatment plan to improve your natural levels.
  9. Preworkout Stacks – Sometimes you need to “get in the zone” before hitting the weights, see which N.O. concoction is effective, other than the obvious.
  10. General Health Tracker – To be used for all chronic conditions, such as: Diabetes, ADHD, among others.
  11. Social Anxiety – There are things people are doing to improve, use their journal as a cornerstone to build your own regimen.
  12. Anti Aging – Some people abide by their supplements and fitness routine as the fountain of youth, see what their entire ‘health stack’ is.
  13. Prenatal & Baby Diary – For your sake and the sake of your new loved one.

Take a look at these two screenshots from a patients health diary that can be viewed by his family, himself and caregiver at anytime from any device for free.

health-journal-screenshot  quantified-self-stack-log

Tracking your progress is the first step is managing your health, click here to start a health diary.