Biohacking Tip #6: What’s Actionable?

Biohacking Tip 6Last week I considered the Origin of Illness.

I made a system map, to portray the role of the microbiome in our health.

That map ended up being a crazy bunch of interacting elements, linked by a tangle of arrows and feedback loops, leading to a sort of doomsday scenario of increasingly crappier outcomes.

It was a spaghetti diagram~.

Just contemplating it is stress-provoking.

And stress leads to elevated cortisol levels, which leads to gut dysbiosis, intestinal permeability & inflammation.

And we want none of those things.

Which is why this post is going to deconstruct that spaghetti diagram and get us on a more positive footing with this whole situation.

But before we start the deconstruction, here it is:

Microbiome 4

(For a break-down & explanation see The Origin of Illness).

Deconstruction

Before the deconstruction begins, let’s acknowledge that this map is incomplete.

It omits unknown system elements. We don’t know what they are, so we can’t map them.

It also ignores known system elements, like mitochondria and blood sugar.

Like any model, it’s a simplification.

One day I’ll create a more comprehensive one. More elements. More arrows.

But the working hypothesis here is that what’s good for the microbiome is good for the body.

And in any case, there’s plenty to take action on here.

Constructing & Deconstructing a System Map

Anytime we encounter a complex system, we can attempt to understand it through mapping.

Once it’s mapped, we can identify which elements are actionable. To help us change it.

Last week I created a system map. This week, I’ll identify the actionable elements. They’re yellow:

Actionable Microbiome 1

Clarification: ‘Actionable’ doesn’t mean you can control these elements. It just means that you can try.

Necessary Caesarean births happen.

Some of us need to take life-saving or pain-reducing drugs.

As adults, we can’t change the method of our birth or the type of food we ate as children.

So, the yellow elements are potentially actionable. Starting from the beginning of life.

But let’s simply things further and just focus on what adults can do to hack their own biology in the present.

Here are those present-tense action-items for adults, in green:

Actionable Microbiome 2

But this spaghetti diagram just got worse, right? More boxes, more arrows.

Here’s the fun part~.

Even though we’ve established that we’re adults, this is where we get to be preschoolers. After building this elaborate tower, we get to knock the whole thing down.

Even better, we get to keep the all good stuff (the green bits) & toss out the nasty parts (everything else).

After the creative deconstruction, here’s what remains:

Actionable Microbiome 3

There it is. The protocol. Yours & mine.

Next post, I’ll explore these elements, including a quick tour of the blogosphere to find out what our favorite Health & Optimization experts have to say about each of them~.

But first a quick overview. Of how to change.

Create Change

Some steps for creating intentional change in complex systems:

  1. Understand the system;
  2. Identify what is actionable;
  3. Assess leverage;
  4. Take action;
  5. Observe impacts & measure outcomes; and
  6. Repeat.

The Origin of Illness helped with the first step: understanding the system.

This post tackled the second: Determining what is actionable. We’ll begin to explore those actionable elements in The Microbiome: The Protocol.

And soon we’ll consider #3: Assessing leverage~.

I’ve already covered #5: Observing Impacts & Measuring Outcomes in previous Biohacking Posts, including in Biohacking Tip #1: Gather Data.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “Biohacking Tip #6: What’s Actionable?

  1. Pingback: The Origin of Illness (the Microbiome~) | petra8paleo

  2. I am loving your posts Petra. Here’s an item of interest for present tense action items. Under stress management, a new model of psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems (IFS) recently published a study showing RA symptoms decreased after IFS treatment (http://www.selfleadership.org/ifs-rheumatology-study.html). Also, here is an account of someone who, unable to heal the last seemingly entrenched symptoms of auto-immune illness through diet, did so through the Work of Byron Katie (https://batgap.com/phil-escott/). Not that any of this works for everyone or all symptoms. Just another pointing to the link between unhealed psychic wounds / core dysfunctional beliefs and physical illness. I personally have experienced greatly increased health and decreased stress using these modalities.

    • Thanks, Meg.I am also really interested in trauma and illness, including how this link is portrayed by Gabor Maté in his book When the Body Says No http://drgabormate.com/topic/mindbody-health/. That is one reason I want to bring research about the microbiome together with neurological research, particularity how toxic stress during childhood impacts the development of brain architecture with long-term health implications. Now that we know this stuff, we need to do a much better job of protecting and nurturing our children (ALL of our children) to ensure better health outcomes in future generations~.

  3. marta

    I am so lucky to have found your blog. It’s genuis. Thank you.

  4. Jennifer

    I look forward to your posts every week.
    Thank you very much.

  5. First chunk it up, then chunk it down. This series is pretty compelling, Petra.

    I’m also a fan of your ‘mindful caffeine use’. Just saying 🙂

  6. Pingback: The Microbiome: the Protocol | petra8paleo

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