What is a SuperOrganism™?
Superorganism is a technical term in the biological sciences that refers to the fact that all living organisms are actually a symbiotic relationship of thousands of organisms sharing the same physical space. At least half the cells in the human body are actually the cells of microorganisms, and well upwards of 95% of the genetic material in the human body is microbial.
We also think of the SuperOrganism™ in the literal sense of an organism with superpowers. When you consider all the different benefits of a healthy microbiome, it’s almost as if the different types of metabolic output possible are like power-ups in a video game. Better mood, increase mental clarity, more energy, better digestion, more stamina, stronger immune system, longer life with lower incidence of chronic disease, and the list goes on and on.
Although we were initially inspired by all of the exciting new research on the relationship between the microbiome and human health, our concept of the SuperOrganism™ includes the following mutually interacting parts:
- Genome: This is what we have typically thought of as the sum total of ourselves. Natural approaches to wellness do not alter the genome, but they may help protect it from damage. Although genes are not necessarily destiny, they do create the broad parameters within which we thrive. Certain normal variations in the genome know as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may impact functions such as carbohydrate, fat, alcohol, and caffeine metabolism. This is a major reason why people vary in their responses to the things they ingest.
- Microbiome: This refers to the other thousands of species that inhabit the surface and linings of the human body. The microbiome is responsible for significant aspects of human metabolism. It responds rapidly and significantly to lifestyle changes.
- Epigenome: This refers to the signals that regulate different portions of the genome in relation to environmental signals such as food, stress, pollution, etc. Sustained positive changes in lifestyle can significantly alter the epigenome in ways that impact the longevity and quality of life and sometime even pass on these changes to their offspring.
What makes SuperOrganism™ a scientific approach to optimal health?
SuperOrganism™ is a tool that enables you to run experiments to analyze the correlations between dietary choices and health outcomes.
- The scientific method begins with observations leading to hypotheses that are tested with experiments.
- A hypothesis is essentially an educated guess about the relationship between at least two variables.
- For example, eating a certain type of food is an input and one’s subjective sense of pain is an output.
- An experiment is a process to test hypotheses. For example, one might hypothesize that the consumption of gluten-containing foods results in an increase in the subjective sense of chronic pain.
- Hypotheses can tested by gathering a sufficient amount of data on both the inputs and outputs being studied.
- SuperOrganism™ provides a way to collect data on dietary inputs and well-being outputs and then displays those relationships in actionable charts and diagrams.
Why does the SuperOrganism™ tracker collect only the information it does?
In order for people to use the system regularly, we decided to limit the required daily input to that which we believe is absolutely essential for making the correlations and recommendations we do. The project is currently in beta and will be refined over time.
How long until my detailed analysis is ready?
- You will begin to see your SuperOrganism™ score after entering a single day of data. However, a single day of data is not a pattern. The score becomes actionable after three days of data in close proximity (within a rolling 7 days).
- Food/Symptom analysis: symptom has occurred at least three times in the past 30 days.
- Food/Rating analysis: foods eaten at least three times in the queried period (last seven days by default).
- Food Plate analysis: at least three days of data in the queried period (last seven days by default).
How long will it take to see changes?
This varies, largely based upon your baseline presentation and current diet.
If you have been generally been diligent about following general guidelines for diet, exercise, and sleep, you will probably begin to notice positive changes in the functioning of your gastrointestinal tract and your wellness SuperOrganism™ score in about a week.
If you’re in average health and do not regularly consume fiber-containing or fermented foods, the process will be longer. This is because you should increase the consumption of fiber and fermented foods slowly. If you do not increase the consumption of these foods slowly, the sudden alteration to the composition of your gut microbiota can be uncomfortable.
Changes will take place first in the functioning of your digestive tract. After your gut has healed up a bit, there will be beneficial systemic effects as inflammatory molecules are no longer able to break through the gut barrier into the bloodstream.
If weight loss is your goal, it is only after the restoration of microbial balance and gut healing that you may begin to experience sustained weight loss with a reduction in food cravings and increasing energy.
What is the significance of the Weekly Plant Foods counter?
You can enable the weekly plant foods counter in your settings.
Recent research on the microbiome across many different world cultures has shown that the most common variable is that people with the most diverse microbiomes producing the most beneficial metabolites consume 30 or more different fiber-containing plants per week.
Each specific food should be counted separately. For example, if you have black beans on one day and pinto beans on another day, that counts as two. Do not list any types of animal foods (for example, eggs, dairy, meat, fish). Also, do not include any type of added sweetener, even if it is technically unprocessed. Although condiments, herbs, and spices do contain pre-biotics in their whole plant form, the amounts they are used in are insignificant for the purposes of this count. So, do not include them here. The weekly total is displayed on your SuperOrganism™ dashboard.
How is the SuperOrganism™ score calculated?
The SuperOrganism™ score is calculated using a proprietary algorithm that considers your wellness ratings (such as energy or mood) and symptoms/signs (such as G.I. status and bowel movement type). The current day’s score is always based on the previous seven days of data (unless you do not yet have seven days of data). Changes in diet do not directly affect the score unless those changes also cause changes to your wellness ratings or symptoms/signs.
What do the food/ratings graphs mean?
The food/ratings graphs visualize the relationship between certain food types and various measures of wellness, such as energy level and mood. We use a proprietary algorithm to determine the top three foods each week that correlate with poor ratings in one or more of the measured areas. The graphs then display the relationship between those three foods and the wellness ratings during the period of evaluation. The way to determine which of the foods are true culprits is by temporarily reducing or eliminating certain food types and then reassessing the analysis after a period of time. This is often referred to as an elimination diet.
What do the food/symptom diagrams mean?
The food/symptom diagrams show the relationship between symptoms experienced in the past 30 days and the most likely foods that correlate with those symptoms. The overlapping portion of the diagrams is a visual representation of the percentage of time that each symptom was experienced when one consumed a certain type of food on the same day. The size of each circle in the diagram reflects the number of times a food was eaten or a symptom was experienced during the evaluation period. In many cases, more than one food will appear as a possible culprit. When multiple foods are all potentially culprits, the way to determine which of the foods are true culprits is by temporarily reducing or eliminating certain food types and then reassessing the analysis after a period of time. This is often referred to as an elimination diet.
What do the food plate graphs mean?
The food plate analysis can be enabled in your settings.
The food plate analysis is based on the recommended proportions of food types according to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). An extensive body of research over a 50 year period of time indicates that many people will benefit from a dietary composition that is pretty close to the plate. However, based on personal differences and environmental factors, some people may do better with more or less of any of the four food groups. This section will help you determine what works best for you. The plate analysis graphs allow you to visualize how variations in plate composition correlate with your daily wellness ratings and symptoms/signs. You should not use the plate analysis to adapt your diet to the “standard” plate. You should instead be modifying your dietary composition to optimize your wellness ratings.
NOTE: We have not modified the “plate” diagram in any way. The HSPH recommends to limit the consumption of red meat and cheese, so they are separated from the other healthy proteins. This is merely so the consumption of proteins high in saturated fat can be tracked separately. It is not meant to indicate these foods are inherently unhealthy. Moderate consumption of these foods is not associated with adverse effects for most people and may often be the best way for some people to obtain certain nutrients.
Why is your approach to assessing the status of the SuperOrganism™ valid?
SuperOrganism™ is based on a diet tracking approach to personalized wellness. Diet tracking has been extensively studied and shown to be a highly accurate way to associate food and other lifestyle choices with subjective and objective changes in well-being.
The measures of wellness used in the SuperOrganism™ tracker are based upon insights derived from the study of multiple traditional healing systems as well as corresponding modern research.
Modern research shows there is a close relationship between the microbiome and general health and wellness. Research has also demonstrated that signs and symptoms along the digestive tract are clearly indicative of the current state of the microbiome.
Why doesn’t your method involves any lab testing?
The general consensus of researchers in this area is that we are as yet unable to do a comprehensive modern biological assessment of the condition of the microbiome that yields actionable information to the average person in their homes on a daily basis. So, we have chosen to emphasize a low-tech, holistic, and time-tested approach to assessment, tracking, and regimen.
Lab testing is also expensive and inconvenient. That being said, improvement in one’s SuperOrganism™ score does not prove that there has been a change in the diversity of one’s microbiome. All else being equal, it does mean you are moving in the direction of better health.
Is there any specific research to back up your method?
Yes, check out our SuperOrganism™ References page, where we link to articles in multiple categories, such as research on the impact of diet and various herbal medicines on the microbiome as well as how certain signs and symptoms in the digestive tract correlate with changes in the microbiome.
How many people have used this method?
Todd Luger, the founder of SuperOrganism™, was a licensed healthcare practitioner for 13 years. The SuperOrganism™ method is a distillation of Todd’s 30+ years of experience in natural healthcare. Todd has treated thousands of patients over the years, all of whom were assessed for the composition and quality of their diet, as it correlated with subjective and objective measures of well-being,
Is this website HIPAA compliant?
Should I take a probiotic?
We believe that most people will benefit from a probiotic that has been designed based on extensive clinical research showing physiological effect and clinical effectiveness of the bacterial species included in their product. The obvious arguments against the necessity of probiotics is that “our ancestors didn’t have them” or isn’t “fermented food good enough?”
It’s definitely true that our ancestors didn’t have them unless you consider fermented food to be an adequate probiotic. Most research shows that other than fermented dairy, most fermented foods do not have probiotic effects. At least not according to the standard definition [link to citation].
What it really comes down to is early life seeding. Considerable research shows that children who are not born vaginally and/or not breast-fed and/or are given repeated rounds of antibiotics in early life may not develop a fully functional microbiome. Furthermore, it may not be possible to fully seed a defective microbiome later in life. So, both a correct diet and the right probiotic are probably necessary to achieve optimal SuperOrganism™ health.
Is raw food better than cooked food?
Evidence suggests that there is no benefit to the microbiome from eating raw food. That being said, the SuperOrganism™ tracker is designed to accommodate all diets from raw food vegan to carnivore. In fact, one of the main purposes of using this approach to health and fitness tracking is so you can assess your own state of health in relation to your preferred diet.
Do you recommend a particular diet?
A compelling body of evidence supports a diet that is mostly plant-based. However, we believe there is equally compelling evidence that at least a small amount of animal products should be included in the diet. There’s certainly no evidence to suggest that continuing to consume relatively small amounts of animal products in the diet has any detrimental effect. There’s also some indication that genetic variation plays a role.
Depending on your ancestry, you may be more or less tolerant of saturated animal fat. So, our general perspective is to start with something akin to a Mediterranean diet and then use the tracker to see what happens as you play around with the proportions of grain to protein, etc. Your weekly SuperOrganism™ score isn’t calculatedly what you do. It is calculated using a proprietary algorithm assessing factors such as your mood, your energy, your pain level, etc. As such, the method can accommodate all diets from raw food vegan to carnivore.
Does how a food is prepared make a difference in how my SuperOrganism™ responds to it?
Yes, definitely. It is widely reported that people who are otherwise unable to consume dairy tolerate yogurt with live cultures in it. Many people find that they may not tolerate a certain food raw but can tolerate it when cooked, pickled, marinated, fermented, or cultured, etc. In fact, most people report better responses to a wider range of foods when those foods are not consumed raw. Fruits are a general exception to this rule. Raw nuts and seeds are also well tolerated by many.
Once again, the SuperOrganism™ method will allow you to determine what types of foods in the general composition of your diet are optimum for your SuperOrganism™.
I am experiencing discomfort in my digestive tract, an increase in mucus production, and/or periodic drops in my SuperOrganism™ score.
Generally, there is no reason to be concerned. When you start depriving some of the “bad” microorganisms in your digestive track of their preferred foods, such as sugar, saturated fat, and dairy, they are going to fight to survive. During this time, you may experience some mild abdominal discomfort and quite a bit of flatulence. The best advice at this point is to make no further changes in your diet for a few days. Generally, the symptoms will subside and you will reach a new plateau of well-being. If you want to get some gentle relief along the way, you could try some ginger extract or traditional digestive bitters.
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