The Investment Scientist

Archive for the ‘Health is Wealth’ Category

I must admit that I used to have a very weak immune system. Every year during flu season, I usually caught the flu twice. While others would get well within a week, my flu symptoms lasted for weeks. The worst part was the endless coughing, all day and night. Not only could I not get good sleep, I also coughed so much that my ribcage hurt. I couldn’t have imagined that I could cure all of that simply by taking cold showers.

I started doing that the year before the Pandemic. Throughout the subsequent two years, while Covid raged through the world, I had to travel frequently between Europe and America since my kids live in Germany. I saw my friends fall ill with Covid one by one, and then all my immediate family fell ill, not once but twice. All throughout that frightening time, I never got sick from Covid, or the cold, or the flu. I have to give the credit to cold showers.

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Ten years ago, I was overweight, my blood lipid profile was quite messed up, with my triglyceride and cholesterol several times the normal level, I was pre-diabetic, my attention was short, my memory was failing, and I got hungry and dizzy easily. 

I tried everything I could think of to remedy the situation. I took medicines and played sports. I tried diets like juicing, vegetarianism, calorie restriction, and many others, all to no avail. Then an acquaintance shared with me that intermittent fasting (IM) had worked magic for her. I decided to give it a try. 

My initial attempt was rather tentative since I was really afraid of hunger. When I was hungry, I got so dizzy that I felt like I could pass out. When that happened, I needed something very sweet like ice cream to bring me back. 

The first change I made was simply to have breakfast one hour later than before. That way, the hunger I felt was totally bearable. Within a month, I had made so much progress that I could combine my breakfast and lunch together and just have brunch. That’s when I started two meals a day (TMAD). 

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Last month, I wrote about how my father is 6 years older than my mom but he looks and moves like he is 30 years younger. This just shows how our calendar ages do not always reflect how old we actually are, or how fast we age. Luckily, there are services out there that can help us figure this out.

These tests are usually called biological age tests. They often involve taking a blood sample, a saliva sample or even just a cheek swab, and analyzing it to determine a person’s biological age. The method by which they determine this can fall into two camps as well, either the phenotypic method or the methylation method. One looks at your biomarkers which correspond to biological age, the other looks at your epigenetic information to determine how old your DNAs are. 

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My dad turned 90 recently and he can still do this move: He can sit down on the floor with his legs crossed and can stand up again without using his hands to assist him. Try it yourself and see if you can do that. It turns out that this simple test predicts your longevity. People who can get up unassisted will live many years longer than people who can not. 

My mother is five years younger than my dad. In contrast to my dad, she can barely walk on a flat floor. Usually, she shuffles and she is so unstable that I am afraid a tiny coin on the floor could trip her up. 

Judging by the way they walk, my dad looks like he is 60, and my mom 90. 

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It has been a few months since I decided to write a newsletter about Health. As I get older, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that health is the ultimate wealth and one can not talk about wealth in isolation of health.

However, I don’t know where to start. My own awareness of the importance of health has been a slow and gradual process. After I first became cognizant of its importance, there was a long process of knowledge acquisition as well as plenty of trial and error on myself.  Following that, there was yet another long process of habit formation. Truth be told, there was no “aha” moment and there was definitely no instant success. Instead, it has been a constant learning and many micro-adjustments over many years

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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