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Better Metabolism

The Genetic Engineering Diet :)
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I see someone else posted a separate idea concerning Vitamin C. That idea concerns using genetic engineering to give humans back the machinery that most animals (other than primates) have, to internally produce Vitamin C. No more scurvy! I'm all for that, too! (Actually, I had independently thought of it years ago.) Furthermore: why stop at fixing up the body to make Vitamin C? Why not include the genetic machinery to make ALL the vitamins? AND all the "essential" amino acids, too?

And UnaBubba suggested that the body might be fixed up to more thoroughly process all the biological matter that it deals with, and I think that's a fine idea. As an example, consider the fact that when some internal body cell dies, the pieces usually get carted off to the intestinal tract for disposal. Instead, why not ensure that the pieces become fuel? Only the most difficult-to-use stuff should be discarded. And on the input side, while I don't know if we want the genes of bacteria that ruminants use to digest grass for them, we could consider it. Would YOU eat grass if you knew you could survive on it, and you were in the midst of a shortage of ordinary foods? According to some things I've read, various desperate people HAVE tried it at various times and places...not very successfully, I might add.

quarterbaker requested "Improved conscious awareness of nutritional needs" -- and I think that that may not be necessary if we can build in the genes for all the essential vitamins and amino acids. Still, knowing that you are low on iron or calcium or potassium or some other mineral would indeed be good. Equally detailed awareness of metabolic conditions should go hand-in-hand with voluntary metabolic control -- you could lose weight easily by turning up the Basal Metabolic Rate, you could kill cancer by telling them to burn calories at TOO HIGH a rate (cellular overheating), and other neat tricks.

Also, such control may help solve other physical problems that various people have. How fine a voluntary control can we achieve? While I suspect that biofeedback training might be necessary for people to get the fullest benefit from conscious metabolic rate control, if precision is attainable, then such things as bone spurs could be dissolved <in vivo>. In a way, this also connects to my Telomerase Production Hormone post, because to rebuild a broken body involves more than metabolizing the the stuff that is getting in your way -- you also have to make new cells take the places of the old. Without control of telomerase, there is a limit to how many generations of new cells that once can have. I should also mention here that much of this part of this idea was pretty thoroughly described in the science fiction novel "Threshhold", by David R. Palmer. (It was written before telomerase was discovered, though....)

angel mentioned a buoyancy problem, which possibly is related to having too little body fat. Body fat is the main reason why humans tend to float -- I've read that all the other large primates cannot swim and have so little body fat that they would drown easily. In general, women have more body fat than men, and appear 'softer' and 'curvier' than men in consequence -- and they usually tend to float better than men, too. Easy/ voluntary metabolic-rate control could fix anyone suffering from low body fat -- if they were willing to gain some weight, that is. Cultural conditioning may have to be overcome, before some people will accept such a notion!

Vernon, Aug 24 2001

Genetic Engineering Idea Moratorium http://www.halfbake...20Idea_20Moratorium
Vernon, you're my inspiration [-alx, Aug 24 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       I thought this was going to be about speeding up the metabolism so we could eat more and still stay thin and lovely. No, I wouldn't like this. You could never eat cake with all these "improvements"
futurebird, Aug 24 2001

       no... you could still eat it and it would be used more eficiently... infact with the ability to produce vitamins we might never need to eat sprouts again...
RobertKidney, Aug 24 2001

       Sorry, where's the idea? All I can see is several paragraphs stuffed with WIBNIs. Saying we could use genetic engineering to manufacture all vitamins and amino acids is one thing, but then you move onto "Improved conscious awareness of nutritional needs" and "voluntary metabolic-rate control".   

       Where's even the hint of a mechanism for doing something like this? Yet again you're waving the genetic engineering wand, though now you've moved on from using it for meddling with organs and are trying to apply it to our consciousness.
-alx, Aug 24 2001

       I'm sure it is. Every time my sister got pregnant, she craved Heinz Cream of Tomato soup. No other brand would do. If she had some other brand, she couldn't tell the difference by the taste, but the craving didn't go away.
angel, Aug 24 2001

       I crave cheese and fish frequently, but unless I'm an unwitting example of one of Vernon's future postings ("Male Pregnancy?"), there are probably more prosaic reasons.
-alx, Aug 24 2001

       -alx, welcome to the world of biofeedback. The main problem has always been how to get some part of your body that you want to consciously control, to provide you with information about its current state, so that you can mentally try different things until you can affect that state, and thereby acquire control.   

       Such control as described in the idea is probably going to be easy ONLY AFTER lots of biofeedback training. Where genetic engineering comes into this picture, is that we could give every cell in the body a direct neural connection. The standard way a cell in distress cries for help is to emit some chemical or other, that has to trigger the right receptor somewhere else, and it is not an efficient process. Give every cell a minimum amount of neural circuitry, let 'em all connect to the main nervous system, and now you'd have all sorts of extra potential. Depending on just how much neural circuitry we can add without interfering with the ordinary specialized task of the average cell, there could be enough two-way data flow that your whole body becomes an extension of your brainpower. You'd NEED it to keep track of those trillion cells! But you WOULD be able to know exactly where in the body something needs conscious attention/control....
Vernon, Aug 24 2001

       Yeah, you got my vote.   

       I think that the benefits of this idea are: (1) reduced intake requirements (2) improved efficiency of energy extraction from input (3) broader range of ingestibles (4) voluntary and conscious control of body nutrient levels. This couldessentially eliminate hunger where traditional food is scarce, end obesity (except for those who truly want to be obese), and greatly improve overall health.
quarterbaker, Aug 24 2001

       [UB] I've had an obsession for pizza with anchovies for years, and have been developing one for smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels recently...I'm hoping I haven't been deficient in various nutrients for over a decade, as it would have worrying implications for my health.   

       Whereas eating lots of pizza out of gluttony has only a positive effect on my well-being.   

       [Vernon] I'm aware of biofeedback, and have on occasion been able to consciously control my heart rate whilst meditating.   

       Giving every cell in the body neural circuitry would involve redesigning the entire human body, most extensively in the brain, and I can't personally see there'd be much benefit in that. There's no real call for us to be able to control things on the level of individual cells, as activities and serious problems are almost invariably on a much grander scale than this.
-alx, Aug 24 2001

       Well, we've all gotta go somehow, and if I can cram in enough nice food in the meantime, perhaps I can reach enlightenment.
-alx, Aug 24 2001

       //give every cell in the body neural circuitry//   

       Wilhelm Reich, anybody??
quarterbaker, Aug 24 2001

       Vernon, congratulations on a capital post which contains no fully captilizatized words. I believe that while the human body does a wonderful job of utilizing its resources and sends us signals that we are negligent of for the most part - at the very least - there may be one person amongst us who will improve their diet or routine to bring their bodies into a better balance than their previous state by thinking a little after reading into cultural conditioning - and doing something about it.
thumbwax, Aug 24 2001

       Yet another 'Wouldn't it be neat if genetic engineering...'
StarChaser, Aug 25 2001

       I can see the headline, "Dummy Maker Sued"   

       -- A silicon valley manufacturer of anatomically correct medical practice dummies received notice of the filing of a multi-million dollar personal injury suit alleging, in part, that the plaintiff suffered severe and permanent injury when a multifunctional dummy "slapped the bejeezus" out of a participant in basic life support training. "She was cross trained in marital self defense," stated a company representative, "and we're assuming the plaintiff triggered a waking response." Another employee of the company who wished to remain unidentified said, "Taking care of people was so much easier when they had spells of helplessness. Now that we've blurred the border between awareness and unawareness, the need to vacation from technology is becoming more apparent." The dummy has been reassigned to a counseling post.
reensure, Aug 26 2001


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