A new health startup boldly claims to reverse diabetes without drugs, and Silicon Valley’s favorite diet is a big part of it


ketogenic keto diet review 5375

  • Sami Inkinen, who founded the Silicon Valley real-estate company Trulia, recently moved into healthcare with a startup called Virta Health.
  • Virta makes a bold claim that its medication-free approach can reverse Type 2 diabetes.
  • Patients enrolled in the Virta Health system get access to specialists via smartphone and are prompted to follow a ketogenic diet.
  • Inkinen hopes to eventually expand Virta to tackle other conditions beyond diabetes. 

Sami Inkinen, the founder of the real-estate startup Trulia, recently took an approach to his health that’s increasingly common in the Silicon Valley startup world: He got sick, got better, then made it his mission to help other people follow in his footsteps.

Inkinen, a 5-foot-11, 183-pound athlete, had just finished his seventh Ironman when a physician diagnosed him with prediabetes, a common precursor to the full-blown disease.

While regular exercise may help reduce the risk of developing prediabetes and diabetes, which together affect more than 100 million Americans, it can’t prevent the conditions — things like what you eat and your genetics play roles as well. Inkinen set out to find out what else he could change to reduce his risk. Diet emerged as vital.

"You can’t outrun or out-exercise poor nutrition choices," Inkinen told Business Insider. "It is not going to work."

Inkinen founded a company, Virta Health, that aims to give people with Type 2 diabetes access to the tools he used when he learned he was prediabetic — an approach Inkinen says can reverse the disease.

"We take chronic disease from care to cure, and we’ve proven that," he said.

Chief among those tools, which can all be accessed through a smartphone or a laptop, is a team of trained medical professionals who manage patient care remotely via text and video chat.

The other key component of the Virta Health toolkit is a new way of eating, a plan known as the ketogenic, or "keto," diet. The low-carb, high-fat regimen centers on rich foods like eggs, salmon, meat, and avocados while severely restricting fast-fuel items like rice, potatoes, bread, fruit, and sweets.

While some call the diet extreme, Inkinen uses a different word: freedom.

"It’s been liberating to not have cravings, to not think about food all the time," he said. "When I look back, I think, ‘How did I suffer for so long?’"

‘The Virta Treatment’

texting eating friends

In a nutshell, the Virta Health system is a specialty medical clinic that patients can access any time of day by logging into the platform on their laptop or smartphone.

Virta isn’t cheap — without insurance, it costs $500 to start and $199 each month after that. But the company says most of its users get free access via their employer’s health plan.

To help patients enrolled in Virta transition to and stick with a ketogenic eating plan, they get partnered with a physician and a health coach who coordinate and monitor their diet, exercise, and medications. Patients talk with providers over video chat and text message about what they’re eating, how well they’re sleeping, and what medications they’re taking.

Specialists, in turn, give patients pointers on lifestyle changes designed to help them regain control of their blood-sugar levels. In the diabetes universe, stable blood sugar — often measured using a tool called A1C — is the holy grail of wellness. Increased energy, weight loss, and improved sleep tend to emerge as side effects of that objective.

Inkinen points to several peer-reviewed studies that appear to back up Virta’s approach to treating diabetes.

For a clinical trial published last month in the journal Diabetes Therapy, researchers from Virta and three US universities followed 349 adults with Type 2 diabetes for a year. Half were enrolled in the Virta system, while half chose to follow their typical treatment protocol, such as a low-fat or low-carb diet and regular insulin injections.

After a year, the overall improvements in the Virta group were significant: On average, participants lost 12% of their body weight, reduced their use of medications like insulin, and saw their A1C levels decline by roughly 1.4%. The other group saw no change on average in any of those measures.

Still, because the study was funded by Virta and written by people with a financial stake in the company, its findings must be taken with a grain of salt. (Similarly, most Weight Watchers research is funded internally, though it gets published in peer-reviewed journals.)

But the idea of using the ketogenic diet as part of what Inkinen calls the Virta Treatment didn’t come from nowhere. Several short-term, non-Virta-sponsored studies of the eating plan — some of them in people with diabetes — suggest it’s linked with significant improvements in health. Those benefits include weight loss in non-diabetics, better blood-sugar control, improved A1C measures, and reductions in medications for people with diabetes.

How the keto diet turns your body into a fat-burning machine

weight loss body scale

The ketogenic diet is designed to flip your body’s source of energy so that rather than drawing from carb-heavy foods like rice and potatoes, it pulls its fuel from fat.

Followers are encouraged to eat large amounts of fat and protein from things like meat, salmon, and eggs. Keto bloggers who share tips online frequently boast about their favorite "fat bombs" — rich concoctions of low-carb veggies like cauliflower loaded with butter, cheese, and bacon — which help them power through the day.

The meal plan essentially turns the traditional Western diet — with its emphasis on grains — on its head. 

To understand how the keto diet works, you should know that most of our food contains carbs. They’re an easy fuel source, and one our bodies are accustomed to using. The carbs in fruit come from naturally occurring sugars; those in potatoes, veggies, and pasta come from starches. They’re all ultimately broken down into sugar, or glucose, for energy.

When robbed of carbs, the body is tricked into believing it is starving and turns to fat as an alternate source of fuel. In the process of digging into its fat stores, the body releases molecules called ketones; hence the name "ketogenic" or "ketone-producing" diet. This state is known as nutritional ketosis.

This is why, as long as you’re not eating carbs, you can ramp up your intake of fatty foods like butter, steak, and cheese and still lose weight. The body becomes a fat-melting machine, churning out ketones to keep running.

Getting into nutritional ketosis requires fully adopting the keto diet, which is not easy for everyone. It can take the body several days of fully keto eating just to start transitioning. In the meantime, some early adopters of the plan have described a range of unpleasant side effects, like cravings and fluctuations in energy. That’s where Virta’s 24/7 approach to remote care comes in.

"This is not a one size fits all approach," Inkinen said. "This is highly individualized and managed by full-time physicians. That part of the treatment is not optional."

Recent studies on keto and diabetes are promising

healthy fats ketogenic keto diet

Some researchers who support the keto approach point to a growing body of research that suggests a ketogenic diet works better than other leading diets for people with Type 2 diabetes.

In a small six-month study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, 84 people were randomly split up and placed on a ketogenic diet or a low-carb diet. The ones on the keto plan saw better improvements in blood-sugar control and eased their use of medications like insulin more than people on the low-carb diet.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research stacked the keto diet against a low-fat diet and concluded that people on the keto diet lost more weight, had better A1C measures after eight months, and were also significantly more likely to stick to the keto plan.

Laura Saslow, an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Michigan, has studied the use of low-carb and ketogenic diets for several years. She told Business Insider that she fully supports Virta’s approach to treating Type 2 diabetes and said it can be "quite effective."

For these reasons, Virta’s chief medical officer and co-founder Stephen Phinney, a practicing internal medicine physician in Sacramento, has called the ketogenic diet "life-saving." But Phinney also serves on the advisory board for Atkins, a diet program whose claims of fast, easy weight loss are not heavily backed by scientific studies.

The jury is still out on the keto diet — but Virta is plowing ahead

But despite promising results from short studies, there are still no long-term human studies of the keto eating plan — which is enough to give some researchers pause.

Edward Weiss, a kinesiologist at St. Louis University and the lead author of a recent study on the diet, previously told Business Insider that the keto diet was a scary "experiment that the population is doing on itself."

Inkinen likes to counter that kind of sentiment by pointing out that the current American diet is also kind of an experiment — and it "hasn’t turned out well."

Inkinen hopes Virta can help address the lack of long-term studies on keto with its own research. A current clinical trial that they had slated to run for two years has been extended to run for five, he said.

Inkinen also sees the potential to expand the company’s unconventional remote approach, which gives patients access to a team of specialists who can be reached on their smartphone or computer, to treat more than just Type 2 diabetes. The company is currently studying whether the Virta treatment can work for a range of other conditions in the metabolic family, including chronic inflammation, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, prediabetes, and cardiovascular health.

This month, the company published another internally funded peer-reviewed paper, which suggested that people with Type 2 diabetes using the Virta intervention saw improvements in a number of factors related to cardiovascular health, including blood pressure.

"There are all these places where we have multibillion dollar drugs to treat the symptoms but nothing to address the underlying cause. If we can do this with Type 2 diabetes, what if we could have impact in all of these areas?" Inkinen said. "That would be amazing."

SEE ALSO: Scientists think they’ve discovered a fourth type of fuel for humans — beyond carbs, fat, and protein

DON’T MISS: A little-known technology that Fitbit and Apple are exploring could be the answer to healthy eating and peak performance

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s how the American diet has changed in the last 52 years

from SAI https://read.bi/2G9yWYf

Hacker Kevin Mitnick shows how to bypass 2FA


A new exploit allows hackers to spoof two-factor authentication requests by sending a user to a fake login page and then stealing the username, password, and session cookie.

KnowBe4 Chief Hacking Officer Kevin Mitnick showed the hack in a public video. By convincing a victim to visit a typo-squatting domain liked “LunkedIn.com” and capturing the login, password, and authentication code, the hacker can pass the credentials to the actual site and capture the session cookie. Once this is done the hacker can login indefinitely. This essentially uses the one time 2FA code as a way to spoof a login and grab data.

“A white hat hacker friend of Kevin’s developed a tool to bypass two-factor authentication using social engineering tactics – and it can be weaponized for any site,” said Stu Sjouwerman, KnowBe4 CEO. “Two-factor authentication is intended to be an extra layer of security, but in this instance, we clearly see that you can’t rely on it alone to protect your organization.”

White hat hacker Kuba Gretzky created the system, called evilginx, and describes its implementation in a wonderfully thorough post on his site.

Sjouwerman notes that anti-phishing education is deeply important and that a hack like this is impossible to complete if the victim is savvy about security and the dangers of clicking links that come into your email box. To demonstrate this, Sjouwerman sent me an email seemingly addressed to me from Matt Burns (matt@techcrunch.com) talking about a typo in a post. When I clicked on it I was transferred to a SendGrid redirect site and dumped into TechCrunch – but the payload could have been more nefarious.

“This highlights the need for new-school security awareness training and simulated phishing because people are truly your last line of defense,” said Sjouwerman. He estimates that hackers will begin trying this technique in the next few weeks and urges users and IT managers to harden their security protocols.

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2jR5Xja

Camera Basics – Two Video Tutorials to Help You Master Your Camera Settings


Okay so you’ve got a new camera and want to learn some camera basics, these two video tutorials will give you a hand. Or perhaps you’ve been shooting for a while and want to get off Auto mode – this applies to you as well.

Camera Basics

In this first video, Peter McKinnon explains the three parts of the exposure triangle in an easy to understand format.

Understanding Exposure

Next, in this second video, Tony Northrup demonstrates the basics of exposure and how the elements of the exposure triangle work together.

One thing he explains well is how adjusting just one of the three parts of the exposure triangle doesn’t make the photo darker or brighter when using one of the auto or semi-automatic modes.

Tony encourages you to watch his demonstration and then set up a similar arrangement in your home and try the experiments yourself. This is a great way to learn so that you can really see the results of changing the various settings and understand how they work.

The post Camera Basics – Two Video Tutorials to Help You Master Your Camera Settings appeared first on Digital Photography School.

from Digital Photography School http://bit.ly/2Iv2xAL

It’s impossible to be unique, but here’s how to find your own style


You’ll often hear that it’s important to find your unique style if you want to be a successful photographer or filmmaker. But Matti Haapoja argues that being completely unique is impossible. In spite of it, he believes you can still develop your own style and be a successful creative. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well, it actually makes sense, and Matti discusses some of the things you need to be aware of if you want to create a recognizable photography or filming style.

It takes time

Matti says that has been filming videos for about eight or nine years so far, and he estimates that he’s made over 400 of them. But people often want to develop their unique style after filming only a couple of videos or doing a few photo shoots. And this is wrong from the very beginning. You won’t develop your own style if you’re just starting out – but that’s okay.

It takes time to learn and try out different things and find out what you like. Eventually, you’ll learn to incorporate different techniques into your work in a unique way. And still, it probably won’t be completely unique, which Matti explains further.

Having your own style without being unique? What does it mean?

There are some vloggers, movie directors, and photographers whose work you see and immediately know it’s theirs, right? Still, even they use some elements that are similar to someone else’s work. Matti explains that these elements are just consistent enough and combined in a certain way which makes these content creators recognizable.

It’s ok to imitate… Sometimes

Inspiration or imitation? Well, while you’re still learning, many would argue that even imitation is okay (as long as you don’t try to sell the idea as your own). If you like someone’s style, this is a chance to do a breakdown of what they do. Think about what exactly you like about their work: is it the mood, the angles, the colors, the stories? Then think about why you like these elements and what they are telling. Finally, think about how these elements are achieved. You can pick out only certain things that you particularly like and incorporate them into your work to create something new. From this point on, it’s important to be consistent with your style if you want it to be recognizable.

Be yourself

It’s difficult to create something so unique that no one has ever created it before. But here’s something that is completely unique: you. The way you think, feel, see the world; your attitudes and personality, and stories you want to tell: have them in mind and incorporate them into your work. This is what adds the uniqueness to your photos, videos or whatever you’re creating.

Matti adds that it’s okay if you still haven’t fully figured out who you are, he hasn’t either (and I can relate to that). This is a process that also takes time and as you discover yourself, you’ll discover and build your own creative style along the way.

The moral of the story is that nothing happens overnight. It takes time to find your own style, and it’s okay for it to take time. In the beginning, focus on mastering your craft. As time goes by, you’ll develop your own style as well. Don’t worry about it so much. Just shoot a lot, practice, and don’t forget to have fun doing it.

[Being unique is impossible! How To Find Your STYLE | Matti Haapoja]

from DIYPhotography.net -Hacking Photography, One Picture At A Time http://bit.ly/2rJ2hEH

Buttons from the future don’t need sewing on


Think ‘zip-tie for buttons’ and you’ll get the brainwave that is the FastButton. Designed to be an easy, effective, and needle-free solution for a popped button, the FastButton takes less than a minute to put on, stays longer than conventional buttons… and doesn’t need ANY threadworking skills.

The innovative plastic zip-tie/cable-tie lets you fasten your button on and secure it in place using a one-way sawtooth style fastener. The thin, bendable piece of plastic needs no putting threads through needle eyes, no skill in sewing, and results in zero possibilities of you pricking yourself with a pointed object. It can also be carried in abundance on flights since there’s no needle in the picture.

Using a FastButton is as easy as knowing how to use a cable-tie. Pass the tail through the fabric and weave it around the button before securing it in place with the circular head of the FastButton. Availabin both double-holed-button and four-holed-button versions, the FastButton is pretty much the most revolutionary product crossover, promising to change an aspect of fashion and apparel, with a product that’s humbly been holding LAN cables together in server rooms for the past two decades!

Designer: Fulvio Buonavoglia








from Yanko Design http://bit.ly/2wz23or

Yes, there is a plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench


Yes, there is a plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench

Plastic floating in the ocean near Papua New Guinea.
Plastic floating in the ocean near Papua New Guinea.

Image: Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

At some 35,700 feet beneath the ocean, there is a white plastic bag lying in the sand at the deepest ocean depths, in the Mariana Trench.

Scientists have known about the bag since May 1998, when a robotic deep-sea submersible spotted it while surveying the bottom of the trench. But a recent study on deep-sea plastic pollution gave this sad bag — representative of the planet’s amplifying plastic pollution problem — new life.

It is still the deepest known piece of plastic debris on our planet, say the researchers. The trench’s literal deepest depth isn’t much further down, at approximately 36,200 feet.

In their endeavor to characterize today’s deep sea pollution, the researchers relied on a Japanese library of deep-sea images called the Deep Sea Debris Database. As might be expected, this sort of pollution is no longer rare, as debris — including visible pieces of metal, rubber, and plastic — was found all over the Pacific Ocean and North Atlantic at depths greater than 13,000 feet.

And this, of course, is only documenting the plastic pollution that can be seen. Unsurprisingly, the Mariana Trench is also polluted in less visible ways, including chemicals used to make plastics found in tiny, shrimp-like creatures.

Plastics don’t go away, they simply break down into smaller pieces, Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, previously told Mashable. The minuscule plastics, many one-sixth the width of a human hair, have been found embedded in remote Arctic ice. It is believed that pollution from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in the Pacific Ocean, traveled into these remote polar regions.

Coastal plastic waste on the Indonesian island of Jakarta in March 2018.

Coastal plastic waste on the Indonesian island of Jakarta in March 2018.

Image: Aditya Irawan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The patch, which is an area twice the size of Texas with high concentrations of floating plastic pollution, is growing. After 30 vessels spent three years dragging nets through the pollution gyre, researchers concluded it had at least four times more plastic than scientists previously thought. 

Plastics aren’t inherently bad, as they make technology cheaper and lighter. The problem is that plastic is typically only used once before being discarded — similar to the white bag that lies at the bottom of the world. 

Local governments are no longer banking on the greater public to voluntarily abandon their plastic consuming habits. The entire state of Hawaii has banned plastic bags in its grocery stores, and large markets in Los Angeles have done the same.

But the problem goes beyond these individual locations. New York City, for example, has a heavy amount of plastic bag pollution, with litter often getting caught in trees, to the chagrin of many New Yorkers. (There’s one dangling in a tree outside this writer’s window.)

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, recently announced a law banning single-use plastic bags, which would be an important step in the effort to limit plastic pollution in the oceans.

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2Ib5sPy

Spraying this material on desert sand will turn it into green, fertile land



For the past ten years, Desert Control has been testing a land treatment that promises to transform non-productive land into fertile soil. The material they have invented is called Liquid NanoClay and it’s a mixture of clay and water, mixed using a special patented method. Read more…

More about Mashable Video, Environment, Egypt, Desert, and Sand

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2wyhddp

Algo-Rhythms: The future of album collaboration

Taryn Southern
Taryn Southern is a digital artist and filmmaker. She is currently co-directing a documentary about the brain, and her album I AM AI is set to release this September. As a recovering YouTuber, she’s produced more than 1000 videos that have garnered more than 500 million views online.

One year ago, I began working on an album. I write vocal melodies and lyrics, while my partner does the composition. We both work on instrumentation, and complement each other well. The only odd part of the relationship is…my partner isn’t human.

It’s AI.

The relationship was born out of curiosity. Fear-driven headlines had been dominating my news feed for some time….headlines like: AI will take our jobs, our data, and eventually, our souls.

The arguments left me wondering. What’s really happening with AI? I stumbled across an article chronicling how AI was now being used to compose music. After a quick Google search, I found that song creation was just the tip of the iceberg – AI was also writing poems, editing films, and synthesizing art…and passing the Turing test.  

Eager to learn more, I began to experiment with every AI music making tool I could get my hands on. Amper, and Aiva to start, then later, IBM Watson and Google Magenta (there are countless others on the scene – AI Music, Jukedeck, and Landr to name a few).

My side project quickly evolved into a full-fledged album (“I AM AI”) along with a series of virtual reality music videos exploring the tenuous relationship between humans and technology. Last September, I released the first full single I produced with Amper, Break Free, which grabbed the attention – and curiosity – of the larger creative community.

Many inquired: are you worried AI will be more creative than you? No. In many ways, AI helped me become more creative, evolving my role into something resembling more of an editor or director.  I gave AI direction (in the form of data to learn from or parameters for the output), and it sends back raw material, which I then edit and arrange to create a cohesive song. It also allowed me to spend more time on other aspects of the creation process like the vocal melodies, lyrics, and music videos. It’s still creative, just different. But technophobes, rejoice: AI isn’t a perfect companion just yet.

What the future of our co-evolutionary world looks like with AI is anyone’s guess… but I’m optimistic.

Since there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the process of collaborating with AI, a breakdown is a helpful way to baseline the conversation. Here are the primary platforms I’ve used and my takeaways from collaborating with each one:

  1. Amper: co-founded by several musicians, Amper launched as a platform to compose original scores for productions. Currently free to the public, Amper has a  simple front-facing UI that you can use to modify parameters like BPM, instrumentation, and mood. No need to know code here!

Takeaway: Prior to working with Amper, I couldn’t recognize the sounds of different instruments, nor did I believe I had any particular musical preferences. Now, I recognize dozens of instruments, and have honed a particular creative style. For instance, I’m developed a strong taste for mixing electronic synthesizers with piano and deep bass, as you can hear in Life Support below, which I produced a 360 VR music video for.

  1. AIVA: Aiva is an award-winning deep learning algorithm, and the first to be registered with an authors’ rights society. I first met one of the founders, Pierre Barreau, in London, and we became really excited about the opportunity of combining classical learning styles with pop/synth instrumentation. AIVA uses deep learning and reinforcement learning to analyze thousands of pieces of classical music in specific styles and compose new scores.

Takeaway: My first track with AIVA, Lovesick, was created from the analysis of thousands of pieces from the late Romantic Period (early to mid 1800s.) The result is a Westworld-esque piano piece that I arranged into a pop-funk track with electronic synth elements. Collaborating with such unfamiliar source material was incredibly fun because it forces out of the box thinking. When arranging the track, I really had to ignore a lot of my “pop style” conditioning instincts.

  1. Watson Beat (IBM): While Watson Beat doesn’t have a front-end, the fine engineers at IBM gave me a few tutorials to get me started. For those who are more code confident, however, it’s a free, open source program you can download on GitHub. Within a few days, I was navigating the system, feeding it old time favorites to churn out dozens of stems of music with a stylistic twist (think Mary Had a little Lamb done in the style of a Peruvian Waltz?)

Takeaway: I was delighted to see the results of mixing various data inputs with unexpected genres, which also made me more aware of the underlying influences governing my own creative ideas. Because the output is MIDI (whereas Amper is a finished WAV or MP3 file), the artist has complete freedom over how the notes are transposed into instrumentation. I found my love of synthesizers by placing them on unlikely styles of music, and my first track with Watson Beat will likely be released this summer.

  1. Google Magenta: like Watson, Magenta is free and open source on Github. Some tools have easy front-facing interfaces (i.e. AI Duets) and others require a bit more back-end coding knowledge. What’s cool is the scope and number of tools that Google offers in its arsenal. Probably the most robust program for programmers.

Takeaway: With Magenta’s tools, you don’t have to solely focus on composition, you can also analyze sound. NSynth, for instance, allows you to combine the sounds of two different instruments (try mixing a cat with a harp!) Google has algorithms for studying sound tone and vibrational quality, which has many exciting applications.

It’s no surprise that AI elicits a lot of questions about our “specialness” as humans…but perhaps we’re focusing on the wrong argument. Humans always evolve with technology, and it’s what we choose to do with AI that matters. I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg – and it will unlock creativity we can’t yet imagine.

For the budding enthusiast who lacks formal music training, AI can be a compelling tool – not just for learning, but as an entry-point for self-expression. Now anyone, anywhere, has the ability to create music – and that desire and ability to express is what makes us human.

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2wBTWqS