Extending Your Life

Magic pills. Dieting tips. Special exercise routines. Consult with a witch doctor. Everyone, especially those Type A sorts of folks, are looking for a means to find an edge. Live longer. Strive for the Centenarian Life. Or, make your 70s and 80s feel like your 50s. I like to call this finding the exuberant life. Why push yourself to the brink, reach retirement age, and then have your body break down?

Years back, my wife and I stopped at the so-called Fountain of Youth on the outskirts of St. Augustine, Florida. This tourist destination is where Ponce de Leon may have landed in the sixteenth century. If you’re a sucker, buy the ticket and take the tour. Note, this is a historical site with a history of taking folk’s cash. Buyer beware. But I found the short experience memorable. There are worse ways to spend a buck, but my wife and I used a different lens on the stopover. While I gladly bent over and partook, my wife looked at the fountain as a germ-ridden mess. Yes, I’m the sole member of the family who will walk the earth for all-time. The ticket, worth the purchase price, has led to endless conversations and debates about living forever.

The tantalizing possibilities: endless career opportunities and the ability to invent new technologies (after all, failure and success is only a matter of time).

And the sadness: outliving your family can lead to infinite despair.

But will medical science find a means to solve this challenge? After reading David Sinclair’s recent book Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To, I came away hopeful. Yet, expanding lifespan will stress our current government systems in ways we haven’t thought of before (Social Security is already stressed). This book isn’t filled with exercise tips or special diets. The pages depict what’s on the horizon, and the author goes into detail about current experiments, testing, and how the scientific community is tackling the disease in the wrong way.

A book worth reading.

Notes and Highlights:

  1. Antioxidants aren’t as impressive as we think.
  2. Vitamin B might be a wonder. Lowers blood pressure. Restores cells. Check on NAD boosters specifically, such as NR.
  3. Resveratrol. The wonder drug found in wine. However, the pill form is your best bet, unless you can down about five bottles each day.
  4. Aging is treatable, long term. Instead of attacking the symptoms or other diseases, target the source of the problem. Take a pill, have the body of a twenty-year-old forever.

The Universal Theory on Aging:

“I believe that aging is a disease. I believe it is treatable. I believe we can treat it within our lifetimes. And in doing so, I believe, everything we know about human health will be fundamentally changed.”

A Solid Quote:

At the age of 20, I had finally heard someone else say what my grandmother had taught me at an early age: Do your part to make humanity be the best it can be. Don’t waste a moment. Embrace your youth; hold on to it for as long as you can. Fight for it. Fight for it. Never stop fighting for it.

Analog vs. Digital and the Unified Theory of Aging:

Cloning gives us the answer as to whether or not mutations cause aging. If old cells had indeed lost crucial genetic information and this was the cause of aging, we shouldn’t be able to clone new animals from older individuals. Clones would be born old. Luckily, that is not the case.

As cloning beautifully proves, our cells retain their youthful digital information even when we are old. To become young again, we just need to find some polish to remove the scratches. This, I believe, is possible.

Yes, a singular reason why we age. Aging, quite simply, is a loss of information.

Means to Live Longer:

Here’s the important point: there are plenty of stressors that will activate longevity genes without damaging the cell, including certain types of exercise, intermittent fasting, low-protein diets, and exposure to hot and cold temperatures.

If you are over 45 and can do more than twenty (pushups), you are doing well. The other test of age is the sitting-rising test (SRT). Sit on the floor, barefooted, with legs crossed. Lean forward quickly and see if you can get up in one move. A young person can. A middle-aged person typically needs to push off with one of their hands. An elderly person often needs to get onto one knee. A study of people 51 to 80 years found that 157 out of 159 people who passed away in 75 months had received less than perfect SRT scores.

After twenty-five years of researching aging and having read thousands of scientific papers, if there is one piece of advice I can offer, one surefire way to stay healthy longer, one thing you can do to maximize your lifespan right now, it’s this: eat less. Over time, some of these ways of limiting food will prove to be more effective than others. A popular method is to skip breakfast and have a late lunch (the 16:8 diet). Another is to eat 75 percent fewer calories for two days a week (the 5:2 diet). If you’re a bit more adventurous, you can try skipping food a couple of days a week (Eat Stop Eat), or as the health pundit Peter Attia does, go hungry for an entire week every quarter.

Charles Brenner, who is now the head of biochemistry at the University of Iowa, discovered in 2004 that a form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside, or NR, is a vital precursor of NAD. He later found that NR, which is found in trace levels in milk, can extend the lifespan of yeast cells by boosting NAD and increasing the activity of Sir2. Today, many of my colleagues are just as optimistic as I am, even if they don’t admit it publicly. I’d wager that about a third of them take metformin or an NAD booster. A few of them even take low doses of rapamycin intermittently.

Longevity and Government Systemic Concerns

We literally have no data whatsoever on the work patterns, retirement arrangements, spending habits, health care needs, savings, and investments of large groups of people who live, quite healthily, well into their 100s.

Unless aging is designated a medical condition, initially only the wealthy will be able to afford many of these advances. The same will be true for the most advanced biotracking, DNA sequencing, and epigenome analyses to permit truly personalized health care. Eventually prices will come down, but unless governments act soon, there will be a period of major disparity between the very rich and the rest of the world. Imagine a world of haves and have-nots unlike anything.

Every aspect of job performance gets better as we age,” Peter Cappelli, the director of the Wharton Center for Human Resources, reported after he began to investigate the stereotypes that often surround older workers. “I thought the picture might be more mixed, but it isn’t. The juxtaposition between the superior performance of older workers and the discrimination against them in the workplace just really makes no sense.”

The answer to the challenge of keeping Social Security solvent is not to force people to work longer but to allow them to do so.

As the venture capitalist and “very large yacht” owner Nick Hanauer wrote in a memo to “My Fellow Zillionaires” in 2014, “there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. . . . We will not be able to predict when, and it will be terrible—for everybody. But especially for us.”

Omitted Notes:

Toward the end of the book, the author discloses what “he is currently taking.” I felt disclosing these details wouldn’t be fair. Also, I feel vitamin dosage is a personal experience, dependent on age, body type, and other factors. So, if you’re curious buy the book. Never hurts to support authors and inventors trying to be bold in the marketplace pursuing their passions.