What if you could live a thriving, active life until 100, then painlessly die in your sleep? What if there were things you could do today to increase that likelihood? Would you?
Longevity, the study and practice of extending human lifespan and healthspan, has recently been gaining more attention. Not really sure why the delay, I can’t imagine a more pervasively relevant problem than death. But excited about it nonetheless. That shared sentiment has grown, especially in Silicon Valley. Some of our bubble’s favorite thought leaders, scientists, and entrepreneurs have expressed interest, investments, and/or research into delaying the onset of our shared fate. To name a few — Peter Thiel, Peter Attia, Peter Diamandis, David Sinclair, Tim Ferriss, Valter Longo, Rhonda Patrick, Dom D’Agostino, Thomas Bilyeu. There are a number of different ways to think about and approach longevity, and each of these people has their own perspective or thesis for it. Here, I’ll share my own.
The best strategy we have today to study longevity is to look at centenarians, concentrated in pockets of the world we call “Blue Zones”. When looking at individuals who live past 100, we know that most of them have a few genotypes that are associated with living longer. That’s less interesting because we can’t edit our genetic makeup (not yet at least). What’s more compelling is that these people die from the same top causes — The Big Three. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. The difference is, the onset of these chronic illnesses is delayed for the centenarians. This means that even if we’re lucky to be born with longevity genes, we face the same fate as the general populous. The best way to extend life with the tools we have today due to what we know about the most common causes of death is to delay the onset of The Big Three.
What we know about chronic illnesses are that they are always progressive and almost always preventable. Progressive in that they begin developing before we feel symptoms. Preventable in that the lifestyle factors we control today are their primary drivers. The problem with healthcare today is that it is disease-centric. Patients are treated for a specific disease, they come back for a new disease, get treated, come back for a new one, etc. What if the primary causes of these diseases are the same? What if they’re the same disease manifesting in different forms? We’re learning that the underlying biological mechanisms are the same, e.g. oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, changes in microbiome, gene expression. What if we could improve lifestyle in a way that minimizes or removes those underlying causes to delay the onset of all 3, and as a result extend healthspan and lifespan?
I’ve been an integrative health optimizer and biohacker for over 7 years now — calibrating my behavior through research and iterative self-experimentation to discover my own unique lifestyle recipe that would yield the best overall health. That was all focused on the immediacy of feeling great today, this week, this month. I’ve gotten to a solid place there — rarely get sick, no energy crashes, less stress and emotional reactivity, high Oura sleep score, and stronger workouts. I’ve naturally graduated to an interest in thinking longer term. Effectively, doing what the healthcare system today fails to do, which is approaching healthspan and lifespan in a preventative, proactive way. Making sure I’m not only optimizing my quality of life today but also for years from now by asking the questions — How can I extend both the quality and quantity of my years? What can I do today to make strides towards that?
My focus over the past few years has been determining the biggest levers that are within our power to optimize our health today and long term. I’ve been working on a way to consolidate my research and personal discoveries into useful and interactive tools. These are currently in development, two tools that will soon be available on a Longevity section of my website. In the meantime, I’ll start sharing my findings here.
The first is my Longevity Thesis. This consists of 6 lifestyle factors, Longevity Building Blocks, which we individually control and that seem to hold the greatest potential for impacting our healthspan and lifespan. For each of the 6, I provide my own recipe but include a framework that can be used to fill with your own recipe based on your unique needs and preferences. This thesis assumes the individual is neither a smoker nor suicidal, in which case living past the average lifespan would be an anomaly. Everyone will have their own recipe, but a lot of the strategies and resources I mention can be useful for everyone. I’ll post these one at a time on my blog.