My Longevity Protocol
Who wouldn’t want to live a longer, healthier life? As it turns out not everybody is interested in longevity, but society as a whole is waking up to the idea that we could fine tune our bodies lo live longer that we normally would.
One story that many of us have seen in the news is how Bryan Johnson a former tech entrepreneur supposedly spent over two million dollars a year in a longevity protocol. And he certainly looks younger than his biological age indicates. He has done a whole bunch of tests that show that his body is performing like someone much younger too.
I’ve been interested in longevity for a long time, and I believe most people can get 80% of the benefit without having to spend millions of dollars. So I wanted to share my own longevity protocol.
To be clear, none of this is going to help anyone to live to 150 years old. We are going to need advanced biotechnology for that, to learn more about the mechanisms of aging and to develop brand new therapies. But a protocol like this could make a difference between living to 80 and being in a nursing home or reaching 100 and living an independent lifestyle.
My longevity protocol and the core of a healthy lifestyle is built around three pillars: good sleep, regular exercise, and proper nutrition. Each of these aspects is crucial and complementary to the others. These are non-negotiable and there is substantial irrefutable evidence that they are essential for good health and longevity.
In my early years, I, like many others, underestimated the importance of good sleep. It took a bit of research and personal experience for me to realize that sleep is not just a passive activity. It’s a time when our body rejuvenates itself, balances hormone levels, and solidifies memory.
I now try to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night. Implementing a regular sleep schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and reducing exposure to screens before bedtime are key steps in this process.
A good reference for sleep is Why we sleep by Matthew Walker.
Exercise is one of the few things where medical literature agrees. Regular exercise has a positive impact across the board in all aspects of health. The type and length of exercise probably doesn’t have as much impact as how regular it is. There are even papers that suggest that a few minutes a day could be almost as beneficial as a couple of hours.
My weekly exercise routine now includes a combination of cardiovascular workouts and resistance training. I found that this not only keeps me physically fit but also boosts my mental health and well-being. Remember, the aim is not just to live longer but to live well.
Resistance training is crucial as we age. It helps maintain muscle mass, strength, and functional abilities, combating the effects of sarcopenia - the age-related loss of muscle. Loss of mobility as we age creates a cascade of noxious effects.
Good nutrition is the backbone of a healthy life and a key player in the longevity game. It’s not just about losing weight or looking good, but about nourishing your body with what it needs to function optimally.
After much research and experimentation, I found that a plant-based diet served me the best. There seems to be quite a bit of scientific literature suggesting that a plant based vegan diet is healthier than most other diets.
However, I am also a food enthusiast and believe that enjoying life, including good food, is an integral part of longevity. I follow an 80/20 rule. 80% of my diet, while I’m at home, is vegan, packed with nutritious plant-based foods. And while I’m traveling, for the other 20% I eat pretty much anything, typically nice meals at fancy restaurants. Of course I always avoid fast food.
This balance allows me to maintain optimal health while still enjoying the pleasures of varied and delicious cuisine. It’s not about strict rules, but about sustainable, enjoyable habits that contribute to a longer, healthier life.
A good reference on nutrition is How not to Die by Michael Greger.
Additional nutrition and supplements
I think the three items above probably bring 90% of the benefit of the entire protocol and are essential. But sometimes it’s hard to be consistent or implement all 3 optimally. So in addition I also complement my nutrition with certain foods for which there is some indication that may be beneficial.
Supplements can be an important addition to a health protocol, they will not replace a balanced diet. For me, these supplements are the icing on the cake of an otherwise healthy diet.
Of course, it’s essential to remember that individual responses to different types of food can vary, and what works for me might not work for everyone.
Antioxidants are useful in neutralizing harmful free radicals in our body, thereby reducing oxidative stress – a major contributor to aging. Two of my favorite sources are blueberries and acai, both renowned for their high antioxidant content. Blueberries make for delicious additions to smoothies, oatmeal, or even as a snack on their own.
Amla, also known as Indian Gooseberry, has a reputation in Ayurvedic medicine. This small green fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C and packed with a variety of polyphenols, which are known for their antioxidant properties. I consume amla in powdered form several times a week, mixing it into smoothies.
Piperlongumine, a compound derived from the long pepper, has been studied for its potential anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. While it’s a less common addition to Western diets, I add it in powder form in smoothies.
Spermidine, a compound found in various foods, has gained attention in recent years for its potential lifespan-extending properties. Aged cheese happens to be one of the rich sources of spermidine and is much more enjoyable than taking it as a supplement.
Creatine, popular among athletes for its performance-enhancing properties, may also have longevity benefits. Some research suggests that it can help maintain muscle mass and cognitive function as we age. I add creatine monohydrate to my smoothies.
Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is a type of ketone body that our bodies produce during fasting or low-carb diets. Studies have suggested that BHB can have neuroprotective effects, which might slow brain aging. By including BHB supplements in my routine, I aim to harness some of the potential benefits of fasting, without having to drastically alter my eating patterns.
Taurine has become quite popular lately. There is recent research that suggests that it declines with age, and supplementation in mice contributes to extend lifespan.
Vitamin D is probably the single most important supplement. Many people, particularly in the western world, have vitamin D deficiency. That’s why I take a daily vitamin D supplement of 5000 IU. Adequate vitamin D levels are crucial for maintaining bone health, immune function, and more. In particular Vitamin D can help enhance the immune system against infectious diseases and there was quite a bit of research of the protective effects of Vitamin D over the past few years.
Fish oil is often recommended for its Omega-3 content, I opt for an algae-derived oil. It offers similar benefits but in a vegan-friendly package. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and function. It probably has no impact on cardiovascular health though, which is what traditionally people would take it for.
Ginseng, particularly Korean Panax ginseng, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Research suggests it may have various health benefits, including improving cognitive function.
Urolithin A has become quite popular lately. It is a compound that influences mitochondrial health, which is fundamental to our energy levels and metabolic health. As we age, our mitochondrial function declines (this is actually one of the key hallmarks of aging). So I take a Urolithin A supplement to potentially counteract this aspect of aging.
I regularly have hibiscus tea, at least once a week. Hibiscus is known for its potential to lower blood pressure. Increasing blood pressure can cause all sorts of complications as we age. Hibiscus is a natural and scientifically proven effective way to lower blood pressure.
Two compounds that didn’t work for me: Pterostilbene and Berberine
Pterostilbene, a compound related to resveratrol, was one of the things I tried. Despite its potential anti-aging benefits, I had to stop it as it significantly increased my cholesterol levels, which happens to be a known side effect.
I also tried berberine, a compound found in several plants and often used to regulate blood sugar levels. I think there is research that suggests that it can be very effective in the treatment of prediabetic or diabetic symptoms. In my case, I suspect it limited my sugar absorption excessively, coinciding with an episode of palpitations. Although this could have been stress-related, I decided to play it safe and discontinued its use.
In addition to the compounds above there are a couple of interventions with substantial research behind them.
Senescent cells are essentially “zombie” cells. Once active and functioning, these cells have entered a state of permanent cell cycle arrest. They no longer divide or support tissue function, but they also resist the call to apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Over time, the accumulation of these senescent cells can contribute to aging and various age-related diseases, as they emit harmful substances that cause inflammation and damage to surrounding healthy cells.
Senolytics, are compounds designed to target and eliminate these senescent cells. By clearing out the senescent cells, senolytics could potentially slow down the aging process and even reverse age-related tissue dysfunction, thus improving healthspan and possibly extending lifespan.
The significance of senolytics in the field of longevity was underscored by a groundbreaking study conducted by the Mayo Clinic. The researchers found that injecting senolytic drugs into elderly mice effectively eliminated senescent cells. Notably, the mice treated with these drugs showed significant improvements in health and extended lifespan, compared to the untreated mice. This landmark study has fueled enthusiasm for the potential of senolytics in promoting healthier, longer lives.
Once a month, I follow a regimen of senolytic-like compounds, including turmeric, quercetin, and fisetin. I take twice the daily dosage for two days at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately some of the probably best senolytics (dasatinib) require prescription.
Intermittent fasting, the practice of cycling between periods of eating and fasting, is one of the most proven strategies for promoting health and longevity. This dietary protocol has been studied in a variety of species, from yeast to mice to monkeys, and has consistently demonstrated lifespan-extending effects, sometimes quite dramatically.
The underlying mechanisms are believed to involve a range of biological processes, including improved metabolic efficiency, enhanced cellular repair, and reduced inflammation. However, despite its compelling benefits, implementing intermittent fasting in humans presents a considerable challenge.
This is primarily due to our deep-rooted social and cultural norms surrounding meal times, as well as the difficulty many people face in adhering to extended periods without food.
I practice 16/8 fasting on a regular basis (I eat during a period of 8 hours, from noon to 8pm more or less). And I ocassionally do 24 hour fasting periods where I only take liquids with no calories (water, coffee, etc.).
I am currently not taking rapamycin, but I think any longevity protocol should consider it. There is substantial evidence that rapamycin increases longevity in a variety of species. In smaller animals the increase is dramatic. In larger mammals like humans the potential for lifespan extension is probably just a few years (especially on top of an otherwise healthy regime of sleep, nutrition and exercise). Recent research suggests that it’s also well tolerated when taken for a long period of time, and has few side effects. Even though I’m currently not taking it, I’m consdiering it for the near future.
Everything I mentioned above should have a more or less systemic effect in the entire body. But a nice effect of being biologically younger is looking younger. Looking younger is certainly not as important as maintaining good health - wrinkles never killed anyone. But in the society that we live in it’s a nice benefit.
There are several treatments that are useful to keep the skin young and healthy.
Using sunscreen regularly is the single most important thing that we can do to keep the skin looking good. UVA and UVB rays can lead to premature aging, including wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, and increase the risk of skin cancer. I apply an SPF 47 sunscreen every morning, regardless of the weather.
A key part of my daily routine involves a targeted anti-aging eye cream to reduce the appearance of fine lines and keep the delicate skin around my eyes hydrated. Also, every night I apply a moisturizer.
Recently, I’ve been exploring the OneSkin cream, a topical product that claims to have senolytic properties. It contains a peptide that targets senescent cells in the skin, potentially improving skin health and appearance. There is a small scientific study that suggests it may improve skin appearance.
Regular Exfoliation and Microneedling
Every quarter, I treat my skin to a facial or microdermabrasion session. These treatments help remove dead skin cells, revealing fresher, younger-looking skin beneath.
And twice a year, I undergo microneedling treatments. This process involves using a device with tiny needles to create micro-injuries on the skin surface. This technique stimulates the production of collagen, the protein that provides structure and elasticity to our skin, and promotes skin regeneration.
This is a fairly long article but the level of effort involved in implementing these practices is actually very low. Good sleep hygiene becomes a habit. An hour or two of exercise a week is not a big time commitment. Cooking healthy food takes the same time or less as cooking unhealthy food. I take most of my supplements in a shake once a day, which I prepare in less than 5 minutes.
Also, I think it’s important keeping things reasonable. Many of us like to travel, for example, and it’s hard to keep these habits while on the road. But a day or two without exercise is not a big deal. There is a balance between keeping a strict healthy lifestyle and enjoying a few vices here and there.
It’s not just about adding years to life, but life to years.