Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) (Gifford, Bill)

Following are my notes/highlights from the book:
  1. Two of the major diseases of aging—cardiovascular disease and diabetes—are largely avoidable,
  2. Major longevity-promoting mechanisms, hardwired into our biology, can be triggered right now, by simply going out for a short jog, or even just by skipping a meal or two.
  3. One good way to shorten your life, statistically, is by becoming obese.
  4. Nothing makes you look older than attempting to look young. —Karl Lagerfeld
  5. Lifting weights (and taking testosterone) do improve strength; also, weight training and vigorous exercise like sprinting have been shown to increase growth-hormone levels naturally. So does deep sleep.
  6. Thanks to Blast data, researchers now know that natural walking speed is one of the most accurate predictors of mortality that we have. The slower you walk, statistically speaking, the sooner you are likely to check out.
  7. Aging is hiding in our bodies.
  8. Mobility is key to survival
  9. Young-middle-aged people (in their forties and fifties) with positive feelings about growing older—gaining wisdom, freedom from working, opportunities to travel and learn more—tended to enjoy better health, and better cognitive health later in life.
  10. “If you want to become a healthy eighty-year-old, you need to live a healthy lifestyle, but if you want to become a healthy hundred-year-old, you need to inherit the right genes.”
  11. many of them had a specific gene variant that inhibits something called CETP, a molecule involved in cholesterol processing (it stands for “cholesterol ester transfer protein,” - in general, the less CETP you have, the better; high levels of the protein are thought to lead to premature atherosclerosis. Centenarians with the CETP-inhibiting mutation not only had better heart health, and very high “good” cholesterol, but they also had a lower incidence of memory loss and dementia,
  12. He pays special attention to his LDL cholesterol—the “bad” kind—which tends to be extremely low in centenarians. If he keeps his LDL low, he reasons, then he might stand a chance of living to be a hundred, too. The machine lets him monitor it closely: If it gets too high, he’ll cut back on the carbohydrates and perhaps up his dose of red yeast rice, a natural statin that lowers LDL.
  13. And finally, there is one bellwether of heart trouble that on reflection should be obvious: erectile dysfunction
  14. “Remember, our genes still think it’s three thousand years ago and we’re starving, so these mechanisms for preserving cholesterol are still going strong,” Lebowitz said.
  15. (Oat bran fiber does much the same thing, absorbing cholesterol in the gut and escorting it out of the body.)
  16. Red meat has long been known to be a risk factor for heart disease, originally because of its fat content.
  17. According to this study, it is apparently only safe to eat meat if you’re a vegetarian.
  18. A moist eye, a dry hand, a yellow cheek, a white beard, a decreasing leg, an increasing belly… your voice broken, your wind short, your chin double, your wit single, and every part about you blasted with antiquity. —Shakespeare
  19. “three phases of a new idea”: “First you’re an idiot; second, it’s meaningless; third, it was obvious all along—and nobody gives you credit for it.”
  20. A cell’s biological age, therefore, had almost nothing to do with its chronological age.
  21. The only thing that seemed to matter was how many times it (the cell) had divided.
  22. Activating telomerase might cause cancer. One thing that cancer cells all have in common is amped-up telomerase.
  23. According to the twenty-five-year-long Rancho Bernardo study of older Californians, the higher your levels of IL-6, the earlier your checkout time from Hotel Earth.
  24. Hayflick recognized two possible fates for our cells when they stop dividing: Either they become cancer, that is to say immortal; or they enter a state he termed replicative senescence.
  25. “The big aha came when we realized that when a cell becomes senescent, it starts to secrete molecules that cause chronic inflammation,”
  26. As we grow older, and growth hormone and testosterone decline (along with other chemical changes), the calories we consume are far more likely to end up as fat.
  27. Beginning around age thirty-five, our total body fat percentage increases by as much as 1 point per year, even if our overall weight stays the same.
  28. Diabetes itself is now thought to speed up the aging process enormously. The body becomes unable to process the sugar that we eat, which ends up rollicking around in our bloodstream, inflicting massive amounts of cellular damage in every tissue that it touches. Excess blood sugar even makes you look older: One study showed that people with higher blood sugar actually did appear older than they were, perhaps because this damage is visible in their very skin.
  29. Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing. —Oliver Wendell Holmes
  30. Ron stays young, he said, by avoiding the “inflammables,” by which he seemed to mean foods containing dairy, wheat, and sugar.
  31. Education, money, and access to medical care all correlate strongly with longevity, Jay Olshansky and other scholars have found.
  32. “And the idea that well, it’s natural and you’re just an old man now—that isn’t natural! That is the default. That’s where we get to by not challenging ourselves. Exercise is a continuum: The more you do, the less you’re going to lose.”
  33. the “secret” seems to be: Use It or Lose It.
  34. We begin to lose muscle mass gradually at around age forty, and as time goes on we lose it more rapidly: Between fifty and seventy, we say good-bye to about 15 percent of our lean muscle per decade. After that, it jumps to 30 percent per decade. “You could make the case that aging starts in muscle,”
  35. But even as we’re losing muscle in middle age, we don’t lose weight overall (duh). That means our muscle is gradually, insidiously being replaced by fat. More fat and less muscle means your metabolic “engine” runs at a much slower rate; you have less muscle, which means you have fewer mitochondria, which means your body is less efficient at burning the sugar out of your bloodstream. Not coincidentally, most new cases of diabetes appear in people in their mid-forties and older.
  36. Recent studies have pinpointed the mere act of sitting, itself, as a potent risk factor for death. Sitting is the new smoking, some scientists believe: a bad habit that leads inevitably to disease.
  37. caloric restriction might actually be slowing the aging process itself, on a more fundamental level.
  38. He cut down to a protein shake for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and a baked sweet potato and perhaps a bit of fish for dinner.
  39. The hungry monkeys were far healthier, in terms of basic measures like blood pressure, and had far less incidence of age-related disease, such as diabetes and cancer. As a result they seemed to be living as much as 30 percent longer than their overfed friends.
  40. A wealth of good epidemiological data points to the fact that it’s better to be a little bit overweight (i.e., BMI of 25) than to be seriously underweight (BMI below 21), very skinny people may not have the fat reserves they need to survive an infection, particularly as they get older.
  41. What to eat - not too much, and nothing processed, only good, real food. He looks forward to his salad lunches and his salmon dinners, as much as any gourmand.
  42. “hormetic” lifestyle, in which he actively seeks out stressful experiences (like diving into bone-freezing water).
  43. The work stresses and even damages our muscle fibers, but thanks to the miracle of hormesis, we repair and rebuild them with new, stronger fibers. Most vaccinations work by the same principle: A small dose of a pathogen stimulates a response that renders us immune to the disease.
  44. “Stress is strengthening, even essential to life,”
  45. Each morning he wakes up to an ice-cold shower, the cold tap cranked all the way up. He stays in for five minutes, minimum, and claims that this bracing ritual not only jolts him awake (thus reducing his coffee budget) but also burns fat, improves pain tolerance, and boosts immunity.
  46. gettingstronger.org. (Motto: “Train yourself to thrive on stress.”)
  47. short-term fasting—skipping one, and sometimes even two meals—and tough, intense workouts, either running barefoot on trails or climbing in a nearby rock gym, often on an empty stomach. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t eaten for twenty-two hours, or since lunch the previous day, despite going for a tough postwork run with work colleagues in the Palo Alto hills, training for an upcoming 125-mile relay race. “One thing I really love,” he confessed to me, “is fasted workouts.”
  48. working out while you’re hungry might actually be a good thing.
  49. “I learned to embrace a little bit of hunger.”
  50. rapamycin could be the magic bullet that aging researchers had been looking for
  51. continuation of cell growth leads to cellular senescence, the toxification of our aged cells.
  52. he eats a far healthier diet, consisting of mostly green vegetables, some pasta, and a little bit of wine. Meat is an occasional luxury.
  53. The key to Caruso’s diet, according to Longo, is its low carbohydrate content and its low protein content—intentionally or not, he thinks, it keeps his growth factors and TOR in check, which effectively slows the rate of aging.
  54. He and his cohort were trained to eat less, in effect, by history—war, poverty, and periodic famine.
  55. Most days he skips lunch completely, and at dinner he eats a low-protein, plant-based, vegan-ish diet designed to push down his IGF-1 levels (not just to keep himself rock-star thin at age forty-six). Once or twice a year, he’ll put himself through a bare-bones fast for up to four days, taking in a bare minimum of nutrition, in order to “reset” his system. He believes this is the best option, based on mouse and human studies, and also because it happens to work for him.
  56. Use It or Lose It applies to our brains,
  57. Health Extension Salon - Bay area.
  58. A major 2011 study from UCSF found that if seven basic risk factors were addressed, including diabetes, midlife obesity (defined as waist size of thirty-nine inches or more for men, thirty-six for women), midlife hypertension, smoking, depression, low educational level, and physical inactivity, half of all Alzheimer’s cases could actually be prevented.
  59. another recent long-term study found that people who had been fitter at age twenty-five had stayed more cognitively “intact” at age fifty.

No comments: