Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David A. Sinclair (Review and Notes)

If you are over 50 years old, this book is an excellent resource related to your health, general fitness and quality of life.

I have included some excerpts for the book as my notes and reference:

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.

There are some simple tests to determine how biologically old you probably are. The number of push-ups you can do is a good indicator. If you are over 45 and can do more than 20, you are doing well. The other test of age is the sitting rising test. Sit on the floor, barefooted, with the legs crossed. Lean forward quickly and see if you can get up in one move. A young person can. A middle-age person typically needs to push off with one of their hands. An elderly person often needs to get onto one knee.

There’s also a difference between extending life and prolonging vitality. We’re capable of both, but simply keeping people alive – – decades after their lives have been defined by pain, disease, frailty, and immobility – – is no virtue.

Multiple “hallmarks” of aging:
Genomic instability caused by DNA damage
Attrition of the protective chromosomal endocaps, the telomeres
Alterations to the epigenome that controls which genes are turned on and off
Loss of healthy protein maintenance, known as proteostatis
Deregulated nutrient sensing caused by metallic changes
Mitochondrial dysfunction
Accumulation of senescent zombielike cells that inflame healthy cells
Exhaustion of stem cells
Altered intercellular communication and the production of inflammatory molecules

Youth—broken DNA genome instability— disruption of DNA packaging and gene regulation (the epigenome)— loss of cell identity —cellular senescence— disease— death

The older we get, the less it takes for an injury or illness to drive us to our deaths. We are pushing closer and closer to the precipice until it takes nothing more than a gentle went to send us over. This is the very definition of frailty.

When we stay healthy and vibrant, as long as we feel young physically and mentally, our age doesn’t matter. That’s true whether you are 32, 52, or 92. Most middle-aged and older adults in the United States report feeling 10 to 20 years younger than their age, because they feel healthy. And feeling younger than your age predicts lower mortality and better cognitive abilities later in life.

After 25 years of researching aging and having read thousands of scientific papers, if there is one piece of advice I can offer, one sure fire way to stay healthy longer, one thing you can do to maximize your lifespan right now, it’s this: eat less often.

The important thing is not just what we eat but the way we eat. Many of the centenarians have spent their lives eschewing a morning meal. They generally eat their first small meal of the day around noon, then share a larger meal with their families at twilight. In this way, they typically spend 16 hours or more of each day without eating.

According to one study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in 2017, individuals who exercise more – – the equivalent of at least a half hour of jogging five days a week – –have telomeres that appear to be nearly a decade younger than those who live a more sedentary life.

One recent study found that those who ran 4-5 miles a week – – for most people, that’s an amount of exercise that can be done in less than 15 minutes per day – – reduce the chance of death from a heart attack by 45% and all cause mortality by 30%.

It’s high intensity interval training (HIIT) the sort that significantly raises your heart and respiration rates— that engages the greatest number of health promoting genes and more of them in older exercisers.

A study of more than 41,000 metformin users between the ages of 68 and 81 concluded that metformin reduced the likelihood of dementia, cardiovascular disease, cancer, frailty, and depression, and not by a small amount.

People taking metformin were living notably healthier lives – – independent, it seemed, of its affects on diabetes.

The beauty of metformin is that it impacts many diseases. Through the power of AMPK activation, it makes more NAD and turns on sirtuins and other defenses against aging as a whole -– engaging the survival circuit upstream of these conditions, ostensibly slowing the loss of epi-genetic information and keeping metabolism in check, so all organs stay younger and healthier.

Like most people, I don’t want unlimited years, just ones filled with less sickness and more love. And for most of those I know who are engaged in this work, the fight against aging is not about ending death; it’s about prolonging healthy life and giving more people the chance to meet death on far better terms – – indeed, on their own terms. Quickly and painlessly. When they are ready.

Either by refusing the treatments and therapies at all for a prolong healthy life or accepting those interventions and then deciding to leave whenever the time is right, no one who has returned what they have been given should have to stay on this planet if he or she does not wish to do so. And we need to begin the process of developing the cultural, ethical, and legal principles that will allow that to happen.

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