We all know that we age—but do you know exactly how, and why? And do you wonder what you can do—whatever your age—to slow the process so you can live well, for longer?
The book, The Longevity Code: Secrets to Living Well for Longer from the Front Lines of Science, comprehensively answers these questions. Medical doctor and polymath scientist Kris Verburgh, MD illuminates the biological mechanisms that make our bodies susceptible to heart attacks, strokes, dementia, diabetes, and other aging-related diseases. We learn about the crucial role of poorly functioning mitochondria, shortened telomeres, proteins and carbohydrates, and more.
The core of The Longevity Code is a methodical journey through the science of how poor food choices age us faster and cause age-related diseases. The first part of the journey is a straightforward discussion of, in turn, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
- Proteins: “As time goes by,” Dr. Verburgh writes, “our cells become so filled with aggregated protein that they no longer function well. That causes them to age: Heart cells no longer contract properly; nerve cells do not transmit signals efficiently; digestive cells do not absorb food as well as they used to. Finally, many cells simply die, strangled in a web of proteins.” But there’s hope: “… certain substances in our diet, and our diet itself, can slow down the agglomeration of proteins in our cells.” There’s a clear hierarchy:
- White meat is better than red meat.
- Omega-3 fatty acid fish (like salmon) is better than white meat.
- Vegetable protein—from nuts, tofu, beans, green leafy vegetables, and mushrooms—is better than fish protein.
- Carbohydrates: “The intake of carbohydrates, and particularly of fast sugars, triggers the production of all kinds of hormones that accelerate aging.” These sugars spur the production of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) that cause cells to age and grow. What can you do?
- Cutting out soda and candy is a no-brainer, says Dr. Verburgh, but that’s only the start.
- Whole wheat is better than white bread but, for best results, get your carbs from foods like oatmeal and fruit that release sugar slowly into the bloodstream.
- Fats: As we age our fat moves from under our skin to places in our bodies where it can do great harm, like to our abdomens. “That abdominal fat produces all kinds of inflammatory substances that are released into the bloodstream,” writes Dr. Verburgh. “These substances make the blood vessel clog up faster, putting you at greater risk of a heart attack and dementia. People with abdominal fat have three times a greater risk of dementia.”
- The solution is to eat more “good” fats like walnuts, because “people who eat a lot of walnuts have a faster and healthier brain. In addition, walnuts are good for the heart and the blood vessels.”
And with each passing day, advances in biotechnology—once the stuff of science fiction—are emerging as part of the “longevity code.” Dr. Verburgh discusses how new types of vaccines, mitochondrial DNA, CRISPR proteins, and stem cells may help us slow and even reverse aging—now and in the future.
Having explained the aging process at work, Dr. Verburgh then provides the tools we need to slow it down: his scientifically backed Longevity Staircase. This simple yet innovative step-by-step method offers better health and a longer life span through nutrition—currently our best defense in the fight against aging and disease.
Step 1: Avoid Deficiencies—Via sufficient intake of relevant micronutrients from healthy foods and natural dietary supplements as needed.
Step 2: Stimulate Hormesis—Via mildly toxic substances in foods (such as flavonoids) or exercise (such as high-intensity interval training).
Step 3: Reduce Growth Stimulation—Via foods that supply slower carbohydrate and animal proteins. Via calorie restriction or fasting.
Step 4: Reverse the Aging Process—Via new therapies, such as vaccines against protein agglomeration, lysosomal protein therapy, sugar cross-link breakers, mitochondrial repair, stem cell therapy.
In the future, we will see the advent of promising new technologies that can substantially slow down, or even reverse aging. However, the best method we currently have to live as long as possible is our lifestyle. It is not a coincidence that a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of both age-related diseases and overweight, for aging and overweight are two sides of the same coin. And for those who want to live a long and vital life, a healthy lifestyle is the best way to achieve it.
Reduce inflammatory process in cells, tissues, and blood vessels, helping to slow aging and reduce risk of long-term disease.
Prevents and repairs oxidative damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Support the body’s resistance to infection and strengthen immune vigilance and response.
Improves mood, memory, and focus.
Reduces risk factors for common degenerative and age-related diseases.