In mid-December I attended the A4M World Congress 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a three-day conference centered on developments in anti-aging medicine. As a cookbook author who focuses on anti-aging foods, I was most interested in the latest research on nutrition and its power to keep us young. Many doctors and health practitioners attend the seminars and present papers and patient case studies to the audience. A very inspiring keynote address on Friday was given by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, MD, but I’ll tell you more on that later.
On Thursday, the first day of the conference, I learned about Nutrigenomics. That’s the study of the interaction between genes and nutrition. You can learn more about the subject in this article by the National Institutes of Health or on this Wikipedia page. Dr. Mark Houston gave specific examples of how your genes can determine whether certain nutritional therapies will work for you or not. It all begins with understanding your genetic makeup, of course. Once you are armed with that information, your doctor can determine, for instance, whether or not ingesting caffeine will increase your risk of hypertension. That’s good information to have. It points to the coming trend of personalized medicine.
Pamela Smith, MD, MPH, Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, also spoke about how genetic testing can lead to extraordinarily personal treatment protocols for patients. She took the audience through her treatment of one of her patients who had many health issues that were able to be determined by specific tests and resolved through tailored protocols. Look for a story on this interesting session on our website soon.
Another one of Thursday’s educational tracks was devoted to the Fasting-Mimicking Diet developed by Dr. Valter Longo, Director of University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute. This diet restricts your food intake to between 700 and 1,000 calories per day for a stretch of five consecutive days. Participants eat soup, energy bars and chips developed by Longo to be high in unsaturated fats, but low in carbohydrates and protein. It should be employed only once each month. Patients who adhere to this diet see multi-system rejuvenation, lower inflammation, lower blood pressure, and increased production of stem cells after only three months of compliance. You will see a story about this diet on the Foodtrients website in the future. It’s worth exploring in greater detail.
On Friday, day two of the A4M conference, I learned about hydrogenized water from Professor Garth Nicolson of the Institute for Molecular Medicine. I had never come across this product before, but I believe it could be a powerful weapon against oxidation and aging. We will do a more detailed story about it on the Foodtrients website in the future, but here’s the short version. Forcing extra hydrogen molecules into water (which is not unlike the process of carbonating water), is beneficial to us because we absorb that extra hydrogen when we drink the water. In our bodies, hydrogen can fight oxidative stress because each hydrogen molecule donates its electron to a free oxygen radical, stabilizing it. Provide enough hydrogen to the body and this can happen on a large scale, reducing the damage that free oxygen radicals wreak. The water needs to be sealed tightly until consumed in order to keep the hydrogen from leaking out. And it must be drunk fairly quickly after opening, but there are no known instances of toxicity from drinking it. A few companies are producing hydrogenized water at the wholesale level. Consumers can purchase some directly from Dr. Perricone’s website here or try HFactor’s Hydrogen Infused Water, which is available on Amazon.
On Saturday, the last day of the conference, we were treated to keynote speeches about the frontiers of healthcare and computing. Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD of Nutriomi.com explained how artificial intelligence software can use big data from pharmaceutical companies to discover new drug potencies. He has also designed software that can actually “imagine” completely new molecules which would tweak current medications to be more potent but with fewer side effects. Those molecules would then have to be created in the laboratory, but that is a small hurdle to jump. The possibilities for better pharmaceuticals are incredible. In his work at Nutriomi, Zhavoronkov collects blood biochemistry tests results and other information from individuals. He plugs the results into a Longevity app that shows each person their own tailored longevity diet. We are truly coming into an age where data about our own health can help us make good choices for better outcomes.
Michael Weiner, the chief Medical Information Officer of IBM (and the creator of IBM’s Watson Project) thinks artificial intelligence can be harnessed to sift through millions of medical studies in health journals to find unexpected patterns and connections. He also fully expects it will be able to diagnose patients in the near future, eliminating bias from the decision-making process of doctors. A computer running AI software would also be able to help doctors by quickly reading medical images and ingesting data from genome sequencing on a per-patient level. Using that information plus a database of millions of treatments, it would be able to suggest protocols for each patient to the doctor. This is great news for the future of medicine. Technology like this should lead to more positive outcomes on a population-wide scale.
These speeches helped emphasize in specific detail what entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, MD, spoke about on Friday: The Coming Age of Abundance. The man who created Singularity University and the X Prize asked himself a few years ago, “If sea animals can live hundreds of years, why can’t we?” This led him to co-found a company with J. Craig Venter, PhD, called Human Longevity, Inc. based in San Diego, California. Its goal is to give everyone access to the power of data-driven health. Health Nucleus, a clinical research center that is part of Human Longevity, Inc. administers tests like whole genome sequencing, full-body and brain MRIs, and microbiome (gut bacteria) sequencing in order to help patients take control of their health and plan for their longevity. Diamandis feels so strongly that technology can help us live longer, he thinks we will reach what he calls “longevity escape velocity” in 12 years. That’s the point at which for every year you age, science will be able to keep you alive 1.5-2 years longer.
How’s that for a happy ending?