It is a new year. Many of you may have made resolutions to become healthier. But, knowing how to promote health and longevity is no easy task. People often ask me how I stay young and sharp with all the energy it takes to practice in a challenging technology, intellectual property and privacy law practice at one of Canada’s leading (if not the leading) law firm, McCarthy Tetrault. In short, I have developed strategies for promoting longevity (aka a longer lifespan) and promoting good health while aging (aka health span). Maybe it’s a pipe dream, maybe not. But, I have a few suggestions you may want to consider to help with your new years resolutions.
There are a plethora of books and articles on the subject of promoting good health and longevity. The topics cover a wide range of views including various “best” or recommended practices for all manner of things including exercise, diets (including what to eat, what to avoid, and when to eat), supplements, genetic counselling, health and exercise equipment, detoxification strategies, and pharmaceuticals that target the sources of aging and age related diseases.
I have read (or to be more precise listened to) numerous audio-books on the topics of promoting health and longevity. These including the following:
- David Sinclair, Lifespan
- Dr Nir Barzilai et al, Age Later
- Dr Frank Lipman, The New Rules of Aging Well
- Sayer Ji, Regenerate
- Dr Kris Verburgh, The Longevity Code
- Andrew Steele, Ageless
- Ann Gittleman, Radical Longevity
- Dr Mark Hyman, The Pegan Diet
- Volter Longo, The Longevity Diet
- Dr Joel Fuhrman, Eat for Life
A bit of knowledge can, of course be dangerous. Accordingly, I have, over time, refined my strategies with professional guidance. This includes advice from my crackerjack naturopath, Dr Penny Kendall-Reed, BSc, ND of PKR Health. One of her specialties is using genetic testing to personalize individual treatment plans to prevent and treat diseases. I also received advice from Dr Timothy Cook, a functional doctor at Toronto based ReGen Scientific, and nutritionist and health strategist, Jill Hillhouse. I have also had help from my daughter, Dr. Samantha Zahavi (aka doctormomnd) and daughter in law to be Dr Bronwyn Storoschuk, both of whom are naturopathic doctors. I have also had help from my son Josh Sookman who is the founder of Masterhealth, an app that transforms health and lifestyle books into interactive personalized coaching apps designed to help people build healthy habits based on their unique goals. My wife Shelly, who is the de facto doctor of the family and the wisest owl I know, also has had invaluable tips.
It seems clear to me that there is no “one size fits all” strategy to promote health and longevity. Despite things we all have in common, people are different such as because of genetic differences (including genetic variations), environmental and epigenetic factors. Even many of the experts on aging and longevity caveat their advice because science has not yet firmly established (such as in rigorous double blind tests) all of their theories and recommendations. (We would be much further ahead if we were closer in biology to mice or rats where much research has already shown the promise of these strategies.)
With these caveats in mind, here are some of the things that have been repeatedly recommended you may want to consider to help with your new years health and longevity resolutions.
Exercise: I exercise almost every day. I switch between different workouts to ensure I cover cardio (and especially moderate high intensity interval “HIIT” training), weight/strength training and yoga. You should know that there are variations within these training modalities that are more appropriate for some individuals based on genetic profiles, so you may want to choose routines that are optimal for your health. I do in person and virtual classes (such as Peloton). My equipment includes an elliptical machine, road and recumbent indoor bikes, and a treadmill. I also enjoy recreational sports such as swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, jogging, golfing (my nemesis sport), walking and hiking. I measure workouts using the Health App on my Apple Watch. I know many people who use the latest Fitbit trackers instead. If you want to read about every imaginable contraption you can buy for exercise or other health promoting strategies, you might want to read, Ben Greenfield’s book, Boundless.
Diet: This is one confusing area. Diet regimes can vary considerably depending on many factors including lifestyle, age and genetics. I like the “Mediterranean diet”. I try and avoid the hidden “killer” foods such as those laden with sugar and sugary carbs and am picky about protein choices. (Without trying or intending to lose weight, in a short period I lost 10 lbs, and 2 pant and jacket sizes.) I also try intermittent fasting, seeking to have 12-16 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. (I can’t bring myself to do the longer and more frequent intermittent fasts many health experts recommend.) I know people that use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) such as the new Levels product, but I haven’t been convinced yet on the need for one.
Sleep: Sleep is very important for health and longevity. I try and get 7 hours a night. I track sleep patterns including REM and Deep sleep using my Oura ring.
Supplements: Many health experts have repeatedly recommended the use of certain supplements to improve health and longevity, There is no single set of supplements that work best for everyone. Here again health, age, genetics and other factors can influence what might work best for you. Some supplements that are generally touted as beneficial could actually have the opposite effects depending on a person’s unique circumstances including health and genetics and could cause adverse interactions with medications, so some advice as to what would work best for you is something to look into. My goal has been to focus on energy, cognition, overall health, immunity, and longevity. Here are some supplements you might consider looking into for yourself.
- Liposomal Glutathione, green tea (antioxidants)
- NMN (which both longevity specialists David Sinclair and Dr Nir Barzilai take)
- Resveratrol (which David Sinclair also takes)
- Fish oils
- PQQ and CoQ10
- Vitamins D & K
- A multivitamin
- A full spectrum greens formulation
- Whole body collagen
- Sereniten Plus, Magnesium, and Melatonin (to promote healthy sleep)
If you take supplements you will also want to consider the right dosages for you, the best times of the day to take them, and whether to take them with our without food.
My family doctor, who is great and has also supported my health and longevity goals but isn’t a firm believer in supplements, says I may only be achieving the goal of having the most expensive urine in my neighborhood. Who knows.
Anti-aging pharmaceutical: There is active research on pharmaceutical drugs that can slow down diseases associated with aging. Unfortunately, most of the government research funding around the world supports treatments for major diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s rather than on treating aging as a disease and developing drugs that can promote longer health and life spans. However, there is one drug – metformin – a treatment for diabetes, that has shown promise. It is currently being tested in the large 6 year clinical scale Tame trial, led by AFAR Scientific Director Dr Nir Barzilai. He and David Sinclair, both leaders in health and life spans research, take metformin based on the scientific research so far available.
For those governmental officials and research funding agencies involved in Canadian health and research policy who may stumble across this blog, I strongly recommend investing research resources, and creating incentives to establish and grow Canadian biotech start-ups (and patent portfolios), that focus on tackling aging as a disease, rather than mainly focusing on treating diseases associated with aging. These policies would serve the dual purposes of promoting healthy life spans and reducing the skyrocketing medical costs associated with treating diseases associated with aging.
Purpose: Some centenarians credit their longevity to staying active and by striving to achieve more purposes than accomplishments. I am fortunate to have an interesting and challenging technology, IP, and privacy law practice. I also teach an IP course at Osgoode Hall Law School, and do a lot of writing including updating my 8 volume book on Computer, Internet, and e-commerce Law and blogging. Some of these things may help promote longevity.
I hope the information in this blog on health and longevity will be helpful. Of course, since I am a lawyer and not a doctor, you should do your own research before embarking on your New Years resolutions to become healthier and live longer.
All the best to you for 2022.