Life extension, and anti-aging has become commoditized. Much of the marketing of anti-aging involves expensive testing and supplements. It is as if middle class people have no access to the technology necessary to extend life and delay aging.
But we have to consider that the longest-lived people in the world typically come from modest backgrounds of average income. I remember when I started to study anti-aging interventions many years ago, I was struck by the fact that some of the thought leaders were driven to travel around the country, and even around the world to seek the highest and best treatments. Their regimen seemed to be technologically dependent with lots of expensive interventions. Everything from hormones to the infusion of young blood and stem cells can be far beyond the reach of average people.
Even if you are endowed with unlimited resources, there is still a philosophical as well as a time commodity that has to be navigated.
As we weigh all of these variables there are a few things that stand out irrefutably in the fight against aging and the pursuit of youthful vitality. I consider these to be the foundations of the “Anti-Aging Pyramid.” We can all take part in the pursuit of antiaging and youth enhancing health, and we can do so in a progressive manner that suits our philosophy and our budget. It must also align with the greatest return on investment.
We can bypass heavy smoking and heavy drinking since these two are so foundational that if you are currently a drinker and a smoker then you are redefining “healthy life” in a manner very different from the one that I like to focus on. In the spirit of ultimate freedom that is clearly the prerogative of those who choose to partake of tobacco and heavy alcohol. It’s just not a focus of this blog.
Moving past the very basic elements the next most fundamental aspect of antiaging is percent body fat. Excess body fat correlates with all-cause mortality, increase disability from arthritis, increase dementia, increase cancer, increase in heart disease. In short it deprives us not only of our best quality of life in the moment, but it accelerates the aging process in a way that exposes us to a higher likelihood of disability that will precede our shortened lifespan.
Here I would like to take distinct opposition to the notion that is being promoted by some of “Healthy at Every Size” (HAES). This is a way of surrendering to obesity as an unavoidable phenomenon. It is also a way to give us false comfort while we fiddle at the edges of our health and ignore the court aspect of obesity itself.
You can certainly be a more athletic heavy person through the benefit of training, but there is no strong evidence that reducing disease and improving longevity will occur as a result.
One of the problems with obesity is that it has not been recognized as the metabolic chronic illness state that it is. In addition, there are very few financial incentives engineered to motivate the delivery of effective weight loss therapy.
Consider the fact that the “healthcare” system is designed to intervene in the face of chronic sickness. Simply put, they do not make any money until you become sick. The most profitable state of the population that supports the profit margin of hospitals, doctors, and the various interventions that they promote is one where the population is chronically ill, but not quite dead. There is no chronic illness more profitable to address than obesity and its comorbidities from diabetes to cancer to heart disease. This is not to imply that doctors and hospitals are evil people, they are simply following the economic principle of pursuing their financial best interest.
The same holds true for the food industry. The more you eat the more you buy the more they make. Whether it’s at the grocery store or at the restaurant, volume equals profit. In addition, the food industry has invested significant sums in order to identify the things that you cannot resist. They know how to weave in artificial sweeteners, sugar, salt, aroma even colors and words are all engineered to take advantage of your primitive drive to consume energy. When you are shopping or dining out you are like a sheep to the slaughter, and amateur amongst pros.
Even the weight loss industry profits from your cyclical failures. If there were really a linear, reliable, method of helping you permanently reduce your weight, the dependence on various diets would be diminished greatly. Far better and far more profitable for cycles of weight gain and weight loss to occur. In essence each person becomes an endless consumer moving from one diet to the next as they yo-yo between high and low weights.
This has been the status for decades. It has gotten us to the place we are in currently which is one of global poor health with increased vulnerability to infection and disease and escalating disability. Ironically, the very conditions that make us like this compel us to become more dependent on the system that is perpetuating our chronic illness.
Locations around the world where people routinely live to advanced ages with vital health have been designated as “Blue Zones.” One thing they all have in common is that people have modest income. They are all lean. They do not exercise in any formal manner but rather have active lifestyles. They have a diet that is typically limited in range, small in volume, and devoid of supplements and manufactured products.
People often ask me whether or not certain foods are “good” or “bad.” I remind them that food is like a force of nature. It is amoral. A better way to frame this is in regard to one’s own body. The most toxic food you can eat is too much of anything. And the definition of too much is a relative term dependent upon the individual’s genetic, metabolic, and lifestyle variables.
In the course of my clinical studies, I have identified three major types of obesity. Type 1 is “born to be big.” These are individuals who have been heavy since birth. Type II is adult-onset obesity. This is the most common type where individuals make it through young adulthood without weight gain issues only to have it gradually accumulate in the 20s and 30s. Type III is hormonally induced and typically occurs at the time of menopause for women, or andropause for men. It can also be brought on by pregnancy. In some cases, an individual can be endowed with all three types of obesity.
Before any chronic condition can be addressed, cause must be analyzed, and the proper treatment must be applied. As witnessed by the decades-long failure of our current approach to obesity, the current treatment paradigm has failed patients.
The world of anti-aging medicine is growing rapidly and is filled with exciting information regarding hormones, mitochondria, detoxification, and the pharmacologic, supplement, and lifestyle manipulations that can help us live beyond 100 with youthful energy. But it all starts at the foundation of the pyramid by mastering percent body fat.
In upcoming blogs, I will break down the obesity types and discuss approaches to treatment that can help guide you toward success.