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[Music] hola you're tuned into hajo vivagora i'm mattios potomachi and we're together on a scientific journey towards living better hey everyone this is the second part of my interview with american gerontologist james clement as with the previous episode this one has been recorded entirely in english and there are portuguese subtitles available on youtube plus a full transcript and upcoming dub audio versions on vivreagoda.substack.com mr clement is a leading researcher on the field of longevity and explored its association with fasting calorie restriction and ketogenic diet on his book the switch or virashavi on its brazilian edition on the first part we introduced his biography and curious pat towards becoming a scientist his research on mtor how autophagy works and how it supports healthy aging a bit of history of agriculture and its huge impact on our lifestyle and strategies for adopting fasting calorie restriction and ketogenic diet if you will so if you haven't yet please check out part one of this interview before jumping into this one on the second half we dive deeper into real life evidence-based examples about the benefits of eating less how switching from eating mostly organs to muscle during our history affected us the relationship between growth and longevity and why all centenarians are shorter actually than the average humans who should expect the most benefits from fasting calorie restriction keto and who should probably avoid them the importance of balancing electrolytes how aging works the era of phenotypic clocks and why james allows himself to be optimistic about the future of humankind among other topics it's an incredible conclusion to a master class by a leading scientist in the field which i hope again you'll all enjoy greatly before you carry on i'd like to ask you to become a subscriber to our channels if you're not one yet we're on spotify and all podcast platforms youtube and twitter all under the the handle at somos viva guada and now we're also scribbling a couple of words to you on sub stack at vivragar.substack.com again on our social media at somos villagora and on vivagora.substance.com that's all folks have a good time [Music] so guys here we are back with mr james w clement james since we're talking a lot about how our food intake changed throughout history and the impact that caloric restriction and fasting and switching the the switch on and off have on health in different communities around the world can you mention some some real life examples where the the switch is on and off and how they impact our health i think most of the book is actually about how uh you find this in nature um quite often the results from what you see back this up tremendously well i talk about uh the loma linda uh vegans who are part of the adventist church of the okinawans which are known for their having uh the highest density of centenarians in the world of um these mount at those monks who follow a orthodox religion fasting protocol where they fast roughly half of the year surprisingly a lot of information that people know intuitively but don't really think about in the context of the mtor switch and whether or not you know this is something that will work across the board for anyone that tries it and one of the examples um is miniature animals if you talk about miniature poodles chihuahuas pincers etc you ask them what's the average lifespan of one of these really small dogs the general answer is going to be you know somewhere around like 18 to 20 years and if you say okay what is the lifespan of you know the really large full-sized dogs those are generally somewhere around seven to nine years 12 at the most i'll tell them do you know that the the only uh difference in those animal breeds is one single nucleotide in in their igf-1 gene and and yet the small dogs live almost twice as long and this is a prime example of a loss of function in this igf-1 production which means that they these animals have limited igf-1 so mtor does not get turned on the way it would be in a full-size uh version of that of that dog and uh as a result they also are much healthier and generally live twice as long so igf-1 is a hormone primarily made in the liver it needs a signal of growth hormone in order to be made and the presence of insulin and under those conditions a normal body will produce a fair amount of igf-1 and that igf-1 will tell mtor that it's okay to make more cells and to make more proteins and um this isn't obviously a bad thing in general it's not so much tied into obesity itself it's the fact that under those conditions and with a full glycogen store the body will conserve fat so if if you were a caveman and it was summertime and there were uh plants growing fruit trees you know fruiting nuts available etc so you have these carbohydrates that are available but only for a couple of months out of the year then your body's going to going to encourage you to consume those and to save your fat for the cold winter months or for the for the drought season and your body would switch over from the carbohydrates to to burning the stored fat that you have before humans had fires um you couldn't really eat a lot of protein protein was is uh meat is really hard to chew if it's raw and not cooked and so you know fire was a great invention so to speak and once that happened um nutrition went up tremendously and the protein that people could eat went up tremendously because they they no longer had to have like these massive muscles in their jaws the human advantage prior to learning how to use fire was that we knew how to use stone tools and other bones and so humans quickly learned how to break animal bones and break into the skull and the brain is very rich in fat it's about 80 fat by weight and um bone marrow is uh very nutritious and and you know these large animals would have had a lot of bone marrow so it's um it's been discussed more and more in the scientific literature that paleolithic man may have been in ketosis most of the time and only out of ketosis for you know some seasonal period in which fruits and and grains and things like that were uh were coming about so uh you're what you're basically saying is that um the the markers are related to aging what we we identify as aging uh and which for some people are faster than for others they are directly related to excessive growth which is uh observable by example such as dog breeds which is like an extrapolation but even in humans you can see that uh shorter people tend to live longer the people you usually see who reach uh who are centenarians or super centenarians uh they are usually shorter than average right we talked about that um when we when we were first introduced um you know i went around the world for a number of years meeting uh individuals who had lived at least 106 years of age and one thing i can absolutely say about all of them that they had in common was that they were petite um so the men women were generally uh not much over five feet and uh you know this was not because they were malnourished this was this was not you know uh because you know uh when they were kids there just wasn't that much protein around that's you know they were they were smaller than their counterparts at the same time and studies have been done by near barzillai tom pearls a number of really great researchers that indicate that they in fact have loss of function mutations uh i think in men it's a growth hormone receptor mutation and in the women it's an igf-1 mutation so that they have less igf-1 than other individuals and so they end up being more petite but they also end up without cancer and other diseases that would kill them early in life yeah that makes a perfect sense do do all um diseases related to aging are they really a result of uh erratic growth then to you mr clement i wouldn't put it that way what's what sort of developed over the years is that modern humans largely live in a lifestyle that gives them accelerated aging and what i mean by that is that based on the the diet of a of a modern human they are turning on mtor and keeping autophagy off so they are developing syndromes and diseases that would not have been seen and are not reported in um like 18th and 19th century uh islands and whether you're talking about native americans the inuit uh native alaskans uh native uh greenlanders etc um the general consensus is that they were leaner healthier there were few if any individuals with diabetes few if any individuals that had heart disease etc there really is a category called um diseases of civilization um because when these same islander people or um native inhabitants would start consuming what we would consider normal quantities of western style food primarily like flour and sugar and processed foods now etc all of these conditions would change and they would [Music] rapidly reach the same if not higher levels of alzheimer's and and cancer heart disease diabetes etc as the westerners um and and they would do it very rapidly so you saw this with the okinawans who moved mainland japan and and also to hawaii their their kids would have exactly the same kind of problems that that western kids had whereas back home they didn't have these problems yeah amazing um so uh from from what we're we've been discussing here it kind of uh sounds like a caloric restriction and and fasting and uh keto which are those three main strategies for switching mtor off uh they should work better for people who are overweight or poor like taller but um how how about people who are already lean who already eat less has to have this friend uh she she said yeah i kind of wanted to try uh fasting but but she's really skinny you know and she said yeah i i'm kind of i kind of fear that i i will have uh you know uh ruin my health if i do that and i have other friends who say yeah i feel feel really bad if i don't eat every uh three hours so um caloric restriction fasting and those approaches uh do you think there for everyone who could reap the most benefits from it well let's let's start off with the caveats and that's a great question right off the bat if someone has uh an eating disorder um uh they're anorexic or engaged bulimia um you know they should not be encouraged to do calorie restriction fasting etc um if uh if a woman is um pregnant or intending to become pregnant you know this is not a time to start a ketogenic diet or or a fasting diet or severe calorie restriction either and certainly all of these things should be discussed with the with the physician who knows them the best and uh you know knows their medical history etc and what their risks are you know based on um what they've had in the past and and their uh biomarkers show on blood tests um and i i think you should separate those kind of people and and people who are by nature um very thin so you know in some of these cases it's because uh their uh their body doesn't make some of the enzymes that it's necessary to break down proteins quite as well as other people uh so they simply um don't absorb as many uh calories or as or as many proteins and and specifically the types of proteins that would turn on mtor we're a very very heterogeneic group you know so again this whole idea that um humans are not all the same and and you can't say well this worked for me therefore it'll work for anyone um it's it's it's more refined than that and that's why looking at these big populations it gives me comfort that on the most part this is going to work for you know the broad majority of people but individually there's certainly you know bumps in the road i have many friends that say i tried a ketogenic diet and i got lightheaded or i um you know i just i just completely fogged up and i couldn't remember anything um most of that is the transition part and uh yeah yeah totally some some people will talk about um going through keto flu and what they basically mean is that for for a short period of time which is usually three to four days a person who is transitioning over from their body mostly using carbohydrates to switch over to fat burning um both their gut bacteria and their own cells are essentially yelling at them go back to the carbs they get sugar cravings um they they feel um the loss of these dope dopamine or serotonins that they were getting you know from their gut bacteria that was making them feel good um so you know it can for some people be a challenge to get over that initial period um before your body makes this transition and as soon as that happens um you know your gut bacteria essentially some of those bacteria that rely on high carbohydrate diets will simply die off and be replaced by other bacteria that flourish with the other kinds of foods that you're eating now the more protein or more more fat for example and um and this this will also help alleviate those kind of those kind of problems absolutely when you go into a ketogenic diet it's really called that because your blood ketone levels um go up and these ketones power your mitochondria in the same way that glucose does and you might hear about this from keto proponents etc that your mitochondria make less free radicals on a keto diet than they do on a glucose diet in the end it's it's more protective of the mitochondrial dna and of your your cells nuclear dna because you aren't producing as many um free radicals as you would under a high carbohydrate diet that transition also requires um a fair amount more water to be processed than your body is used to so another thing that happens to a lot of individuals when they first start a ketogenic diet is that they don't increase their water and electrolyte intake and you'll hear them say well you know by the end of the first day i had a really bad headache and i thought well this is going to go away and so the next day i i kept it up and i just had a headache the entire day i felt really crappy etc well actually part of that is just that um their body needs a lot more water if they're uh using what yeah to mobilize the fat yeah yep and and so they're actually walking around severely dehydrated and if you if you can just warn somebody ahead of time you know when you start your ketogenic diet diet start drinking a little more water than you would before maybe get a sugar-free powerade or you know some electrolyte type drink and have that at least once a day too to keep your electrolyte balance you know um up and uh and the people will have a much easier time uh going through this transition yeah the metaphor that i used to to explain the difference between being keto adapted and eating a regular standard diet it's uh when you're uh thriving on on carbohydrates it's like you're burning uh gasoline and when you're you're burning fats like a diesel which is harder to burn but it will last for longer and it requires uh some some more energy to be burned but it it's it makes for a long-standing fire i like that you brought up the the electrolyte issue i was listening to a podcast by uh peter atia recently where he said he usually goes under a five seven day fast and um and he takes allopurinol to control uric acid so i'd like to hear your take on that and what are the the best strategies to control your electrolyte intake and other possible side effects of especially extended fasting well i i think somebody that wants to do extended fasting should actually do it under their doctor's supervision um at least uh for the first few times then they can they can start looking at like you know well how are your electrolyte levels to begin with because there are lots of like particular complications heart arrhythmia for example is often a uh a dysfunction in the uh uh signaling in the cells um that could be uh really exacerbated in a negative way um you know by doing ketosis and and not properly maintaining your electrolyte balance so you know it could actually be really harmful if you don't think about it or know about this if your doctor is one of the ones that's really not into this sort of thing or or has any kind of experience helping people there's usually in in most cities and urban areas uh more progressive doctors that would have experience and the ability to advise you so you uh but usually recommend only that for for optimizing your mtor switch to then stick to either ketogenic or caloric restriction or intermittent fasting uh like on a 6 16 by 8 20 by 4 window if you want to optimize autophagy and mtor cycling back and forth i think that can be done without extended fasting i'm i'm not convinced that extended fasting is beneficial for the normal person i think there's certainly circumstances in which individuals that are resistant to weight loss and um obese uh might find that extended fasting would help them out uh in that they give their body a longer uh period of time which you're primarily consuming your own your own calories from your own fat you know i i talk about uh you know something like 880 calories um are in your body at any general time for 150 pound uh you know 60 kilo male um that's that's a figure that's used in a lot of textbooks and papers and um uh that same person with a a unquote normal healthy bmi would have uh somewhere around 135 000 calories worth of fat um so you know if you're burning 1800 to 2000 calories a day 135 000 calories um you know it's gonna last you you know uh six eight weeks um and you know there's there's uh medical reports that have been published of individuals that were morbidly obese you know in the 400 to 500 pound range that um went on essentially a water only diet for a year um it didn't suffer any ill effects you know lost a tremendous amount but but didn't you know didn't didn't uh didn't suffer you know from that so um you know again i think that i think it's it's something that needs to be individualized and you know if you're if you're somewhat healthy but you've followed just sort of a typical western diet and you know you weren't really into like the whole mediterranean diet or you haven't you know explored some of these other kind of diets that that um would have less carbohydrates than you know what what we're generally exposed to and i think this is one of the the benefits of of paleo is that for a lot of people even though they may have been consuming um non-optimal fats and uh maybe too much protein um they excluded a lot of the really bad things that you know modern society has put in front of us so you know they cut out the donuts they cut out you know the the sugar sweetened products and a lot of processed foods and stuff that that would be restricted in the uh in the paleo diet i i think that um some people may have seen that they got a lot of health benefits initially and they felt much better on a paleo diet but you know their blood reports and um you know other ailments that they were hoping would go away just didn't quite happen and that's where i think information about the switch and how it works and how autophagy cleans out cells and um you know minimizes these uh issues that that bring about diseases like alzheimer's and cancers and etc that um you know this is where they can transition from something that sort of helped them out maybe help them lose a little weight and you know maybe got them over some food allergy you know like um celiac or or gluten that was you know bothering them and allows them to you know now take it a step further and use calorie restriction or intermittent fasting or these ketogenic breaks you know where they do this for a week or so or longer as a way of really turning on a topic fantastic yeah and especially because uh within the the paleo community uh people tend to just to say that you can eat as much protein as as you like and uh this is one key point of of your of your book too because cytocycle proteins is really key to maintain a metabolic health too right well we don't have a lot of evidence of individuals being long lived um who have followed a primarily carnivore or meat and fat focused paleo diet so i've read a lot of scientific papers by what are essentially paleo nutritionists and paleo biologists who are looking at you know what do they find around the world um that humans were eating and just just as it occurs now people in different parts of the world were eating a lot of different things the people had primarily like really large uh animals around that they could uh trap or kill they ate a lot different than people who lived um uh forests or or jungles and had other environmental food opportunities you know many of the populations lived even during the paleo times primarily off of legumes and starches and leaves and whatever fruits and nuts they could come across and it's even insects for some period of time in our human history that makes uh perfect sense i'd like to dig a little into uh some of your uh specifically aging related uh experience you mentioned that uh we recently found out that genes uh account for seven percent of our of our lifespan and health spend the rest of it is due to a lifestyle at the same time we have this uh new discovery that's been discussed which is uh called the methylation clock so i'd like to to to hear uh some of your thoughts about the whole steve horvath calculator and uh the morgan levine final age calculator that you share with me uh so how does that all work and what have you been studying about it in your lab that's a great question the um the horvath clock was something that came up from ucla professor steve horvath who basically took uh a large database of methylation patterns and compared those with just people's age can you explain shortly what's what's a methylation sure so um there are modifications that are done to the chromosomes in our dna some of these have to do with proteins that are added to histones and histones are essentially these little balls that the strands of dna are wrapped around normally the dna is kind of a loose ball of string and it's tightly wound not only in itself but around these little um histones it's either really tight fit or or loose fit and that determines whether or not um the dna is exposed in a way that it can be um transcribed so transcription basically means that the segment of dna that codes for a protein can be read and then these messenger rnas go off to the ribosome and the ribosome turns the messenger rna into a protein that your cell's going to use and so whether or not these histones have certain modifications to determine whether or not parts of the dna are exposed to being transcribed or silenced you know most people know that there's four nucleotides that make up uh you know our dna ladder the uh a t c and g um commonly referred to and that they they go in these patterns you know there there's two on each rung so to speak and they match and so this tells you whether um there's a particular protein being made by the combination of these letters when they get transcribed they turn into one protein or another and the outside of the ladder that holds these nucleotides is made up of phosphate and on that these methylation which is a the addition of a methyl group which is a chemical uh group happens primarily to the c's and the g's these methylation patterns can either increase or decrease um the availability of those nucleotides to be read and to be translated into proteins uh or what we call the gene expression right yeah it's it's referred to as gene expression which again um the short answer is to what gene expression is is whether or not uh this protein coding gene is turned up so that that more proteins being made or turned down what steve horvath had the foresight to do was to question do these affect uh aging and first of all let's just see if there's any comparison at all uh to a person's age and so the original horovath clock that was published in 2013 basically predicted your age based on the methylation pattern and you would get data which he would then be able to say this predicts that you were let's say 60 years old and it turned out that it was highly accurate this was immediately jumped on by people in forensics because what they discovered was that you could take bones that maybe um you know were 100 years old or older and take the dna out of them still read the methylation and be able to say you know this came from a 16 year old person or a 90 year old person and be within you know three to six months of accuracy now there's outliers where you know there are people that the horvath clock would have said that they were 65 and they were actually 50.
um so he looked at this data you know his uh his initial thing was so is the algorithm wrong or was this person just healthier more like a 50 year old than a 60 year old like is it possible that having a younger biological age in terms of methylation patterns that is your pattern of your methylation looks more like a 40 year old than a than a 60 year old which let's say you are does that mean that your proteins are being expressed more like a 40 year old and therefore you don't have the death risk or morbidity risk that a 60 year old would have and so he started refining that he had a uh i believe a postdoc at the time named morgan levine um who later went on to become a assistant professor at yale and has done a lot of work in this area they worked on a a score that basically would look at certain blood biomarkers and give you a prognosis on the health of various organs from your immune system to your liver kidneys uh to you know your inflammation load and so they were able to narrow this down to nine biomarkers that were highly associated with the risk of morbidity and mortality based on age and that became known as the phenotypic age score now in order to to uh have a horvath calculation of your methylation clock you you need to have your whole genome read right and through that morgan levi levine uh sheet that you shared with me you can instead of of submitting your your whole genome which is something expensive you can just uh have like nine different readings which is like creative reactive protein creatinine creatine albumin and some other markers and you submit that and will calculate your of your phenotypic age right which is your um your true age your biological age is that correct so the the phenotypic age can be measured yeah yeah from the from the blood-borne biomarkers and it's if you know what a complete blood count is it's if you have a a uh like a a fairly in-depth cbc as it's referred to in the states complete blood so you get uh white blood cell count red blood cell count and you get some markers on the red blood cells like their width and density etc so um those are the nine biomarkers that you need to use in this spreadsheet type calculation for this phenotypic age or you can give a blood sample from which dna is taken there there's no whole gene whole genome sequencing needed okay so steve had um access to these large databases and over the course of the next couple of years he did this also for the phenotypic age so they used basically the same biomarkers to say are there methylation profiles that will accurately predict statistically the same thing that these biomarkers provide us and so you you can get the phenotypic age score from directly from dna and not from taking the blood test but as you said it's much less expensive to run these biomarkers on average if you go to a physician it's it's about 20 to 30 bucks in the u.s to get a cbc with a c-reactive protein added to it so a phenotype is basically how your genes that are expressed in you how they interact with the environment if a person has a genetic propensity uh for something and they're just a carrier they're not said to express that that phenotype so you know let's say the the people who have growth hormone or igf-1 um loss of function um they can be a carrier and be normal-sized um and they're that's referred to as not expressing the phenotype of being shortened stature the people who have both genes on both sides of their family so they inherited the this autosomal recessive trait on both sides they would express it and they would have this short stature so they would be said to be expressing the phenotype so this phenotypic age is basically supposed to look at your your physiology your organs health etc and to say you know this this is how your genes have converted into your environment and so right you are more similar to someone of a certain age based on that than you are your chronological age and um and then the final horvath clock that came out in 28 late 2018 uh which he refers to as the grimm grim age glock which i believe is you know sort of based on on you know the nursery rhymes grim fables but um you know it's basically the grim reaper kind of uh kind of idea is that it was trained specifically on morbidity and mortality data so it is much more so than the other two it is supposed to be more of a predictor of what age group are you most associated with based on your methylation profiles for having a risk of disease and death and so what these three different clocks allow us now to do that has never been in existence before that that you know humans could use is that now you can do lifestyle changes you can take different supplements you can get on certain medications etc some of which we've got good evidence for already that will change your methylation profile to a younger state than previously actually see that see the magic happening so instead of complaining yeah those things won't change a thing uh i mean if i'm i'm cursed with bad genes i'm i'm gonna die a little hopes of that so like right now you can see from a year to obs you can take your blood tests like every year and see how your lifestyle is is changing or not or are making you go your your usual way and so this is really fantastic and it is amazing that is available um what you were suggesting that you take it year after year and that you um compare the trend that's probably for now um the most important use of this um is to whether you're doing it based on the blood markers or the methylation patterns is basically to say whatever i'm doing is either accelerating my aging so let's say your chronological age is 45 but your methylation pattern says you look more like a 55 year old that means that something is going on that is causing um your body to be in the ranking of somebody who's 10 years older or more and even you know given some sort of error bars you don't want to have the uh heightened risk of death and morbidity of somebody that's older than you you want it to be the reverse um you want your risk of getting a disease or dying to be more like it was when you were 20 when you know that all of those things were far off like when we were 20 years old um yeah so these these have only been around a short period of time for people to start making use of them and going back and looking at historical data where you know methylation profiles were taken from some longitudinal group both steve horvath and morgan levine have done a lot of work and have shown that it correlates very nicely with all these historical studies that have been done it's you know if they if they look at uh different groups like socioeconomic groups and they say like well if we compare compare poor people with better off people um do we see any difference it's it's exactly what you would expect to see that um you know the people who were less advantaged uh and probably weren't eating as well and going to see a doctor as as often etc their morbidity and mortality risk um increase it yeah i think what would would be higher just based on their socioeconomic and when you and when you look at their methylation pattern it's the same it actually it actually pick this up that they have the methylation patterns of someone who's older and that's true of you know people who have bad lifestyles or obese and and smoke and things like that you see the methylation patterns are worse and they've they've done studies for cancer patients and they've seen that in certain cancer patients you could have predicted um that the risk for cancer would have been a lot higher based on methylation patterns from that particular organ whether it's you know the prostate breast etc so this is going to be very very useful in the immediate and probably even far future as we get more and more data that we can look at and say how does this relate to certain conditions or general trends and it in our case my focus has been these translational human clinical trials where you know we give people interventions that are relatively new and hopefully affordable herbal supplements that that are known to extend life and other organisms or you know these analytic compounds things like rapamycin like generic drugs you know that are available so we've done a number of these clinical trials um we're now taking blood samples and dna samples that we got from these clinical trials subjects and this is something um steve orvath and i are very excited about and working together um to see whether or not these in interventions which do things like reduce inflammation load uh mobile help mobilize stem cells to repair cartilage and organ damage and things like that are they also changing the methylation profiles either directly or indirectly in a way that can you know benefit our risk of getting the disease and and and dying early there's a whole other level that you and i were talking about um in our in our chat epigenetics i really first became aware of this because of my my friendship with david sinclair and since you've read lifespan you know that he talks a lot about changing the epigenetic clock and he has a particular theory of what this entails it's one that involves what he calls loss of information and it's it's the loss of this epigenetic information where cells literally be can become confused over time they sort of forget you know the enzymes and proteins and function that they're supposed to be carrying out he attributes this to certain types of uh epigenetic changes for which um you can both prevent those changes yeah uh this is uh those are the two really important fields of research right now but uh the whole uh theory of loss of communication uh by david sinclair is fantastic also the the other the tools made by by steve horvath and mark levine they are really uh useful and as you said they are uh we're just starting to to to use them now and to see uh the true impact on on on our health and of our lifestyle changes in our health and our health of our organs and um each detail uh and it's something that's going to be useful uh both for for a personal use but also for like broader trials to see uh how we're looking at as as a as a human as a species right now but i mean uh no people don't don't need to to uh use those tools to to see uh improvement in their their lives in their health through lifestyle changes uh you you can see uh for yourself the effects on your uh disposition on your um cognition and and other uh uh aspects of your lifestyle of your life of your health when you apply simple changes in your lifestyle and stuff that are what we're discussing here james clement research and book is about is about that it's about how knowledge is liberating and how uh actually those those most of those lifestyle changes doesn't cost anything they they actually they were going to save you money because we're talking discussing about eating less food and eating better so um james uh we're approaching our our curfew here uh with you i i know that you have a lot of things to to take care so you have been you were uh the 12th 12th 12th person the number 12 person to have your genome sequence back when it was a very expensive uh thing to do do you see with hope uh where we're going at with all of this uh knowledge that's been put in out in the world being put is being put out in the world and the new uh uh research on lifestyle changes and the new possibilities of uh genetic manipulation and genetic drugs in the future do you do you see this with optimism do you think that we might actually be going to a good place i'm uh extremely optimistic uh from what i've seen over the past dozen or more years in which i've been actively engaged in the field before really getting into the trenches working in a laboratory and copiously reading papers i i was probably more pessimistic because it didn't seem like there was a lot happening but i can tell you that the number of papers that are being published every day for the last year or so have been more than you would see in a single year a decade or so ago there's a been a tremendous increase in the number of researchers that are working in the field and i i do think that there's this tremendous overlap of um technology uh and it's uh implementation in different fields and in our case in biology and medicine that is just producing this exponential increase in data and that that more so than almost anything else is probably driving this acceleration of our knowledge so you know i tell people um you know i have a fairly modest laboratory uh i've been very lucky to you know get some good funding um you know there's anti-aging scientists um startup companies uh you know uh popping up all all over the world where you know they've got equipment that even you know a prestigious university wouldn't have had just 20 years ago and and now there's there's literally you know hundreds of the startup companies that are also doing research and producing papers and and patenting things and moving moving the field along so what i've seen has been really heartening and uh gives me a lot of hope that this is coming about much more quickly than i would have estimated um back in let's say 1980 or 1990.
You uh started this to uh make it accessible to everyone to shorten the gap between something uh really uh breakthrough being discovered and becoming accessible to the most amount of people for like basically is if possible for free do you see it happening because it there's a lot at stake for that to happen uh there's a lot of things on the way uh for for those lifestyle changes to be adopted and a change of mentality for physicians and scientists and decision makers of all sorts so have you been seeing change over those 12 years so for example i think i was at one of the early meetings that aubrey de gray put on in the early 2000s he's a essentially a computer scientist from cambridge uh england um whose uh wife was involved in i believe it was uh drosophila uh biology and um and he became intrigued um with the aspects of aging wrote a paper got his phd uh in that field and became a popularizer of the idea of doing something about aging and how aging itself could be considered a disease that he believed that there were seven major types of errors um now more commonly thought of as the hallmarks of aging when aubry de gray was just getting started and i started attending medical conferences and talking to doctors and scientists about anti-aging it was really kind of a taboo subject some of my mentors even said you know when i first started my super centenarium project don't go around telling people that you want people to live indefinitely or you know have radical long life spans just talk about the health aspects yeah because um this idea of uh longevity and sort of the the search for the fountain of youth had been mostly associated not with scientists but with um snake oil salesmen and medicine men and kind of you know um rip offs and uh you know it was just not considered uh academically uh wholesome yeah yeah and suitable well fast forward to you know 2019 and 2020 and you have google um starting calico putting you know 100 million dollars into uh essentially a longevity startup uh you have uh brian johnson a tech um entrepreneur who put uh 70 million dollars into a project that craig vinter headed for a while called human longevity inc you saw the formation of various venture capital funds dedicated to essentially health span and lifespan extension and um this this is just a radical change from what you would have seen you know even 15 years ago and now you've got young people going into college who are specifically thinking um well i missed out on the microprocessor revolution i missed out on the internet uh facebook google etc revolution but i'm not too early uh or too late for the um longevity lifespan especially not too late yeah hopefully especially we live in a society in which you know um having the availability of funds to invest and to make a company and make a product is um is highly prized and people are motivated to do that so i i'm certainly not going to to knock the venture capital mechanism that gets a lot of people motivated to research a field create a product and hopefully make people's lives better i personally find that to be a little more difficult in the anti-aging field for a number of reasons one of which is it makes collaborations really hard because you know you don't really want to share confidential data and in some cases sharing confidential data would would essentially be a violation of your fiduciary duties to your shareholders and therefore i find it easier to operate and i find it easier to make a list of therapies that i think are are going to be really worth pursuing and that can be scaled up to hopefully help as many individuals as possible without having to worry about a product because if i were doing this a for-profit company i would not only personally want it to be successful with a product but i would also have an obligation to my investors to spend all of my time not just on the science but also on the business side there is a lot of forces behind companies um to essentially maximize the amount of money that they get from something and and that that includes pharma companies basically delaying the advancement of a product which would be safer and um more efficacious simply because the old product that we put so much marketing and uh other costs into and is doing pretty well it still it still has another year or two on its patent this is the kind of thing i don't have to worry about we can really focus on what is the fastest way um for the greatest benefit to anti-aging yeah well aim into all that aiming to everything that you said in on our almost three hour long conversation and the way i see it um as uh as species and as a planet right now uh actually as a species who's been damaging this planet for for quite some time we are at a very um delicate spot right now where we uh we're at the same time in the dark ages in uh enlightenment uh we have especially here in my country in brazil we've been dealing with a very bad government which which has been damaging uh people very much and especially science to science is being decimated here in brazil but at the same time there is a ton of knowledge which is uh being put out in the market and here as well a lot of lots of very serious people still fighting the good fight and um and not only on uh universities but also found in startups which are uh are trying to to do some good too and nonprofits and other organizations out of the uh academy world and well what we need is uh really people who can still keep their optimism up and translate it into um very meaningful uh pursuit and mission and and project and may you always find the resource and the strength in you to keep doing that work and that people can listen to people like you more and uh and the world may may come come through for more and more people to be aware of uh what they can do to to live better to be a better version of themselves for themselves for their families for their communities and for the world at large as as individuals as organizations so thank you very much for for your generosity james and for your time for sharing so much with us uh and i really hope that your book may find a fertile ground here in my country and that we can touch base again follow up for uh other episodes and other chats either here or or on other media so thank you indeed thanks i i really appreciate being offered the opportunity to talk with you on your podcast um i've had a fun time um you know talking about it um as i think hopefully lay people will understand it and i've tried to keep things as simple as possible and emphasize um the points that i think are more crucial because um i have a lot of people that ask me you know what should i do to live to you know 300 to 500 or something like that and the first thing i tell them is in order to get to be a super centenarian you first have to get to a hundred and right now fifty percent of men will die by the time they're 78 and 50 of women will die by the time they're roughly 82.
so what's going on with you know this large segment of the population that can't even make it to 80 you know five years old and the book was really my answer to that question which is it's mostly lifestyle and that most people not everyone but most people could probably make it into their their early to mid 90s in good health if they followed a better lifestyle and one of the things that they would have to know is about mtor and autophagy and to be able to implement this in their lifestyle and if they did that their risk of diseases their risk of of dying earlier in their life would be i think dramatically decreased the way you see in these population groups like the okinawa ones the seventh day adventists uh in loma linda and uh you know the uh mount athos monks so i i really hope that um people will sort of take this to heart change their their lifestyles i personally believe that really extended lifespans will take a lot of strain off of people and they will hopefully have a longer time in life to to learn to become cosmopolitan to travel and see other places other peoples um see how uh actually close all of us are in our thoughts our emotions you know what we value in life and that sort of thing and so i i'm actually very optimistic that a population that lives hundreds of years will not be some sort of dystopian world um but will be more wise more concerned with the environment that they have to now live in you know for hundreds of years rather than just 60 or 70 years and they'll also be seeing their children their grandchildren and others um in a different light in in in terms of what they're leaving behind in the world so i i'm optimistic about that and i i love what i'm doing and i think this is going to benefit humanity in general perfect man thank you thank you again thank you very much and we'll be in touch thank you all for listening and until next time is