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Recommended Reading: Increasing Healthspan and Lifespan

Reaching middle-age and thinking you’d like to be healthier and live longer? Here are a few tidbits from four fascinating books:

  • Aging is a treatable disease.
  • Caregivers are much more likely to have shorter telomere length, thus are aging faster.
  • One of the oldest medical texts is an Egyptian papyrus from circa 2500 BC. It is a “Recipe for Transforming an Old Man into a Youth.” Unfortunately, the recipe turns out to be a face cream made from fruit and mud, probably not all that different from the pomegranate-and-melon-and milk-infused anti-aging creams Americans spend an estimated eleventy-billion dollars on each year.
  • A few days before his 39th birthday, Meb Keflezighi won the Boston Marathon. 

Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair and Matthew LaPlante (2019)

Sinclair writes, “Once people begin to accept that aging is not an inevitable part of life, will they take better care of themselves?” He believes so, especially once people see aging as a treatable disease.

Sinclair’s storytelling and scientific explanations are riveting, especially his discussion on sirtuins which address DNA stability, DNA repair, cell survivability, metabolism and cell-to-cell communication. When sirtuins are engaged on DNA repair, the rest of their epigenetic functioning is temporarily disabled. During this time, their cells age. Scientists have tested doubling the amount of sirtuins. The results allowed cells to repair DNA and not age.

Sirtuins can be boosted through dietary supplements such as Nicotinamide Riboside (NR). Recent clinical trial results have affirmed that NR is safe. If you are going to read one book this holiday season or give a book as a gift to your friends and family, this should be it. With a longer healthier life, you want your friends and family to be there with you, too.

The Telomere Effect, a Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel (2017)

Telomeres protect the end of your chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes. When your telomeres become too short, your cells either die or become senescent, causing inflammation in your body. This becomes a vicious cycle as innocent bystander cells are damaged, then move to senescence and expand the inflammation. Immunosenescence occurs with aging and is likely your cause of death if you avoid heart attacks, cancer and strokes.

The Telomere Effect covers Blackburn’s extensive research into which lifestyle behaviors cause telomeres to shorten. There are some surprising conclusions. Fortunately, living a healthy lifestyle can repair and lengthen your telomeres. For those who are curious about their telomere length, it can be tested as part of Setting Your Health Baseline by a company called LifeLength.  

Spring Chicken, Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) by Bill Gifford (2016)

“When I went in for my physical exam, somewhere around forty-three, I learned that I mysteriously gained fifteen pounds and my cholesterol levels now approximated those of chocolate milk. For the first time ever, I had the beginnings of a beer belly, which shouldn’t have been surprising since I love beer, but it bummed me out nonetheless. All of this my doctor chalked up to ‘normal aging.’ She smiled as she said it, as if it were nothing to worry about and no reason to take action.”

Bill Gifford chose otherwise, and his unique and funny personal experience pursuing anti-aging is delightful. If you are a fan of Bill Bryson books, this is comparable. If you resemble Bill at age forty-three, this is a must read.

Play On, The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age by Jeff Bercovici (2018)

Are you an athlete who wants to compete well beyond your peak athletic prime years? Are you curious how elite athletes like Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Carli Lloyd, and LeBron James continue to excel beyond the expected age for the decline of professional athletes? 

Similar to Bill Gifford, Jeff Bercovici undertook a journey to find out what science and strategies were extending the careers of aging elite athletes. He puts himself through their training with some hilarious results.

Although Bercovici is not able to uncover their full set of secrets, there is enough to make this worthwhile reading.

What Makes Olga Run: The Mystery of the 90-Something Year Old Track Star, and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives  by Bruce Grierson (2015)

Olga Kotelko set 34 age-group world records in track and field events. Grierson and Kotelko explore the physical and emotional factors which allow for athletic success and happiness later in life. Olga’s personal story is uplifting. She’s charming and inspirational. Her nine rules for a long productive life make sense.

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