Are you interested in extending your life span and improving the quality of your later years?
Today’s guest has spent his entire adult life researching and discovering the tools to help us live that kind of life. We don’t have to wait until we reach old age. Instead, we can change our current lifestyles to support our old age.
Today, my guest is Dr. David Sinclair, a professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School who is best known for his understanding of why we age and how to slow the effects of aging. He’s also launched his podcast, Lifespan, which I’m a big fan of.
In this episode, you will learn how to understand reverse aging, how to live longer, how to live younger, and so much more! Let’s get started!
David A. Sinclair, Ph.D., A.O. is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School. He obtained his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, in 1995. Today, he is best known for his understanding of why we age and how to slow its effects.
Dr. Sinclair worked as a postdoctoral researcher at M.I.T. with Dr. Leonard Guarente. He co-discovered a cause of aging for yeast and the role of Sir2 in epigenetic changes driven by genome instability. In 1999, he was recruited to Harvard Medical School, where he has been teaching aging biology and translational medicine for aging for the past 16 years.
Dr. Sinclair is co-founder of several biotechnology companies (Sirtris, Ovascience, Genocea, Cohbar, MetroBiotech, ArcBio, Liberty Biosecurity) and is on the boards of several others. He is also co-founder and co-chief editor of the journal Aging.
When Dr. Sinclair was younger, he was a precocious little kid. Thankfully, Dr. Sinclair’s grandmother played a major role in developing his character. When she was just 15 and still in high school, she fell pregnant with Dr. Sinclair’s dad. Because she was so young, the baby was taken away from her, and so she was determined to be there for Dr. David in his formative years.
His grandmother was a philosopher and an artist, and she poured her energy into him and instilled positive things from an early age like making every day count and constantly telling him, “You CAN do it.” David believes positive feedback played a significant role in his success. Not only did David do things he wasn’t good at, but he believed he could change the world.
Death is a part of life, but it’s a big fear for most of us. It doesn’t have to be that way, though, and we can choose how we meet death in our future. Dr. Sinclair has seen death firsthand, and it’s part of what drives him in his work. After years of research, he has developed daily practical tips to age gracefully.
“If there’s one thing that I could say to everybody, it would be to eat less often. I used to say, ‘eat this or that,’ but I believe that when you eat is just as important as what you eat — perhaps even more so. Exercise is important, and thirdly eat more plants, but plants in particular that have been stressed out.” – Dr. David Sinclair
There’s a theory behind picking vegetables after they’ve faced adversity, things like not enough light, water, or even nutrients. Plants need to survive just like we do, and when the plants experience adversity, they produce extra resveratrol.
“Let’s take red wine. Before you pick the grape, you dry out the vines or hope there’s not enough rain. The grapevine gets stressed out — it’s fearful that it could die [and] starts making what are called polyphenols.” – Dr. David Sinclair
These polyphenols produce resveratrol, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to protect you against diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s found in the skin of red grapes, so there are health benefits with red wine in moderation, but it’s also available as a supplement.
Dr. Sinclair suggests buying plants full of color and having plants of various colors, but let’s hear more about the benefits of how often you eat.
Dr. David believes the same things happen in our bodies as plants when we create adversity by eating fewer times daily.
“It creates benefits by tricking your body to think it could die in a week. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You become resilient; otherwise, if you’re always having an abundance of amino acids, your body says, ‘Hey, it is great — I don’t need to do anything but build, build, build.’ It’s like burning the candle at both ends, [thinking,] ‘I got so much food, screw it, I don’t need to worry about protecting my body. I will have kids for the next five years, [to] replace myself, and then I can [die].’ Whereas [with] my mode of [eating less often] my body [thinks,] ‘If I have kids right now, they might die — I need to stick around until food comes back.’” – Dr. David Sinclair
By using time-restricted eating and tricking your body, you can increase your longevity on average for a couple of decades. Doctors tell us five key components that support time-restricted eating:
“Don’t smoke, don’t drink [alcohol], eat good food [like the] Mediterranean diet, sleep well, … don’t stress out, and have friends. Those things are enough to give you an average of 14 years [extra].” – Dr. David Sinclair
Considering the average life expectancy in the USA is in the late seventies (it did dip a little bit due to COVID), those five things could add an extra five, 10, or 14 healthy years.
Dr. Sinclair is keeping an eye on technologies currently being developed that are 5, 10, even 20 years away that will be connected to us or used to help reverse aging. David has an interesting perspective for us.
“We’re living in an age where we’ll be fused or at least stuck to machines that measure us [constantly]. I talk a lot about [it] in my book — about [how] we’re going from having a big patch that measures my one thing to having a patch under the skin that measures thousands of things in the future. It’s not that far away; we will have [avatars] on our phones telling us how we’re doing and what we should eat and where we should go for lunch. We’re deficient in that. Why couldn’t we live for another decade on top of what I’m doing just by predicting diseases, by measuring things constantly?” – Dr. David Sinclair
Instead of seeing a doctor once a year for a checkup, now we’ll have various measurements taken a thousand times a second. David already has one such device.
“I have one that I put on my chest. It’s called a BioButton. You can swim and shower with it, and it’s measuring the body a thousand times a second, and it communicates with your phone, and it tells your doctor and you if you have any heart issues, but it also measures your body temperature, your movement, [and] your sleep, even if you have a cold or flu or a COVID.” – Dr. David Sinclair
Hospitals and your doctor can send you home with one of these devices, and you can be monitored by a nurse or a doctor 24/7 in case something goes wrong. The devices are so helpful that Dr. Sinclair believes eventually, no one will leave home or sleep without them. The devices are so powerful; who wants to die from a heart attack if you can prevent it?
Dr. Sinclair shares another invention helping him monitor his vitals at night.
“I get my heart rate and my sleep patterns done by my bed every night, and it’s adjusting the temperature. It’s called Eight Sleep; it lowers your body temperature through the night and then warms up when you need to wake up. There’s even a vibration in there that wakes you up in the morning.” – Dr. David Sinclair
In terms of predicting future technologies beyond five years? Well, Dr. Sinclair predicted a world where we wouldn’t need to go to the doctor, and only two years later, that’s the world already, considering the BioButton technology. Medicine is going faster than probably anything on the planet.
I’m curious to know how the metaverse and virtual reality will affect us in aging or anti-aging if we’re all hooked up to devices.
“There are pluses and minuses to the metaverse. The pluses are that if you have friends, it’s known that that will make you live longer. Harvard [studied] men after the first world war. They tracked their whole lives and found out what made them live the longest. Some of it was food. Some of it was exercise, but the biggest effect was having a reliable partner. The metaverse could help if you have lots of friends there.” – Dr. David Sinclair
Although Dr. Sinclair jokes that getting a pet will have the same long-lasting effect for you, that’s the potential upside. Unfortunately, though, there are also downsides he sees.
“I have a 14-year-old son, Benjamin. He’s got a couple of virtual reality headsets. If he’s not in virtual realities, he’s got screens. That’s not going to make you live longer. Your brain will stay active, and there are some brain benefits, but mostly it’s bad. Poor sleep from all the blue light coming in at night, and mostly it’s a lack of exercise.” – Dr. David Sinclair
Some sports games might keep people active in virtual reality, but most people won’t be getting enough exercise. Dr. Sinclair thinks the downsides don’t outweigh the benefits.
“I think it’s just gonna make the obesity epidemic worse, and it’s a lot like the ending to Wall-E, the Disney movie [with people] just sitting around eating, and I see this with Benjamin — if he has a choice, he’ll be on a game all day, eating [and] drinking sugar.” – Dr. David Sinclair
Remember, it’s not the devices that are a problem, and once we have detailed information, we can make better decisions moving forward and not allow potential catastrophes to develop.
Part of that capability building starts with arming our children with a disciplined mindset.
The way you raise your kids, not just socially, but with what they eat, how much they eat, and when they eat, teaches them all they need to know later in life. Of course, they need more food than someone older, but ensuring nutrition is part of the food they get is essential.
“If you allow your kid to become obese and not exercise, that’s going to affect them 30, 40, 50 years later. You [must] look after your kids [with] healthy foods. Most kids will thrive on fresh, homemade food if you’ve got the time and money to do that. The one big thing that I’ve been quite militaristic about with my kids is sugar. [So I give them] brands of sodas that don’t have any unnatural sweeteners. Olipop is one [with] way less sugar — and it’s got prebiotics.” – Dr. David Sinclair
Dr. Sinclair tested his sugar levels while drinking Olipop to determine whether the low sugar count was accurate; there was no spike, and it didn’t change it due to its low glycemic index. It’s not always about removing things from our lifestyle, but rather finding better substitutes like Olipop that don’t negatively affect our bodies.
Guys, this episode with Dr. David Sinclair is jam-packed with so much information that I couldn’t fit it all into this post. I highly recommend heading over here to listen to all of David’s wisdom.
I would also suggest finding his podcast, Lifespan, which talks about the future of health and aging. You can also find him on YouTube if you want more science research breaking down the science and teaching all this information more in-depth.
If you liked this episode, we would love it if you could tag David, @davidsinclairphd, and me, @lewishowes, on Instagram with what stood out most to you. Also, please consider giving us a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts because they help spread these messages even further!
If you’re ready to start turning back the clock on your body’s age, this episode is for you! So join me for Episode 1,232 of The School of Greatness, and lay the foundation for your future healthy body today!