My almost holistic approach to improve my wellbeing is focused around increasing longevity. I’m trying to lower inflammation and reduce oxidative processes as much as possible, but not too much to fall into the other side. 0 inflammation is not good either.
As far as I’m concerned, there is no single way to reduce weight, build muscle and live a healthier life. Some people can lose weight on high-carb diets, while others can build muscle on ketogenic diets. There are tons of variations and approaches. Those who preach “the only efficient way” are delusional. Context is key.
Right now, I’m driven by my desire to increase my quality of life and my perception of reality.
What is Aging?
Before getting into the details, let’s let Aubrey de Grey (gerontology expert) define aging:
“The life-long accumulation of damage to the tissues, cells, and molecules of the body that occurs as an intrinsic side-effect of the body’s normal operation. The body can tolerate some damage, but too much of it causes disease and disability.”
In this context, Aubrey’s solution focuses on periodically clearing damage and waste accumulated within the body, as well as addressing each issue that promotes damage inside the body through different specific interventions.
On the other hand, but in line with the same principles, increasing longevity is about increasing your redox potential (the same redox potential that Jack Kruse extensively talks about on his blog).
The redox potential is the ability to dispose waste accumulation inside the body, which over the long-term leads to faster aging. Higher redox potential is better.
A higher redox potential would include minimum (not 0) ROS production (reactive oxygen species – free radicals) and higher anti-oxidant potential within the cell (more CoQ10, superoxide dismutase, etc).
A certain amount of ROS production is needed by the body to:
– have normal thyroid activity
– kill different bacteria
– kill pathogens
Lower redox potential translates into higher ROS production, which will bind to unstable molecules from your body stealing electrons from them, disrupting DNA as well as protein structure.
Explanation from :
The figure shows one common series of reactions.
- A hydroxyl radical removes a hydrogen atom from one of the carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain (only a portion of which is shown) forming
- a molecule of water and leaving the carbon atom with an unpaired electron (in red); thus now a radical.
- Several possible fates await it.
One of the most likely (and shown here) is to react with a molecule of oxygen (O2) forming a peroxyl radical.
This might then steal a hydrogen atom from a nearby side chain making it now a radical.
One of the insidious things about free radicals is that in interacting with other molecules to gain a stable configuration of electrons, they convert that target molecule into a radical. So a chain reaction begins that will propagate until two radicals meet each other and each contributes its unpaired electron to form a covalent bond linking the two.
Two common examples:
The peroxyl radical may interact with:
- another peroxyl radical on a nearby side chain crosslinking them with a covalent bond.
- another nearby carbon-centered radical crosslinking them covalently.
In both these latter cases, radical formation comes to an end but with the result that the fatty acid side chains of membrane lipids may have become so deformed as to damage the membrane.
The lipofuscin so characteristic of aging cells may be formed by these mechanisms [Link].
Human metabolism is oxidative in nature. Whenever macronutrients are broken down inside your body, they ultimately reach the Electron Transport Chain yielding the bulk of energy as ATP which is needed by the body to meet your daily TEE (total energy expenditure).
Different macronutrients have a different output inside the ETC  .
I prefer eating a high-fat nutrient rich (ketogenic diet) which, I believe, promotes a greater yield of anti-oxidants (organ meats for example – very rich in CoQ10 – see complex I of ETC – ) and also lower ROS production and higher mitochondrial efficiency as more ATP is produced per carbon atoms when comparing fatty acids to glucose .
My dietary approach is similar to Wahls Paleo Plus. I think that ketogenic diets consisting of 80% or more calories coming from fat would not be preferable for people unless a certain medical condition implies it. I think they are nutrient deficient. Many folks do this on their keto diets and experience negative effects over the long-term.
I’m mostly interested in maintaining my keto-adapted status because of the flexibility and the benefits that it gives me:
– it helps me consider food not my most important concern of the day (I’m not as addicted to eating as I was when not being keto-adapted).
– I have no cravings.
– I have long-lasting mental clarity and stronger focus. And they are not disrupted by hunger.
– I have higher energy levels compared to the non-adapted state.
– I can do Intermittent Fasting for more than 36+ hours (very convenient when traveling)
Caloric restriction through a well formulated IF protocol can increase life-span and life-quality because your body does not have to constantly stress with food digestion and nutrient absorption. It can produce energy from endogenous sources (your own adipose tissue – which many of us do not lack of)
I encourage you not to believe me. I really do. Please do your own research and draw your own conclusions. Besides, I do not imply that this strategy works for you and for everyone else the same way it works for me. Try it on your own expense. This is merely what I currently do and believe, and it should be taken as such. It’s my own n=1.
Basically, I try to eat (and not eat) to increase my redox potential. But, the approach to increase life-span and life-quality has much more to do with than just food.
What about exercise?
I take a minimal approach when it comes to working out. I (and others) think that both long and short-term recurrent exercise increases oxidation (speeds up metabolism) and inflammation within the body. My conviction and personal biases increase when I look at pictures of marathoners and endurance runners.
And I’m not talking only about them. I think that going to the gym three or more times every week and spending many hours doing multiple sets of exercises for each muscle category falls into aerobic training (mostly). I don’t say it’s not efficient. Many body builders prove it is. However, the age of the cells in their body tell a different story. Look at Arnold for example.
Also, once you know how muscle dynamics work, what M.E.D. (minimum effective dose) is and how to train based on muscle fibers and energy systems , you’ll be spending as much as 15-30 minutes per week inside the gym (sometimes even less).
I’m currently training following something similar to the Big 5 Workout of Doug McGuff. It’s something more like a Big 3 on which I spend 15-20 minutes per session once or twice a week. Sometimes I go to the gym every two weeks. I spend up to 20 minutes because I also do a few very intense bouts of sprinting on the treadmill. Dr. Mercola knows about this too.
I find that very high intensity training (short-duration) is much more beneficial for me compared to other means of training that I tried in the past. Plus, it promotes lower oxidation as it mostly uses the first two energy systems: ATP-CP and anaerobic glycolysis. I talk about them in Ketone Power and T-(Rx).
Right now I’m in maintenance mode. I don’t aim for higher muscle mass or for lower body fat. It would be much more demanding for me to maintain an increased muscle mass as this is the most expensive tissue of the body (very difficult to build and very easy to lose).
Other Very Important Strategies
Increasing longevity includes other important factors which I will only mention here and talk more about each one of them in later posts, as I get more knowledge and experience.
One of them is focused on improving sleep: both qualitatively and quantitatively. It involves improving your circadian clock, which also implies fixing hormonal signaling.
Maintaining a healthy gut is another factor. If your body cannot absorb the nutrients from what you put in your mouth, then all your dietary efforts are in vain. I’ll recommend the Wahls approach here.
Reducing non-native EMF radiation is another crucial factor. Non-native EMF radiation (electro-magnetic field) comes mostly from the electrically powered devices around us, including wireless and radio waves. Check Jack Kruse’s blog, as he’s done a lot research and experimentation on non-native EMF radiation.
Then, it’s also about reducing artificial light exposure. When the sun sets, we should not disrupt the circadian cycle by exposure to light coming from TV, tablets, mobile phones, etc. Melatonin and hormonal production is heavily affected by this.
All these are called environmental mismatches that have a powerful damaging effect to the human body. They contribute to the equation of aging. Some of the interventions that I mentioned + some others (Cold Thermogenesis is one) help in mitigating many of these effects.
Another theory that I consider misconceived is that lower active thyroid hormone (T3) levels are bad (even in the context of normal TSH and T4 production). I (as well as Ron Rosedale) think that lower T3 is good in this context because its purpose (when secreted in higher levels) speeds up chemical processes throughout the entire body. It increases metabolism and it increases oxidative processes as well.
I think lower T3 is very protective and it is a promoter of longevity (again, context matters). Centenarians (people who live beyond 100 years of age) have markedly lower T3 levels. I’ve written about this here.
These are my current thoughts and beliefs and they should be taken as such. I’m not making generalizations or suggestions. I’ll get into more details on each intervention in later posts.
1. John W. Kimball – Reactive Oxygen Species
2. Darvey, I. G. (1999). What factors are responsible for the greater yield of ATP per carbon atom when fatty acids are completely oxidised to CO2 and water compared with glucose?. Biochemical Education, 27(4), 209-210.
3. Cornell University – ATP Challenge
4. Georgia State University – Electron Transport in the Energy Cycle of the Cell
5. Jack Kruse – Epi-Paleo R(x) – The Prescription for Disease Reversal and Optimal Health
6. Daniel Lieberman – The story of the human body
7. Clinton Ober – Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?
8. Ron Rosedale – The Rosedale Diet
9. Terry Wahls – The Wahls Protocol
Photos: here and here