It’s rare that I’m truly impressed by a book on health. Most of them say the same (albeit good) things: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, minimize your stress. That seems to be the last half of nearly all of them, and in many cases the final portion is taken up with recipes. Because this is what I do all day (naturopathic medicine), I’m looking for something truly new that can expand my toolbox for treating patients.
Many people are interested in how to age well and stay healthy longer, but usually longevity too seems limited to aesthetics, or studies that show this or that supplement might lengthen telomeres, decrease inflammation or oxidative stress, etc. This book offered something new, though: a broader context for why certain treatments might work.
First, it introduced me to the concept of hormesis, which I knew quite well before without knowing what to call it. Now I realize that most of my favorite modalities work exactly this way: giving the body a push in the direction it’s already going so that it will self-correct in the opposite direction. Having a name and a concrete description of the concept seems to broaden my understanding of other things that might work in a similar fashion, too.
Second, and along those lines, it pointed out that there’s a trade-off between growth and longevity. I knew that Growth Hormone was highly regulated and not generally recommended, but not why. Now I have a better philosophical idea of the reason: too much GH might seem to reverse the clock, but at a cost. The phrase “better to burn out than to fade away” comes to mind, though the book’s argument is the exact opposite, since longevity is all about persisting rather than burning bright and then dying young. This also may help inform discussions surrounding other “youth-promoting” treatments, too. The body is wise; it’s best not to work against its natural processes when possible.
Third, the specific concepts of mTOR, IGF-1, sirtuins, and AMPK and how they relate to longevity was well and thoroughly answered. These are buzz words in longevity medicine these days and I had long intended to do a deep dive into them. I plan to go back through my notes and do just that.
I also loved how they reviewed inhabitants of various Blue Zones throughout the world, with the highest percentage of centenarians, and showed what their lifestyles did (and didn’t) have in common. There’s good balance to the plant-based argument, as well as to often-vilified substances like wine and coffee.
My rating: *****
Sexual content: none
Political content: none