One of the challenges I have had over the past few years is the predominance of all things ‘bio hacking’ when it comes to health and longevity. I try to stay up to date with the latest and greatest but quite honestly, it became a bit overwhelming. From Tucker Carlson tanning his nether region with red light to increase testosterone, to Tony Robbins promoting cryotherapy and compression therapy to promote healing. There are so many new tools and strategies out there, and I’m sure they are helpful, but for the average person, none of these matter if the basics aren’t in place. And so, over the next few weeks I am going to try to summarize the basics, as I see them. The things we should all be doing in order to enhance our life and our healthspan. If you can check all the boxes, and want to do more for your health then maybe you can invest in a red light! lol. For me, I know I still need to keep working on the fundamentals.

According to Dr Peter Attia, there are 5 fundamental tools at our disposal. They are:

1) What you are eating (nutrition)

2) What type and how much you exercise (Stability, Strength, Cardiovascular Conditioning)

3) The duration and quality of your sleep

4) What you do to manage stress

5) What you do or don’t put in your body (Drugs, supplements, hormones)

Today I will tackle #1, nutrition. With the disclaimer that of all of these, nutrition has to be the most controversial and inconsistent. It brings out the best in people but also the worst.

I have a joke for you to highlight this point.

Q: How can you tell if someone is a keto?

A: Don’t worry they’ll tell you.

Not to pick on keto eaters, you can easily swap out just about any other diet and the joke works just the same. The enthusiasm for how people choose to eat can have an almost religious fervour to it.

There is a reason for this. According to Alan Levinovitz, author of the book The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat. “there is something comforting about picking a plan out of the chaos and sticking to it” Just like religion helps people make sense of a chaotic world, suddenly there is order and instructions to follow; so does a nutrition plan.

Nutrition is also a chaotic science. Eggs are bad for you, until they’re not. Bread is the cause of all weight gain, unless of course it isn’t. Red wine? The antioxidants, those are good for you! Oh wait, nope…all alcohol, including wine, causes cancer. It’s understandable that people would pick a way of eating and stick to their guns, it gives them solid ground to stand on in an ever shifting world.

(Funny fact: we have been demonizing foods since the beginning of time. According the bible, we were all happy and healthy, at least two of us were, until we ate the wrong food! But thankfully, most people agree that apples are now good for us.)

And so, as I have been researching the latest science on nutrition for longevity, I have had to accept the fact that it’s a topic that just doesn’t have easy answers and I have, in fact, come away with more questions than answers. But my goal with nutrition is to always stay as educated as possible so that at least I know which questions to continue to ask! lol.

But I do have some suggestions for you that I have seen consistently in the literature, although there will be rebuttals to each one, I, as always, try to make sure that these suggestions will at best help you immensely and at the very least do no harm. Sound good?

So here goes! In order to maximize your health and life span here is what I suggest:

1) Don’t Graze: This is one theme that has been consistent throughout most literature. Restricting how much you eat, and the window of time in which you eat, has been shown to have health benefits, beyond just longevity. Time restricted eating, TRE, is the exact opposite of what we might consider ‘grazing’ and there are a number of ways to do it. On the more extreme end, some people fast for a full day or days at a time, consuming only water, some have one meal a day (eaten over a two hour period), and the most popular is what is referred to as a 16:8, where you fast for 18 hours and consume all your food within an 8 hour period.

My takeaway: Digestion is a highly energetic process. If we are eating all day, we are digesting all day, which means our body doesn’t get a break for essential rest and repair. I personally have no desire to fast but I do try to create large gaps between my meals (ie. limit snacking) and leave as much time between eating and bed time so my ‘overnight fast’ is long.

2) Eat Adequate Protein: Dr Gabriele Lyon, a medical doctor, with an undergraduate degree in nutrition and a fellowship in Nutritional Science and Geriatrics, focusses her entire practice on what she calls “Muscle Centric Medicine”. She believes muscle is the organ of longevity and that if you want to live a long and healthy life you need to build and at the very least, retain, your muscle mass. The only way to build muscle is through consistent resistance training and adequate protein intake.

My takeaway: This makes perfect sense to me. If you want to prevent physical decline, you need to be mobile and having strong muscles is a requirement of that. And so, consume at least 0.8 and ideally 1.2+ grams of protein per kilogram of body weight you should be at (not necessarily where you are) to be healthy. For example. If you are 160 pounds and you want to weigh140 pounds you should consume 50 to 75 grams of protein per day…and if you can, consume at least 20-30 grams at your breakfast and 20-30 at your dinner. The rest (in this situation 15) can be consumed at your lunch. Check out my Definitive Guide to Protein to learn more and get examples of what 30 grams of protein at breakfast looks like!

3) Balance Your Blood Sugar: Numerous studies have shown that glucose regulation extends both life span and healthspan. Chronic high blood sugar and insulin resistance damage the blood vessel walls contributing to vascular disease, chronic states of inflammation and Alzheimer’s.

My takeaway: Unequivocally we should all be doing this. The easiest way is to start with not eating anything your Grandmother wouldn’t recognize as being food. Highly processed and packaged foods are almost always loaded with refined sugars and flours and these are reeking havoc on our bodies. In fact, a new study just came out linking 57,000 premature deaths in 2019 in Brazil to eating highly processed foods. Yikes. Second, make sure all your meals contain the magical trifecta of protein, fibre and fat and your blood sugar will thank you!


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