Life Extension and Anti-Aging: What Works? What Doesn’t?

  • by Nils Osmar. Updated January 5, 2o24
  • This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. 
  • See full Medical Disclaimer

Anti-Aging is becoming a big business, and products have started flooding the market which claim to help us accomplish it. So it can be helpful to take a step back and review some basics.

What works?

The approaches that are actually most helpful, from my perspective as a 71-year-old male hoping to stay fit and healthy as the decades go by, appear to be:

  1. Eating a highly nutritious diet based on whole natural foods – rich in all of the nutrients needed by bodies to build and maintain optimal health. There are a lot of disagreements about diet, but there’s a pretty strong consensus that human beings need to stop eating ultra-processed packaged foods. Throw out the refined sugar. Fats and oils are essential, but can and should be gotten from food, not liquids that have been stored for months or years on dusty store shelves in plastic bottles. Step one in a diet for longevity, in my estimation would be to “Eat real food – and stop eating junk.”
  2. Should our diets be plant-based or animal based? The truth is that the jury isn’t in. Some studies suggest advantages to a plant-based approach, such as increasing autophagy; others suggest that animal-based diets are superior for building and maintaining muscle in the face of aging. My current diet includes foods from all three food kingdoms (plant, animal and fungal) and includes lots of fish, meat, eggs, poultry, avocados, onions, garlic, and fermented vegetables. I have carnivore days in which I eat only meat or fish, and vegan days in which I’m eating only plant foods, such as when I’m doing a week-long fasting mimicking diet, two or three times a year, which needs to be kept very low in protein and leucine to trigger deep autophagy and apoptosis.
  3. In terms of my everyday diet, I’ve tried numerous approaches. I was vegan at one point. It initially seemed to be “working”, but after three years following that approach, after initially losing some weight, I’d gotten fat around the middle, visibly lost muscle, lost interest in sex, had headaches, had joint pains, had mood and memory problems. Adding animal-based foods back into my diet resolved all of these problems. These days, I’m eating a diet rich in both plant and animal foods. When eating food from animal sources, I make sure they were raised naturally and are free of synthetic hormones; for example, I eat organic grass fed beef, pastured eggs and non-farmed fish. When eating plants, I try to avoid foods high on oxalates, which have been found to damage the mitochondria, and also minimize or avoid foods high in lectins and phytatic acid.
  4. Moving, stretching and exercising – HIIT, aerobics, Zone 2 and resistance training all show evidence of having benefits for those working to reverse or slow the aging process. I’m currently doing resistance training two or three days a week and doing HIIT, aerobics and Zone 2 on the other days. I’ve noticed concrete benefits from all three.
  5. Prioritizing rest, sleep and recovery – which includes both physical and emotional recovery. Getting. 7-9 hours of sleep/night may be ideal. My own sleep hasn’t always been good, but for the past couple of months, I’ve been averaging around 8 hours most nights. (I take niacin, berberine, magnesium and a couple of other supplements at night to support deep and restful sleep.)
  6. Restoring NAD+ to youthful levels We can do so by exercising; taking cold showers or keeping the house cool; and by taking supplements such as NMN, NR, or apigenin.
  7. Activating the sirtuin (survival) genes. (How: cold baths and showers; saunas; supplements such as fucoidan and cyanidin) I’m currently taking a form of fucoidan called SIRT6 Activator) (each batch is actually tested to verify that it’s activating the sirtuin 6 gene, something unique to the product).
  8. Restoring glutathione to youthful levels. (How: taking GlyNAC (half glycine, half NAC) and/or eating whey) 
  9. Maintaining high nitric oxide levels. (How: humming; eating fermented beets – and raising glutathione also raised NO levels.)  See article: Five Ways to Boost Nitric Oxide
  10. Restoring sex hormones to youthful levels. (How: Supplements such as Icariin, fadogia agrestis, cistanche, tongkat Ali)
  11. Restoring hGH to youthful levels (as in the TRIIM trial) See article: Boosting hGH Levels: Is It Wise to Do So? And If We Decide To – What Works?
  12. Restoring AKG to youthful levels (I’m currently taking Ca-AKG) See article: My Supplements: Ca-AKG
  13. Other beneficial supplements with strong evidence to support them appear to include taurine, lithium, creatine, omega 3 fatty acids, and magnesium.
  14. Maintaining healthy lipids. Keeping our cholesterol from going too low or too high or imbalanced. For me, that means taking niacin along with berberine, and getting lots of exercise. I’m focusing on trying to keep triglycerides low and HDL high.
  15. Measuring and testing to get a clear sense of what’s going on inside of our bodies (The key tests, in my opinion, are Aging.ai; PhenoAge; AnthropoAge; PhysiAge calculators)
  16. Still being alive and kicking, and, hopefully, fit and healthy, when more effective interventions come along.

What doesn’t work?

  • Some approaches which have been tested and shown promise in animals, aren’t necessarily too promising in people. And even in animals, there are reasons to question how much they really extend lifespan.
  • For example, caloric restriction only “works” in mice if they’re fed a terrible diet. If they’re fed a healthy species-appropriate diet, it appears to have no benefits. See study.
  • Low protein diets activate AMPK, the longevity pathway…. which in theory should be beneficial… but going too far in that direction will shut down the immune system. Diets with ample protein are needed to keep the immune system strong as people and animals age. See study. One recent study, referenced in this article, found that it may actually be beneficial to eat up to 100 grams of protein per meal; the old paradigm which suggested that more than 30 grams of protein would be “wasted” was incorrect.
  • One approach which integrates both low-protein and high-protein approaches would be to go ahead and eat some very high protein meals (to activate mTOR and support immunity), but balance them out with lots of fasting and intermittent fasting (another way of activating AMPK).

Physical immortality?

I’m an immortalist at heart, meaning that I’d love it if the human race could solve its problems and we could all live forever. Till that happens, we can aim to stay healthy and happy and keep improving the world. Aiming for “good lives for everyone” based around protocols that can help build optimal health seems to me to be a reasonable goal.

My supplements

The supplements I’m taking include NAD+ boosters; testosterone boosters; hGH boosters; glutathione and nitric oxide boosters. I also take the pharmaceutical drug rapamycin once a week.

My results:

More info about my own protocol:

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

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