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Episode 553
The Doctor's Farmacy

Creating Healthy Habits To Stay Young As You Age

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​​What you eat literally controls almost every function of your body and mind. Food connects us to one another and to our bodies. At the same time, what we eat is only one “ingredient” needed to make a healthy human. We need real, whole, fresh food, but we also need things like movement, connection, meaning, and purpose. When you take out the bad stuff and put in the good stuff, you create balance. Your body knows how to create health from those ingredients.

In this episode, I feature an in-depth discussion on the importance of community, mindset, and optimism when it comes to increasing our healthspan from my Longevity Roadmap docu-series. In this series, I am joined by my colleagues at The UltraWellness Center: Elizabeth Boham, MD, MS, RD, Medical Director and Physician; Todd LePine, MD, Physician; and George Papanicolaou, DO, Physician. In this conversation we also delve into the fascinating topic of innovative anti-aging therapies based on the newest longevity research.

To get all of my longevity tips, sign up for my weekly Longevity newsletter at drhyman.com/longevity.

This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health, Athletic Greens, and InsideTracker.

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I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD

Transcript

Dr. Mark Hyman: (00:10)
We all want to know what it takes to live a long, healthy, happy life. Is it just good genes? Well, that certainly helps as part of the equation, but it’s so much more than that. You might’ve heard of the Blue Zone communities before. They’re regions around the world with a concentrated amount of centenarians, these people who live to be a hundred and beyond and do it well and vibrantly. So what do these communities have in common? Well, they’re able to evade the chronic lifestyle diseases that we’ve been discussing throughout this docuseries, and to live long, healthy, engaged lives. We call this the rectangularization of the survival curve, which is a rectangular shape of the survival curve versus a slow gradual decline as we get older. Instead of a long, slow gradual decline into chronic disease and disability, and a long, slow, painful, and often expensive death, they live long, vibrant, healthy, active lives and die, very old, quickly, painlessly and cheaply, meaning their healthspan is their lifespan.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (01:15)
Which path do you want to take? What’s their secret? Well, my friend Dan Buettner discovered that there are certain common characteristics among Blue Zone communities that can significantly contribute to a longer healthspan and, of course, lifespan. And these include community, our lifestyle, spirituality, and movement. Incorporating key and powerful practices in each of these areas can create health, and neglecting them can create disease. In this episode, we’re going to consider all these factors that add up to create an extended healthspan and a place where your healthspan equals your lifespan. And it’s very long.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham: (01:52)
Blue Zones are areas in the world where people have the longest longevity, people live the longest and live the healthiest. And so they’ve been studied really carefully to say, “Well, why are people so healthy in these Blue Zones?” And it’s really fascinating. There’s some things that they do in common, that helps them have a long, healthy, vibrant life. And one of the first things that we notice is that people in Blue Zones incorporate exercise into all aspects of their day. They are maybe chopping wood, and walking more, going for bike rides. We know that people in Blue Zones are a part of a community. They have a sense of purpose. We know that the people in Blue Zones are more likely to eat less; about 20% less calories, on average, they eat per day. And they eat a much higher amount of plants in their diet, plants that are rich in all those phytonutrients that we know are so good for our health.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham: (02:52)
We know that they have times of regular exercise every day, but also times of rest every day, times for a nap, or relaxation, prayer, meditation, rest. And so all of those things can be helpful for helping us live a long, healthy life, if we just take some of these examples from people who are living in the Blue Zones.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (03:14)
So these are really obvious things that most of us know and take for granted, but there are some interesting differences. You look at, for example, the Plains Indians, the Lakota, and the group that lived, at the turn of the century, longer than any other population in the world. These were the buffalo hunters, and all they ate, pretty much, was buffalo and berries, right? They had the longest-lived population in the world, the most number of centenarians, people who lived over 100, of any population, and all they ate was meat. But it was buffalo.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (03:46)
And then you have the Seventh Day Adventists, who also had very, very long lives, from Loma Linda, California, and they were vegetarians. But what they also had was practices that supported health. They didn’t smoke, they didn’t drink. They had great community and connection. I mean, if you join a bowling club or a knitting club, you’re more likely to live longer than someone who’s socially isolated.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (04:11)
I mean, loneliness is one of the biggest killers. So when you look at these populations, there’s a lot of variables, but they have certain things in common. And I think we have to just look at what those are, and they’re things that often we’ve lost sight of and undervalue in our rapidly aggressive, consuming, advancing society. We need to refocus our priorities on what actually matters, which is love, connection, community. And in this time of COVID-19, with social distancing, the paradox is that many of us are actually connecting more with each other, connecting more with those we love, spending more time engaging in relationships that matter. And I think that’s a good thing, and I hope we don’t go back to the old normal, and we find a new normal that maintains that level of connection.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (05:02)
Everybody gets excited by the next new flashy thing or the next big supplement or the next big treatment to help solve the problem of aging. But we often overlook some of the most important things that we know already, scientifically play such a huge role and they’re relationships, community, and even meaning and purpose, which, I mean, how could that be related to longevity? But it really is. Even optimism is related to longevity. So your mindset, your beliefs, your relationships, the quality of your relationships, and your community, all play an enormous role in determining your health and longevity.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (05:51)
And that’s why for example, the Okinawans may have found the secret to longevity. It might be their diet, which I think plays somewhat of a role, but when they’re born, they’re placed into a group of babies called the moai, and this is a group of four or five little babies that literally grow up together through every stage of life, and stay together all the way through school, marriages, children, careers, and retirement. They don’t actually retire, they keep being part of the community all the way through until they die. And so they have this sense of belonging.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (06:29)
They have this sense of connection. They have this sense of purpose, and it’s an incredible thing to see how that relates to longevity, and how the opposite is also true, that if you look at, as a risk factor, what’s more important than diet, more important than smoking, more important than exercise? It’s social isolation, it’s social disconnection. It’s a loss of sense of connectivity, is a much bigger risk factor for death than all those other things. So you can do everything right, but if you don’t tend to your relationships, if you don’t tend to your community, if you don’t tend to your spiritual life, to your meaning and purpose for being, for living, it’s very tough to live a long, vibrant, healthy life.

Dr. Todd LePine: (07:19)
Mindset is very, very important because your thoughts create your reality. If you think something’s going to happen, it will happen, and if you think something’s not going to happen, it won’t happen. So I call it the placebo effect and the nocebo effect. And there’s a wonderful book by Bruce Lipton called The Biology of Belief. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of the books that changed how I look at medicine, I look at my patients, and it’s the concept of your thoughts, and your beliefs, and your mindset affect the expression of your genes. And he was a cellular membrane scientist and geneticist, and what he realized is that our thoughts and our mindset actually affect the expression of our genes, and we’re all told that everything, the brain of the cell is in the DNA.

Dr. Todd LePine: (08:20)
And what he said is that there was an interesting experiment that they did; they took cells and they basically took the DNA out of the cell, and the cell was happy as a clam. Would live for two or three weeks without the nucleus. No DNA. So it was running just happily. The DNA, if you will, is a little bit like a recipe book that gives you recipes for proteins and various building blocks. But when the cell does not have the nucleus, does not have the DNA, the cell works just fine. Only when it needs to go in there to do a reparative mechanism, does it have to then tap into the DNA. And the person’s mindset you’re… Having a positive mindset is really, really critical.

Dr. Todd LePine: (09:05)
And there is a concept called the nocebo. So when a doctor says something to a patient and that, “You’re going to die from this,” that literally is like voodoo death. It’s that negative mindset, is toxic. And placebo is the effect where the doctor gives you a sugar pill and says, “This is going to get you better.” And lo and behold, it’s just a sugar pill, and the person does get better. So mindset and beliefs can actually have a positive effect or a negative effect. And it’s a question of, is the glass half-empty or is the glass half-full? Well, the glass just is. It depends on how you want to look at it, so your perspective on things, and you can shift your perspective. Cognitive behavioral therapy, people go to therapists. One of the things that a therapist does is allow them to see themselves from another angle, another shift.

Dr. Todd LePine: (09:54)
So yes, the glass is half-empty. Yes, the glass is half-full. Yes, the glass is. It’s a matter of how you want to change how you see things, and also your emotional connection to whatever it is that you’re seeing. Right now, we have the COVID crisis going on and you can say, “Oh my God, I’m going to die,” or whatever. Now you can also… That’s one perspective. You can also say, “You know what? I got more free time on my hands. I’m a little bit less busy. What can I do to do better self-care? What can I do to expand my awareness of nature?” You can just spend some quiet time by yourself and just be. Get off your Netflix, get off your smartphone and just look at the world around you. And there are small, subtle things that we can do that give us joy and change our perspective, and change our mindset in our day-to-day comings and goings.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham: (10:46)
One of the biggest signs of less-than-optimal aging is when I notice that somebody has a decrease in their mobility. Mobility is incredibly important for our health. We want to stay active and mobile and have good, lean muscle mass and good flexibility. And when somebody has losing some of that, that is a sign that there may be more aging going on in their body. And it’s something important we really want to focus on. One of the tests that I do, and most physicians do, is the get-up-and-go test. It’s a really easy test that you can perform, and what you do is you have a patient start sitting. You have them get up, walk for 10 feet, turn around and walk 10 feet back and sit down. That’s called the get-up-and-go test. And it’s a really good sign of how much mobility somebody has and what is their risk of falling.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham: (11:40)
So we know that when somebody can get up and go, and come back and sit back down in less than 10 seconds, they’re doing pretty well. If they’re taking more than 14 seconds to do that test, they have an increased risk of fall. And so that’s a really important thing that we need to pay attention to. If somebody is not as mobile, if they’re not having an easy time getting up and walking, getting up and down off the floor, that’s something we really want to work on, because through physical therapy, through exercise, you can improve that for somebody. And that has a big impact on their length of life, and the quality of their life. And because we know that if somebody falls, the sequela of what happens to their health afterwards can be pretty dramatic, and not great. So there’s a lot of ways you can improve your get-up-and-go, right?

Dr. Elizabeth Boham: (12:36)
Just spending more time walking throughout the day, adding in daily exercise, but also improving your strength. So I have patients work on just getting up and down out of their chair. That can really help improve all the strength of the muscles around all your joints. So you can practice this. Just stand up and sit down in your chair, and do it 10 times. And over time, you’ll get better at it. At first, sometimes people might need to use their Walker, or they might need to use part of the chair to help them get up. But over time, you want to be able to, if you can, get up out of the chair without holding onto anything. That incorporates so many muscles in your body, in your core, in your legs, in your glutes, that you will be working on. And it’s a simple exercise that you can do.

Dr. Elizabeth Boham: (13:27)
So we have people do that 10 times, three sets, so total of 30, once or twice a day, can have a huge impact on their mobility. We know that when people can walk for two miles, or more, within an hour, their chance of living for the next 10 years is much higher than somebody who can’t walk two miles in an hour, so just getting good exercise in your day is critical for optimal aging. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every week, and two days a week of strength training. And that strength training could include things like Pilates on a reformer; more strenuous yoga, where you’re using your own body weight; things like the 7-Minute Workout, where you’re using your own body weight for resistance. Of course, it can include things like weight training, different bands, and pulleys for strength training as well. And that’s an important thing to get into your exercise routine, at least twice a week.

Dr. Todd LePine: (14:29)
So chronobiology is an area that I find really fascinating, and it’s really understanding that our body has internal rhythms. There’s the sleep-wake cycle rhythm. There’s the feeding rhythm that we have. There’s the menstrual cycle women that women have throughout the month. And our circadian rhythm and our chronobiology is very much tied in with our health. So I tell people that it’s really important to be sleeping when it’s dark out, and not be eating. In fact, one of the biggest things that I can do to help my patients to lose weight is tell them, “Stop eating late at night.” Sumo wrestlers have a recipe for getting fat. The way that they do that is they eat a big meal and they go to bed. So the biggest thing is eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.

Dr. Todd LePine: (15:23)
In fact, there’s a recent paper, which I just read that looked at the thermogenic effect of food. Thermogenic meaning your body’s ability to produce heat from the food that you eat. And what they found is that when you eat a hearty breakfast, you produce twice as much heat, the thermogenic effect of that food, as opposed to eating that food later on in the day. So a simple way of controlling your weight is not eating late at night, eating a good-sized breakfast, moderate lunch, maybe even skipping dinner, or having something very, very light for dinner. And that gets your body into a good circadian rhythm. When you look at animals, what do animals do? They get up in the morning, they go hunt for their food. The bird go picks the worm. And then when the sun sets, they’re not raiding the refrigerator. They’re going to sleep. That’s what we need to be doing.

Dr. George Papanicolaou: (16:16)
When you’re dealing with sleep, and I tell patients, “You have to treat sleep like she’s a queen, and she wants to be paid attention to from the first thing in the morning until you get back to her at night.” So all day long, you have to actually be thinking about sleep. You just can’t treat it like it’s an orphan. You got to treat her like she’s a queen. So when you wake up in the morning, you want to set your sleep cycle, and how you do that is by seeing the morning light. When your eyes take in the morning light, the light goes through in that area of where the nerves that feed your eyes to something called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. That nucleus sets your sleep cycle, your circadian rhythm, that biologic rhythm that tells your body what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Dr. George Papanicolaou: (17:10)
That needs to be in place, and that gets set the first thing in the morning when you see light. But then, during the day, you’re going to be inside a lot, for most people. And that kind of light is too much light. So I always recommend blue-blocking glasses, because the light that you have when you’re inside has blue light, which is going to disregulate the information that the superchiasmatic nucleus gets, and that’s going to also limit the production of melatonin in your brain. Melatonin is that important hormone that, at night-time, tells the body it’s time to slow down. It’s part of that circadian rhythm, and when that rhythm gets to a certain part of the day, you start increasing your amount of melatonin. And melatonin not only tells your body to go to sleep, it plays a role in your immune system. It can actually help fight viruses and decrease inflammation.

Dr. George Papanicolaou: (18:05)
So it’s really important to set your clock in the morning so that your melatonin gets made before you go to sleep. And then it’s really important to have good sleep rituals. So when you’re home at night and you’re watching TV, you’re in front of the screen, you should again be wearing your blue-blocking glasses. And you want to turn off your screen at least an hour before he go to bed, because if you think you’re going to watch The Walking Dead and then go to bed and fall asleep in 10 minutes, that’s not going to happen. So create a ritual. An hour before, turn off the screen, read a paper book, have a cup of tea, take a warm bath, light the candles, write in your journal. Create a ritual, because that begins to tell your body, your mind, and your soul, “It’s time to rest.”

Dr. George Papanicolaou: (18:54)
And then you go to sleep. The queen is happy and you’re going to get a nice restful sleep. Now, that’s a really good ritual for the whole day, but I do want to indicate that there are things that can interrupt sleep, and sleep apnea can be one of them. Sleep apnea, a lot of people think only happens if you’re overweight; you have obstructive sleep apnea. However, sleep apnea can occur to thin people. Believe it or not, I have sleep apnea, and after my brain injury, two years ago, I was having an even harder time falling asleep. And then about six months ago, I did a sleep study. I had sleep apnea and starting to be treated for sleep apnea was the last real big turning point in me regaining and actually improving my cognitive function over what it was before I had my brain injury.

Dr. George Papanicolaou: (19:51)
Sleep apnea, if you have it, will impact your immune system. It will depress the production of certain cell lines. Sleep apnea will impact your brain. You won’t be able to make enough BDNF and you’ll lose cognitive function. So just because I’ve told you to have a really good sleep pattern and a really good sleep ritual, and treat her like a queen, there may be something that’s interrupting that process. You may be doing all that right, and still not sleeping well, and you may wake up in the morning not refreshed. You may be having daytime sleepiness, despite doing all those things right. And if you are, then you should really get checked for sleep apnea.

Dr. George Papanicolaou: (20:35)
When you get a good night’s sleep, you’re really going to help your immune system. It will decrease your markers of inflammation, and elevated markers of inflammation are associated with decreased immune functioning and more chronic disease and cancers. A good night’s sleep also upregulates something called telomerase. Telomerase will stabilize your DNA, and when you have deterioration of telomerase, when you’re not getting enough sleep, that can lead to DNA breakdown, aging cells and cancer.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (21:06)
So there’s a whole field of regenerative medicine out there, and these therapies are not your typical therapies. Drug therapies typically work on one pathway that either help or hurt or interrupt some function to change your biology. That’s what drugs do. They also have side effects, and they also are not always so effective. They’re marginally effective.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (21:32)
But there’s a whole set of tools out there that are emerging, that are regenerative therapies, that do things in a broad way that aren’t treating a specific disease or pathway, that activate all the healing mechanisms that we need to activate to age well. They reduce inflammation. They increase your antioxidant systems. They increase the function and number of your mitochondria and energy production. They enhance brain repair. They enhance tissue repair and healing. They decrease fat storage. They increase lean muscle mass. They increase cognitive function and brain chemistry. And they do this by a mechanism in the body called hormesis, which is essentially where a stress is induced to then create a healing response. We need to do that to our bodies periodically, to create these stresses, whether it is these times of restricted eating, where we fast or we time-restrict eating, or we do fasting mimicking diets, or we do ketogenic diets. That’s a form of hormesis.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (22:43)
Whether we do high intensity interval training, which is where we go really, really fast and stress ourselves, and then relax. Or weight training, where we stress our muscles. Whether we do heat therapy, which is we use saunas, or cold therapy, which is ice baths, which I do. I do that almost every day. I do a steam and an ice bath almost every day, because it’s a stress on the system that creates a healing response. Whether it’s light therapy; certain light therapies create a stress on the body, but also activate a healing response.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (23:11)
But there’s some really cool things out there that do the same thing, and one of them is called ozone therapy. Now, ozone therapy sounds scary, because we know about the ozone layer, and we know it’s dangerous to breathe in ozone because it’ll destroy your lungs, and we know that ozone layer being destroyed causes all kinds of health issues. But there’s medical ozone, where it’s used as a hormetic inducer of healing. In other words, this is a molecule that’s very reactive, that is a stress to the body, but it creates a very short-term stress that then teaches the body to be like that wild strawberry, and create all these healing responses. So medical ozone can be used rectally, it can be used intravenously through different techniques. But what it does is it activates all of your antioxidant enzymes that protect you as you age, right? So you stop rusting. Things like catalase, and superoxide dismutase, and glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione S-transferase.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (24:21)
These are our own antioxidants. It’s not like having vitamin C or vitamin E. These are so powerful, and our body makes them, but as we age, they don’t make them so much anymore. And so this activates that. It also activates a pathway called NRF2. It’s another one of these master regulators that reduces inflammation, that increases antioxidant systems, that increases brain function. And it can also be activated by things like sulforaphane, which comes from broccoli and curcumin, which is from turmeric, and resveratrol, which is from red grapes. But when you do medical ozone, it activates the NRF2 pathway, so it protects you. It’s a protective system that is anti-aging, and it also blocks the effect of something called NF-κB. Now, this is a master regulator of your gene expression that controls inflammation.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (25:18)
Now we know inflammation is bad, so when you have the stress of ozone, it inhibits NF-κB, which turns off all the anti-inflammatory genes. So you’re literally shutting off the inflammation, you’re increasing your antioxidants, and you’re creating all these healing response in the body as a result. You’re even increasing your own stem cell production with ozone, and you’re killing off all the bugs that are living in us that create chronic inflammation. So it’s this incredible therapy that has yet to be fully researched, but the early data is just striking, and, personally, I found it an incredible therapy to optimize health and longevity, as well as treat so many patients with chronic disease. So I think there’s all these really cool hormetic therapies that we can use: whether it’s dietary manipulations that allow us to be in a little bit of stress, like a short-term fasting or starvation period; whether it’s these certain forms of exercise that put a little stress on us; whether it’s hot and cold therapy; light therapy.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (26:15)
Even hypoxia, which is low oxygen concentrations in the atmosphere, actually do the same thing. And there’s a machine that they use in Germany that I’ve tried, which is so cool, where you put on a mask and you breathe oxygen, but the levels slowly go down, so it’s like walking up Mount Everest until you’re a little bit hungry for oxygen. And then you get the oxygen bag and come back down, and that you do that repeatedly over a period of 15, 20 minutes, and that creates this response in the body of a little bit of stress that starts to do all the same things and heal your mitochondria, increase your mitochondria. And ozone is one of those therapies. And exosomes do the same thing. Stem cells could do the same thing. So we’re seeing all these therapies that aren’t treating a disease, they’re treating the system to create a healing response, a regenerative response, a repair response, an age-reversing response. Now, exosomes is one of those strategies that I think is going to be found as a key driver of health and longevity.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (27:17)
Exosomes are the healing factors that are in the stem cells. We used to think that a stem cell would go somewhere and become another cell. I don’t think that’s what we’re learning happens. Stem cells release all these growth and healing and repair factors, anti-inflammatory factors. So exosomes are all the goodies that are in stem cells that have been taken out, without the DNA. So I can’t use your stem cells, you can’t use my stem cells, because we’ll get an immune reaction, so you have to use your own. But if you’re 65, you got 65-year-old stem cells. But if you use exosomes, you can get, for example, youthful exosomes that come from placenta, where all the genetic material is taken out and only the healing factors remain, and you can inject those. You can inject them into places that are injured, to heal. You can inject them into your blood to have systemic reparative effects.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (28:11)
And I found this incredibly helpful. Yes, we need more research. We’re learning more, but I think this is one of the future therapies that’s going to be very critical in helping to enhance, repair, and heal ourselves as we age, as part of regenerative medicine. So stem cells are important and stem cells are something that we can do something about and that actually are a critical part of aging, and some of these other techniques, of exosomes and other strategies, can be very effective in bypassing some of the costs and also some of the discomfort and struggle of getting stem cells.

Dr. Todd LePine: (28:41)
One of the other very exciting areas is peptide therapy. So, again, peptides are small amounts of amino acids, like beads on a string, and peptides actually act as very powerful signaling molecules in the body. One of the peptides that we all know is insulin. Insulin is a peptide. It’s a bunch of amino acids. And we know how powerful that peptide is because when you give it to people, it lowers their blood sugar. And there are certain peptides that are out there that specifically can help with the healing of the body. There’s one in particular, called BPC-157. There’s also peptides that are good for the immune function, thymosin alpha, thymosin beta. And, unfortunately, right now, peptides are actually being in the process of being banned, or a lot of the peptides are, by the FDA, which is unfortunate because these peptides are actually quite safe, and they are helpful for a whole host of symptoms.

Dr. Todd LePine: (29:44)
In fact, there are some peptides that actually have been used specifically in patients with neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, or post-stroke patients. One in particular, called cerebral lysine. For those who are listening, I would strongly encourage you to contact your senator and congressman to get the FDA to allow doctors to use peptides. When we look at the use of medications or supplements, we always look at what’s called the risk-benefit ratio. How much risk is there and what benefit is there? Peptides, in my opinion, have one of the best risk- benefit ratios of all therapeutics that we can use, as physicians. And they’re very, very helpful for a host of things: helping with people who have ulcerative colitis; leaky gut; autoimmune conditions; etc. So these are things that I, as a physician, would like to have in my black bag. I wouldn’t necessarily use them as first-line therapy, but for patients who need it, they absolutely can be life-saving. And, unfortunately, right now we’re in the process of potentially losing a lot of these, so the time is urgent to really try to contact your local congressmen and senators.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (30:55)
All the things that we’ve discussed in this docuseries are diet exercise, the right nutrients, getting rid of toxins, fixing a microbiome, reducing inflammation, reducing oxidative stress. These are all essential to helping our mitochondria, but what’s really exciting about the science of aging and the science of our mitochondria is we now are understanding how to keep our mitochondria young through some very special tools, special nutrients, things that we can take that literally help upregulate and activate our mitochondria, produce new mitochondria, make them more effective, and make them more efficient, and make them more functional, which makes us more energetic, which is what we want. And one of the key factors that we’ve learned about, that declines as we age, is one of the components of this energy production cycle, called NAD. Now, this energy production cycle, there’s a lot of steps, a lot of chemical steps.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (31:55)
So you eat, you breathe. It goes into the mitochondria, goes down an assembly line, and out the other end comes ATP, and a little waste, which is carbon dioxide, which you breathe out, and water, which you pee out, and sometimes free radicals, which are produced. Waste, which comes out your exhaust. The problem is a lot of those steps require nutrients that decline as we age, or we don’t get enough of, like CoQ10, or B vitamins or other things. And NAD is one of the key steps in that process. There’s a tremendous amount of research going on now about how to use this molecule, NAD, to activate our mitochondria, to increase our energy, to reduce the aging process and to even potentially reverse it. And it can be given orally. There’s a lot of companies producing this molecule as a therapeutic agent, as a supplement. There are companies trying to make it into a drug. There are scientists, all over the world, looking at this molecule as a way of helping slow the aging process and even reversing it.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (32:59)
And there’s also intravenous applications, that are a little more controversial, but that can be very effective. And I’ve seen these patients of mine, for example, with Parkinson’s, which is the quintessential example of a mitochondrial disease. The reason these patients with Parkinson’s shuffle and go really slow… One of the key features is called bradykinesia, which means slow movement, and why they have muscle dysfunction is because their mitochondria don’t work anymore. And giving them NAD, literally, I’ve seen stop tremors and increase function in ways that I was shocked to see. So I’ve been using NAD myself, I’ve been using it in my patients, and I’m seeing remarkable results in helping to increase the energy production. So it’s one of those key steps that we need to have functioning in order for us to age well, and I’m really excited about this NAD research that’s going on right now. I think we’re going to learn more and more about it, and it’s already showing incredible promise as a way of optimizing your energy, of helping to slow and even reverse the aging process. So I’m a big NAD fan.

Dr. Todd LePine: (34:03)
The etymology of hormesis means to urge on, and hormesis is that when our body is exposed to stressors, small amounts of stressors, and that small amount of stressor can be a variety of different things. It can mean a temperature extreme. It can be going up in temperature, so as we raise our body temperature, that’s like a fever, and we actually can produce heat shock proteins, which are actually beneficial for the body. Sauna therapy is fantastic. If you actually look in the literature, epidemiologically, people in Sweden who do saunas on a regular basis are 70% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Now who’d have thunk of that? Just exposing yourself to sauna therapy can dramatically decrease your risk for Alzheimer’s. That’s a simple thing to do. That’s not a costly thing to do, and it’s also a social, it’s a fun thing to do.

Dr. Todd LePine: (34:58)
So things that we can do to stimulate that hormetic effect, the transient stressor. Cold therapy is also another thing. I actually do that myself every day when I take a shower. And when you live in New England, in the winter, that can get pretty cold. And that shock to the system actually pumps out lots of epinephrine and norepinephrine, which is actually good for the immune system. And there have been studies showing that cold therapy actually helps with immune activation, and there’s some very interesting work with Wim Hof, and the Wim Hof Method, which combines cold exposure along with breathing exercises to dramatically decrease the immune system’s response. They actually did some studies with medical students in the hospital where they injected them with gram-negative bacteria. They looked at their response, and these were people who were trained with breathing and cold water immersion therapy, and what they found is that these people, their immune system’s response was much less dramatic. So they have a more refined and more intelligent immune response, so that their bodies aren’t overreacting to something.

Dr. Todd LePine: (36:09)
Again, the immune system is really all about balance. You want to have an immune system that is going to fight something if that bug or virus is going to kill you, but at the same time, you want to be able to turn that immune system off. So it’s really about a balanced immune system, and that is the key thing to understanding.

Dr. Todd LePine: (36:26)
Other things that affect hormesis is phytonutrients. So a lot of those compounds, which we have in our diet, things like broccoli, garlic, green tea, these phytochemicals act as hormetic molecules. And what it is is our body senses that these molecules are toxic at low levels. It’s like a small amount of poison, if you will. And our bodies will actually start to upregulate our bodies’ own antioxidant systems. So including these sub-toxic doses of phytonutrients, like garlic, like green tea, like resveratrol, actually activate our bodies’ own natural defense mechanism systems. So that’s why that hormetic effect is really good.

Dr. Todd LePine: (37:20)
And then the other thing, which is also really good is exercise, okay? And that doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and be there for two hours a day, five days a week, but doing short bursts of exercise, which is stressing the body, is a really good thing to do. So you’re getting your heart rate up to 90%, to 100% of your maximum heart rate. You’re getting out of breath. That actually stimulates that antioxidant systems in the body. So those are all simple things that you can do that activate the hermetic response in the body.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (37:52)
As a physician, it took me years to understand that health often extends beyond our biological systems. We need to set up our environment to enhance those systems. If you think you’re doing everything right, but you’re not sleeping well, you feel isolated and lonely, you have a lack of purpose and lack of spiritual connection, you still have work to do. Surprisingly, having meaning and purpose leads to a longer life. You’re having so much fun, you don’t want to die. We cannot ignore all these factors that are as important, if not more important than what we eat. The first step to getting healthy is to consider all of these spokes on the wellness wheel. They’re foundational pillars of health. We can’t just jump into the next best supplement or treatment and expect to get healthy. First, do the basics, and then consider innovative therapies with the help of a trained practitioner.

Dr. Mark Hyman: (38:44)
I hope this episode motivated you to make shifts in your daily life. You have the power to turn your health around, starting today. So thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time for the final episode of The Longevity Roadmap, where we put it all together. See you there.

If you are looking for personalized medical support, we highly recommend contacting Dr. Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts today.

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