“Nooo??? You’re really eating only one meal a day?” my friend stammered. “That’s insane and so unhealthy! You’re totally going to hurt yourself.”
“One Meal a Day, or OMAD, is actually quite healthy for several reasons,” I replied. “Maybe you should try it.”
“No, it’s not healthy, and no, I will not ever try such misguided masochism. My doctor says fasting is just about the worst thing someone can do. You go into starvation mode, for crying out loud! I think you should stick with construction work and I’ll stick with the instructions from my medical doctor, thank you very much,” my friend barked back.
Be forewarned. That’s the kind of reaction you can expect if you tell people you practice OMAD, or eat just one meal a day. You’re unlikely to change any minds, so don’t bother trying. It’s incredibly ironic because in all likelihood, the person telling you how unhealthy it is to eat one meal a day personifies the prototypical middle aged American. He’s fat; technically obese. He has high blood pressure. He has high cholesterol. He drinks alcohol often, binging occasionally. He is on at least one type of medication for life to manage at least one chronic condition. He never lifts weights. Cardio? Ha! He has a job that keeps him seated all day. He regularly ingests pesticides, refined sugar, processed foods, and artificial flavors/colors. And yet, he truly believes that those of us who practice OMAD are irreparably damaging our health. It’s preposterous! Not eating isn’t the problem. How much, how often, and what one eats is!
My friend believes that just going to his doctor to get a bunch of prescriptions will solve his health problems. The fact of the matter is far more complicated. We can’t possibly expect any individual, group, business, or institution to solve a problem for which he, she, or it is the solution in perpetuity. This is a critical point. It’s no coincidence my friend will need to keep returning to visit his doctor (paying him) for the rest of his life in order to remain alive. He’s also a customer of a pharmaceutical company until he dies. Neither the doctor nor the drug company has truly solved any of his underlying problems causing his health issues. They’ve just kicked the can down the road. In fact, they have a deep financial interest in maintaining his issues in order to keep a good paying customer. This is the most insidious variety of recurring bills. I urge you to actually solve your health problems. OMAD may be a great way of doing just that.
As far as I know, nothing we eat, take, do, or buy will help improve most of our biomarkers of aging better than OMAD. OMAD will conclusively improve the following biomarkers: Body Fat, Inflammation, Cholesterol, Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability, and VO2 Max. I’m not just making wild claims. All of this is measurable. See for yourself. If you’re going to try any of the many methods I’ve tried to reverse my biological age, OMAD, no doubt, is among the most effective.
How to Practice OMAD
OMAD certainly isn’t for everyone. Nevertheless, I encourage everyone that wants to lose body fat, improve several biomarkers of aging, and/or take control of any manageable health issues to give it their best shot. I’m not suggesting anyone jump right into OMAD. It takes some adjusting to. Start with just skipping breakfast. Then move to 16:8 (16 hours of feeding; 8 hours of fasting). Slowly increase fasting time while decreasing feeding time. Everyone is different and will react to intermittent fasting (IF) differently. Try 18:6 when you think you can handle it. Once your body adjusts and 18:6 becomes easy, go to 20:4. Your body is an amazing creation and it will quickly adapt. Before you know it, you can get to OMAD if you really want to.
Believe it or not, but the hardest part of practicing OMAD is not hunger. It’s actually the social aspects that make it so difficult. Tell someone you only eat one meal a day and they will be ready to have you committed for insanity because they are convinced you must be mentally ill and are hurting yourself. Regardless, by the time OMAD becomes easy for you, you’re going to be amazed to notice that everyone around you is constantly stuffing their face. You will not be envious. Rather, you will wonder how they function.
There are many different ways to practice OMAD. Here’s my variation. I spend one hour a day feeding, roughly at the same time each day. I take my time feasting on a large, healthy, delicious meal. I don’t count calories or carbs, though I may eventually. I drink as much coffee (black) and water as I’d like throughout the course of the day. I never add cream or sugar because doing so would result in an insulin response, breaking the fast. For the same reason, I never consume a snack of any kind. Aside from that one hour a day I feed, the rest of my time is spent in a fasted state. Many people like to relax on weekends with 16:8, which is a great idea to avoid burnout. Of course I occasionally mess up and cheat. That’s ok. Just don’t let a cheat day become two. Then three. Then a week. Then you’ll quickly wind up just like just about everyone else: fat, sick, and dying.
I do not suggest practicing OMAD permanently. Rather, cycle it until you reach your ideal weight. Then figure out what you need to do to maintain, which might be 16:8. Track your weight and as many other biomarkers as possible. If you find you’re gaining weight in the future, you will already have mastered a fast and easy way to lose it again.
Obesity and just being overweight is associated with 40 percent of cancers in the USA, according to the CDC . A drastic reduction in body fat is the most obvious benefit of practicing OMAD. If you try it for a month or two, I promise you will blast off a considerable amount of body fat. Losing body fat, especially the visceral variety, is critically important because the fatter you are, the more likely you are to get cancer and the more senescent cells (zombie cells that have ceased dividing) you will have. Although senescent cells can no longer replicate, they remain metabolically active and result in increased systemic inflammation . Senescence is often triggered by DNA damage resulting from shortened telomeres. Cells can also be induced to senesce via other means of DNA damage. We want to eliminate as many senescent cells as possible. We should all strive to get rid of excess body fat in favor of lean, well muscled, healthy bodies.
Reduces Systemic Inflammation
Cellular senescence is strongly associated with inflammation and consequently, the leaner one is, the less systemic inflammation one can expect to have. Inflammation is a problem that must be solved if we want to beat back aging. It is strongly associated with the big five chronic diseases most likely to kill you too. Practicing OMAD, or any type of intermittent fasting, is not only a good way to dramatically reduce inflammation, it may be the best way. We can measure systemic inflammation by measuring C-Reactive Protein. Get yours tested if you’re curious about your inflammation levels.
Reduces Brain Inflammation
Mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and brain fog are on the rise. One in six people we know are taking an anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressant, or some other kind of psychiatric drug. Study after study shows that IF improves brain function and mood through an effect not unlike antidepressant medication . The same applies to exercise. Even neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s seem to respond positively to IF, and several studies have shown that IF may essentially slow down brain aging . If brain and systemic inflammation is reduced by performing IF, then the effects will be even more dramatic practicing OMAD. Got the Alzheimer’s APOE e4 gene? Practicing IF and/or cycling OMAD would probably be a wise preventative measure.
OMAD, or any variety of intermittent fasting, decreases insulin resistance, a hormonal problem that affects a staggering 50 percent of American adults ! At RMA, we believe one of the keys to defeating aging will be strongly linked to solving insulin resistance. When someone stuffs his face all day, he is constantly spiking his blood sugar and his body’s insulin response. The only time a typical westerner’s body gets a break is when he or she sleeps. If one is flooding his or her body with insulin all day every day, eventually you need more and more to get the same effect. The same goes for pretty much all drugs, chemicals, and therapies which is why I am such a fan of cycling. Arguably one of the most profound effects of practicing OMAD is that it makes practitioners more insulin sensitive.
I can hear some of you thinking, “But John, if you only eat one meal a day, you’re going to shrivel up and lose all your lean muscle mass and strength gains you’ve been working so hard to achieve.” Not only am I not losing lean muscle mass, I’m getting stronger. But how could this be? I’m not exactly sure, but studies have shown that intermittent fasting causes an dramatic rise in both HGH and Testosterone secretion . RMA readers love naturally increasing both these powerful anti-aging hormones.
Simply put, if you practice OMAD for a few months, you will: lose weight, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol ratios, lower your resting heart rate, and improve both your VO2 max and heart rate variability. Why aren’t more doctors prescribing OMAD instead of buckets of pharmaceuticals? The following graph should blow your mind! Can you guess when I began OMAD?
I never even considered my RHR might drop as a result of instituting OMAD. I’m not really sure precisely why my RHR fell so much while on OMAD. I suspect digesting food is physically taxing. One’s heart simply has to work harder to to digest all that food I customarily shovel down my throat. This is an important realization and underscores our desire to gather as much data as possible. We may never know exactly what we’re looking for, but we know we’re looking for something. Occasionally an important discovery, like this one, will jump out at us, making all the data collection effort worthwhile.
What’s Really Healthy and What’s Really Dangerous
Most people rub toxic chemicals all over themselves on a daily basis: shampoo, soaps, fragrances, moisturizers, shaving cream, deodorant. We breathe polluted air filled with diesel fumes, solvents, pesticides, tobacco smoke, microplastics, and industrial byproducts. We drink polluted water and factory made liquids loaded with known slow acting poisons (high fructose corn syrup). We eat food heavily laden with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. And yet, we do all these things on a daily basis and rarely does anyone ever object and say, “Hey, wait a minute. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” Instead, we are conditioned to accept all these facts on the one hand, and marginalize anyone who steps outside this normal, yet incredibly sick, paradigm. Intermittent Fasting is unhealthy? OMAD is unhealthy? You’ve gotta wonder about our collective approach to what is healthy vs. what is dangerous! Question conventional wisdom!
People that know me personally know I cringe when I hear someone say the cause of a given ailment is because someone “is getting older.” The comment is usually both misleading and an incredible oversimplification of an association, not a causation. We’re not fatter because we are older. We’re fatter and it’s harder to lose weight primarily because of a lifetime of accumulated damage. It’s because I’ve been scoffing down twinkies, and nachos, and beer, and energy drinks, and pizza all day long every day for almost 42 years. I ate from a few minutes after waking until a few minutes before going to bed. This is not good and it is reflected in the collective health of the western world. What’s amazing is not that many of us have grown fat, but that our bodies retain the ability to repair themselves and get lean again.
Paleo, Keto, South Beach, Atkins, Zero Carb, Carnivore, CIKO. There are countless diets out there. They all work, but none will have as profound an effect on most of your biomarkers of aging. Of all the things I’m doing to lengthen my telomeres and reverse my biological age, this is among the most powerful. The simple act of eating one meal a day improves just about every single biomarker of aging, either directly or indirectly. What’s more, it’s so simple! Anyone can do it if you set your mind to it. I don’t care what your chronic condition or physical shape is. If you try intermittent fasting and work up to cycling OMAD, you will be slimmer, leaner, healthier, happier, and likely reverse whatever chronic conditions you may suffer from, enabling you to stop being a slave to Big Pharma.
While I am certain intermittent fasting works, I really don’t know exactly how. But here’s the thing. Neither does your doctor. Nobody does. Maybe you’re reluctant to try something new that’s different from what everyone else is doing. I don’t blame you. Yet, make no mistake, I promise if we continue living the lifestyle “everyone else” is living, it can only end in one of five ways: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and/or stroke. We’ve gotta collectively start making efforts to stop poisoning ourselves. Not only can we stop doing additional damage, we can reverse much of it. Remember this: breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day anymore. The only meal is.
I pretty much never clean. The reason I go to great lengths to avoid cleaning is not exclusively because it’s a chore I hate performing. Allow me to explain…
More than a few times I’ve been challenged by the uber health conscious to find something in their lives that is potentially unhealthy. For the record, I wish to make it abundantly clear that I do tons of things every day that I know are unhealthy and carry some risk. Many of these risks are an unavoidable part of living a modern, tech centered life. These are risks I simply agree to take while simultaneously recognizing them and often making efforts to mitigate them. During the past year and a half, since embarking upon this journey to reverse my biological age, I have learned so much and continue to increase my knowledge about many of these ubiquitous risks. I hope you, my readers, are learning just as much.
Whenever someone issues such a health risk challenge, one of my first guesses is to check under their bathroom and kitchen sinks. What’s under your’s? Seriously. Get up and go take a look at the cleaning products you have in your kitchen or bathroom cabinet. Read the labels. Start googling the ingredients. If you’re like most people, you have a pile of household cleaners, most of them containing all kinds of toxic, deadly chemicals. Some of these products may even have a skull and crossbones pictogram right on the label. Manufacturers are certainly not hiding the toxic nature of their products from us. They are telling us right on the labels none of us ever read. Maybe we should begin to listen to the companies selling these products, take the threats seriously, and simply stop using them in favor of more natural, safer alternatives.
Common Toxic Chemicals in Cleaning Products
Are you disturbed by what you found lurking under your sink? You should be. Here are some common cleaning chemicals: bleach, ammonia, phthalates, triclosan, butylphenyl methylpropional, benzisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, benzyl salicylate. These polysyllabic names alone should frighten you. The proven, not merely theoretical, effects of these chemicals should make each and every one of us eternally banish them from our homes. I can hear some of you thinking, “There you go again John, being all conspiracy theorist and purveyor of fear porn.” No, not really. Do your own research. Look at what the studies say.
Cleaning Products Proven Harmful
One of the main reasons I decided to write about cleaning products is that within the last few months a 20-year longitudinal study examining the long term effects of using cleaning products was concluded by scientists at the University of Bergen in Norway. There has been increasing awareness of the connection between cleaning products use and respiratory issues, but this was the first study to look at the impact of using cleaning products over a very long period of time. It was no small study. In fact, it looked at the lung function of 6,230 people in 22 locations around the world over the course of 20 years. The study determined that the effects of 10-20 years of cleaning product exposure can be as damaging as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for the same amount of time. Amazing! Why would anyone willingly expose themself to such a product?
If you’re a cleaning worker handling these chemicals on a daily basis; get another job. Your life and lung function are far more valuable than anything you could be earning. It’s a fact: these chemicals are extremely hazardous to your health. Avoid them at all costs. I have even developed an aversion to smelling people or things because I now know I’m likely inhaling a nice dose of some toxic chemical.
I’m going to make it really easy for you. Avoid the following: bleach, ammonia, drain cleaner, carpet cleaner, heavy duty degreasers, and artificial air fresheners and anything with a scent that is not natural. Check out EWG.org. Do your own research. There are literally hundreds of safe, healthy alternatives. They may not be carried by your supermarket, but you can certainly order them and have them delivered right to your doorstep. And guess what? The safe alternatives may work just as well and are often not anymore expensive. In some cases, they are actually cheaper! Why wouldn’t you eliminate this risk?
We all have heard of people who lived perfectly healthy lives, free from smoking, drinking, and drugging, only to get struck dead by lung cancer. People often like to remind me of this type of scenario in an effort to deride my efforts to reverse my biological age. “What’s the point, John? You could just get cancer. Or hit by a bus. You’re wasting your time! All this effort and denying yourself life’s little pleasures? It’s pointless!” These individuals fail to recognize that I am quite happy engaged in this pursuit. Furthermore, this point of view removes the responsibility of many of life’s occurrences from the individual. The viewpoint suggests that our health span is beyond our control. “Diabetes is something you just get as you age. As is heart disease. As is cancer. As is obesity. You may as well just do whatever you want because these things are going to happen anyway.” Yet, proponents of this ideology fail to observe the obvious. Most of these diseases are caused by environmental factors, NOT genetics. Diabetes, obesity, and most heart disease are unquestionably environmental. Moreover, according to a study published in 2008, “Only 5–10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90–95% have their roots in the environment and lifestyle. The lifestyle factors include cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity. The evidence indicates that of all cancer-related deaths, almost 25–30% are due to tobacco, as many as 30–35% are linked to diet, about 15–20% are due to infections, and the remaining percentage are due to other factors like radiation, stress, physical activity, environmental pollutants etc .” As you can see, we actually have an extraordinary amount of control with respect to the way our health span unfolds.
Is there any data linking exposure to cleaning chemicals to telomere shortening? No, there isn’t. But there is data linking exposure to pollution to telomere shortening. So why take an unnecessary risk? Everything has a cost and a benefit. All we can do is try to make the best possible decisions while simultaneously enjoying life. Maybe I am wasting my time attempting to reverse my biological age. Time will tell. Nevertheless, that argument doesn’t hold up as it relates to proven dangerous cleaning products. I am suggesting replacing something harmful with a safe, potentially cheaper, alternative. Doing this takes literally zero time and costs nothing. Why would anyone pollute their home and body when they don’t have to?
How long do you want to live? Seriously. Take a moment to ponder the question deeply.
So often when I discuss my endeavor to reverse my biological age, people chuckle and suggest that merely contemplating such an undertaking is a fool’s errand. They adopt a condescending tone to educate me, explaining how it’s not possible and never will be. Their mind has been made up and there is no room to consider the possibilities. I wonder if this is some kind of evolutionary psychological protective mechanism enabling them to deal with their own “inevitable” death that prevents normally intelligent people from looking at the available evidence and having an open mind. An equally common reaction is, “Oh, that’s cool man, but I’d never want to live beyond 80 or 90.” Thus, when they ask me how long I intend to live, they consistently explode with laughter when I tell them “Oh, at least 256.”
So, how long would YOU like to live? Maybe you’re thinking, “By 90, I will be tired.” Or, “My body won’t work.” Or, “I won’t look so good.” Or, “I’ll be sick.” Or, “My mind won’t work.” But what if we could live to be 100 in the body of a healthy 30 year old? Then wouldn’t all these issues disappear? Then tell me, why would you want to die?
A friend gleefully sent me an article a few months ago that describes the assisted suicide of a 104 year old Austrian Scientist who had “lost the will to live any longer.” I think it is important to note that I often feel that way in the morning as I get ready to go to work. I am not unusual; at least in that respect. I’ve also known 16 year olds that felt similarly after a traumatic breakup with their “soulmate”. The scientist growing “tired of life” is not an issue of old age. Rather, it is a matter of several other issues we so often discuss here at RMA. Was he healthy and fit? Was he happy? Was he strong? Did his life have purpose? Did he have a strong social network? Was he mentally healthy? What did his blood labs and Biomarkers of Aging look like? These are all things we need to consider and be aware of regardless of whether we be 21 or 101. I only wish we could have helped this guy improve his biomarkers and given him hope and purpose, thereby alleviating some of the many symptoms that often accompany old age. If life has come to bore you or make you unhappy, the problem is never with life itself; rather, the problem is with YOU and it is fixable in almost all circumstances. It’s largely a matter of perspective.
The purpose of this post is NOT to try to talk anyone out of suicide. It is to underscore the fact that we are living in very strange times. There are some big changes happening now and some even bigger ones around the corner. One of those coming changes is Quantum Computing and, despite what belittlers of Biological Age Reversalism may think, it is, most definitely, going to make it possible to significantly extended life. Allow me to explain…
IBM’s Quantum Computer
What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computing is really creepy. The underlying principles of quantum mechanics essentially breaks science by defying the laws of physics. It is semi-incomprehensible. John Wheeler, an American Physicist and inventor of the term “Black Hole,” said, “If you are not completely confused by quantum mechanics, you do not understand it.” Nevertheless, most experts in the field agree quantum computers will help us tackle some really big problems that our existing computers can’t even contemplate.
Quantum computing takes advantage of the strange ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state in a given moment. In classical computing, a bit is a single piece of information that can exist in two states – 1 or 0. Quantum computing uses quantum bits, or “qubits” instead, which can be both 1 AND 0 at the same time. Mind blowing, right? But this isn’t magic; it’s really real. At 100 qubits a single quantum computer processor would, theoretically, be more powerful than all the supercomputers on the planet combined. We may be closer to that milestone than most people think. Just last week, IBM transformatively announced the first quantum computer (20 qubits) available for commercial use. Make no mistake; a quantum revolution is upon us.
A New Cold War
It’s not just companies like Google and IBM racing to develop the first quantum computers. While the headlines are often dominated with talks of trade or proxy wars, there is a new cold war taking place right now. No, it is not a nuclear arms race. It is something much, much more powerful and equally potentially devastating. It is a race for artificial general intelligence. AGI is the precursor to The Technological Singularity, a concept often touched upon at RMA. Within the past few weeks, the President signed into law a bill creating a National Quantum Computer Program. The law “authorizes $1.2 billion over five years for federal activities aimed at boosting investment in quantum information science.” That’s 1.2 BILLION with a B.
The primary purpose of the bill is to speed to development of quantum computing. I strongly suspect the department of defense in one of its many forms is lurking somewhere behind this bill. Why is the United States government devoting so much money to quantum computing? One reason is China is set to open a major Quantum lab in 2020.  That’s a big problem for us. Oh, ya know how we think all our personal and national security data is safe because it is encrypted. “Haha,” Quantum Computers will laugh hysterically at our puny, weak, efforts to hide our sensitive personal and national data. They’ll bypass our antiquated encryption faster and more stealthily than a Times Square pickpocket can lift your wallet. We can’t even begin to contemplate the weapons systems that quantum computing will build.
I literally began giggling uncontrollably like a mad scientist as I read the headline “Congress Passes 1.2 Billion Quantum Computing Bill”! Why? Because the problem with fighting aging is that is damn near impossible to raise serious money to fight it. Cancer. No problem. Aids, sure, tons of money to go around for that. But when an academic scientist tells a wealthy philanthropist or government agency they want to destroy death, these potential benefactors laugh and slam their wallets shut. There are a few great organizations out there trying to raise money and I hope those of you who have money to burn donate some to this cause. SENS, Aubrey DeGray’s organization, is a fantastic organization created to defeating aging. But to mount a serious offensive against death, we don’t need to raise millions. We need billions and maybe trillions. Those kind of dollar amounts typically only come from governments, not individuals. I’m thrilled because an investment in quantum computing is indirectly an investment in biological aging reversal and the government is finally getting in on it.
Computing Advances are Exponential, Not Linear
When I think of exponential growth vs. linear growth, I am fondly reminded of my father’s war against dandelions when I was growing up. If the spring begins with one dandelion and one more dandelion pops up every day, that is an example of linear growth. At the end of the year under a linear growth paradigm, we would have 365 dandelions on my parents’ lawn. Now, if instead we used a model of exponential growth, say, doubling every week, we would initially grow much slower. Then we’d not only catch up with the linear model, but blow by it. With our exponential growth model we would have an astounding 2,251,799,813,685,248 dandelions at the end of the year. Do you see how profound the difference between the two models? Advances in computing are similarly exponential, not linear. This is because of Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law is the observation that computers double in power/speed every 18 months to two years. This law has held true since the 1960’s. Many of Ray Kurzweil’s predictions revolve around Moore’s Law continuing. An artificial intelligence explosion is taking place right now.
Quantum Computing and Aging
When will I own a quantum computer? Well, they don’t really exist yet, despite IBM’s announcement last week. They aren’t practical yet because the existing ones do not have enough qubits and software to use with them hasn’t really been developed yet. When they first do truly exist, they’ll probably cost about fifteen million dollars. But that doesn’t discourage me, nor should it you. In 2001, scientists finished sequencing the first whole human genome. It costs the American taxpayer 2.7 billion to get it done. By 2008, the cost to sequence an entire human genome dropped to the low, low bargain price of about 10 million. Today (2019) I’m seriously considering getting my full genome sequenced for about $1,000. See how quickly this new technology became widely available? The same will apply to quantum computers and I intend to be among the first private home users.
I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these machines primarily because it will facilitate my efforts to reverse my biological age! We’ve covered several potential therapies to fight aging here at RMA in the past year and a half. We have yet to discuss dozens more that are on our list and many of them I’m quite excited about (No hints! You’ll just have to keep reading)! Furthermore, new potential therapies are discovered regularly. Yet, much of what I am doing is guesswork. Now, I’m throwing two fistfulls of darts at the board drunk, blindfolded, and standing on one leg. WHEN I get a Quantum Computer, I’ll be running virtual trials on my specific DNA with all kinds of therapies and supplements and drugs and every conceivable mix thereof. How will stronglifts, ultra endurance training, 1500 mg of curcumin, and cryotherapy affect my telomeres? Better yet, how will a mix of these therapies affect my telomeres, systemic inflammation, DNA methylation, and insulin sensitivity? What if I change the dose? What if I add a ketogenic diet and/or extended fasts once every three months? A Quantum Computer will answer those questions for me. And that’s just what I will do by myself in the comfort of my one bedroom condo (laboratory) in Jersey City. Just imagine what Calico(google’s company that exists to defeat aging) and research institutions will be able to accomplish?
Quantum computing will also facilitate determining micro and macro associations. I urge everyone to accumulate self quantitative data in order to enable you to see what’s actually working and what isn’t with respect to both aging and general health. Otherwise, we’re really just guessing. Quantum computing will elevate finding all kinds of associations to an entirely new level. Maybe telomeres don’t really matter all that much with respect to extreme longevity. Maybe long telomeres are more highly correlated to cancer risk. Maybe systemic inflammation is far more important. Or heart rate variability. Or a mix of several biomarkers, some of which may not even have been discovered. Quantum computing will provide definitive answers and guide us in totally unforseen directions.
What’s equally exciting is that it’s not just “aging” research performed with quantum computers that will affect our field of interest. There will be great advances in peripheral fields that will translate to benefiting biological age reversal. How about all those scientists studying gene therapy and editing? Or bioprinting organs? Or drug development? Or nanotech? Or biomechanics? Or mind uploading (Elon Musk has said he’s announcing a “neuralink” that connects your brain to computers in a few months)? Yes friends, whether you share my views of aging or “poo poo” them, big changes are happening all around us and life as we know it is going to change at an ever increasing rate. Things are about to get really, really strange!
Those of us interested in the reversal of biological aging are what most people might consider oddballs. Yet, our view that aging is a disease that can be vanquished is a completely rational position. Quantum computing will, no doubt, usher in changes that we can’t even begin to fathom. The fundamental ways in which we live are going to change, by necessity. Combating chronic diseases, the conditions most likely to kill you, will be child’s play compared to doing it with the tools we have today. Virtual trials of therapies, drugs, gene editing and therapy will result in incomprehensible advancements in a short period of time. We will, no doubt, significantly extend the upper limits of life with the use of these powerful computers.
When you meet people critical of your desire to dramatically extend life (that would be most people), ask them, “Why are you so eager to die?” Remind them that they might not feel the same way when the grim reaper is staring them down. And most importantly, remember this: If you’re not reversing your age, you’re dying!
Why are most of the people you know who participate in diet programs so fat? Why is everyone that has a personal trainer so weak? Or worse; weak AND fat? And why do just about all these people almost invariably fail to keep any gains, despite spending small fortunes, year after year? Perhaps it’s because, generally speaking, people tend to focus on one aspect of it all. Consequently, they totally disregard incredibly important considerations that have powerful biochemical effects. Wellness, which adopts a more holistic approach, is exponentially more effective than just going to the gym, or just tweaking one’s diet. Guiding principle number 4 of this endeavor is absolutely critical: Everything Matters! What you eat, when you eat it, what you drink, how much you sleep, how much cardio you do and at what intensity, how much weight you lift and for how many repetitions; even what and how you think is of the utmost importance!
As regular readers know, my primary goal of the 90 Day Challenge is to reverse my biological age by lengthening my telomeres. I will test my telomeres for the final time on April 1, 2019. As such, I will spend the next 90 days focusing on improving each of my individual biomarkers of aging. My goal is to work to achieve biomarkers equivalent to that of a fit 24 year old with the hope that my telomeres will follow.
If you’re up for a challenge, I invite you to join me. You have nothing to lose but your diabetes, high cholesterol, compromised immune system, weak muscles, beer belly, and/or big fat ass. We will make extraordinary gains together and you will fall in love with your new, hard earned, physique, and the new feelings and lifestyle, free from anxiety, depression, and brain fog, that accompany it. This 90 Day Challenge is about bringing it all together and finishing strong as I take my final telomere test. No matter what your primary objective, you can become the best YOU you’ve ever thought possible.
Biomarkers of Aging Goals
Most of the Biomarkers of Aging I discuss come from an excellent book called Biomarkers: The 10 Keys to Prolonging Vitality written by William Evans, Ph.D. and Irwin Rosenberg, M.D. from the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. I have added a few of my own (Resting Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability) and will continue to add more. This list, as it stands, is grossly inadequate. In the coming months, I will write about adding a considerable number of biomarkers taken from hair, urine, and blood samples. These biomarkers are more difficult and expensive to collect and measure. They will include: various heavy metals levels, Testosterone, HGH, Vitamin D, C Reactive Protein, among many others. Stay tuned.
Strength and Lean Muscle Mass
I am not all that interested in adding a ton of lean muscle mass because I already have what I believe is enough. That being said, the more lean muscle mass one has, the better one’s Basal Metabolic Rate and therefore, the lower one’s body fat. I will do precisely what I have been doing (Stronglifts) with some minor variations. It’s working. I fully expect to continue making gains. I will also get back on creatine January 1.
Goals – Bench Press – 275 for 5×5; Squat – 315 for 5×5; Deadlift 365 for 1×5
This, in my view, is one of the most important biomarkers of aging. It’s also one we have a considerable amount of control over. I intend to reduce mine to 12%. I am concerned about my ability to meet this objective because even when I was doing a ton of cardio and fasting two days a week, I never fell much lower than 18%. This, in my view, is not a function of “just getting older” as we so often hear. Rather, I suspect it is the result of a lifetime of accumulated damage resulting in Insulin Resistance.
Here are charts demonstrating healthy body fat levels by age and gender.
I can practically hear you wondering, “How the hell are you going to get to 12% body fat when you couldn’t get much lower than 18% when you literally ate nothing two days a week?” I will begin the year with a 16:8 eating schedule. That means I fast for 16 hours daily and compress my feeding time into an 8 hour window. I essentially just skip breakfast. Two weeks later I will transition to 20:4. Two weeks after that I will move to OMAD (One Meal A Day) with 16:8 on weekends. I will not count calories, but calorie consumption will fall because my stomach will shrink and one can only consume a limited amount of food in a single sitting. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I do not expect to shrivel up and lose all my muscle mass. Rather, I fully expect to grow stronger and pack on more lean muscle mass while simultaneously dropping body fat. Sounds counterintuitive, right? I will also be doing at least an hour of cardio thrice weekly and HIIT twice weekly. I have a couple of interesting surprises lined up for how I intend to slay body fat. If this intrigues you, stick around for a few months.
Body Fat Goal – 12%
Insulin Sensitivity is, in my view, the MOST important Biomarker of Aging. If the Grim Reaper has predecessors, this is the most devastatingly common one. Remember, I began this quest fat and prediabetic with a fasting plasma glucose level of 100. I have since gotten my blood sugar under control, but I do not believe I am anywhere near as insulin sensitive as I could be. I have a glucose/ketone meter and will be periodically checking my levels. Exercise, eating healthy, and most especially, intermittent fasting, will ensure I continue to improve my insulin sensitivity.
Insulin Sensitivity Goal – Fasting Blood Glucose of 70
Cholesterol tends to rise with age. Nevertheless, a healthy level of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides tends to be relatively the same no matter what one’s age. Because I aim to be 24 years, old biologically speaking, my cholesterol goals are:
Total Cholesterol – 125
Triglycerides – 100
LDL – 40
HDL – 75
This is doable for anyone, no matter what your current levels. Some, no doubt, will have to work harder. My plan for managing my cholesterol includes a healthy diet, Stronglifts, cardio, and OMAD.
Healthy blood pressure is healthy blood pressure. It is age independent, though systolic blood pressure often rises with age, while the diastolic blood pressure tends to fall. My diet and rigorous exercise routine will ensure I maintain my blood pressure goal. I own a blood pressure cuff and will continue to sporadically monitor it.
Blood Pressure Goal – Under 120/80
Resting Heart Rate
Resting Heart Rate is one of the Biomarkers of Aging I have decided to add. Nobody I’ve read or listened to stresses its importance, but I think it is critical. A low, healthy resting heart rate is an excellent reflection of overall cardiovascular health. The lower your RHR, the less work your heart has to do to keep you alive. If you are doing a considerable amount of endurance training, your resting heart rate will drop like a rock from a skyscraper. The cardio and HIIT part of my regimen will get my RHR where I’d like it to be. Meditation and cold showers also help improve RHR.
Resting Heart Rate Goal – 48 BPM
Heart Rate Variability
HRV is an often overlooked fitness tool and Biomarker of Aging. A healthy heart beat contains irregularities. It’s not a clock and you don’t want it to act like one. Even if your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, that doesn’t mean that your heart beats once every second. Instead, there is variation among the intervals between your heartbeats. The interval between successive heartbeats can be, for example, 0.5 seconds between two succeeding beats and 1.5 seconds between the next two. Heart Rate Variability is a measure which indicates how much variation there is in your heartbeats within a specific timeframe . If the intervals between your heartbeats are rather constant, your HRV is low. If their length varies, your HRV is high. Aging is strongly associated with a declining HRV. Endurance training, endurance training, and more endurance training is the only way to considerably improve one’s HRV.
Heart Rate Variability Goal – 75
Aerobic capacity is one of the most important components of overall physical fitness. I will use VO2 Max to measure it. In the simplest terms, VO2 is the measurement of the amount of oxygen you absorb and consume during exercise. VO2 Max varies according to a number of factors, including red blood cell count, muscle adaptation to exercise, genetics, weight, and the volume of blood your heart can pump . Both my Garmin watch and Fitbit use an algorithm to determine wearer’s VO2 Max. HIIT and tons of cycling will help me reach my VO2 Max Goal.
VO2 Max Goal – 60
Basal Metabolic Rate
Basal Metabolic Rate is the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest to keep vital functions going, such as breathing and keeping warm. When you lose weight, your BMR decreases as you require fewer calories per day. In contrast, when you gain dense, heavier muscle, your BMR will increase. The experts say metabolic rate decreases as you age because muscle mass declines by five to 10 percent each decade after the age of 30. Ha! We’ll show them that not only need we not lose muscle mass after age 30, but we can pack it on. Yes, even if you are 70, you too can pack on lean muscle mass, thereby improving your BMR. Fitbit uses an algorithm to estimate BMR. Stronglifts, a healthy diet, and cardio will be the therapies I utilize to maintain and/or improve my BMR.
BMR Goal – 1,800
Body Temperature Regulation
This, to the best of my knowledge, is not measurable. I will continue taking cold showers ranging between one and ten minutes in duration. Painfully, the water emerges from the tap considerably colder during winter months than summer. I will also make it a point to use the sauna a couple times a week.
No Goal – Cold Shower Daily and Use Sauna a Couple Times a Week
If your bones aren’t dense and strong, they will break. Osteoporosis and low bone mass are currently estimated to be a major public health threat for almost 44 million U.S. women and men aged 50 and older . The 44 million people with either osteoporosis or low bone mass represent 55 percent of the people aged 50 and older in the United States . While my body fat scale tells me my bone percentage, it cannot measure the density of my bones. One would have to get an expensive DXA test to truly measure bone density. I do not have bone density issues, so it is not something I will focus on. One improves bone density by lifting heavy weight. Stronglifts is what I will continue doing to maintain and improve my bone density.
No Bone Density Goal
Balance is especially critical for the elderly. If one lacks balance, he or she will fall and break a bone or suffer some similar serious injury. Balance, like muscle mass, is something even elderly people can develop with some time and effort. I will work on my balance by continuing to advance my yoga practice. The more advanced poses require an incredible amount of strength and balance. Balance is not really measurable (yet), but if you spend some time a few times a week challenging yourself, you will make substantial gains.
Balance Goals – Walk On Hands 15 Seconds, Crow Pose, Peacock Pose, Extended Hand To Toe Pose (Front and Side), Forearm Stand Scorpion Pose
What You Can Do to Participate
You may be wondering how you can participate in the 90 Day Reversing My Age Wellness Challenge. First, select one or a few objectives. They can be literally just about anything. Some good ones include: lose x lbs, reduce body fat to x percent, bench press x lbs, reduce blood pressure and/or cholesterol to healthy levels, get off medications, reverse diabetes/pre-diabetes, reduce anxiety and/or depression, establish a meditation and or yoga practice, run a marathon, etc. Second, take baseline measurements and photos. Create a very specific plan that will enable you to achieve your goals. Stick to it! If you trip up, that’s ok, just get back to your regimen. 90 days really isn’t that long. At the end, on April 1, take ending measurements and photos. You will be ecstatic. I promise. Just taking that first step is the hardest part.
Below is a general outline of my regimen:
These Biomarkers of Aging may seem like an overwhelming list. Blood pressure? Resting Heart Rate? Cholesterol? You’re thinking, “John, I can’t do anything about these numbers.” BOLOGNA! We can. Together we will demonstrate what an incredible degree of control we can exert over most of these biomarkers. Furthermore, while I am attempting to reverse my age, your goal should be something more reasonably attainable that will improve the overall quality of your life. We may not lengthen our telomeres, but we will unquestionably be happier, healthier, and stronger.
It only takes a month for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly. I’m asking for three months of hard work and dedication. That’s enough time to fundamentally alter your appearance and to develop habits that could potentially change the trajectory of your life.
Many of you may be wondering (some have even written) about the end of my quest to lengthen my telomeres. When I began thinking about this endeavor, I intended the adventure to last a year. I planned to test my telomere length on October 1, 2017 (which I did), midway at April 1, 2018 (which I also did), and again to complete the quest on October 1, 2018. October 1 came and went with no discussion of a final test of my telomeres. Some of you, no doubt, are legitimately disappointed by my failure to produce a final test and would like an explanation. The truth is, I simply stumbled. I failed to test my telomeres again for the following reasons:
I was extremely demoralized after both accelerating my biological age (See Telomere Test 2 Results) and failing to complete two ultramarathons in a row.
“Life” simply got in the way. I was busy with work and other things, which took time away from quest related activities.
Because my habits slipped, my biomarkers deteriorated.
Few things in life go according to the plan. In the words of modern day philosopher Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth…” Nevertheless, make no mistake; the quest continues and I swear I will reverse my biological age, or die trying! Yes, I faltered after some disappointing setbacks, but have since picked myself up, jumped back on my horse, and am galloping full steam ahead.
Why I Stumbled
With respect to why I let my habits slip, the truth of the matter is manifold. First, I was demoralized. Can you blame me? Training for ultramarathons is hard, time consuming, painful work. I failed at two in a row. The first really didn’t bother me all that much, but I fully expected to easily complete the second. Consequently, that second failure to bring home another belt buckle really hurt, both physically and psychologically. So, I limped back to work after the Beast of Burden and thought to myself, “Yeah, you can have 7-11 nachos and a sugar free monster. You earned it!” Well, one thing led to another and suddenly I was back to drinking one or two sugar free monsters a day. To make matters worse, I fell out of my routine so I stopped doing cardio as much. I simply wasn’t doing all the things I promised myself I would do. I had lost momentum and consistency.
I didn’t totally fall off the wagon with respect to reversing my age. Yes my diet suffered, but for the most part, remained quite healthy. I cooked the overwhelming majority of my meals at home as I had since the beginning. There was just more cheating, especially at work and on weekends. I have consistently been meditating at least once a day every single day, eating far healthier than previously, and continued lifting weights religiously. I am, in fact, stronger than I have ever been in my life. I’m still doing most of the things I’ve written about, but there’s only so much time in a day. I’m busy. “Life” gets in the way. Yet again, maybe our conception of “life” is getting in the way of truly living. What do you think?
I really shouldn’t have been so hard on myself. What I was doing was extraordinarily challenging and one must be a little kooky and display a maniacal degree of dedication to maintain such a demanding regimen. I was trying to do too much. One simply can’t do everything, especially if you have a full time job. Instead, I should have focused on doing a few things really well.
Why is it So Hard to Consistently Be Healthy?
There’s another reason I stumbled and it is why most people have such a hard time starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We are all constantly surrounded by people and organizations trying to sell us stuff. These organizations have literally made hacking our brains a science. Needless to say, they’ve gotten extremely good at it. Food that is not only unhealthy, it is downright toxic, is a prominent item constantly being marketed to us. Furthermore, this unhealthy food is also engineered to be addictive. Just about everything is loaded with sugar! It’s not an accident. Sugar not only tastes great, but is proven to be as addictive, if not more, as heroin.
What everybody else is doing, thinking, and eating is, generally speaking, really unhealthy. “Normal” is simply not normal anymore. Most people are fat, sick, and/or unhealthy primarily because of the food they are stuffing their faces with day in and day out. Another reason it is so hard to consistently be healthy is that most people lack a healthy lifestyle support network. What is often considered “normal” eating habits by your friends, family, and work colleagues is likely pretty unhealthy. If you want to get in the best shape of your life, but your husband is more interested in plopping down on the couch with a gallon of Haagen Dazs, it’s going to be difficult for you to get and remain healthy. Conversely, if your wife is a health nut or fitness freak, it will be far easier for you to adopt her lifestyle. The same goes for your work colleagues. If everyone is drinking energy drinks, smoking cigarettes, and gorging themselves on pizza and candy all day long, it’s going to be exponentially harder to get and remain healthy than if they were drinking water and black coffee and eating goji berries, nuts, and kale all day. The moral of the story is that you would be well served by carefully selecting your spouse and work environment because while jobs and spouses are replaceable, your body isn’t (well, not yet…). The alternative is to let them slowly kill you. Consciously make efforts to build a strong, positive, healthy support network to facilitate obtaining your health related goals enabling you to live long and well.
What’s Next? The 90 Day Wellness Challenge
As a result of my failure to maintain my routine, my measurable biomarkers have slipped. My VO2 Max, Resting Heart Rate, and Heart Rate Variability have all regressed. My body fat is also not as low as it was and should be. My biomarkers just aren’t what I’d like them to be. I know that with some sustained effort I can quickly return them to more optimal level. I will test my telomeres again, for the final time, to complete the mission on April 1, 2019. By then I expect to have the best possible Biomarkers of Aging that I’ve had during the entire quest.
What I propose is a “90-Day Wellness Challenge” beginning January 1st, 2019. I invite you, the reader, to participate along with me. My primary objective is to improve all Biomarkers of Aging with the expectation that my telomeres will follow. I hope, however, all kinds of people with all kinds of objectives do it with me. Your primary objectives will and should be different than mine. Some people might be looking to slap on some lean muscle mass. Some might want to lose body fat. Others might want to reduce anxiety or alleviate the symptoms of ADHD. Some seek to reverse diabetes; or high cholesterol; or high blood pressure. These are all things that can be reversed with some focus, determination, and hard work. There are as many potential reasons to join the 90 Day Wellness Challenge as there are people.
I will publish my precise daily protocol to return to peak performance as well as my Biomarker Goals before the new year. You may follow mine if you like, but I suggest you develop your own in accordance with your objectives, preferences, unique circumstances, and baseline. Most of RMA’s readers are extremely knowledgeable about matters relating to health, fitness, and wellness, but if you’d like some help developing a plan to achieve your objectives, few things would make me happier than the opportunity to assist. We all face different challenges and have different objectives. There is no one size fits all.
Remember this: should you choose to join the Wellness Challenge alongside me, you are not competing with me. Don’t try. Rather, you are competing against your baseline. You can, most definitely, obliterate it, no matter how old, fat, sick, and nearly dead you may be. The human body is truly an amazing thing. We all have the ability to make incredible improvements to our strength, health, and fitness levels incredibly quickly!
One of the most astonishing of the many things I’ve learned during this whacky quest to reverse my age is you can get super fit, super fast. Unfortunately, I’ve also learned you lose fitness just as fast. Before you get too demoralized, bear in mind that you can get it back again just as, if not more, quickly. Rather than trying to do everything imaginable that might improve my Biomarkers of Aging, the final, arguably most important, 90 days of my quest will utilize only the most effective and proven methods. No matter what your objectives, you can you can become the best you’ve ever been. I encourage you to begin making preparations to join me during the final 90 days of my efforts to Reverse My Age.
If you’re serious about taking control of the aging process, you’ve gotta be consistently performing some kind of strength training to add or maintain lean muscle mass. I don’t care if you are 18 or 118 years old; you definitely should be lifting weights, and if you’re lifting weights, you should also be supplementing with creatine. In fact, the older you are, the greater the effects of this powerful supplement. Over the course of the last year, I have taken A LOT of vitamins and supplements. I recently began to substantially reduce vitamin consumption, leaving only a handful of what I believe to be the most necessary and effective ones for me personally. If forced to suggest someone take just one vitamin, herb, or supplement for the most readily visible and noticeably discernible effects, the choice would be simple: Creatine Monohydrate.
Though creatine has been on my radar as a potential age reversal supplement since Day One, I resisted urges to begin taking it because I was reluctant to carry around an extra five to ten pounds of muscle while focusing on ultra endurance activities. I now think that was a mistake. The positive effects of creatine are not strictly related to muscle mass. So, I was excited to try creatine again after a decade long hiatus.
Biomarkers of Aging
Regular readers are familiar with the concept of Biomarkers of Aging. The most commonly accepted biomarkers of aging are: Lean muscle mass, Strength, Basal Metabolic Rate, Body Fat Percentage, Aerobic Capacity, Blood Pressure, Insulin Sensitivity, Cholesterol/HDL Ratio, Bone Density, and Body Temperature Regulation. I would add resting heart rate and heart rate variability. From age 20 to 80, the average person loses 20 to 30 % of their muscle mass.1 Loss of muscle mass due to aging, also known as sarcopenia, results in a series of negative metabolic changes incompatible with good health. It is, unfortunately, a vicious cycle. Look closely at the biomarkers I just listed. Do you see how closely rated many of them are. You can’t be strong without lean muscle mass. If you add lean muscle mass, you will not only be stronger, but you will also reduce your bodyfat, improve your BMR, and likely improve bone density and insulin sensitivity. I hope readers replace the vicious cycle of declining health with a virtuous cycle. The importance of strength cannot be overstated as it is related to just about each and every Biomarker of Aging.
A study of 8,762 men examined the relationship between strength and longevity. The men were assessed for strength at the beginning of the study. Nineteen years later, it was determined that the death rate was highest in the one-third of men who were weakest.2 I hope this fact slaps you in the face and results in your adoption of some kind of strength training regimen. You really do not need to devote all that much time to it to experience spectacular results. Once you’ve been consistently lifting for awhile, I hope you then begin supplementing with creatine. Creatine is, by far, the most effective nutritional supplement for improving muscle mass and strength. I can’t stress enough how important strength training is in order to live happily, healthily, and very long!
What Is Creatine?
Creatine is a common molecule made in our liver and kidneys that makes up 1% of our blood. It promotes creation of ATP, the cell’s short-term energy storage molecule. The amount of creatine in our bodies varies widely both from person to person and within each individual. A substantial portion of the creatine floating around in our blood is ingested from the meat we eat. Vegetarians get very little creatine. We make less as we grow older, which is why, in my view, the older you are when you supplement with creatine, the more powerful the effects.
Creatine was first discovered to improve athletic performance in 1912. It wasn’t, however, until the 1992 Olympics that creatine became an increasingly popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. Creatine works incredibly well in combination with exercise, enhancing the benefit for strength and lean muscle mass. As I keep arguing (I hope someone is listening), bodybuilders, scientists, professional/olympic caliber athletes/coaches, and gerontologists need to begin working together to conquer aging. They all, essentially, are trying to accomplish the same things. This is truly a matter of life and death!
Creatine is cheap and easy to use. I buy it in powdered form and add it to water, though it can be added to just about anything. It is tasteless, but has a chalky texture. I have read a wide range of recommendations related to dose, but I followed the label and loaded with 5 mg three times a day for four days before progressing to a maintenance mode with one serving of 5 mg a day. I intend to cycle it with 3 months on and 3 months off. Studies almost universally suggest it is extremely safe and there is no reason not take it all the time. I am cycling it because I have observed that with most things, your body gets used to a substance or therapy and it loses its effect over time. I hope to avoid that by cycling it.
Creatine’s Effects on Muscle
As we age, most people lose lean muscle mass, and along with it, strength. The key is to prevent that or prolong it as much as possible. Older muscles respond to weight training the same way younger muscles do. They grow and get stronger. Exercise itself is the best way to slow, stop, and/or reverse sarcopenia, and creatine synergizes with exercise to help in maintaining and building muscle mass, strength and endurance. Typical responses to creatine supplementation are an additional 10 to 15% increase in strength and an additional 1 to 3% increase in muscle mass over one to three months of resistance exercise training.3
Creatine is an inhibitor of myostatin, a hormone that increases with age and degrades tissues, especially muscle tissues.4 Inhibiting myostatin leads to more strength and muscle mass, including a stronger heart. Myostatin also promotes resting levels of growth hormone while suppressing spikes of growth hormone during exercise.5 HGH is a hormone frequently explored at RMA and we love to find new ways to coax our bodies to naturally produce more of it.
Other Benefits of Creatine
Aside from its effects on lean muscle mass, creatine has other physiological effects that are consistent with healthy aging. Creatine supplementation has been found to lower elevated serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One study found a 6% reduction in total cholesterol and a 23% reduction in triglycerides and VLDL cholesterol after eight weeks of creatine supplementation.6 Why do those of us trying to reverse our age care? Remember those Biomarkers of Aging I asked you to reread? Cholesterol/HDL Ratio is one of those biomarkers. As such, it matters and is of the utmost importance. If you want to age well, you absolutely must get control of your cholesterol!
There is some evidence that creatine favorably alters other Biomarkers of Aging, including body fat percentage, aerobic capacity, the body’s ability to regulate its internal temperature, glucose tolerance, and bone density. One study also showed a decrease in the inflammation that comes after intense exercise.7 We frequently explore the concept of “inflammaging” at RMA.com. We are reasonably certain that reducing systemic inflammation as much as possible is one of several keys to slowing and/or reversing aging. Yet another “anti-aging” effect of creatine is that it increases intracellular water content. Aging is associated with loss of intracellular water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate while taking creatine. The only negative side effect I’ve observed is that I am more prone to the occasional incapacitating cramp that always seems to strike at precisely the most inopportune moment.
No supplement produces a more noticeable change in strength and physical appearance as rapidly as creatine monohydrate. Typically, results are experienced within a few days. Weight training with creatine supplementation should be a foundational component of every “Anti-Aging” program. Let’s not forget to mention the psychological benefits of using creatine; expect not only larger muscles, but the increased self confidence and sense of well being that will accompany them.
I’ve been lifting weights on and off since I was about 14. During my late teens and early 20s I would spend hours at the gym just about every single day. I took creatine during those years and was always a creatine responder. Surprisingly, yet logically now that I am better informed about creatine, my response to supplementing with creatine at age 41 has been even more remarkable than in my 20s. One might reasonably expect my strength to have peaked when I was young and putting in a ton of time at the gym. Guess again. I’m now, shockingly, stronger than I have ever been in my life. I’m also not done yet. I continue to slowly pack on lean muscle mass and my arsenal of tricks remains full. Further, I’m not spending hours in the gym. Rather, I am never there for more than 30 minutes a mere three times a week. That’s only an hour and a half a week. So you’re 70 years old? Unless you were Arnold Scharzenagger in your youth, you too have the capacity to become the strongest you’ve ever been in your life. Now it is up to you to make it happen. If you’re not already pumping iron, make the time! You owe it to yourself!
“God Dammit, you smell like a rotting corpse that sh*t itself! Stay the f**k away from me!” Jake barked at Anthony.
“Jake, it’s 98 degrees and I was just welding. Of course I’m going to smell a little!” Anthony sheepishly replied.
“Smell a little? Your stench is making me gag. And it’s NOT because it’s hot. Nobody else on this entire jobsite smells like a Porta-John. It’s because you’re not wearing deodorant, you animal!” Jake angrily responded.
“Of course I’m not wearing deodorant! Every moron knows it causes cancer!” Anthony shrieked back as he took a long drag off his unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarette.
Jake got a crazy look in his eyes, began to turn red, and appeared to be about to have a major meltdown. “Travis, this is total b*llsh*t! I can’t work under these conditions! Please force Ant to wear deodorant, or lay him off!”
Travis, the foreman, concerned that the situation was escalating, thoughtfully replied, “Well, gee, I don’t really know if I can force anyone to wear deodorant or lay them off for smelling badly. This is really a question for John, the shop steward.” A shop steward is appointed by a labor union to represent the interests of his fellow tradesmen and interact with the company to resolve any potential contentious issues.
Jake stomped up to me, the veins bulging in his thick neck, and demanded, “John, what’s the deal here? Can we force Anthony to wear deodorant? If he refuses, can Travis lay him off?”
I calmly replied, “Well, this is a tough one. Ant, you really do smell absolutely awful. It’s not fair to force Jake to work anywhere near you. Then again, I don’t think Travis can force you to put toxic chemicals on your skin. No job is worth getting cancer over. But I think I may have a solution.”
Why We Wear Deodorant
If you’re living a “clean” lifestyle in which you dramatically reduce your exposure to dietary and environmental toxins, your sweat will be close to odorless. When you stink like Anthony, it’s not your natural odor that is so repulsive, but toxins being expelled. Sweating is an important way for your body to eliminate these harmful toxins. It supports proper immune function and helps prevent diseases related to toxic overload. If you don’t want your sweat to stink, reduce your toxic load and avoid certain foods.
While most of us apply deodorant every morning, it is a relatively recent societal custom. In fact, it wasn’t until the early to mid-1900s, less than 75 years ago, that people began regularly applying deodorant. This daily activity is due in large part thanks to the efforts of a clever marketing man who created exploitative advertisements warning women that their armpits might be smell badly. The strategy of capitalizing upon female insecurities worked as is evidenced by the fact that Americans now spend $18 billion (yes, that’s BILLION) a year on deodorant and antiperspirant in a quest to cover up body odor and reduce sweating. As more and more people began to use deodorant, many resisted applying such products because they thought them to be unnecessary and unhealthy. Maybe there were right…
What’s In Your Deodorant?
Ever read the ingredients in your deodorant? Take a look. Most of it will be unrecognizable, but you probably have enough common sense to know you wouldn’t want to ingest all those unpronounceable chemicals. We’ve talked about how the skin is a great delivery system for drugs and toxic chemicals in the post Commonly Applied Toxic Beauty Products. In that post I failed to mention that in some cases you actually would have been even better off drinking the toxic chemicals you are rubbing on your skin because if you swallowed them, your digestive system would have broken the toxins down, softening the effects of the chemicals during the metabolization process. When you put them on your skin, especially if you have a nick or scratch, you are “main veining” the chemicals directly into your bloodstream. Blood tests regularly prove that many of the substances found in deodorant penetrate your epidermis and wind up in your body, remaining there indefinitely.
Most deodorants/antiperspirants contain aluminum, which acts as a “plug” in your sweat ducts to reduce sweating. Tinkering with natural processes, like sweating, is just about always fraught with risk. Research suggests aluminum may accumulate in breast tissue in women. This is problematic for a number of reasons, as aluminum may cause alterations to DNA as well as epigenetic effects that could potentially support cancer development. Over 50% of breast cancers start in the upper outer quadrant of the breast local to the underarm region. While that’s certainly not proof aluminum is to blame, breast cancer incidences are correlated with use of products that contain the metal. Especially if you shave under your arms, applying a product containing aluminum to that broken skin could be perilous.
Parabens, Phthalates, and Triclosan
Parabens are used as preservatives in deodorant and other personal care products. Research suggests some parabens may interfere with the way your body produces and regulates estrogen and other hormones, which may promote the growth of cancer cells. Research published in 2012 found one or more parabens in 99 percent of the 160 tissue samples collected from 40 mastectomies. This fact should get your attention!
Like a rancid, lingering fart, phthalates help deodorant and other fragrances stick to your skin. They are also an endocrine disruptor as they appear to disrupt the way your body produces and uses the hormone testosterone. That’s bad, especially if you are a man who is attempting to build muscle. Research has also linked phthalates to impaired reproductive ability in men, lower IQs, and higher rates of asthma. Is this something you really want your kids putting on their skin everyday?
Cosmetic manufacturers add triclosan to many products (toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, makeup, plastics) in order to prevent bacterial contamination and to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin. It also happens to be a pesticide. Triclosan is so common that 75% of Americans have detectable levels of the stuff in their urine. In September 2016, triclosan was banned from soap products following the risk assessment by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But guess what? Though the FDA banned the use of triclosan in soap, it remains in many other products, including deodorant. Do you smell a rat? The use of triclosan is linked to: abnormal endocrine system/thyroid hormone signaling, weakened immune system, allergies, asthma, eczema, uncontrolled cell growth (cancer), and developmental and reproductive toxicity. I cannot fathom why anyone would willingly put this chemical on their skin knowing these facts, especially when there are safe, cheap, effective alternatives!
Is Deodorant Carcinogenic?
The American Cancer Society says there is no “clear” or “direct” link between deodorant, aluminum, and cancer. The National Cancer Institute has a page concerning deodorant cancer risks that falls under the heading “Cancer Myths and Misconceptions” and pontificates that “more research is needed.” One cannot help but wonder about the institutions receiving government subsidies charged with protecting and educating the uninformed.Keep in mind that proving that this mixture of chemicals could cause or contribute to cancer is next to impossible. Time magazine quotes Philippa Darbre, an oncologist, as eloquently saying, “Cancer is a complex multistage process, and its development can take many years.” If you’re going to wait for a definitive link before you ditch your deodorant or replace it with a safer alternative, you will be waiting awhile. Smoking cigarettes still hasn’t been definitively proven to cause cancer.
Even though the overwhelming majority of people load up on deodorant, Anthony has a point. As we can see, deodorant may cause all sorts of health issues. You may be thinking that if these chemicals were as dangerous as I suggest, it would be common knowledge and nobody would buy them; or the chemicals would be outlawed. Well, why isn’t this common knowledge? It’s simple: because no mainstream corporate journalist or mainstream media outlet is ever going to touch that with a ten foot pole! Why not? Just look at who the advertisers are? Make no mistake; advertisers are the paying customers of the media. If the station, newspaper, or magazine you work for has a handful of really important clients, are you going to run a story exposing them as psychopathic, greedy, murderers? Would you ever risk damaging your client’s financial bottom line? Of course not! You know that if you did, you would lose either your client, your job, or both. If you want to rise in the company, then make the best customers happy. This is not some kind of wacky conspiracy theory. It is just the way the world works. Nobody really talks about it though, aside from some academics like Noam Chomsky. Though, much to my surprise and glee, Elon Musk recently complained about it on Twitter here.
Anthony kept his job. We worked out what I believe to be an equitable solution to the dilemma revolving around his stench and Jake’s refusal to work in close proximity with him. The company agreed to pay for the same aluminum and parabens free deodorant I use and Anthony promised to wear it for six months out of the year. During the rest of the year, when it is cooler, Andrew would wear no deodorant at all. I also encouraged Anthony to make an effort to quit smoking and reduce his toxic load so that he would not smell so awful.
Let’s face it: we’re surrounded by threats, many of them unseen, that are putting us at constant risk of seriously ill health. But if we can remove potential threats easily, why wouldn’t we? Regular readers here at RMA are familiar with one of the site’s recurring themes of, “I don’t really know.” If we don’t know that the typical mass marketed deodorant is safe, why would we use it? In fact, we do know most deodorants have chemicals that are demonstrably unsafe. So, yeah, the cancer society says there is no definitive link between deodorant or aluminum and cancer. A better question would be, “Has aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and triclosan been proven to be safe to apply to the skin for a lifetime?” There is, no doubt, a compelling amount of evidence suggesting these chemicals individually and collectively cause problems and the use of them warrants caution. Considering chemical antiperspirants and deodorants are an optional product, it may be a risk that’s simply not worth taking. Furthermore, there are cheap alternatives without the chemicals. You can see a list of effective, safe, alternative deodorants here. I wear a safer alternative and nobody has ever complained about the way I smell. Regardless, body odor certainly isn’t dangerous; cancer, however, is.
Congratulations! You are now a member of Reversing My Age (RMA) Club! Perhaps you didn’t mean to join this small, but growing, club of like minded individuals, but merely by virtue of reading this sentence makes you an important member. There are all sorts of people from all walks of life from literally all over the world that are members, just like you. Members join for all sorts of reasons. Some of you are into health and fitness. Some eat organic; or Keto; or OMAD. Maybe you are afraid to get sick; or die. Maybe you just want to grow old gracefully. Maybe you are trying to lose weight, but have plateaued and can’t seem to lose anymore weight no matter what you do. Maybe you want to be a part of something exciting and bigger than yourself. Regardless of your reasons for joining, as a new member, it is critical that you learn the first rule of RMA Club:
The first rule of Reversing My Age Club is:
We do not talk about Reversing My Age Club.
What Is Reversing My Age Club?
On the surface of it, RMA Club is a place for people to learn about present and future methodologies for slowing and even reversing the aging process. In reality, it is so much more. This is a place for the deepest of the deep thinkers. It offers you, the club member, an opportunity to redefine yourself. Define yourself after work and on weekends doing things that are amazing; things that some people would say are impossible. Like reversing your age.
Why Do We Not Speak About RMA Club?
There are several problems with talking about RMA Club. Primarily, if you tell people you are a member of a club whose mission is to reverse one’s biological age, not only will you raise eyebrows, they will think you are a psycho. Rather than automatically getting labelled that weirdo at work, avoid the social stigma by never under any circumstances discussing your practices and beliefs associated with RMA Club.
Even the “normal” subjects RMA covers can be controversial and make people align against you. Why? You risk upsetting their nice, cozy view of the world in which everything everyone does and eats is safe because the government and businesses care about us and want only what is best for everyone. You and I both know these people live in a fantasy world. But try explaining that pesticides are bad for you and you can’t wash them off to a bunch of coworkers who have been brainwashed by a constant psychological assault of commercials from Monsanto and Big Food. The commercials they are bombarded with aren’t there merely to sell products; more insidiously and in actuality, they are bribes paid to media outlets to control the message.
Just about everything you see, hear, and read is produced by a handful of corporations motivated by one and only one thing; profit. These powerful corporations essentially create the worldview of the masses, whether individuals recognize it or not. Attempting to upset the status quo can be very upsetting to people stuck in the matrix. Do so at your own risk. You would do well to remember the story of the guy who escaped Plato’s cave. He returned to the cave and told everyone that the images on the cave walls were actually illusions created by shadows cast by the light emitted from fires. What happened to that guy? They stoned him to death.
Aside from the risks associated with social stigma, we have to deal with the injuries and/or physical manifestation of club membership. You may damn well be slightly injured most of the time. Sore Muscles. Stress fractures. Tendonitis. You’ll likely fall off your bike eventually. Or, you’ll enter a half, full, or ultra marathon and come to work limping badly. Or, you’ll lose a ton of weight quickly. Or grow impressive muscles. No matter how your appearance changes, and make no mistake, it will change, you’ll have to explain it. For the Love of God, do not tell anyone that you are a member of Reversing My Age Club! Lie! Make something up!
We may naturally want to talk about our efforts to reverse our age, but resist the impulse because it will lead to arguments and misery. Rather than talking about it, you’ll earn badges of honor and accomplishment that have intrinsic value. These badges, whether they be a trophy, belt buckle, or yellow belt, or 5K finish, or marathon finish, or tri finish, or bike race, or chess tournament, or writers workshop, or a certain body weight, or cycling 100 miles do not need to be talked about because they will become part of your very being and essence. Those who know you well will notice something different about you. You’ll carry yourself with more purpose and confidence.
RMA Club Techniques
The following is a list of activities and methods RMA Club members routinely practice along with an explanation of why we should never discuss them:
Fasting/Intermittent Fasting – Tell someone you’re fasting. I dare you. Here’s what’s going to happen:
Sally from Human Resources is likely to waddle up to you in the break room while you are surrounded by a bunch of obese coworkers. She will say, “I heard you were fasting. I’m very concerned for your health and safety and it also may be affecting your job performance. I think you should stop.” Nevermind that fasting is likely to improve performance and health, but the bias of Sally and all your fat colleagues is that fasting is “bad” and/or dangerous. You see, when people see someone making profound change for the better, they are automatically suspicious of it. Your efforts also make the obese person feel responsible for their own poor physical shape. We can’t have that…
Whoever you decide to tell you are fasting will almost certainly reply, “Oh, I heard about that fad. It’s so unhealthy.”, or “ You’ll go into starvation mode.”, or “My uncle is a doctor who totally understands fasting and he said it is the absolute worst thing you can do for your health and metabolism.” Dr. Jason Fung does not totally understand fasting. Dr. Valter Longo does not totally understand fasting. Nobody does. The person warning you of your own imminent death due to fasting is likely obese. Do you see the irony!?
Ultra Endurance Activities – Mention participating in any ultra endurance activity and you are likely to hear, “ Why would anyone want to do that?”, or, “You’re totally going to destroy your joints!”, and, “What are you running from? Here, take my therapist’s number.” RMA Club members participate in ultra endurance activities because participants have been shown to have substantially longer telomeres than couch potatoes. Physical endurance activities are conclusively shown to improve just about every single biomarker of aging along with improving overall general health. Ignore these buffoons, but keep your activities to yourself.
Mega Dosing Vitamins – This one always cracks me up. If you mention taking a number of different vitamins or a “heavy” dose of a particular vitamin, you will likely hear, “Vitamins don’t work.” Or, “Be careful, vitamins are dangerous and can kill you.” Find me one, just one, case of someone killed by vitamins. Alternatively, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 49,068 people overdosed (died) on opiods in 2017 alone. Do you see the irony!?
Mouth Taping – Mouth breathing is really bad. If you discover you are a mouth breather, I encourage you to see a doctor and break the habit, however possible. But for goodness sakes, DO NOT, under any circumstance, tell anyone you tape your mouth shut before bed. If you do, you will invariably encounter a blank, open mouth stare before the individual recovers their senses enough to stammer, “You do what??? Nooooo! That’s insane! You’re going to suffocate in your sleep.”
RMA (Near) Future Technologies and Concepts
Below are some incredible technologies and concepts RMA Club covers, and in some cases, believes quite strongly in. Do not, however, discuss any of the below in public because doing so would put you at risk of getting hauled away in a straight jacket.
Technological Singularity – According to Wikipedia, the Technological Singularity,
“is the hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence (ASI) will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization. According to this hypothesis, an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) would enter a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an intelligence explosion and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that would, qualitatively, far surpass all human intelligence.”
This is something that will, unquestionably, happen. How and when, specifically, it will play out remains a giant question mark. Some think the Singularity will literally wipe out the human species, while others think it will usher in a Utopian Period. If the latter, one can reasonably expect mind blowing life extension technologies to emerge quickly. The Technological Singularity is something beyond the capability of most people to contemplate, let alone, discuss. Don’t bother trying. You’ll lose most people in about seven seconds.
Transhumanism – is an international intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology. The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings will eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the current condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings. Transhumanism and the Technological Singularity are closely related and most who subscribe to one philosophy also believe in the other.
I don’t just intend to wait around for the technological singularity to happen (Kurzweil predicts 2045). I intend to be an active participant, blazing my own path into the future. Now I’m working on reversing my age by lengthening my telomeres. In a decade I may chop off a hand, or scoop an eyeball out of its socket. Why? Because I believe I will likely have the option to replace both with significantly superior versions. Sick thought? Inconceivable? Scientists are diligently working on both technologies right now. Once we can replace most body parts with something significantly “better,” how will society be affected? Just imagine the implications! But please remember to never tell anyone you are looking forward to the day in the near future when you can swap out your “meat” hand for a bionic one.
Parasymbiosis – Basically, this is the process in which old blood is replaced with young blood in an effort to heal, halt the progression of disease, extend life, and reverse aging. Sounds like something out of a vampire movie, right? That couldn’t possibly work? Guess again, my skeptical friend. It has been proven to work on mice; repeatedly. There are no good studies of it on people (there are glaring ethical issues), though a company called Ambrosia conducted a trial in which customers paid to participate and concluded, “Older people who received transfusions of young blood plasma have shown improvements in biomarkers related to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.” Guess what. Rich people are already doing doing this, they just keep it quiet and call it rejuvenation therapy. If you’re wealthy, and in the know, yeah, believe it or not, you likely have a young blood source. Don’t believe me. See here, here, and here.
Whole Brain Emulation – is a proposed technique which involves transferring the information contained within a brain onto a computing substrate. The brain can then be simulated, creating a machine intelligence. The concept is often discussed in context of scanning the brain of a person, known as mind uploading. You can think of that as potentially living in virtual reality; forever. The only innovations necessary are greatly increased processor speed and scanning resolution. Advocates of WBE claim technological improvement rates such as Moore’s law will make WBE inevitable. If this subject interests you, you will likely enjoy the series Altered Carbon on Netflix.
Volunteer for First Human Head Transplant
Human Head Transplants – Sergio Canavero of Italy and his colleague Xiaoping Ren of China plan to transplant a human head from a living person onto a donor cadaver “immenently”. The two surgeons, considered by many peers as reckless maniacs, say the head donor will be someone with a degenerative disease, whose body is wasting away while his or her mind remains active. The body donor, meanwhile, will likely be a someone who died of severe head trauma but whose body was left unscathed. The researchers claim to have been perfecting the technique on mice, a dog, a monkey, and, recently, a human cadaver. This is real life Frankenstein! Canavero has moved the intended surgery to China because no American or European institute would permit such an operation. While this topic is safe to mention in the context of a bizarre news story, DO NOT tell anyone you are saving up for the day in which a younger body would prove useful.
Part of the reason the first rule of RMA Club exists is because I expect you to break it. I want you to smash all kinds of rules to break out of traditional ways of thinking and doing things. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Think critically. Question authority. No, question Everything and Everyone; including me. Engage in furious debate. How else are we to get better, improve, and gain knowledge? Turn off your TV. Meditate. Find the “off” switch of your brain. Don’t listen to commercials. Minimalize. Accumulate data. Figure out what works for you. If you do decide to talk about RMA Club to a close friend who you think may be like minded; whisper, and prepare yourself for a fight.
Many of you are super excited because you think this post is all about the benefits of marijuana. I am certain that’s what some of you are thinking because a few of you have sent me notes asking me to cover this controversial subject. Sorry to disappoint, but this post is about cocoa, as in dark chocolate. Nevertheless, I am closely following studies and news associated with marijuana. It is something that RMA will cover in detail in due time; probably when it is legalized in New Jersey.
While I never got into marijuana or any other narcotics, thank God, I sure have frequently enjoyed drinking alcohol, sometimes heavily, until I recently began reversing my age. Instead of unwinding with a six (or more) pack of beer on a Friday night after a hard week of work, I now reach for a half bar of dark chocolate. Like marijuana and alcohol, cocoa is a drug. They all have measurable physiological and psychological effects.
I’ve always had a sweet tooth. One of my fondest memories growing up is getting packages that contained chocolate from my grandmother in Norway. I still think of Norwegian chocolate as the very best in the world. However, I used to absolutely hate the dark chocolate variety. It was milk chocolate for me or nothing because I thought dark chocolate tasted like mud. Little did I know at the time, my sisters and mother who loved the dark chocolate variety equally were improving their health, while I was damaging mine and accelerating my aging.
General Nutritional Benefits
Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. It is chock full of nutrients that positively affect health. According to Current Treatments in Cardiovascular Medicine,
“The use of cacao for health benefits dates back at least 3,000 years. It is now felt based on extensive research the main health benefits of cacao stem from epicatechin, a flavanol found in cacao. Both epidemiological and clinical studies suggest a beneficial effect of dark chocolate on blood pressure, lipids, and inflammation. Proposed mechanisms underlying these benefits include enhanced nitric oxide bioavailability and improved mitochondrial structure/function.”
I eat a half bar (about 50 grams) in a sitting, usually about two or three times a week. Each serving contains roughly 300 calories and 7 grams of sugar. Grapes have about 150 calories and 20 grams of naturally occurring sugar per 50 gram serving. The sugar in dark chocolate is the naturally occuring variety, not the highly addictive lab created variety found in most of the soda, candy, and even much of the food we buy. The highly processed factory food most of us consume removed much of the fat and replaced it with sugar.
Eating dark chocolate is something I genuinely look forward to. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated. There are none of the terrible trans fats. It contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.Unprocessed cocoa beans neutralize free radicals extremely well. One study showed that dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavonoids than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries . In my view, it should be a treat enjoyed as a regular part of any healthy diet.
Cardiovascular and Neuroprotective Benefits
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide sends signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure. Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. Got high cholesterol? Eat some dark chocolate! Some incredibly studies indicate:
In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol .
Shockingly, dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes .
In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period .
Another study revealed that eating chocolate two or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32% .
One study of healthy volunteers showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain .
Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It may improve verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease, as well .
There is considerable evidence that consumption of dark chocolate provides powerful health benefits, especially with respect to heart health. Dark chocolate has conclusively been shown to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, skin appearance, lipid profiles and even brain function. And it tastes great! Why not add it to your diet/lifestyle? Remember, one of the central theses of RMA: If I can improve individual biomarkers of aging, my telomeres will follow. Dark chocolate has been shown to and/or has the potential to improve Resting Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability, Cholesterol, and Blood Pressure. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go all out and consume pounds of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and is easy to over consume. Also be aware that MOST of the chocolate on the market is not healthy. Choose quality products; organic dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. I often select up to 85 percent. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will contain.
The bottom line is dark chocolate tastes great, is healthy, makes most people happy and feel good, is loaded with antioxidants, and even has anti-aging properties. I think most would agree that dark chocolate is not only safe, but should be a part of any person’s healthy diet. Just remember to avoid overindulgence.
3 Baba, S., Natsume, M., Yasuda, A., Nakamura, Y., Tamura, T., Osakabe, N., . . . Kondo, K. (2007, June). Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17513403
4 Grassi, D., Necozione, S., Lippi, C., Croce, G., Valeri, L., Pasqualetti, P., . . . Ferri, C. (2005, August). Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16027246
5 Buijsse, B., Feskens, E. J., Kok, F. J., & Kromhout, D. (2006, February 27). Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: The Zutphen Elderly Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16505260/
6 Djoussé, L., Hopkins, P. N., Arnett, D. K., Pankow, J. S., Borecki, I., North, K. E., & Curtis, R. (2011, February). Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries: The NHLBI Family Heart Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20655129
7 Francis, S. T., Head, K., Morris, P. G., & Macdonald, I. A. (n.d.). The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461
8 Desideri, G., Kwik-Uribe, C., Grassi, D., Necozione, S., Ghiadoni, L., Mastroiacovo, D., . . . Ferri, C. (2012, September). Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment: The Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22892813
187 inexplicably fit men and women strutted to the starting line to begin a 100 mile brutal race through the rough, backwoods terrain of Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio. Between 18 1/2 and 32 hours later, a mere 90, less than half those that began, staggered across the finish line. Those who DNF’d (Did Not Finish) did not suddenly decide to put down a box of twinkies, belch, turn off Netflix and jump up off their couch to run 100 miles. Rather, they were collectively brave, fierce competitors who had likely devoted months of their lives training obsessively before donning their bib numbers. And they still failed. This fact should serve as a ominous warning to those of you considering taking on the Mohican 100 challenge.
The Mohican 100 is a supremely challenging, prestigious race through some exceptionally tough terrain. The first ever USATF Ultra Running Championship took place at the MO-100 in 2005. It is the fifth oldest ultra-running race in the USA and the second stop of the Midwest Grand Slam. If you’re brave enough to register, take it seriously or suffer the consequences. Train in comparable conditions, or I promise, you will not make it. 15,000 feet of elevation gain and loss will mercilessly hammer your joints. If they are unaccustomed to the pounding they will endure running down very steep stretches of treacherous terrain, they will surely fail you.
Getting and Staying There
In the center of rural Amish Country, Mohican State Park is located in Ashland County near Loudonville. If you live too far to drive to Loudonville, be forewarned there is no really close airport to fly into. I chose Columbus only because I wanted to fly out of the same airport I flew into. I had decided to spend the week after the race recovering in Florida, as I knew I’d need it. Columbus had the most affordable flights flying into Fort Lauderdale, where I recuperated the following week.
Upon landing in Columbus, I rented a car to drive about an hour and a half to check into a hotel that was about 25 minutes from the race. I selected this particular hotel because I did not want to stay in a cabin, tent, or very expensive hotel. These are issues any potential runner should consider before registering. I knew I’d want a comfortable bed to sleep in the night before the big race as well as the night after. I think it is also especially important to eliminate potential sources of psychological stress leading up to an ultramarathon.
As soon as I arrived at the pre race meeting, I was dramatically reminded that I was no longer in Jersey City. The overwhelmingly friendly people created a relaxed, fun atmosphere at an event that was incredibly well organized. I checked in after waiting a mere moment on a short line. Volunteers had everything I needed in one place, from my bib number to the extra items I ordered, a t-shirt and a long sleeve zip up, all waiting for me in a neatly packed bag. The pre race meeting was inspiring and featured some men wearing 1000 mile buckles that had completed at least 10 Mohicans.
The Mohican volunteers at the fully stocked aid stations were genuinely eager to help me complete my journey in any way they could. Without them, the race would not have been nearly as enjoyable. The level of service they provided was honestly first rate. Honey sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, pretzels, gels, and quesadillas were some of the aid station fare I enjoyed during my run. The medical team was equally impressive. The race had a medical trailer and area with four wheel, all terrain, vehicles to get to people in desperate need of medical attention. Each aid station had a doctor and some even had podiatrists and physical therapists, all of whom were eager to help. I lost count of the number of times someone asked, “Can I get you anything?” or “Are you doing ok?”
Mo-100 runners included people from age 21 to 70. They came from all over the country, including Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, California, Texas, and the greatest state in the union, New Jersey. The runners were just as friendly as the aid station volunteers. I fell in with several people and got to know them during the race. The ultrarunning crowd is truly a most friendly and special group. Everyone’s a little crazy and a metaphysical bond of some sort is formed when you suffer through such a harrowing experience together.
The Course – Terrain
I’ve seen the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, the Fjords of Norway, the Painted Desert, and many of the most spectacular castles of Europe. But let me tell you that some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen were among those backwood trails in Mohican State Park. It was a true wilderness experience. Ninety five percent of the course is on trails that wind through the lush 5,000 acre Mohican Memorial State Forest. Runners run alongside cliffs, meandering streams, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, a dam, and find themselves running up and down incredibly steep sections of trail, which in some cases has challengers scrambling over fallen trees and up extremely steep terrain. There is even a hand over hand root climb. There are two long sections of staircases. While this may appear easy or fun to run down, it mangles the joints because running downhill is 2-3x times harder on them because of the impact force. As I was running through a hemlock forest, I actually paused for a moment to absorb the beauty and take a mental snapshot that I hope I keep for eternity. You won’t find many comparably scenic ultramarathons.
Roughly the first ten miles I ran were frustrating. I began the race near the front and as the stampede of runners turned off the paved road onto the trails, we formed a conga line that lasted about 10 miles. You see, long stretches of these trials are only single person wide. It is neither easy to pass someone, nor is it easy to allow someone to pass you. So, I basically got stuck trying to keep up with the guy in front of me for fear of annoying the people behind me. It was disconcerting and I found it impossible to enter a flow state or establish a rhythm when I was constantly worried about who was trying to pass me or keeping up with the guy in front of me.
There was a period in which I feared I would be running the entire race trapped in this conga line surrounded by people. Yet, as I began passing aid stations, it began to thin out. By mile 12, I found myself quite literally alone in the woods. Later in the race, there were long periods in which I saw absolutely no one. This was peaceful, but also mildly scary, especially when it got dark.
The single wide trail is also suggestive of the terrain. It is rough. Really rough. If you are accustomed to running on asphalt or gravel or compacted dirt on four person wide trails, this is going to be traumatic for you. Train accordingly or you will suffer and likely be seriously injured. The single wide trail is covered with rocks, holes, fallen trees, gnarly roots, and I even saw a few piles of horse crap, any one of which have the ability to snap an ankle or twist a knee. Now, imagine running it in the dark with only a little headlamp to light your treacherous path. You better pay attention to every spot you put your foot down or the Mohican will put you in the hospital. Make no mistake, this terrain is unforgivable. Make sure you pack a powerful headlamp with a ton of battery life!
Did I Earn a Belt Buckle?
I set a relatively blistering pace for myself upon completion of the first of four 25 mile loop. That caught up with me as the heat began to set in on the second loop, causing me to slow down significantly. I was confident I would earn that most coveted belt buckle straight up through about mile 40 when the ache in my knee morphed into more serious pangs of pain. As any ultrarunner knows, you’re going to suffer tremendously on a 100 mile run. But there are degrees of suffering and the pain that was emerging in my knee was slowly ticking higher on the pain scale. I adapted by running down hill relatively duck footed with my left leg. By mile fifty, the pain was absolutely excruciating. By then I was walking downhill both duck footed and straight legged, literally dragging my left leg behind me. Eventually, I couldn’t even walk downhill without being in agony. Considering the situation with my knee and my recognition that I could no longer possibly complete the race within the 32 hour time limit to earn a belt buckle, I decided to quit at about mile 52. It was a most humbling experience. The two mile walk in the dark to the next aid station was the longest two mile walk of my life. I officially bowed out at mile 54, earning me a 50 plus mile finisher medal. It was nice to receive an award, but certainly not the hardware I came for.
They say hindsight is 20/20. What I did wrong is retrospectively obvious. In a fist fight, the Pistol Ultra Marathon, the first and only ultramarathon I ever completed, would be the equivalent of fighting Steve Urkel, the quintessential nerd from the 90’s hit sitcom Family Matters. That’s precisely why I selected it as my first Ultra; because I thought it would be as relatively easy as possible to run 100 miles on that particular flat course with a generous, 30 hour cut off time. I just barely beat Urkel as I hobbled across the finish line with merely nine minutes to spare. While I managed to earn a Pistol belt buckle, Urkel really beat the crap out of me, knocking me down more than once. Indeed, he bloodied me up good and I was limping for two weeks.
So while basking in the glory of barely defeating Steve Urkel, I decided to take on a more challenging contender. I chose the Mohican 100 specifically because it is a qualifier for two of the toughest and most prestigious races in the world; the Western States and the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, a multi day, staged event in which participants run through France, Italy, and Switzerland. So, by choosing to register in the Mohican 100, I was essentially doing the equivalent of challenging Iron Mike Tyson to a fight immediately after barely beating Urkel. Yeah, it was stupid. I now know. I lost. Badly.
The Mohican 100 is a well supported, great race that is incredibly challenging and scenic. I suggest it to anyone capable of completing it. Just don’t make the mistake I made by taking it too lightly or overestimating your abilities or this race will drop you to your knees and you will stay there. The Mo-100 is also not a cheap challenge to take up haphazardly. If you don’t live nearby, you can reasonably expect to easily drop close to $1,000 between cost of registration, airfare, hotel, car rental, and incidentals. It’s a considerable amount of money to spend only to emerge from the exhausting experience with a sense of disappointment, rather than one of glory. Despite what I’ve read elsewhere, it is simply not a good first 100 mile ultramarathon for anyone. It is not a good second either, nor is it probably a good third; or fourth; or fifth… I strongly urge potential candidates to get some serious ultrarunning experience before tackling a course of this caliber. The number of people, including myself, who DNF’d (over 50%) should indicate how hard it is.
Nevertheless, I am glad I took the Mohican Challenge and it was an incredible, albeit painful, and somewhat traumatic, learning experience. Experience counts. I didn’t have nearly enough to take on the Mo-100. Though I failed to complete the race, let’s not forget to put this in its proper perspective and remember exactly WHY I am putting myself through this torture. I run far as one of several methods to prove it is possible to reverse one’s biological age by lengthening one’s telomeres. My endeavor is based upon a compelling, peer reviewed study located here. I am making incredible progress with ultrarunning (and hopefully my telomeres) and look forward to my next challenge. I will most definitely return to Ohio to fight the Mohican again. Next time, I’ll be much better prepared, and God willing, I will earn that damn belt buckle.