My Road to Optimal Health and Lifespan
food tracking | sports & fitness
Michael Lustgarten talks about his plan to achieve the world's longest lifespan through key health metrics. The presentation took place at the Boston Quantified Self meetup on June 27, 2016.
My Road to Optimal Health and Lifespan - Boston QS
The record for the longest-lived person is 122 and I intend on breaking that. so today, I’m going to show you my approach approximal health and lifespan, and it involves three main things, calorie restriction, nutrient tracking and blood testing.
So, once upon a time, the focus in fitness and health with the whole food diet and exercise, Jack LaLanne who popularized that, commonly known as the godfather of Fitness. He famously once said that he couldn’t die, that it would be bad for his image.
So, what we can see is Jack at 40-ish, 70, 95, sadly dead at 96. So, can optimizing fitness help the longevity to be made more specific.
So, with this in mind, my strategy is to minimize disease risk and to maximum health and longevity based on data from large epidemiological studies. As I said, I have three main goals, one is to achieve an optimal bodyweight, two is daily nutrient tracking and optimization and that everything I track, macros and micros, and go over that more in a bit. And then regular blood testing and then based on what my blood test shows and because I’ve been tracking my nutrition, I can optimize my circulating biomarkers based on my diet.
So first in terms of body weight, what’s optimal? So this is probably the most comprehensive study probably ever done. It’s the meta-analysis of 230 studies including 30 million adults, higher statistical power. And what we can see is that BMI 20 to 23 is associated with the lowest risk for death of mortality causes of heart disease, cancer, infectious mortality, everything.
So this data generally in adults younger than 80, I want to live longer than that. So, I looked at as many studies as I could find on centenarians. And this is 11 of them, including about 1000 subjects who are a hundred years older. Looking at the average BMI from the accumulation of all those studies, the average BMI there is 22. So, from this I can conclude that a BMI of 22 May be optimal for longevity.
So, with that in mind I set off to get my body weight there, and this is my body weight tracking from 2014, so this is like the last year and a half, two years or so. And I’ve always had this interest in getting to optimal physical condition, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I was able to make great progress.
So, I started out and my BMI was 25, relatively lean and my body fat is determined at 15%. I ballparked my calories, so I got a nice downward trend, and then hit a plateau like we always do, but didn’t give up, got more precise and started tracking my daily macro and micro nutrients, and then you can see a very nice slow and easy decrease in my bodyweight, such that my BMI got to about 23 there and I measured my body fat again, 12%.
And now, I’ve settled into a BMI of about 22.9, 23. So based on my data, my BMI and my risk at all-cause mortality should be within that optimal range that I just showed you.
So, how was I able to slowly reduce my bodyweight?
I mentioned that I started tracking here, and for me, essential to that process is a food scale, and I guess not everybody likes to weigh their food or be that precise, but with me it’s essential. And this is my calories over that same, over about a year, almost a full year of data. And so, I really didn’t have a clue of what my calorie intake was, and so you can see it’s kind of scattered all together there at the beginning, April 2015. But then I decided to have a little bit more calories on my exercise days, 22 to 2500, and then a little bit less on non-exercise days, 2100 so I just have enough calories and protein to maximize muscle mass.
So, I’ve got a few other scatter points here, and I love to eat-- who doesn’t. I’m not perfect. But if I did have you know, an aberrant day I did try to balance it out the next day or two you know with a slightly lower calorie intake so that I could get to my maintenance average.
So, since I had a food scale, I was able to track my nutrients to with some online tracking, and the hypothesis there being daily macro and micro nutrient tracking will ensure full nutrient coverage, thereby minimizing my risk of dietary deficiency induced disease.
So, this is everything I track and I’m not going to go through all of everything here and I’m just going to show you one example. But the first thing I thought was it was already optimal, and it was just a general recommendation. So, I’m going to show you an example from fiber and here you can see my fiber intake is almost 100g. It’s a whole food-based diet with no supplements except for vitamin D and I’m not taking any Metamucil or any of that, it’s just whole food.
And I have reviews on my blogs for why the these eight are not optimal for a variety of other macro and micro nutrients, so just check it out. So, in terms of fiber how much is optimal for health.
So the US RDA recommends that we get 20 to 30 g a day. The current US intake is atrociously low, 10 to 20 g. But we evolved with 2.6 million years of evolution, almost 100 g a day or actually 100 g a day and this is on a slightly higher calorie intake compared to what the RDA recommend.
So, 100 g of fiber on a 3000-calorie diet is about 3.5 g of fiber per 100 calories, so approximately on my 2300 calorie diet I should eat at least 81 g of fiber a day. So, then the question is, is that optimal for health? No unfortunately there’s no epidata on fiber intake that high. Because people eat such atrociously low fiber diets, if your fiber intake is higher than 50, there just isn’t enough statistical power to say with any certainty so say you know if it’s optimal for health or not. So to further investigate that I’ve got to investigate what fiber does and how it’s used in the body. Fiber is fermented by our intestinal bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids, and one of them here is butyrate, so why’s butyrate important. It extends lifespan in flies it’s involved in mechanisms related to increase in lifespan in mice, that’s two studies there that show that. but unfortunately deceases in older adults, so how can we increase butyrate production.
So Jenkins and colleagues that similar calories to different groups and what you can see here is the fiber intake increase and fecal butyrate production almost linearly increase. So on a very high fiber diet, you’re going to get very high levels of butyrate production.
So what’s my fiber intake?
So just to recap that’s the US intake average. That’s the recommended US intake and there’s my average. That a full year of data, 365 days of my fiber intake. Now, based in that my intestinal butyrate producing bacteria should be maximized, but I’m a scientist and not satisfied with is it, so I actually measured it.
So I sent my sample to µ-biome and just as a recap how butyrate is made, one of the main pathways for it’s production is combining two mols of acetyl-CoA to butyrate and I’ll show you why that’s important in a minute. So several pathways produce butyrate enrich my intestines.
You’ve also got to factor in that people who use µ-biome are probably self-selected in that they probably have better diets than average. So my prediction is that even though they eat better diets, almost no one is eating 100g of fiber a day, so I still expect to have a high level of butyrate producers in my gut. Each of the one, two, three, four, five, two-fold are higher and these are known butyrate producers and these are the references for that.
So, five different types are producing butyrate at least two to three-fold compared to µ-biome’s reference cohort. But also more interestingly as I mentioned that acetyl-CoA can be used to form butyrate I had these two guys, Marvinbryanthia, eleven fold-up, so if there’s more acetyl-CoA there’s going to be more butyrate and I’ve got eleven-fold more of that producing that to make that.
So based on that I can conclude, my 100 g of fiber seems to be doing a good job or producing butyrate and acetate bacteria.
So, the third part of my approach is using blood testing to reduce All Cause Mortality risk, and I’m not going to go through everything here, just a few examples.
I’ve been tracking my circulative biochemistry for 10 years, and this is just a small snapshot of everything I’m measuring. So, I started to get more serious about this in 2012, trying the effects of different diets on my circulative biochemistry.
So 2012, that highlighted represents when I went fruitarian and that was almost exclusively fruit, occasional veggies, no animal products, minimal grins. So some things were improved. This is Serum bicarbonate, CO2 and the importance of that 32 value is illustrated here. Lowest risk, Serum bicarbonate. All causes and compared to a lower value, 26, that would be an increased risk, so I’m good there. So some things were good on my fruitarian diet, biomarkers.
Then for another example, triglycerides, this is All Cause Mortality rate based on circulating triglycerides. 1 mmol corresponds to 9mg/dlt, so that would put me at low risk. But that doesn’t satisfy me because if you compare me to me. Going through fruitarian doubled my triglycerides, so going in the wrong direction.
Similarly my very low density cholesterol, bad cholesterol, doubled and my white blood cell level is going in the wrong direction too. So somethings good fruitarian and some things not.
So with that in mind, I changed to a wholegrain dominant vegan approach, eating lots of wholegrain every day, no animal products, lots of fruits and veggies. What did that do, that’s a full year there, so it actually flipped my markers of kidney function and acid base balance, serum bicarbonate, so I’m now here. Now I’m at increase risk, so not good.
My triglycerides are still two-fold elevated compared to my average. My HDL, good cholesterols went down, so going wholegrain vegan was not good for me and my white blood cells are still going in the wrong direction.
So with all that in mind I switched to a vegetable dominant vegetarian approach including fish every day, veggies as the base, minimal wholegrains and fruit. If anybody is interested in that approach they can come and talk to me outside and tell you all about it when I have more time.
So my markers of acid base balance, we can see here now return to optimal values. Triglycerides are now back to where they were before I tried all these different diets, 42. My white blood cells are going back in the right direction. The long and short story about this is that the reference range are very large, six to four to 11 for white blood cells and within that range there’s actually an optimal zone that we aren’t told about that reference range, so that puts me here, whereas I was trending to go here and here which are shorter lifespans for white blood cell counts.
So what about cholesterol? So just real quick, low cholesterol in young age is good for health, low cholesterol in older age is bad for health and that’s what the data shows here. So less than 160 actually has worse survival if you’re 70 or 80 years old. So as you an see here I’ve got less than 160 in every measurement I’ve ever taken. So that would suggest I’m at increase risk but is that true.
So adding a couple of other measurements can better assist that association and this is including albumen and HDL. So, people who have very low cholesterol but high albumin and high HDL actually have the best survival as shown there. So the first thing to think about is, what’s my albumen, is it greater than 38 or 3.8g/dlt. So what we can see is I’m good, more than 3.8/gdl is in fact I’ve got it going up. Albumen it goes down with age and I’ve got the levels of a 20 year old now and I’d say diet is a huge role in that.
So my HDL though unfortunately is too low, so I’m not satisfied by that and I want to improve my circulating biomarker to maximize the risk. So what did I do?
Just to recap, fruitarian, wholegrain dominant vegan, adding fish back in it improved my HDL, and then I got it to go up to 53 by replacing my carbohydrates of about 300 calories from carbs with nuts and that got my HDL up no problem.
So now based on the data, my HDL is where it should be and my accumulative all cause mortality risk, based on these three biomarkers are now maximumly low.
So once upon a time, eat real food and exercise was the mantra. I believe I’ve expanded on that, taking a 21st century view on optimizing health and fitness by adding in tracking daily nutrition and tracking biochemistry, but there are actually higher levels than that.
I’ve shown you today a little bit of my microbiome data and eventually I’m going to get the full genome sequencing by Craig Ventnor and his HLI crew out in San Diego and really supercharge this and get me going to achieve my goals and living as long as I possibly can and living longer than anyone has ever lived.
So with that in mind, thank you very much.