Harvard Professor Explains the SECRET To AGING IN REVERSE | Marisa Peer & David Sinclair
– When you do one loving thing for your body, it will do so many loving things back. – It’s not just that you can walk better, you feel better, you jump out of bed better, you probably have better sex, what I think is, the main thing that I love about it is that I’m proud of myself for having done this.
– Hi everybody, and welcome. Today my guest is David Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. He’s a New York Times best-seller and a patented inventor. Now, we are all fascinated on how we can slow down aging, look younger, feel younger, age more slowly.
And David’s work centers on why we age and how, and these are great news, how we can slow down and even reverse its effect. So I wrote a book on the very same thing, and I’m so excited about you being here, David.
So welcome. – Well, it’s great to be on, Marisa. Thanks for having me. – You see, I believe that aging is an expectation that we turn into. I know you believe that we don’t need to become old and that the aging process is something we can take responsibility for, and that’s really music to my own ears.
So I’d love you to share with us all about your research and why it contradicts the mainstream belief that aging is kind of inevitable, it just happens, people say, “Well, at my time of life and at my age,” and we kind of expect it to happen.
But I want you to tell us why you have some contradictory research backed up, beliefs backed up by research. And I can’t wait to hear them. – Well, sure. The field of aging, in terms of the science behind it, is similar to the 1980s and 90s for cancer research.
Before that, there was very little you could do about cancer; you could cut it out, but that was it. But now, we have very targeted medicines, and nobody would say when you got cancer, “Well, that’s just life.
“That’s just natural. “Go home and pack your things, “you’re going to die.” Why do we say that about aging? We have the technologies now that are showing you can even reverse, not just slow down, but reverse human age.
We can now measure it very accurately with even a mouth swab test that I’m developing. And then we’re showing actually, my colleagues and I, that certainly in mice and dogs, we’ve done some work on horses and even some human studies, aging isn’t that hard to slow down.
We already know the easy things to slow down aging. It’s just a matter of doing them. And we can talk about those. You’ve probably heard of many of them. But there are more advanced things that we’re working on, that understanding the genetic basis of aging, and even medicines that some are available, some are just coming online.
So in the future, people will look back at today, you know, with pity that we didn’t even realize that there was something we could do about it. – So, can you start with the easy things? I think we always want the easy things first.
What are some of the easy things that we can do to slow down aging? – Yeah, well, the ancients knew this. We just forgot it, or we became lazy. If there’s one thing I could say that would very likely give you more years of healthy life, and it’s important these are healthy years where you look and feel younger, you’re not just living longer as an old person, that thing would be to eat less often.
And there’s been some wonderful studies showing that mostly in animals, but some human studies as well, that it’s not as important what you eat, it’s when you eat. And so I’ve skipped breakfast for most of my life, I now skip lunch most days and have a regular dinner.
And that, I believe, is, it’s the biggest bang for the buck in terms of healthy longevity. – So do you do this 16-hour, what I call “intermittent fasting”? Or do you do even longer than that? – I eat once a day, and usually it’s a healthy dinner if I can help it.
But I’m only human. I think everybody needs to enjoy life. So I have the occasional cheesecake kind of thing, but not often. And so it’s… I go for about 18 hours. I try not to eat late as well because I don’t sleep well.
– So you do it where you can have one meal a day, seven days a week. – Right. – Okay. – If I have lunch, maybe it’s some nuts or a little salad, but nothing heavy. And that’s rare. – And did you have to train yourself to do it? You see, I don’t ever even want breakfast, so, to me, skipping breakfast is easy, but my sister and my husband, just, they have to eat the minute they wake up.
So for some people, like you and I, that’s kind of natural, but what would you say to someone who says, “Skip breakfast? “I wake up ravenous and I really need lunch”? How do they do that? – Well, that’s fine.
We’re all different. There’s no one size fits all for what I’m saying today or what I do. So some people need breakfast. They are hungry in the morning. You and I are not. But I think if you can skip either the beginning meal or the end of the day meal, the dinner, that would give you, combined with sleep, this 18 hours, 16 to 18 hours that we think is going to be very beneficial.
– And when you do it, you said you will eat anything. So would you eat just whatever you wanted? Or do you still look at some foods like high-fat, fried foods and salty food as like, “Oh, that’s not great for aging either”? Do you have some foods that you simply do your best to avoid because of their impact on aging? – Oh, sure.
And every meal I look at scientifically. I’m just saying I don’t always stick to eating leafy greens for dinner. I’m not a rabbit. But my diet does tend to look more like a rabbit’s than a lion’s. And there’s a study that just came out a few days ago by Steve Horvath’s lab over in UCLA, he was one of the co-authors that showed that when you do that test of biological age that I was talking about, the mouth swab that we’re developing, those kinds of diets which are rich in plants, legumes, nuts, low-fat, low-sugar, they do, actually, those people have slower aging.
– Okay. Have you got any tips on the worst food that you should avoid if you possibly can? Because a lot of people say, “You know, “I cut my appetite by drinking loads of Diet Coke.” I have so many models that say, “And I drink 20 cans of Diet Coke a day “and I don’t eat.
” But then I think that’s so bad for you because you’re drinking, like, chemicals. But what would you say to someone who said, “I’m really not eating because “I’m drinking Diet 7UP,” or, “Diet Coke,” or I think it’s called, “Mountain Dew,” or, “Lots of black coffee with sweetener in it.
” – Right, so I’ve looked into this, and these diet sodas are nowhere near as bad as actual sugar. – Yeah, well, that’s good to know. – High-fructose corn syrup, you just want to avoid that. And certainly in America, it’s in a lot of fluids, – I know.
– But, you know, diet sodas aren’t perfect. They trick the body and the microbiome into responding as though you’re actually eating sugar. But I really don’t believe, based on what I’ve read, that they are that bad.
You know, if you want to put a number on it just to be more informative, they might be 10 to 20% as bad as real sugar. And if you need a sugar fix, absolutely need one, it’s a much better choice than actual sugar, but the best choice are some of these natural sweeteners, stevia-based sweeteners are what I try to eat.
But, you know, one candy, one cake’s not going to kill you. That’s the point. But try to be good as much as you can every day, and over a lifetime or certainly the latter half of life, it will make a huge difference.
– What are your thoughts on the mind-body connection? Because I believe that if you do anything and it’s stressful and you hate it, and you’re forcing yourself not to eat and feeling really miserable and forcing yourself to exercise and hating it, how do you think that plays out? What I’m asking you is, like, the mind-body connection, do you think that our thoughts play a part in our, in how we age? – Oh, 100%.
There are two types of stress you can put on the body. And they’re very different. There’s the physical stress, which is exercise and being hungry, cold, hot, these kinds of perceived adversities that makes the body fight against aging and diseases.
But mental stress is different. It’s more, you know, it’s psychological. And, but again, if you have too much of it, just like any physical stress, it will be bad for you. But a little bit is okay. Having a little bit of agency and excitement, I think that that’s actually necessary for a long life, have some purpose.
But if you go overboard and you’re either depressed or under too much stress and your heart is beating faster, what you’ll end up doing is secreting a variety of inflammatory molecules into your body.
Cortisol is the main one that we know about. And you want to keep your stress levels low. So meditation, calming thoughts, breathing, I practice all of those to make sure that my very stressful job doesn’t get the better of me.
– So if you’re, like, doing all of this… I had an example, I was in LA a few months ago and y house got flooded, and I try really hard to be super calm, I don’t want negative thoughts, but I just found that dealing with builders and having my whole house collapsing was a little stressful.
And I was thinking, “I cannot have “this cortisol going through my body.” And it was, like, a nine-month job, and I was singing this song, ‘Everything’s Going to Be Alright.’ But if with the best of intentions something happens, something, drama goes on and it is super stressful, how would you advise someone to cope with that? I mean, I know meditating is great, but let’s imagine you’re in your house and it’s flooded and you’ve got a building crew on every floor and they’re all saying, “Oh, he broke that, it wasn’t me, “and I didn’t do that, “and we can’t fix that,” and you can’t suddenly rush off and meditate, what would you advise people to do when.
.. It’s the same thing when, you know, you’ve got three kids, one’s sick, the dog’s thrown up on the carpet, and the toilet’s leaking. In everyday life, when we can’t always light a candle and be very zen, is there anything you can advise people to do to get out of being in that high-stress state, which we know is incredibly aging? – Oh, for sure.
I used to be extremely stressed every day of my life. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I was in my twenties and thirties. During my thirties, we had three kids, and that’s stressful as well.
– I bet. – So what I’m saying, by using myself as an example, is you can overcome that natural fear of things getting out of control. And these days, I’m helping run many companies, running a lab at Harvard, I’ve got three kids, I’ve just moved house, things go wrong.
Here’s what I do; I remember the worst things that happened in my life. And it’s actually helpful if you’ve experienced adversity in your life. Young people don’t have that to turn to as much. But I think of the moment when my mother died in front of me, and it was not an easy way out for her, it was quite painful.
And I think, “That’s the worst that life can get. “Everything else is easy.” And so when I come home every day and people say, and my kids say, “How was your day?” My reaction literally is, “Nobody died.
“It’s a great day. “I’m alive. “It’s a great day.” And so that’s how I get through it. I just count every day as a blessing that I’m still here and healthy. – I sing, you know, I find these songs, like Bob Marley, “Every little thing’s going to be alright,” or there’s one by East 17, “Alright, “alright, it’s really alright.
” And I find singing a song with positive lyrics, like, “Don’t worry, be happy,” or that Pharrell song, it’s actually really good for me because it tricks your mind to think, “Oh, you’re happy. “You’ve got a flood, “the ceiling’s collapsed, “but you’re singing, “so I guess you’re happy.
” And it’s often why bomb disposal experts will whistle or Marines will sing as they run and do endurance training, because it really tells your mind, “You’re singing, “I guess you’re just happy no matter what.
” And it’s a really good thing to do, to find a song, maybe, “I’m having the time of my life,” when you’re really not. I mean, I know when I used to drive my daughter to school and if there was some drama in the back of the car with other kids, I would just sing.
And I find it really, it works, but I love your tips. So I’ve got the 18 hours of fasting if you can, only eat one meal a day, it’s fine to have black coffee with stevia in it if you feel that’s helping you go without food, and that’s great advice, and that a diet beverage is actually still better for you than a high-sugar beverage.
What else can we do aside from… so this is one great thing, and I think everyone can look at that and think, “You know, “I could eat less,” because in nature, animal, you know, a lion, they eat but they eat once, they eat and they don’t eat again for hours, they don’t graze all the time.
So that’s a great tip. But what else? Because I know you have so many. – Yeah, well, it’s become a lifestyle for me. I wrote them down in my book. So if anybody wants to hear them all, they’re out there.
Actually, the cheat sheet, Marisa, is at page 304. People can jump into that and have a look at what I do. And the book’s called ‘Lifespan.’ The, what I do that’s next probably most important is maintaining my body’s weight, which includes exercise.
And I really don’t like exercise, so if I can do it, anyone can. – Sure. – What I do is, so right here, I have next to me a little speaker for music, so great music is always around to keep me calm and I have some weights here.
And so when I’m not busy or I need to stand up, like, there’s a standing disk that I can push up and down, I’m sitting currently. Move, just move. Whether it’s a walk or pull up some little weights that aren’t even that heavy, just move those, do this.
I try to keep my hips in great shape because that’s one way to die as you get older, by falling and breaking your hip. – Oh, tell me more about that. How do you keep your hips in great shape? Because I love that, because that is the thing, so many old people fall, they fracture their hips, and then that’s really a problem.
– Sitting is a major problem in our lives. I had to sit down to write my book for two years, and I literally could barely walk with, I had a limp because I had a cramp in my piriformis muscle that wouldn’t go away.
But with regular exercise, it did go away. And so I think that the exercise, well, it’s called hip hinges, so you lean forward and you pick up a weight, so you keep your shoulders back, you lean forward till horizontal, pick up a heavy weight.
For me, that would be probably a hundred pounds, something like that. But if you’re older, you don’t need to lift that much. And then just stand up until you’re straight and then put it down again, and do that ten times.
– Are you leaning forward so you’re, like, hinging like that? So you’re like a number seven, if you like, is that how you lean? You lean from the hips. – Exactly. – So you hinge over from the waist. – You keep your back straight, you don’t want to bend that.
– You pick up a weight with straight arms and then bend them, is that right? – Keep your arms straight the whole time. – As you pick it up. So you’re picking it up sort of like that. – No, you’ll stand up and your arms will be at your side.
– Yeah. – To the front, and then just lean forward and put it down again. And then keep doing that with your arms straight down. – Oh, so you don’t lift your arms up, you just lift the weight off the floor.
So a bit like a kettlebell, is that right? – You can use a kettlebell, that works fine, yeah. – But you don’t lift your arms up, you just lift your body up? – Right. – Okay, we could all do that. So I’ve read a lot about how you believe that exercise is, I mean, I’ve read that before, that exercise is one of the second most powerful ways to slow down aging, but that one, you believe, is perfect for the hips, is that right? – Right.
And you walk better. And actually, the slower you walk, it’s a predictor of how long you going to live. And so you want to maintain your ability to walk. It’s just a good sign of your overall health and a lack of frailty.
There’s another test you can do, which is how quickly and easily can you get up off the floor with crossed legs. – I’ve done that one. I love that. – How did you do? – Crossed legs and crossed arms. You cross your legs, sit down, and get up again.
Yeah, I know that. And you just keep practicing it. Yeah, that’s an indicator of how you’re going to age, isn’t it? – It sure is. And middle-aged people tend to have to put one hand on the floor and older people have to get on one knee.
And it’s an indicator of the strength of those muscles in your core, that’s all it is. And it’s important you maintain those. – So when you’re saying exercise, there must be some exercise better than others.
So what if someone said, “Well, “I do yoga every day or Pilates”? Are there particular exercises that are better than other exercises? – Well, I think it’s a combination. They’re all beneficial. So certain types of yoga will strengthen your muscles.
And that is just as, probably just as valuable as lifting those weights. But you also want to keep up aerobic exercise. But the good news there, and I can say this because I really don’t like losing my breath, it’s a horrible feeling, is that you can do 10 minutes a few times a week on it.
If you have a treadmill or go running outside when it’s warmer, and just 10 minutes has been shown to be greatly beneficial. You don’t have to run for miles to get the benefits, but you do want to put your body in a state where you’re so puffed that you couldn’t carry out a conversation.
And that, again, puts your body in this defensive state. In, what is it? A million years ago probably, our ancestors were running around on the savannah. And that’s what we’re built to do. Our bodies, if we’re sitting around eating all the time and not feeling cold, not feeling too hot, our bodies become complacent and they don’t fight back against disease and aging.
– If you can’t run, because you say, “One of my knees have gone “and I live on a hill,” what do you think about rebounding using a mini trampoline and getting out of breath that way? – Great, yeah. I’ve done that before too.
Especially in winter, it’s useful. – Yeah. Do you think that’s as good as running if you really work up a sweat on it and… – Yeah, absolutely. – Because I heard that the anti-gravity part of rebounding was that the aerodynamic was really good for your lymphatic system.
Do you think that’s true? – Makes sense. I hadn’t heard that. That’s really interesting. – Okay. What about sex? Because I’ve always believed that having great orgasms is incredibly anti-aging because most animals don’t mate for anything other than to recreate.
So I think your mind, when you’re having a lot of sex, believes that you must be young because that’s what young people do; they mate in order to pass on their genes. And I, you know, I’ve studied a lot of people in blue zones, for those who don’t know it, you obviously know it, it’s where people naturally seem to live a long life.
People who live to a hundred often say that they have a lot of sex, even in their seventies. So talk about that and how having an active sex life, particularly women being orgasmic, can slow down aging.
– Well, it’s tough for a lot of women, and some men, that they lose interest in sex towards the latter half of their life. But clearly, moving is important. I don’t know about orgasms being important for aging.
I think someone should study that, well, maybe, you know more than I do. But there’s no question that sex gets your breathing rate up, your heart rate up, and could be part of a healthy lifestyle. And, you know, it’s not too unenjoyable either.
So I think that that’s a good tip. The problem I find, talking to clients of mine and friends, is that for a lot of people, whether they’re in a bad relationship or just hormonally deficient, it’s not as interesting anymore.
– Well, I think you’re right. You know, and, of course, if we’re doing what you said, we’re eating less and looking after our bodies and working out and feeling younger, the minute you feel better, you think, “Oh, I feel like I could have sex again, “because now I feel young and vibrant.
” It’s that thing about, “Well, I’m laying on the sofa eating Pringles, “I haven’t worked out, and I feel really kind of blah. “And the last thing I want to do “is take off my clothes, show someone my body, and have sex.
“And they don’t look so hot either. “So I’m not interested.” But I think it all comes together when you do young activities and you feel young, I think it helps you to maintain a sex life. And, of course, for women especially, when you orgasm, your make natural killer cells that do slow down aging and you make hormones that fight depression.
So I think it’s very important, if you can, to keep having sex because for women much more so than men, it has an anti-aging effect because your mind goes, “Hey, I don’t care how old you are, “you’re clearly making a baby here.
“And if you’re making a baby, “I’m going to have to keep you healthy enough “to raise that baby, “at least until it’s old enough to take care of itself.” So it’s quite interesting, sex, because your mind doesn’t just want you to make a baby, it wants you to raise it.
There’s not really any point in making it and leaving it on its own. So we are wired to reproduce ourselves, but also to raise that baby. And so, yeah, there’s so many things we could do, but what else would you recommend? So, so far I love what you’re saying.
I love the dieting, I love the fact that we can do any kind of exercise as long as we get out of breath and stress our bodies, what else? – Well, these are the easy things that I’m talking about. You know, I’m a molecular biologist.
I’m not a fitness trainer, but I do, I’m a scientist, I can read things. The other thing that I do is, or I did more before the pandemic, was plunge myself into cold bouts of water and go in saunas because there’s some good evidence, particularly in the sauna area, that that’s also healthy.
And that could also be working through the same mechanism of putting your body into a state of perceived adversity to fight back. – Yeah, do you think that’s what the…? My friend’s doing that cryotherapy, is it cryotherapy where you’re going into the, like, going into the freezer for three minutes? I know Wim Hof very well who sits in the ice bath.
So you think the heat and the ice have the same effect? – Yeah, I think so. The science isn’t conclusive just yet, but what’s clear is that if you look at people who regularly go in saunas, they have much lower rates of cardiac arrest.
So that, to me, says there’s something important going on there. The ice baths, it makes sense. You can build up what’s called “brown fat,” speeds up your metabolism, brown fat’s very healthy as opposed to your white fat which builds up around your belly, brown fats are around your back usually.
And so that theoretically could be a way that cold shock therapy is beneficial for longevity. – And you can do that just by having a three-minute ice-cold shower, can’t you? Or does it have to be longer than that? – No, three minutes is all I can take anyway.
After three minutes, I’m pretty much done, but I don’t do the cold showers, I’m not sure, I think a shower, for me, is supposed to be pleasurable, but you can jump in a pool which isn’t heated, or if you’re really good at it or want to do something, they are professional places you can go, commercial places, to get either in a mist of liquid nitrogen, which I’ve tried a few times, but at my gym, they just have a four degree Celsius water bath that I would walk into, and three minutes was enough.
My son, though, who’s… at the time, was 12, before the pandemic, he could stay in there 15 minutes or more. So a lot of people have different tolerances for these things. But you do what you can and three minutes, I think, is sufficient.
– And if you used hypnosis and go in there and say, “You know, “I’m super warm, and I’m really chilled,” because they did some studies where they’d get people to put their hands in buckets of ice. But if they made themselves say, “This is warm, this is warm, this is warm,” then they could tolerate it for much longer.
Rather like when you’re walking on coals and say, “Cool moss, cool moss.” It’s amazing how you can endure more, even running, if you tell yourself, “I love this and this is great.” So why do you think that some people age so quickly and become old before their time? You know, we know there are old people who look and act young and then there are young people who look and act incredibly old.
Why do you think some of us age way before our time? – Well, there are a lot of reasons, but the good news is that when you look at twin studies, there’s one from Denmark, that only about 20% of your health in old age is genetically written into your genome from your parents.
The rest is up to how you live your life. And there are some things that you can do, as I mentioned, to slow that down. And if you don’t do them, then you’ll speed up. And we all age at different rates.
And we can measure that with this “epigenetic clock,” it’s called. And so what you find is people who smoke are older than their twin or the general population. Those who become very heavy, who don’t eat the right foods and who are stressed out.
And what we’re also learning is that the type of food that you eat, as I mentioned earlier, is very important. So all of those things combined actually get you another 14 years on average of healthy life, there was a Harvard study that came out last year about that.
And that’s just the easy stuff. You know, I think most people have heard it, maybe not in the level of detail that I’m talking about. But what I’m also excited about are taking things to the next level, to get people into their nineties and beyond, even into their hundreds, and still work If they want, play tennis, hang out with their great-grandkids.
That’s the future that I think is actually capable or possible with the science that we know now. – I wanted ask you a question, because I heard you talking somewhere else about how you can take a swab of the cheek, and by looking at someone’s blood, you can tell them pretty much when they’re going to die.
How many people actually want to know that? – That’s an excellent question. Well, I was sitting for lunch with my business partner and she said, “I bet you a lot of people “want to know their age, “especially if they can reverse it,” which I believe we can give advice that would help.
And so I sent out a tweet, and we got back the number, with thousands of responses, that 93% of people said, “Heck, yeah. “I want to do that test.” And so we decided to form a company on the spot, that was early this year, and we’re now building this company.
We have a test, we have reduced the cost of the test by a thousandfold. And in fact, we have a website if anybody would like to get on the list to have this test taken and be some of the first to sign up.
– Because, of course, you’re not saying, “Hey, I’ve got your blood. “You’re going to die at 72.” You’re saying, “Well, you’re predicted to die at 72. “But if you’re only 60 now, “you’ve got 12 years to start doing some things “that will push the age further out and further out “because it’s never too late to take some action “to slow down aging.
” – It’s not even one number. It’s a number that will change over time. And it’ll be cheap enough that everybody, not everybody, but most people will be able to do this every few months to see if their diet, change in diet, and lifestyle is working for them.
Otherwise we’re flying blind. We don’t drive a car without a dashboard, why do we do this with our bodies? And so that’s what we’re building. We’re going to have a dashboard for the body, and provide real information and direct them to real products that we’ve tested that are what people say they are.
And so the signup for that, if anyone would like, it’s doctorsinclair.com and you spell out the word doctor. – You know, I think I’m going to take that test. That reminds me of, I met somebody, I had a client that came to London, he was French, and he was just looking at the particular type of English girl who likes to go out and get drunk and party.
They’re not all like that. And he said to me, “It’s really amazing,” he said, “French women do everything “to prolong their looks and English girls “seem to want to destroy them as fast as they possibly can.
” I went, “Yeah, that’s, “that’s a really interesting observation “that a French woman is very preoccupied, “‘I must preserve my looks.’ “‘And an English girl goes, ‘I’m just going to go out “‘and get trashed and have a great time.
“‘And I’ll sort that out later.'” So I think I’m going to take that test. I’m going to get my husband to take that test too. Because, actually, you’re right; it’s not scary, it’s like a warning, “Look, here you are.
“But you can do something about it.” And many people have said, “You know, “it’s only when I got a heart murmur “or I had a heart attack, “that I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a warning sign,’ “and now I’m suddenly going to do better.
” And I guess some people who get cancer do that, they say, “Well, I decided to, “you know, really look after myself.” But then others say, “Well, what’s the point?” So I’m always talking to my guests about how to master their mindset, because people like you are so fascinating because you’ve taken an everyday event and become a master at doing something.
So can I ask you when in your life you’ve most needed to really master your own mindset? And what helped you, and who helped you? – So every day I want to get better. That’s my mindset. And I’ve been working towards this goal of helping everybody on the planet live healthier since I was age four.
So it’s been a lifelong goal. But there was a time where I almost quit. It was too hard. I was going through hard life with three kids, a tough marriage. And then my science was attacked by two of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
– They attacked you, did you say? – They did, they said my science is wrong; one of our discoveries, the major one. And a lot of people just believe the pharmaceutical companies, because, of course, “They know better than “this one guy at Harvard.
” So what I did… You know, I was in bed for a week. I couldn’t get out of… I guess it’s as close as ever I’ve been depressed. But I’m proud of myself that I was able to say, “Well, “I can’t spend the rest of my life in bed.
“And I know when I die, I’m going to regret not fighting.” So I got out of bed, went back to work, and pulled a team together and worked on this to see if it was true. Were we right or were we wrong? We just needed to know.
And it took about two years. And then we published a paper in Science that said, “Yeah, we were right and they were wrong.” And that took a lot of willpower. And I found out that I was more resilient than I realized.
– Yeah. I mean, some of the best people in medicine and in alternative health have been attacked and besmirched. I’m trying to think of the guy who wrote ‘Sugar Blues,’ and the guy who actually discovered what childbed fever was, septicemia, they were both ridiculed, diminished.
And then they realized not that long later that they were absolutely on target. I mean, the guy who developed septicemia actually died in a mental hospital, it was a terrible thing because he was the one who said, “It’s doctors just not washing their hands “going from the mortuary to delivering a baby.
” So first they attack you, then they accept you, and then they believe in you. And then they usually say later, “Oh, he was amazing.” So I’m glad you came back from that, because it’s very hard when you’re innovative and you get attacked by somebody as big as Big Pharma because they’re so powerful.
But we live in a world where people are less likely to believe everything a drug company says anymore. And that’s a good thing. So that was your hardest time. Something else I’d like to ask you, because you have a wife and three children, are they all on board with eating the way you eat and exercising the way you exercise? – No, well, my children are so young that they don’t have to worry about it.
– How old are they? – 18, 16, and 14. – Right. – Boy, younger boy, girl. And then the oldest is a they, so non-gender. And they’re great, they’re very scientific. They’re very different, all weirdly talented in their own way.
– But do they eat what you eat? – No, the lifestyle that I’m talking about is for people in their late twenties. – Oh, right. Because I was trying to imagine getting my daughter, who, of course, at that age, they want to go out with their friends and drink, they often smoke just because they think it looks super cool.
They want to go to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s because that’s what they do. I mean, I work with a lot of autistic children, trying to get them to eat a better… And they say the same thing, “I already feel different to “every other kid on the planet.
“And if I can’t eat McDonald’s and pizza, “now I feel even more different.” And I really get that, that’s it’s so hard for kids when they’re expected to do this strict diet or when all the other kids are having milkshakes and chocolate.
– Yeah, and the one thing that I would say is that childhood obesity is something that’s a problem in the West, and increasingly, the rest of the world. And the food industry has a lot to do with that, and schools over here in the US.
– Yeah. – Just terrible food, pizza and all of that. That, I would love if we could solve that problem, because the epigenome, which is the regulator of your genes, changes and this is the clock, and having a lot of excess weight will speed up the clock no matter what age you are.
The clock’s ticking from birth. It’s a fallacy to say, “When you’re 20, “you’re not getting old.” But, you know, other than maintaining a healthy weight, I think kids should be kids. – Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with you then.
I mean, I think you should get your kids into healthy eating and allow them to go and have a pizza with their friend or a burger at weekends. But definitely don’t serve that stuff up at home. I know with my daughter, when she was little, I had three glasses on the windowsill, and I put a filthy coin in one and a baby tooth in another and dirty jewelry in another.
And she just watched that Coca-Cola strip out, and she’s never drunk it to this day. So I never said, “You can’t have it,” I said, “This is what it does, it eats everything in its path.” So that worked better than banning it.
I think when you ban stuff, and kids are like early teenagers, the more you ban it, the more they want it. But when you allow it in moderation, it’s a bit like in France, where they allow children to have a small glass of wine, I don’t know if that’s a great thing, I would never do that, but they have a much lower rate of people having a problem with alcohol, because it’s viewed as something you do moderately at the weekends.
So it sounds like you’ve done a great job with your kids. And then, everyone’s going to ask, “But what happens when I go to dinner parties?” Because I have a really healthy… People say to me, “Oh, God, it’s so boring.
“What happens when you go out “and people invite you around?” You know, I was just doing a school, I did my school for the last two weeks in a country manor house just outside London. It was amazing; it was an old Jacobean manor.
But they were providing food. And the first day, they provided macaroni cheese, which I just wouldn’t eat. And so what do you advise people to do when they have work events and functions, or maybe they’re a regular on a TV show and they’re constantly bringing in pizzas and burgers and cakes? And how do people cope with that pressure if their social life involves eating, or even if their life involves going out to dinner with clients? I mean, I know you do it because it’s your passion, but how would you advise other people to do this? When they say, “Well, “I’ve got a husband and three kids and I’ve got this, “and part of my job is entertaining, “how can I do it?” What would you say? Because, of course, you being in the medical field, so you know that too, that often, you’re out and don’t always carry all that food with you, but how do people make this a lifestyle when they feel the odds are stacked against them? – Yeah, well, you don’t try to do what I do from day one.
You work up to it. You might skip breakfast for one week and replace it with some coffee and tea. When you go out, I go out most nights every week actually. I was out with the whole family at a burger place.
I eat regular food. I try to avoid a lot of red meat and fried foods. But other than that, you know, I’ll have French fries. I’ll eat a bit of cake occasionally. But it’s, I know it sounds silly but it really does come down to eating in moderation.
– Yeah. – I’ll sample things. I’ll often share things, and it’s very rare that I go home feeling full. In fact, I can’t remember the last time. Actually, I did eat a fried chicken sandwich about two weeks ago and I still regret it.
It took me two days to recover. Because my body and my microbiome in my gut was not used to it. But the point here is, you can eat essentially anything, but try to bias it towards the kind of things that I mentioned.
And just don’t overdo it. Don’t, I mean, it’s so easy to just, for habit, from habit sticking things in your mouth and breaking that habit is the hardest thing. And it takes at least two weeks for you to get over that habit.
And once you do, once you’re in the lifestyle that I’m in, and I’m not that strict, I’m not thinking about this all the time, then it feels weird to be putting so much into your mouth and especially the kinds of foods that are super sweet and very fatty.
And you just want to work your way slowly to that. It could take two weeks, it could take a month, but it does take some willpower. It’s not going to just happen by itself, but it’s so worth it. Like what you said earlier, Marisa, that you feel so much better about yourself when you’ve got a physique that is more youthful.
And it’s not just that you can walk better, you feel better, you jump out of bed better, you probably have better sex, what I think is the main thing that I love about it is that I’m proud of myself for having done this.
And I’m just better with more confidence. – And people say to me, “But I love food.” I’m like, “Yeah, but if you love food, “then you have to have a respect for it, “‘I love food, “‘so I’m going to love eating some berries “‘and love eating some fish.
‘” But saying, “Yeah, “but I love Pringles and hot dogs and Pop-Tarts,” that’s not even food. That’s not loving food. That’s loving chemicals. Because if it doesn’t decompose, that really isn’t food. And so telling yourself that you love food, no, that’s abusing food, because it’s not even food.
– Right. There’s no giant packet of chips that once I’ve eaten it, feels better than feeling healthy. – Kate Moss said that, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” And I think, you know, what you just said then was so true because once you start to eat better and eat real food and really enjoy, like, vegetables and fruit and water, you know, if you give you a body of water every day, it asks for it.
If you give your body Diet Coke every day, you want that too. But when you start to eat better and then you have an off day, you think, “Oh my God, “is this is like having a hangover. I feel so bad. “I had no idea.
” I used to go to my mother’s every other Sunday, and every Monday, I’d feel, like, a hangover. And one day, I thought, “Oh, actually, “it’s the food she gives me. “All these puddings and rice pudding with jam in it “and stuff that I don’t even really want.
” And I realized that my body was reacting like it was almost poisoned, because once you start to sort of purify your system, you really do react really badly to terrible… You think, “Wow, I ate like this for 10 years “and I must’ve really been hurting myself “because look what one day does.
” And, of course, it is really an act of self-love, thinking, “I love my body enough “not to put it in my body because “it’s not even food.” I mean, I always say, “If it doesn’t decompose, “if it’s got, full of colorants, “if you can ask for it in Egypt, like Haribos, “and they know “what it is, in every country in the world, “they know what Diet Coke is, “McDonald’s, KFC, and Haribos, “if it’s got words and that you can’t even pronounce, “that’s not food.
” – Right, when you will look after your body and do the kind of things we’ve said, you feel young. You literally are younger. It’s not a question anymore. We can measure this now with these tests. And I really don’t feel any different than I did when I was 20.
I actually think I’m loving life way more because I’ve got the wisdom of a 51-year-old and the energy and body and, you know, whatever of a… – Thirty-year-old. – And if you measure my blood biochemistry and plug that into an algorithm that tells you or estimates how old you are, I fluctuate between my early thirties to my early forties, depending on how good I’ve been that month.
– Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. You’re a study in point, but when you… I always say to clients, “When you do one loving thing for your body, “it will do so many loving things back.” It’s really like, “I’m going to do one nice thing for my body, “like stop eating fried food every night, “but my body is going to do amazing things back.
“I just have to do one nice thing “and my body will do so many things.” As you say, you look younger, you feel younger, you look good, you have more energy, you feel more like having sex, your mind is clearer.
So you’ve got to see it as an investment. It’s like buying better food is an investment, “I’m doing something loving for my body by refusing dessert, “refusing cake, refusing fast food.” But in doing that and seeing as an act of love, the payback you get is immense.
And then, eventually, you think, “Do you know, I can’t believe “I ever ate like that.” Because it’s like if you take the sugar and cream out of your coffee, of course, you miss it terribly, but after about six weeks, you think, “I just can’t believe I drank that stuff every day, “it now tastes disgusting.
” – Yeah, well, if you look at photos of me from, I think, probably five years ago, I looked older, I think. And I’ve become stricter in my diet over the last five years as I’ve gotten older and wiser and less worried about my kids and more about my own health.
The… – But also it’s an act of love for your kids, you know, to eat better is an act of love for your children, because you want to be here for as long as you possibly can. You know, at every age…
I lost both my parents in 2016. And I felt so lucky that I had them. My dad was 89 when he died. I was lucky I had them for so long, but I still miss them terribly. I would have liked to have even more of them.
– That’s why I do what I do. – Its an act of love. – It sure is. And I make an argument in my book that we have a responsibility to do this for our loved ones who want us around, even for an extra two weeks and hopefully another 10 years.
It is a selfish act to let yourself age rapidly. – I think so, I think it really is. It’s selfish to yourself because you’re, every time you eat badly and don’t move your body, you’re actually punishing yourself, when you know it because you eat badly and then think, “Well, I feel terrible.
” Like you said, when it took you… “I feel awful. “Why did I even do that? “I feel so bad.” So it’s not really an act of, “Oh, “I’m going to comfort myself “and reward myself with a big bag of candy or potato chips.
” Because even though we say that, “It’s a reward, it’s a treat,” our body says, “Are you kidding me? “This is not a reward. Your filling me up with colorants “and preservatives and sugar.” And it’s not a reward, it’s a punishment.
And if we could only look at it more like that, we might think, “Well…” Like you said, “I can have, like, four or five potato chips, “but I don’t need a massive bag “followed by a whole liter of ice cream as well, “because now I feel guilty.
” – And it’s never too late to start. From studies, you can be 70 or 80, and you can still have a benefit by doing the kind of things I’ve talked about it. And my father shows what you can be like in your eighties.
He’s just as vibrant, healthy, and probably much happier than in his thirties and forties. And that’s the world that I want everybody to experience. – Yeah, you can start working out, even in your seventies, with weights, your muscles actually really respond to that.
So I wanted to ask you, for my audience, what are your three top tips for mastering your mind? – Alright. So what I do to do what I do, which is take on one of the hardest problems ever faced by humanity, is I wake up every day realizing it’s a gift that I have my health and my energy and my friends and my family.
So I jump out of bed, I start playing loud music, I’m dancing around, I’m super happy, even if the day is going to be stressful. The second thing I do is I surround myself with positive people. I get texts from people, pretty much every morning, saying, “Today, I hope it’s going to be, you know, “you’re going to crush it today.
“It’s going to be fantastic.” And I send them the same motivation. So it’s a wonderful world to be in. And then the third thing that I would say keeps me going is I remember the bad times in life and realize that the little things that are bad today really don’t matter.
And if I’m not going to remember them next week, I’m not going to worry about them so much. In fact, most of the things you go through, you’ll forget about a year from now. And so keep the stress down, get good sleep, surround yourself with great people, and just be positive that you’re around and try to stick around for longer.
– And if you had a song, because I know you said you get up and you love music, what is a song that would really get you going and also have your message in it? – Wow, alright. Okay, off the top of my head, there are a bunch.
I listen to hundreds of songs every day. There are a lot. I actually listen to a lot of female artists that my children make a lot of fun of me for being… – Yeah, because that keeps you young. – But, okay, so I think Katrina and the Waves ‘Walking on Sunshine’ would simplify how I go through my life.
It’s just, don’t take life too seriously, bound around, be happy, and spread that to all of the people around you. – And what about Frank Sinatra, “You can survive “to 105 when you’re young at heart”? – I love that too.
– I do. And I love that Rod Stewart “Young hearts run free tonight. “Time is on your side.” That’s a good song too. – I guess for my career it’s, “I did it my way.” – Yeah, yeah, that’s a great song. I love that.
Because you did. You did it your way, and in adversity, you bounced back, and it’s a shame that you got attacked but I love the fact that you’ve stuck that out and then you became victorious, and that’s always a great thing.
So I’m very pleased for you for that. So thank you so much. It has been amazing. And you’ve given us some really great things to think about and, of course, everybody can do that. We can all say, “Okay.
” As you say, skip breakfast maybe three times a week, lift some weights, do some exercise, maybe have a cold shower or something, but “responsibility,” that word, it means an ability to respond. That’s what “response ability” means.
If you want to be younger, healthier, fitter, be response able and decide, “Hey, I just have to choose to do this,” and then choose to keep doing it, because you make your habits and then your habits turn right around and make you.
And you might as well make great habits because, whether you’re making bad habits or good ones, it’s the process of repetition that wires them in – Exactly. And part of my goal, besides developing medicines and new ways to understand slow aging, and even reverse it now, is to be an educator.
And close to a million people have now read my book. And many of those people’s lives have been changed for the better. And so, you know, I think that’s going to be one of my main contributions is to educate people that our lifespan and our health and old age is almost completely up to us and how we choose to live.
– Yeah, and if you think, like Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot, they were like, they were classed as middle-aged when they were 35. They were sort of written off. I remember that. I remember being a kid and seeing something in the paper about Bridget Bardot at 35, “She’s really old now.
” And only later did I realize how weird that was. But, of course, you know, when you want to have a baby, they call you, is it “prima” something? “Really old at 35,” and yet, more and more women are having babies later because we are changing the way we age.
If we look at how our grandmothers dressed and how we dress and how we feel, and, you know, I paddleboard every day, I go to jet skiing with my… And my mother, at my age, she would have no more got on a paddleboard than she would have gone to the moon.
It just wouldn’t have occurred to her that you could be active and paddleboard and kayak and canoe and swim in the sea and dive off boats. Because it’s a choice. If you… I believe if you choose to do young things, it keeps you young.
If you listen to young music, hang out with young people sometimes, and stop being sedentary, then you feel young. Like Frank Sinatra said. So I really could talk to you all day because you’re fascinating and interesting, but also you’re bang on the money.
So where can we find you? Tell me more about your website. Tell me more about your book titles, and remind us of that page because we’re all going to be looking at that, certainly. – Okay, so the test that’s going be a mouth swab for your age is at doctorsinclair.
com – I’m going there. – I’d sign up now because the waitlist is getting long. – Okay. – And you want to be the first ones there. I’m on social media, so you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. – What’s your handle there? – DavidASinclair is Twitter and DavidSinclairPhD is Instagram.
And I have a book called ‘Lifespan.’ And there’s a website to sign up for newsletters there, and that website is called LifespanBook.com. LifespanBook.com. And you can buy the book, you know, anywhere.
Really, it became a New York Times best-seller, which was, I guess, a good feeling, but also I’m glad that the message is out there. And that’s it. I’m writing another book now about how to improve your life.
But ‘Lifespan’ turned out to be something that has really touched the hearts and minds of the planet. People were waiting for somebody to finally tell them the truth about what to do for their health and why aging should be considered a disease, and that disease is now treatable.
A lot… Often, people want to learn about our research at Harvard. What are we doing? What’s the latest thing? So we also have a lab website if people want to check us out, and we’re going to put out some newsletters and updates, and that’s called SinclairLab.
com. – Thank you. It’s been amazing. I’m going to be following you on Twitter and Instagram, I’m getting your book, I’m signing up for that swab. And I believe that almost everyone watching you today is going to be doing the same thing because you’ve given us such a gift.
You’re giving us years of our life. And so I want to thank you myself personally. My husband’s going to be on this, and I want to thank you for our audience because I know that what you’ve done today is immensely generous, you’ve given everyone the possibility of living a longer life.
And that’s exciting, having those extra years is amazing. So thank you so much.