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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The science of Youthfulness: How to look like an ageless vampire

I remember reading a chapter in a Deepak Chopra book about how aging is something we are hypnotized to do.  As if , seeing the people before us age, we , ourselves, were convinced that this process was inevitable for us. It was as a pretty radical thought , that "what if I didn't have to age like other people? What if some of it was a choice?".

Well, that idea kind of stuck around in my head, something that I didn't revist much.  Low and behold, I am now eligible to lift as a Master, I broke a World Record, and I find myself getting confused for my daughter's sister.

I offer some objective evidence: me before the age of 30, and me post physical age of 30,  at about the same bodyweight doing even more weight for a double:





So, how did I get here? Why does my biological age seem to be quite disparate from how long I've been on this earth in my current form.  It's both science and mindset.

A couple of months ago, I appeared on the Thrivalist podcast where we discussed this very topic with medical experts Dr Geanopoulus and world renowned strength and conditioning coach Ben Velazquez.

There are 3 biological indications of aging:
  1. Nerve degeneration
  2. Sarcopenia
  3. Dynapenia 
In non-technical terms, they mean: loss of muscle, loss of muscle strength, and loss of brain fitness. 

Interestingly, through my weighlifting and engineering interests, I've unintentionally addressed all 3 criteria.  These were adressed through strenuous physical and mental training as well as medically based diet and supplementation.

Unintentional ingredient to youth #1:  Heavy mental and physical lifting
Olympic Weightlifting is the perfect sport to maintain muscle strength, muscle mass , and even nerve function.  When you train in a programmed rhythm (see Soviet System for Weightlifting), you will be able to train harder AND your Central Nervous System will be able to recover from the training. This results in maintaining or increasing muscle strength and mass. It's also addressing the needs of stimulating the nervous system to ward off aging.

A key caveat here is that you must train strenuously. You must put some load on your organism to get a result.   In other words, this is why the average person spending 15min on the eliptical machine is not going to get the same benefits as they are not stressing themselves enough.

Personal anectdote: I spent most of the summer in France doing engineering stuff. My training was incredibly erradic. But, you know what, I found away to drag myself into the gym, even if for only 20 minutes.  Here's why: after about 3 days of not training, I could already see the detriment. This is inspite of the fact that I probably walked about 5 miles per day just going places. In other words, a walk back and forth to the market or the parking deck wasn't going to be enough stimulation . A short, intense workout was better than just walking.

Going back to the nerve degeneration prevention, both my lifting and engineering endeavors force me to really apply my brain.  Believe it or not, studying for hours in my dorm room, built a capacity for me to get into the zone easily, and reach states of deep focus.  Then, I went ahead and applied this, unintentionally, to my lifting.   There  were times that I was better at attaining mental flow in my workouts, and ,other times, I was better at acheivning mental flow in engineering endeavors.   Now, I kind of feel like I can do both equally.  I would thinkthat this is similar to people who meditate often and, as research has shown, become good at controlling their mental states.

Unintentional ingredient to youth #2: Maintaining hormonal indicators

Having trained as a high performance athlete, my goal is to keep certain metabolic indicators in a specific range with rest, diet, and supplementation.   Optimal hormonal and metabolic levels improves training, and, apparently, this also has spillover affects of staying youthful. 

Now, all of my diet and supplementation based on going to a doctor that can actually read bloodwork. The diet and supplementation plan is designed around supporting hormone levels with in a healthy range.    Bloodwork is one of the most direct ways to see if you have made a measurable affect on yourself after diet and supplementation changes.  For example, your doctor might prescribe taking magnesium to affect  testosterone levels,  or amino acids to improve growth hormone.   Amino acids and magnesium are both naturally occuring and completely legal subtances to take.

Secondly, extensive allergy testing can help you focus your diet and also take unnecessary stress off your immune system.   You can get extensive allergy testing done to determine to which foods your body reacts better. In theory, if you avoid things that your body has allergic reactions to, then this should further assist your body in maintaining a good hormonal profile. 

Now, I know there are people who say "a calorie is a calorie" and to "eat what fulfills your macros". And, to that I say, it also depends on your genetics: my mustang can run on 87 octane, but, tell you what, I can get 35mpg if I fill it up with 93 octane.    Additionally, there are things like micronutrients, trace minerals that come into play-- the nutrient profile of 10g of carbohydrates of sweet potatoes and 10g of carbohydrates of white rice are going to look quite different. This can affect minerals which can affect hormones. 

How this all works together

It is much simpler than it sounds-- train hard a few times a week, use your brain often, and eat what your body responds well.  Many champions will tell you that their results went down once they stopped caring. So, you have to care about your training as well. View it as something as essential as drinking water in the morning.


https://engineering.mit.edu/engage/ask-an-engineer/must-all-organisms-age-and-die/

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