Sunday, October 10, 2010

Preliminary things from the Life Extesion Conference

This weekend I'm attending Christine Peterson's Life Extension Conference in San Francisco. Chris wanted to put together information that is both scientifically valid and actionable, so she lined up a lot of really high-quality speakers. One thing I learned pretty quickly is that there are a large number of areas of expertise, generally interrelated, all pretty deep. I'll try to do a series of blog postings about these topics so this one will just skim a few highlights.

Here are some very quick bits of advice.
  • Completely stop eating sugar.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat spinach and other leafy greens, take vitamin D and drink green tea.
  • The health of your brain is crucial to your overall health. Meditation is better for your brain than puzzles and games.
  • Intermittent fasting (e.g. 24 hours every 2 or 3 day) is good for you.
The popular aging theory that our bodies wear out over time is false. We know this because there are animals and plants thousands of years old which may die from accidents or mishaps, but they do not age biologically. Michael Rose has been breeding long-lived "Methuselah" fruit flies for over 30 years and he discussed his approach. There were a lot of great talks but I found this one clarified some bsic information about aging for me.

Simplistically assume that flies always begin reproducing at age A and always stop reproducing at age B. Any heritable cause of death that takes effect before age A will be strongly selected against, and any heritable cause of death that takes effect after age B will face no selection pressure at all. What Rose did was to tinker with A and B, delaying both, and discardiing the flies who didn't live very long, and he did this from 1980 to the present day. I think I'll have more to say about this when I've gone over my notes more, but a few quick things about these Methuselah flies.

We couldn't do this in 1980 but we can now sequence the DNA of these flies and compare it to the DNA of normal flies. What you see is that there are a lot of teeny differences widely spread over the genome. This leads me to think that there's no silver bullet longevity gene, but rather a lot of small tweaks that address a large number of heritable causes of death.

More stuff to come as I sift through my notes. Chris has talked about posting all the slides online and making the presentation videos available as a DVD.

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