Lifespan Book Review
After reading Dr Janon Fung’s book The Cancer Code, I wanted to continue to read more about longevity and disease prevention. And after a few searches on the subject, I came across Lifespan and the author Dr David Sinclair, an Australian biologist and academic known for his research on ageing and epigenetics; he is also a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School.
His book Lifespan and his work essentially question why we die and argue that dying of old age should be considered a disease. This is a huge statement as it means every living thing no longer alive died of one disease or another. But as a hypothesis, it’s fantastic.
So, he and his team work tirelessly on yeast and mice models to disprove their hypothesis. The book shares the success and failures and, along the way, tells the reader what they believe is happening and how to enable the development of lifestyle, nutritional and medical interventions to help us increase our lifespan and our health-span.
I found the book fascinating, as it helps explain how intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool due to its capacity to activate a group of signalling proteins called sirtuins. These proteins influence cellular processes like ageing, transcription, apoptosis, inflammation, stress resistance, energy efficiency and alertness.
However, there are challenges to studying longevity in humans. It’s hard to control all possible variables in lifestyle, diet and stress and then study that for long enough to see if the success in yeast and animal models translates to humans. I’m sure this research is something that our kids and grandchildren will thank Dr Sinclair and his colleagues for one day. But most of us reading this book will probably have a limited benefit from the research outside of the value of intermittent fasting, something we should probably all be using regularly.
I would recommend the book as part of a wider reading material on the topic of health and health-span, but I am a little critical of the information relating to nutrition. When he talks about nutrition, he seems to be using outdated research to justify some of his statements that have since been debunked and shown to be incorrect due to bias and the cherry-picking of data to support a hypothesis that, when challenged, does not stand up to scrutiny. However, this is just my humble, relatively normal IQ-based opinion.
Shortly after reading Lifespan, I did, however, listen to a podcast of Dr Paul Saladino and Dr David Sinclair discussing longevity and nutrition and the processes his research sought to manipulate. I felt that Dr Sinclair was expecting a traditional interview, where he is asked a question and then tells how his research is working to answer it. What I listened to was more of a debate that Dr Sinclair was unprepared for, particularly when Dr Saladino explained how if you avoided the activation of certain biochemical and metabolic pathways by avoiding particular plant toxins, you wouldn’t have to worry about counteracting the effects with other compounds.
Dr Sinclair initially seemed slightly taken aback, but after some deep debate between these two intellectual heavyweights, Dr Sinclair conceded one or two points and seemed to suggest he would take some of these thoughts back to the lab to reflect on.
Lifespan is a thought-provoking read and probably the best currently available on longevity. I look forward to future information that Dr Sinclair and his team publish.
Publishers Book Summary
In this paradigm-shifting audiobook from acclaimed Harvard Medical School doctor and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people on earth, Dr David Sinclair reveals that everything we think we know about ageing is wrong and shares the surprising, scientifically proven methods that can help listeners live younger, longer.
For decades, the medical community has looked at a variety of reasons why we age, and the consensus is that no one dies of old age; they die of age-related diseases. That’s because ageing is not a disease – it is inevitable.
But what if everything you think you know about ageing is wrong? What if ageing is a disease? And that disease is curable.
In Lifespan, Dr David Sinclair, one of the world’s foremost authorities on genetics and ageing, argues just that. He has dedicated his life’s work to chasing more than a longer lifespan – he wants to enable people to live longer, healthier, and disease-free well into our hundreds. In this audiobook, he reveals a bold new theory of ageing that pinpoints a root cause of ageing that lies in an ancient genetic survival circuit.
This genetic trick – a circuit designed to halt reproduction in order to repair damage to the genome – has enabled earth’s early microcosms to survive and evolve into more advanced organisms.
But this same survival circuit is the reason we age: as genetic damage accumulates over our lifespans from UV rays, environmental toxins, and unhealthy diets, our genome is overwhelmed, causing grey hair, wrinkles, achy joints, heart issues, dementia, and, ultimately, death.
But genes aren’t our destiny; we have more control over them than we’ve been taught to believe. We can’t change our DNA, but we can harness the power of the epigenome to realise the true potential of our genes.
Drawing on his cutting-edge findings at the forefront of medical research, Dr Sinclair will provide a scientifically proven road map to reverse the genetic clock by activating our vitality genes so that we can live younger longer.
Readers will discover how a few simple lifestyle changes – like intermittent fasting, avoiding too much animal protein, limiting sugar, avoiding x-rays, exercising with the right intensity, and even trying cold therapy – can activate our vitality genes.
Dr Sinclair ends the audiobook with a look to the near future, exploring what the world might look like – and what will need to change – when we are all living well to 120 or more.
Dr Sinclair takes what we have long accepted as the limits of human potential and mortality and turns them into choices. Lifespan is destined to be this decade’s biggest book on genes, biology, and longevity.
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