MINDSET – Raise My Game
Raise Your Game to Superhuman Level
By Dave Asprey
Editor’s note: 24Life Editor-in-Chief Lashaun Dale recently caught up with Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof and best-selling author, at Upgrade Labs to talk about his new book “Super Human” (Harper Wave, 2019). Here’s what Asprey has to say about aging as he aims for 180.
From my perspective, aging is not the accumulation of symptoms. It’s the accumulation of awesomeness. I want to age way past 180 and look and feel like I do right now.
It’s a mission that originated with a vision that I had to hack the human body. I had a successful career in Silicon Valley, but I was 300 pounds, had lots of joint pain and my brain just didn’t feel like it was functioning optimally. As an entrepreneur, I figured there had to be a hack to good health, and I started searching.
What I found from looking at research and talking to Navy SEALs, celebrities, astronauts, athletes and functional medical doctors were things that cause you to recover better than you’re supposed to. I literally learned to upgrade myself, and I’ve been pretty public about my desire and plan to live to at least 180 years old.
We already know people who live to 120. With the knowledge that I have, the experts I know from running an anti-aging nonprofit research group and interviewing the world’s best on Bulletproof Radio, the technologies at Upgrade Labs, and the foods from Bulletproof, I figure if I can’t live to 120, too, then I’m probably doing something wrong.
(And if science can’t extend our life by another 50 percent in the next 100 years, then probably something crazy happened, like the Earth fell out of orbit with the Sun.)
Change the picture of aging
When people think about aging, they think of wheelchairs, diapers, tubes and putting their car keys in the refrigerator. That’s not what aging has been throughout history. Village elders were venerated; they were the ones with the most wisdom. But today, so many people who are older are tired, their brains don’t function well and they’re not healthy. Right when they’re in their prime to give back, they don’t have what it takes to do it.
I’m working to fix that and change our picture of aging. It is entirely possible to expect that when you’re in your 80s, 90s and even 100s, you can move around under your own power, feel good, have mental acuity and be a happy, healthy member of society.
The things that we used to think were for superhumans—healing like a superhero, aging backward, building muscle three times faster than nature intended—are not only possible, people are actually doing it today. What we’ve called superpowers are actually human powers. In “Super Human,” I take concepts that we’ve reserved for the realm of the supernatural and put them into readers’ hands so they gain those capabilities.
The first step to living to 180 is, of course, to stay alive. To do that, it’s necessary to avoid the four leading killers: cardiovascular disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Each of these can be a risk factor for another of the four causes of death. But what if you could make changes right now—no matter how old or how young you are—so that you could reverse those conditions if you had them, or prevent them, if you didn’t?
It turns out you can make those changes immediately, and they don’t cost very much—some of them are free. Improving the quality of your sleep, improving the quality of your diet (which just means making better decisions) and even making some very simple changes to your exercise routine all contribute to a greater “health span,” which is the amount of time you feel good. Once you get that dialed in, then you can start looking at life span.
Then undo aging
In addition to the four killers, there are what I call the seven pillars of aging. Take inflammation: When you have inflammation throughout your body, you can develop amyloid plaque buildup. This gunk around your cells is best known for its role in Alzheimer’s disease—but these plaques happen throughout the body. In “Super Human,” I explain how you can slow down plaque production and even cause the body to remove those plaques, including techniques that simply come down to knowing when to eat and when not to eat.
Another major cause of aging is mitochondrial decline. Your mitochondria are the power plants inside your cells. They make electrons, energy that powers everything you do, feel and think. That energy production declines as we age, but it turns out it’s relatively easy to increase it—so that you feel (and maybe even think and act) younger.
One of the most powerful—and free—tools for longevity is sleep. If you’re focused on getting at least eight hours of sleep, you might still be doing it wrong. Quantity does not make up for quality sleep, like so many other things in life. Amazingly, research shows people who sleep more than eight hours a night die more of all causes than people who sleep seven hours a night. And the people who live the longest sleep six and a half hours a night.
If you could get more deep sleep and more dreaming or REM sleep in six and a half hours than most people get in eight hours, you’d free up 90 minutes a day to do whatever you wanted. I’ve monitored my sleep for more than 10 years, and I can tell you I get more deep sleep and more REM sleep in six hours and five minutes than a 20-year-old gets in eight hours.
One of the cheapest and most effective strategies for effective aging and even for making your brain work better is exercise. What the science shows is you don’t have to kill yourself every single day in the gym, but if you don’t go consistently, you will actually age more quickly. The longer you want to live, the less optional exercise becomes.
Amplify the good stuff
If you’re telling yourself, “I’m going to eat all this junk food, stay up late, drink a lot and I’ll just work out more to cancel it out,” I can tell you it won’t work. But you can amplify a good diet by exercising. When it’s time to sit down and eat, you can eat something that tastes good and also gives you more than it takes away. One of the big things we’re only just now starting to understand is that if you manage the bacteria in your gut, you may actually stay younger.
According to new studies, the number of different species of bacteria in your gut will predict how old you are within four years. As you age, you lose species in your gut. So if you want to stay younger and you want to perform really well, you need to have diverse species in your gut.
You won’t get this just from eating food or taking probiotics. I’ve spent more than $100,000 over the last 20 years on probiotics for my own use trying to fix my gut. A lot of times, probiotics just don’t work because they don’t have what they need to eat—specifically prebiotic fiber. (That’s what’s in Bulletproof Inner Fuel, a new product formulated with three different types of plant-based prebiotic fiber that allowed me to raise the number of good species of bacteria in my gut from 48 to 196.)
When your mindset is centered on amplification, it changes the way you approach your exercise and your food. Instead of trying to undo damage, you’re likely to take a long-term view. You may even see yourself as continuing to live and provide value for decades and decades.
It’s a view that encourages patience and kindness toward yourself. You can be nice to yourself in the gym. If you look in the mirror and you say, “I am enough,” you’re doing it wrong. You’re way more than enough. You just don’t know it yet.
Video credit: mrcmrc, Getty Images
Photo credit: Todd Cribari, inspirostudio.com