Our eventual demise is inevitable, but a growing number of experts believe we may not feel that way in our later years.
They talk about “healthspan” — the number of healthy years in our lifetime.
Life expectancy may have doubled in the past 150 years, yet many of us have witnessed the loss of dignity and devastating decline of our loved ones as we age.
To avoid this fate, a new industry is emerging that promises a longevity revolution with technologies they say will lead to healthier, longer lives.
There’s a booming business in this space, peddling supplements that combat the loss of our cells, and a variety of hot and cold treatments designed to help us reduce inflammation and disease risk in our bodies.
So I embarked on a journey to the center of everything in California, not sure if I had arrived at the center of a rapacious cult or the next medical frontier.
Tech entrepreneur Brian Johnson spends millions of dollars every year to reduce his biological age — the age his body appears to be, not his actual age, which is 45.
Each of us has good reasons for doing so. Age is the highest risk factor for disease, be it cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease or dementia. Therefore, if overall aging can be delayed, it may also increase the risk of developing these diseases. For him, however, it’s a sport.
A bedroom in Mr Johnson’s luxury Venice Beach home has been converted into a clinic where he has spent many hours.
He wakes up at 5am, eats his first meal an hour later, and then eats his second and final meal at 11am. This was combined with a forensically selected mix of 54 pills, dietary supplements and off-label medications, all planned based on the readings from the test catalogue.
His days included a harrowing exercise regimen, monitoring and countless treatments.
He told me that laser resurfacing had reduced the age of his skin by 22 years, the largest age reduction of any part of his body.
Aesthetics are only a small part of it, as it reminds me that “our skin is our largest organ”.
Mr. Johnson is warm, logical and personable. I left his house and wanted to (sort of) be like him. Maybe I already am — I run 5Ks a day, try to avoid sugar, and test extreme tracking gear for fun.
My colleagues find Mr. Johnson’s presence unpleasant, so his life is clearly not for everyone.
While his routine might seem extreme, every conversation I had came back to a way of life.
“About 93 percent of lifespan is determined by lifestyle — only about 7 percent is genetic,” said Eric Wilding, executive director of the Buck Institute on Aging.
“Based on the data [if we live healthy], I can predict that most people can live healthy to the age of 95. So we can all get 15 to 17 [extra] years of healthy life,” he told me.