Steve Reiter: Welcome to the Gladden Longevity Podcast with Dr. Jeffrey Gladden, MD, FACC, founder and CEO of Gladden Longevity. On this show, we want to help you optimize your longevity, health, and human performance with impactful and actionable information by answering three questions: How good can we be? How do we make 100 the new 30? And how do we live well beyond 120?
Dr. Gladden, I got a text from you last week saying that you wanted to talk about what we have wrong with longevity. That's kind of a broad idea, so talk about that a little bit more.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, I did. I shot you over a text, and we've been having a lot of guests on the podcast, but I think it's nice for you and I to have a conversation too, and vet some of my thinking and some of your thoughts as well. What I sent over and the realization that I'm having in both reading and talking with people and things like that is that people really don't understand longevity. They have a lot of misconceptions about what longevity is and, to that point, even what it can be. So, the way I'll start this off is by saying a lot of people equate longevity with living a long time.
Steve Reiter: Exactly.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right, and so I think, yes, there is that element of longevity and living a long time, but then people immediately equate that to not being quite as good as they are now. Even if they're doing lots of interventions, taking supplements, optimizing hormones, exercising, working out, doing all kinds of stuff, still in their mind, they have this conception that they're fighting a losing battle, that it is actually downhill, and there's good reason for that. It's always been downhill, right?
Steve Reiter: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: I mean, every generation has sought the magic elixir. I mean, Ponce de León, the Fountain of Youth, and certainly people in Egypt, and basically, every culture have basically been fascinated with this concept of, can we extend life? Yet the way that this is actually beginning to play out is that it's really not about longevity anymore. It's really about youthfulness and being young and vibrant, and longevity is really transitioning from a science of living a long time into a science of being young and vibrant. Longevity then becomes a byproduct of youthfulness. That's a shift right there. That's a shift.
I think when people start to think about that, they'll actually understand, "Where am I on that spectrum? How am I thinking about my longevity? Is it that I'm thinking about it as I'm going to live for a long time, and it's going to be a slower decline than it might have been?" But when I look around, there's a lot of people doing longevity stuff, and yeah, they're better, but they're not young, and over the decades, you look at Dave Asprey, he looks older, right? You look at Tony Robbins; he looks older.
Steve Reiter: I noticed even Ben Greenfield is starting to look older.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: You look at Ben Greenfield, right? Ben Greenfield looks older, right? We have all of these people talking about longevity, and yet they're aging, right, and so whatever they're doing, as good as it may be, is not working, right? Fundamentally, it's not working because they wouldn't be aging if it were working. So, when we're thinking about longevity, I want us to switch the conversation to really the more appropriate conversation, which is not "How do I live a long time and be relatively healthy while I do that?" but "How do I actually stay young for a long time?" I can explain to you why that's so important.
Steve Reiter: Why is that so important?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Why is that so important, right? Well, here's the reason it's important, is because when you look over your life. You think about the impact that you've had, the impact that you've had relative to your relationships, your family, your community, your occupation, your financial resources, any of these things; it's basically an exponential curve. So, the amount of impact you had between 20 and 30, you probably did more than that between 30 and 40, and then between 40 and 50, you did more than you did between 20 and 30 and 30 and 40 put together, right?
Steve Reiter: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: There is this exponential growth in our productivity and what I like to call "impact," which is really our ability to help shape the world that we live in for good. It's not just about buying an extra Ferrari, joining another golf club and buying a jet, and now flying around the world if you happen to be in that category of people.
What's interesting is I go to meetings, and I meet with lots of different people, and I speak at these meetings, and there are many millionaires there, there are billionaires there. What I'm impressed with is that for many millionaires, they are focused on trying to make more money. Many people who aren't millionaires are trying to make more money, but those who are billionaires are not really focused on making more money. You could say: "Well, of course not. They have billions of dollars." So, what are they focused on? They're actually focused on the meaning of life, which is to have an impact, to actually start charities, help schools in Africa, and provide healthcare. They're really focused on "How do we impact all the people on the planet, and how do we impact the planet itself?"
When you really think about a well-lived life, in many respects, as we grow in our capabilities and our resources, and I'm putting in there wisdom, financial resources, relationships, networks, all those things, and as we get to a point where we realize that we actually do have enough, and this is where that whole life energy circle comes into play, do you feel safe? Do you feel loved? Or are you constantly needing an extra dollar so that you will theoretically feel safe and get the extra dollar and still don't feel safe? I mean, is that the treadmill that you're running on?
If you get to a point where you have confidence that you have either enough money at hand or you have the ability to make the money that you need, then you start to focus on, quite honestly, more important things and things that are actually more generative and more life-giving than simply making money. You start focusing on: "How do I have more impact, positive impact, and how do I have better relationships with these different people in these different organizations?" Whatever and ever, that's really the beauty of longevity is that you get to have more impact. You have this exponential curve of expanding impact that's happening, right?
Steve Reiter: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yet you're playing an exponential game of decline and aging. It's not a linear game. Just the fact that it's another year and another birthday does not mean this is a linear game that we're playing, and it's actually an exponential one. There's been some recent data that's come out from Stanford, actually, where they looked at the proteomics of aging, really a beautiful study, and it's actually a very complicated set of things that they reported on, but I'm going to pull out some of the most salient points, and that is that there are several inflection points in the aging process.
For example, there's a substantial inflection point at age 34. People age quite a bit more at 34 than they did prior to that. There's a ramp-up to that, 32, 33, 34, but it hits a peak, and then it sort of plateaus off again. Then at age 60, another big bump, there's a lead up into that through the 50s, and then you hit this next bump at 60, and then it tapers off a little bit. But then there's a really steep and very large bump that happens by age 78, so it's really, I think, seeing that visual is really helpful because if you're whatever age you are, you can look at that and say: "Okay, well, where am I?"
One of the things that we do at Gladden Longevity is really help people define: "Where am I in this aging process?" The reason that's so critical, and yes, it is comprised, rather, of lots of different tests to create that mosaic of ages, but why is that so important? Because if you don't know, number one, what game you're playing and you don't know where you are in that game, how are you going to have a strategy to perpetuate your exponential impact that is giving you the most joy and the most sense of purpose in your life, right?
Steve Reiter: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: We have these two intersecting lines. We have an exponential decline, which is aging, and it's not uniform. We've already shown that there are three areas where it really takes off, and again, there are ramps leading into those moments in time, and when those lines cross, when your exponential rise and impact, and maybe it's around 60, maybe it's around 70, maybe it's 75. But when those lines cross, and you know you're aging exponentially faster, you lose your capabilities to actually maintain that exponential growth and impact, and it plateaus for a brief period of time. Let's say you get sick. Maybe you have your first heart attack. Maybe you have your first stroke; maybe you're developing some other issue. Your diabetes is catching up; you can no longer walk without neuropathy. Whatever it is, it has that impact, and all of a sudden, your impact over the next few years just drops like a rock. It drops like a rock to parallel your health.
What's the alternative to that? Well, the alternative to that is to step into a parallel universe. In this universe, it's aging. We have aging. We think of longevity as "Well, I'm going to live a long time." Okay, but even if you're going to live a long time, are you playing the game that you're actually playing, which is counteracting exponential decline? So, let's jump into a parallel universe. In this universe, and it has to do with time, attention, and resources also, so let's jump into another universe where it's possible to stay 30 for your entire life. Because you can, physiologically, stay 30 for your entire life, your impact continues to grow exponentially through your years on the planet, years on the planet, let's call them your "wisdom years," so you're accumulating wisdom. You're accumulating all these other resources, and those wisdom years, you're exponentially growing those through your, as you've been on the planet, 60 to 70 years, 70 to 80 years, 80 to 90 years, 90 to a hundred years, a hundred to 110 years, let's take it out to 120.
Look at the massive growth and impact that occurs, right? It's massive because in this universe, we really only get about three, maybe four decades where we have that biggest impact. But now you've just doubled that into eight decades, eight or nine. What's the return on that in terms of the impact you can have? In this parallel universe where you stay 30 the whole time, and then let's say you drop out at 120, we won't get into a third universe where you're going to live to 700, let's just do that. With that, you can see that "Okay, well, if this is the opportunity in this parallel universe for me to have this much impact, continue to grow, okay, well, then what percentage of my resources do I need to invest to stay 30?" Because it's a parallel universe, but physiologic processes are still going on, but people have a completely different mindset about it, and they understand that staying 30 is actually possible.
Well, the first thing that happens is not everybody pays attention to it. Some people get old and die, but other people understand from a young age that this is really where they want to go, and so even in their teens, even in their 20s, they're starting to think about this. As they're starting to move through into the ages where they're starting to really lose youthfulness, let's say, and it really sort of happens in people's 20s. For athletes, they tend to peak in terms of their physical output and their capabilities somewhere in their late 20s or early 30s, right? 29 to 31 is the peak. Let's say that 30 is the peak. Then for those people, they really want to be focused on "How do I start to invest the time, attention, and resources to stay 30?" I can tell you that staying 30 is so much easier when you're 27 than it is when you're 77. It's orders of magnitude easier at 27 than it is at 77.
We see this every day. My mother is 93, and for her, she's moved into what I call "phase three," which is a point of no return. There is no way to get her back. The horses are out of the barn; the damage has been done, but the mindset is not there. There's just no way to get her back; as much as I would love to, and she would love to in her own mind, but she just doesn't have the substrate on any of the levels to be able to make that happen. That's a tragedy. We're the first generation to actually have this opportunity. But the ones behind us, the ones that are in their 20s and 30s, my kids, maybe your kids, or whomever else, these people really have a great shot at this.
If you want to really think about longevity, think about moving into a parallel universe where you're really emphasizing youthfulness, vitality, energy, and think about: "What can I do to maintain that?" Because I'm telling you right now, the answers that we're finding to actually help people turn back the clock when they're in their 50s, 60s, 70s, when you apply some of those technologies selectively to people in their 20s and 30s, the results are dramatic. I mean, they're literally dramatic, and you can change the whole trajectory of aging by doing that, is what we believe to be the case.
We're actually getting ready to start doing some animal studies to prove this out because in animal studies, obviously, like dogs or whatever, they're going to age quite a bit quicker, and we want to see if we can change the trajectory. Now, other mammalian studies don't always translate into humans. That's part of the problem with all the mouse studies, worm studies, and other stuff that are done on longevity: "We did this, and they live 200% longer." It's like, well, that's not going to happen if we're a human, right? It's a more different system, a more complex system.
But nonetheless, I think that we're entering into a day when we really are going to be able to stay young, and so if you're past 30, one of your mindsets should not be: "Well, am I good for 42? Am I good for 52? Am I good for 62? How am I doing relative to my peers?" It's the wrong reference point. If you're really thinking about winning this game so that you can have maximum impact, which is really what this is all about, it's not just about longevity for longevity's sake. It's about how you can have the biggest impact; then, you need to become very proactive about this. You can only start where at the age that you're at, but if you're left listening to this podcast, you want to start as young of an age as you can, and you want to start to be thinking.
Of course, lifestyle is going to play a major role in this, but one of the things that we're figuring out is that lifestyle. I'm calling that phase one in the aging process. You have your genetic predispositions, you have the lifestyle choices that you're making, et cetera. With that, actually, that's the inner circle of things. But beyond that, the aging process starts to occur, and that starts to occur when there's damage occurring to the body that the body can no longer repair, just ongoing metabolic activity, exogenous sources of toxins and radiation and things like that, your genetic predispositions, et cetera. That's at the core.
But that gets to a point where you're starting to age, your body can no longer repair that, and really, that's even happening from birth. Even as an infant is growing, you're still accumulating damage, and telomeres are still shortening, et cetera. But let's say that you're going to start to address it when you're in your 20s, and then what happens is that you have that central core, but around that core are the other drivers of aging, things like cellular senescence, immunosenescence, oncogenic potential, mitochondrial dysfunction, lack of proteostasis, lack of autophagy, all these different mechanisms that, when they click into that central core, and they're another circle around that, they click into that core, they start to spin that core up like a funnel cloud in terms of accelerating the aging process, right?
Steve Reiter: Mm-hmm.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: This is kind of a funnel cloud image that I've developed to think about this. I think it's really important for people to understand that whatever age you're at, it takes different interventions to disconnect the funnel cloud that wants to spin up from the core. The core is always important, but it takes different things to disconnect those outer aging processes from that course so you can stay young. I think this is a really key piece for people to understand.
The way that that plays out is that what you did in your 20s is not going to work when you're in your 50s, and yet people have this conception that "I did this to get in shape, I did this to lose weight, I did this to get healthy, I did this to feel more energetic, and that should work for me now." Complete misconception. God love us, we're all trying to do the right thing, and it's our frame of reference, and I don't blame anybody for thinking that way. I thought that way myself.
But the more that you dissect this whole process, you start to see that you really need to start at a young age, and you really need to know where you are on this whole aging scale. Then if you really focus on: "You know what? I want to stay as young as possible. Maybe 30 is not possible, but I want to stay as young as possible, so I can have the biggest impact for my family, my friends, my community, my church, my country, my planet, whatever, my solar system," whatever you want to do. I think that's the way to think about this.
Steve Reiter: For someone that's in their 50s, what are some of those differences that you generally recommend for them to stay as young as absolutely possible versus someone in their 30s?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: That's a great question. The way that we're attacking that question is actually by mapping the aging process. In other words, it's been mapped from different vantage points, but now, we're trying to map it not only in terms of the proteomics that are out there but actually mapping it in relationship to what we understand to be some of the key drivers, if not the key drivers of aging.
Of course, all this is evolving over time. That being said, mapping that related to the key drivers of aging then gives us the ability to test a 50-year-old and say: "Okay, amongst these different circles, this funnel cloud that we're all sitting in, your core, your lifestyle, your exogenous, your endogenous metabolic things, whatever those things are, your genetics are teeing you up for this, and so we need to address that first."
Then when we go to the next circle out, and we start to see the key drivers of aging that are starting to click in and accelerate the process for you, these are the ones that we need to focus on disconnecting right now because these are the ones that are the biggest problem, right? Do you see? So, now, you're becoming more precise about, it's not just: "Well, you're 52, so we should do the following." It's not just that, it's really, where are you and who are you, and how do we actually slow this down and disconnect it and make you as useful as possible for as long as possible? That's actually the only, quite honestly, rational approach.
I mean, you have a lot of people out there that are theoretically in the "longevity space," and what they have is they have a program, and their program is: "Well, we'll do some testing, we'll see what you see." It's "comprehensive," which means it's about a 10th of what we do, it's comprehensive. "Then from that, we're going to make some dietary exercise, sleep, lifestyle, and some supplements for you to take, and that's going to be your path forward." That's pretty much what we had to offer 10 years ago, but it's not really keeping pace with where things are today. Where things are today is so much more advanced than that.
Steve Reiter: What are some of those big breakthroughs you're really excited about that you have integrated over the last 10 years that become cornerstones in the patients you're treating?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah. Right. Some of the exciting stuff is currently inside our clinical trial, or will already be a clinical trial, which uses plasmapheresis to remove old factors from the blood. We think that this is really, really helpful. Young plasma is coming into play because it's been shown that young plasma also has benefits, and when you combine the two, the benefits are even greater.
Steve Reiter: Really?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, we're very excited about that. Yeah, there are studies out of Stanford and other places where the use of young plasma has been shown to reverse Parkinson's. There are studies showing that just plasmapheresis alone slows the progression of Alzheimer's. But when you add in young plasma, Alzheimer's has an element of being reversed, and we know that-
Steve Reiter: Really?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: ... Yes, and we know that it's more complicated than that because there are many, many different lines that funnel into Alzheimer's, per se. To Dale Bredesen's point, there are 36 holes in the roof. Right now, we've discovered probably another 10, so there are a lot of different touchpoints that need to be covered if you're going to be going after these neurodegenerative diseases. But that being said, it is possible, so we're super excited about that. We think being able to re-lengthen telomeres appropriately and safely is important, and we think being able to modify DNA methylation ages is important also. Then we think being able to balance the whole mTOR/AMPKs out of the equation using rapamycin, or potentially rapalogs, which are analogs of rapamycin, is very helpful.
But many other things come into play because, as you know, in Gladden Longevity, we have four circles: the Life Energy circle, the Longevity circle, the Health circle, and the Performance circle. So, really, to stay young, you've got to work across all four circles. That's an exponential response to an exponential problem. Just getting healthy is never going to be the solution, so all of that ends up coming into play for each individual, yeah.
Steve Reiter: We started out talking about how these leaders in the longevity movement have clearly shown that they've been aging, some better than others over the last 10 years. Are there ways that we can look younger?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: That's a great question. I know a lot of people in the "longevity space/anti-aging space," we'll call it, it's really focused on the cosmetic elements of anti-aging, whether it's a nip and a tuck, or an augmentation, or a lift here, or a tuck there, whatever they're doing, a lot of plastic surgery, a lot of creams and potions and things like that to increase collagen in the skin and do things like that, all of which is fine. But the problem is it's really not addressing what's going on. It's like you've got a funnel cloud happening, and you're going to put a shirt on it to make it look better, right? So, it's never really been where I wanted to go.
I'm not opposed to looking good, it's not that, and we will probably be bringing some more things into the practice to help people look better. I think that's great and wonderful because being attractive and being sexually active, and feeling confident, all those things are super important, so I'm not downplaying it at all, but I can just tell you that our approach has been to try to do it more from the inside out, right?
Steve Reiter: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: In other words, be young from the inside out, and be youthful from the inside out because you can look good, but you can still stumble across the floor. You can look good in a photo, but let's see you walk down the stairs. What's that look like? Right, and so for us, it's really more about that performance. But I do think there's a real need for that and a real desire for that, and it's something that we're looking at right now. Let me ask you a question.
Steve Reiter: Yeah?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: As you hear about all this for yourself... I don't know your exact birth. What year were you born?
Steve Reiter: '74. I'm 48.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Okay, '74. Well, there you are, so you're past the first inflection point, and you're about to hit a ramp that's leading towards a second inflection point. What's your strategy? What's your strategy been to date?
Steve Reiter: My strategy to date thus far has been supplementation, exercise, movement, sunlight, and eating well, those basic cornerstones. I have seen a functional medicine doctor up in Denver, and he got me some peptides, I'd say, about a year after Elizabeth had died, and that really had, I noticed, a significant bump in pulling out of that grief brain, the brain fog that comes with losing a spouse or a child. It really helped to kickstart pulling out of that. But that's honestly been about the extent of it. Supplementation, the kinds of things I hear about on the podcast or other podcasts, I'll try various things out. Obviously, listening and being a big fan of David Sinclair, NMN is a big part of my supplementation, and metformin as well. But really, that's been about the extent of it. Looking at this in terms of hearing you talk about that ramp-up in the 50s to that next inflection point, what'd you say? 64?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: 60.
Steve Reiter: 60?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Yeah, 34, 60, and 78.
Steve Reiter: That's something I'm thinking about. That's 11 and a half years away, so yeah, this has definitely given me something to think about in terms of what else can I be doing to help slow that down, dial it back, et cetera.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Mm-hmm. Yeah, exactly. I think what you're doing is very conscientious, from what I understand, and so I applaud you for doing that, for taking action, taking control of your diet, your sleep, your mood, your exercise patterns, your access to nature, and sunlight. All those things are critical, and yet we all know that you'll still age, right?
Steve Reiter: Exactly.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: We still know that you'll still age.
Steve Reiter: Yes.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: If people can move to a parallel universe where no, it's actually you can stay young, and that parallel universe I think actually exists today, no, you can stay young if you're willing to devote time, attention, resources to do it, then it changes the equation. Not everybody has the resources; whether it be time, or attention, or finances, I get that. Everybody can be doing something, and we've talked about that a lot on the show, but there are people who really are focused on making a big impact. There are people that listen to the show that have plenty of financial resources, and for them, it's not about the financial resources. I think it's about their understanding that this really is possible, right?
Steve Reiter: Yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: There are other technologies that we use. I haven't listed all the technologies here that we're currently using, but I can tell you that when you start to layer these things together and weave them together in this symphony, this symphonic approach that we're doing, we're super excited to see how it all pans out when we get all the data back.
Steve Reiter: Anything else you want to cover before we wrap this up?
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: I think if you're listening to this, I think one of the most exciting things that you could do would be to live your life in a parallel universe, right?
Steve Reiter: Ooh, yeah.
Dr. Jeffrey Gladden: Right, where aging doesn't have to occur the way it does currently in this universe. There's a mental construct to that also, right? I mean, if you talk about people that meditate or people that have spiritual connections, or relationships, many of them feel like they're living in a parallel universe. They almost feel like they're aliens walking around here on the planet, right? From a spiritual perspective, they have a different perspective on abundance and gratitude and things that really change their perspective on life in general. I think that's a beautiful part of the parallel universe. I think when you couple that kind of thing with the concept of staying young is really what longevity is about. It's really about: "How do I continue to make more and more impact?" I think it will start to change how you think about this entire field and the entire journey you're on, so I would welcome you to jump into universe number two. I think you'll like it over here.
Steve Reiter: Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the Gladden Longevity Podcast. If you would like more information on what we've discussed or other topics, please reference the show notes, or go to gladdenlongevitypodcast.com. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter by searching "Gladden Longevity." If you've enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe to get future episodes delivered to you and share our podcast or this episode with someone in your life. They may find benefit. Thank you for listening. We'll be back next week with another exciting episode.
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