The saying "You only get out what you put into it" applies to a lot of topics in life. This can also apply to food and health. However, when it comes to those import topics, people are usually not aware of what's good and bad for them and thus cannot decide which action plan to follow for themselves; myself included. That's why I decided to learn more on the topic (on my own), by following the recommendations of the book TRANSCEND by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman (MD).

Reading a 400+ pages books can be quite tedious if you are busy, thus I decided to write this article, which sums up (distills) the most important things to optimize for health and longevity (from my own point of view & understanding; keep in mind I'm not a specialist). I still advise buying the book, as there is so much I didn't say there, and it provides explanations for all the statements it makes.

This article will focus on 2 easily actionable concepts: supplement intake & lifestyle changes. The book describe other critical concepts to achieve a better health, such as a regular exercise (it provides an easy-to-follow exercise routine, comprising aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises), which is not described here.

Young people won't likely need most supplements described in the article, although it's always better to acquire that routine soon enough to ensure it sticks. Around 30 years old and later, the body starts its downward aging spiral, and thus the TRANSCEND program becomes useful starting this age. However, this is not a reason not to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly before 30.

The overall goal of the book is to teach you how to extend your lifespan (using current scientific knowledge), which ultimately increases the probability you are still alive when life extension technologies come to the market (enabling you to live much longer).

Before you start reading the contents of the article, please be reminded I'm not into the medical field at all (I'm a Software Engineer), and thus I cannot guarantee the validity of what I state. Always seek medical advice before implementing the article recommendations in your own life. I cannot be held responsible for any health issue incurred. I'll reference every piece of information to specific pages in the book for you to double-check and do your own search. Also, please be advised our bodies don't all work the same way, or you may have unknown conditions which render unsafe some supplement intake or lifestyle changes. Ensure any diet change is safe with your doctor.

About The Book

TRANSCEND (Nine Steps to Living Well Forever) is a book that was written in 2009 by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman (MD), with the purpose of gathering all actionable present-day knowledge to enable people to live longer & healthier.

Through our childhood, we have all been told about the good and bad food & lifestyle choices for our health. Overall, this has worked well and is beneficial to us, but still, that's far from enough. We rarely check our body metrics, we never supplement except when we feel tired and need our shot of Vitamin C. Most of us are far from doing enough exercise, or those who do omit important kinds of exercise (they only focus on one kind of exercise).

If you are interested in buying the book, it is available on Amazon for less than $20. I highly recommend reading it using the references from this article.

Plan

Time for a plan. I organized it into concepts. It's important to consider each concept; as a whole they are inter-dependant and necessary for longevity.

I'm using raw lists for each concept, so don't be surprised. I find lists to be more effective for the reader (and writer!) than full texts.

Brain

brain

The brain cognitive abilities decline as you age. It is also exposed to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer, which you want to protect it against. It is critical to treat your brain well; those supplements may help.

  • You want to reduce inflammation in the body for a healthy brain. Generally, avoid high glycemic index carbohydrates.
  • Supplement with (refer to p.13 in the book):
    • Vinpocetine
      • Reason: Increases the production of ATP (ATP is the general source of energy used everywhere in the body).
      • Dosage: 10 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Phosphatidylserine
      • Reason: Prevents memory loss.
      • Dosage: 100 mg / day (starting at 100 mg twice / day for the first month, as recommended in the book)
    • Acetyl-L-carnitine
      • Reason: Strengthens mitochondria.
      • Dosage: 500 - 1000 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Ginkgo biloba
      • Reason: Increases the blood flow to the brain.
      • Dosage: 80 - 120 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • EPA
      • Reason: Improves your mood.
      • Dosage: 1000 - 3000 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • DHA
      • Reason: Improves your mood.
      • Dosage: 700 - 2000 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Phosphatidylcholine
      • Reason: Improves memory & learning skills.
      • Dosage: 900 mg two to four times / day (as recommended in the book)
    • S-adenosyl-methionine
      • Reason: Helps with depression.
      • Dosage: 200 - 400 mg / day (as recommended in the book)

Sleep

sleep

Sleep is critical to achieve good, productive days. Also, it helps reduce your crave for caffeine; which is a stimulant that can cause all sort of side-effects when abused. You want to get better sleep, but not too much! Some sources say it's better for long-term health to sleep consistently 6 to 7 hours a night, while more hours of sleep has been linked to shorter lifespan (read this article).

  • Generally, you want to avoid caffeine in the day, and prefer a longer & better night of sleep.
  • To help with sleep, you may supplement with (refer to p.18 in the book):
    • L-theanine
      • Reason: Improves relaxation.
    • GABA
      • Reason: Tranquilizer.
      • Dosage: 500 - 1000 mg before going to bed (as recommended in the book)
    • Melatonin
      • Reason: Sleep hormone (ie. it is useful for jet lag, to force sleep).
      • Dosage: 0.2 - 10 mg / day (as recommended in the book)

Heart

heart

Heart disease is the most prevalent condition in the population; give a look to those whopping statistics on the US population: "cardiovascular deaths represented 30 percent of all global deaths". Luckily, their likelihood can be dramatically lowered by lifestyle changes and supplementation.

  • Main heart disease factors (refer to p.34 in the book):
    • Factor 1: Optimize your cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of heart attacks in the future
      • LDH cholesterol: The bad cholesterol, you want it lower
      • HDL cholesterol: The good cholesterol, you want it higher
      • It's all about your cholesterol ratios: Given Total = LDL + HDL
        • Total: 160 to 180 mg/dL in blood
        • LDL: 80 mg/dL in blood (or lower)
        • HDL: 60 mg/dL in blood (or higher)
        • Total / HDL ratio: 2.5 (or less)
      • Generally, a lower LDL means you are much less at risk to suffer heart attacks
      • Get a blood test to control your cholesterol levels
    • Factor 2: Lower the free-floating triglycerides in your blood (ie. free-floating fat)
      • Avoid alcohol and high glycemic carbohydrates (eg. avoid potatoes, white bread, white pastas and white rice, more generally all highly refined grains), as those add up triglycerides in your blood.
      • High triglycerides is a sign of metabolic syndrome (coming with a combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low good cholesterol), which increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. You want them low, but not too much as they are still required in the body for energy.
  • Ways to optimize cholesterol levels (refer to p.39 in the book):
    • In your nutrition:
      • Avoid egg yolks (it's 220 mg of cholesterol per yolk, while the maximum recommended daily intake is 300 mg, and the one recommended by the book is only 100 mg)
      • Reduce your general caloric intake (the liver produces 75% of your cholesterol — by itself — from carbohydrates, saturated fats and trans fats)
    • Supplement with:
      • Red yeast rice
        • Reason: Said to lower the risk of death by any cause by roughly 30%!
        • Dosage: 600 - 900 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Plant sterols
        • Reason: Lowers LDL cholesterol.
        • Dosage: 1800 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Policosanol
        • Reason: Lowers LDL and raises HDL cholesterol.
        • Dosage: 10 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Vitamin E
        • Reason: 75% fewer heart attacks (in an experiment).
        • Dosage: 200 UI twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Phosphatidylcholine
        • Reason: Cell membrane component, helps remove cholesterol from artery plaques.
        • Dosage: 900 - 1800 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
  • Ways to lower blood pressure (refer to p.43 in the book):
    • The optimal pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg
    • You want to reduce stress exposure in your life (also, reduce adrenaline levels, which incur stress)
    • Supplement with:
      • Magnesium
        • Reason: Helps reduce systolic & diastolic blood pressure over time (read more).
        • Dosage: 200 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Garlic
        • Reason: Reduces blood pressure and blood clots (read more).
        • Dosage: 900 mg three times / day (as recommended in the book)
      • L-arginine
        • Reason: Relaxes and opens blood vessels (read more).
        • Dosage: 1 - 2 g three times / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Co-enzyme Q10
        • Reason: Helps reduce systolic & diastolic blood pressure over time (read more).
        • Dosage: 100 mg three times / day (as recommended in the book)
      • EPA
        • Reason: Beneficial for multiple reasons (read more).
        • Dosage: 500 - 1500 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • DHA
        • Reason: Beneficial for multiple reasons (read more).
        • Dosage: 350 - 1000 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Vitamin C
        • Reason: May lower blood pressure in large doses (read more).
        • Dosage: 1000 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Vitamin E
        • Reason: An antioxidant; reduces oxidative stress & improves vascular function (read more).
        • Dosage: 200 UI twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Calcium
        • Reason: read more.
        • Dosage: 500 mg once or twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Alpha-lipoic acid
        • Reason: An antioxidant; reduces oxidative stress & improves vascular function (read more).
        • Dosage: 250 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Potassium
        • Reason: Balances the negative effects of salt (read more).
        • Dosage: 200 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Green tea extract
        • Reason: read more.
        • Dosage: 500 - 1000 mg twice / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Hawtorn
        • Reason: Contains antioxidants; reduces oxidative stress & improves vascular function (read more).
        • Dosage: 250 mg twice or three times / day (as recommended in the book)
  • Other risk factors for your heart:
    • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • High levels of iron in your blood
    • Periodontal disease
    • Hypothyroidism (check your T3, T4 and TSH levels)

Hormones

hormones

Hormones are the chemical messengers of your body. They regulate body processes; dictate how you feel (eg. mood, energy) and positively or negatively affect your health over time. * Cortisol * Produced in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration * You want their levels to be low by: * Reducing stress * Sleeping well * Having an exercise routine * Eating a low-sugar / low-glycemic diet * Supplementing with DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) * Insulin * Insulin is secreted by the pancreas when your blood sugar levels are too high * Linked to cortisol in a vicious cycle (more cortisol induces more insulin, which induces in turn more cortisol) * An high glycemic diet accelerates aging * DHEA * DHEA is the "youth hormone" * In your late-20s the levels of DHEA peaks, and then it's going down after that until death * It has been shown that supplementary DHEA could slow down the aging process in animals * DHEA helps burn fat by converting food to energy * The idea range of DHEA is around 200 to 250 in men, and 150 to 200 in women (more is not better, there's a hard cap to the levels) * You can naturally raise DHEA by exercising and practicing caloric restriction, avoid supplementing with this hormone

Inflammation

inflammation

Inflammation is the body's response to stress. To the body, stress can come from your diet, your lifestyle or your environment (don't confuse stress here with what we usually use the word for). When you're sick, inflammation happens. However, some food or conditions induce chronic inflammation in the body, which on the long term is bad for health & longevity.

  • You want to reduce inflammation as much as possible
  • Consumption of Omega fatty acids reduces inflammation
    • Increase your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid)
    • Decrease your consumption of Omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic-acid)
    • Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are needed, but today people don't consume enough Omega-3, while they consume too much Omega-6; this creates an inbalance, typically of 1 Omega-3 for 25 Omega-6, while the ratio should be 1-for-1
  • Adjust your diet accordingly:
    • Increase your consumption of fish, fish oil, nuts and flaxseed oil
    • Decrease your use of vegetable oils (except "good" oils such as virgin olive oil)
    • Avoid red meat, egg yolks and shellfish
  • Prefer mono-unsaturated fats over other kinds of fats (poly-unsaturated fats are still okay but less ideal, but avoid saturated fats)
  • Do not eat trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oils); those are artificial fats made from vegetable oil. We find them everywhere in manufactured products.

Cancer

cancer

Cancer is the invasion of mutated cells growing abnormally, destroying body tissue and preventing normal body function. If you don't want cancer to develop, you want to prevent mutations at the first place, thus you need to avoid any exposure to mutagen agents.

  • Avoid the following:
    • Tobacco smoke
    • Radiations (eg. sunlight, x-rays)
    • Deep-fried foods (read why)
    • Heavy metals (lead, mercury, etc.; those are more likely to be found in large fishes that are on the top of the food chain)
    • Pesticides
    • Plastics
  • Supplement with (refer to p.125 in the book):
    • Vitamin C
      • Reason: Can be toxic to cancer cells.
      • Dosage: 500 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Selenium
      • Reason: Modulates a gene expression to suppress a protein involved in tumor onset (read more).
      • Dosage: 200 - 400 μg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Coenzyme Q10
      • Reason: Helps slow tumor growth through the immune system (read more).
      • Dosage: 60 - 200 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Curcumin
      • Reason: Prevents cancer-causing inflammation (read more).
      • Dosage: 900 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
      • Note: Curcumin is a spice that can be added to your food daily.
    • Melatonin
      • Reason: Said to slow down the development of cancer cells (read more).
      • Dosage: 0.1 - 3 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • EPA
      • Reason: Reduces chances of cancer (read more).
      • Dosage: 1000 - 3000 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • DHA
      • Reason: Reduces chances of cancer (read more).
      • Dosage: 700 - 2000 mg / day (as recommended in the book)
    • Vitamin D
      • Reason: Reduces the risk of many types of cancer (read more).
      • Dosage: 1000 UI / day (as recommended in the book)

Note that food has a profound impact on cancer (positive or negative). So be careful with what you eat.

Proteins

proteins

Proteins are large macro-molecules that perform a vast array of functions in the organism. All dietary sources of proteins are not created equal; eg. meat proteins come with an extra mix of saturated fats and cholesterol that you'd like to avoid.

  • Prefer the following sources of proteins:
    • Generally, vegetable proteins
    • Nuts
    • Legumes (peas, lentils, beans)
    • Whole grains
    • Soybeans (they contain all 8 essential amino acids, but also vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals & fibers)
    • Fish (limit their consumption for environmental reasons, and because they may contain heavy metals)
  • Avoid the following sources of proteins (those are too high in saturated fat & cholesterol):
    • Generally, meat proteins
    • Fatty meat
    • Whole eggs (limit egg consumption to egg white, and avoid egg yolk)
    • Whole milk products
  • Do not take too much protein (more is not always better), as it may cause:
    • A risk of dehydration
    • Increased risk of gout
    • Increased risk of kidney stones
    • Some cancers

Other Aspects

other

  • Eat more meals throughout the day, but they should be smaller (this reduces insulin spikes).
  • Consider organic food over non-organic food.
  • Prefer whole foods (non-refined, non-processed, eg. "darker" pastas, rice, bread, etc; avoid "white" pastas, rice, etc).
  • Use spices (eg. Curcumin has a lot of interesting properties).
  • Avoid over-cooking food, keep the food as pristine as possible (ie. don't fry your vegetables).
  • Drink water & organic green tea (non-organic tea may contain pesticides, so you want it to be organic).

Closing Notes

Thanks for reading until the end. If you're interested in the topic of life extension and age illness prevention, I still recommend reading the whole TRANSCEND book, particularly because it provides clear explanations for what I stated in this article. Also, you'll get a full supplementation & exercise program.

On my side, I plan to reduce the daily decision pain by consuming Soylent for a few months. By looking to what Soylent contains, I can say it fits well with the plan from TRANSCEND. However, it contains too much sugar per daily bag (70 g while the recommended value for men is around 35 g per day).