My conversation with anti-aging Harvard Medical Scientist David Sinclair (he says we can reverse grey hair!)
I recently did an Instagram live with Dr David Sinclair, Harvard Medical Scientist, which was phenomenal and so interesting. David is currently working with a lab of about 20 people at Harvard on ways to reverse aging and to better understand the aging process.
I asked David about:
This was one of the most informative lives I have ever hosted and I am so excited to share our key takeaways in today’s blog.
I hope you enjoy and once again, thank you, David - you are incredible.
1. About David & His Current Work
David, you are an amazing scientist at Harvard. What sort of things are you working on at the moment?
A lot and all things aging. We have recently finished a study where we restored eyesight in blind mice. We are making big advancements. We are working on something that can reverse age very rapidly, within a matter of 4 weeks and you can go back to half the age of the cells. One day, we may be able to go back 10 years or even 20 years. We look at aging from all angles - every part of the body.
2. What causes aging?
What actually causes aging?
Aging is the body’s overreaction to DNA damage and this damage to our DNA messes up our cells’ identity. We have instructions in our cells that tell the body how to stay young and DNA damage makes the body forget how to do this.
We have actually shown in the lab that if we break chromosomes in a mouse, the mouse will get 50% older quite rapidly.
Sun exposure is one of many things that creates this DNA damage. A little bit of sun is beneficial (we call this hormesis) but too much will accelerate this aging process. 15 minutes a day is enough for me unless I am wearing proper protection. Supplementing with Vitamin D3 to avoid this DNA damage from the sun is an easy solution.
It’s the same with radiation. Radiation like X rays, Gamma Rays & Cosmic Rays damage DNA and break it. Opt-out of these things where possible and not totally necessary.
Stress is a big one too - cortisol in the bloodstream has been proven to increase aging. Chronic stress will promote aging over time and the importance of being surrounded by reliable people has also been proven to reduce stress, and reduce aging, can’t be ignored.
We’re also fascinated by aging in pets because stress impacts animals too. Most pets are stressed as they have fear of abandonment as their owners aren’t always around. We are actually developing something for pets too. Stay tuned!
Can grey hair be reversed and if yes, what supplements should be considered?
There are only a few small advancements here but we are exploring turning grey hair back to color with organites which are groups of cells that grow skin and hair.
PD-1 inhibitor drugs (used as part of Immuno-oncology) have been shown to have an impact. Trials said that 11 out of 13 men got their hair colour back on this trial!
Regarding fertility - do you think it's possible to increase a female’s egg reserves through NAD Therapy?
It looks possible and we have been working on proving that old female mice can become fertile again. We are exploring the possibility of a human taking medication for a month to make you fertile again. We might start seeing more women having children into their 50s over the course of the next decade.
In terms of Alzheimer’s and dementia and keeping the brain young - what progress is being made there?
Very little progress which is disappointing. At Harvard, we have now been able to reverse aging in the brains of mice - so old mice can have young brains again - so I feel confident that we can work towards an Alzheimer's cure by reversing the aging of the brain. NMN looks very promising here - it improves blood flow in the brain and could be interesting in the fight against dementia.
3. David’s anti-aging regime
What do you do personally do for anti-aging?
I have a full anti-aging wellness regimen written in my book called Lifespan - it’s on page 304, and I’ve been implementing that for over 15 years now.
My three recommendations:
It’s really important that the resveratrol you take is 98% pure or more and if the resveratrol is not light grey or white then throw it away. It’s also important to mix it too, if you swallow it alone, it won’t be absorbed well - so mix it with yoghurt, perhaps some olive oil or have it with a meal.
What about diet and aging? Do you have any words of wisdom here?
Intermittent fasting is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy and slow aging and I now really only eat one meal a day - I feel better than I ever have. Your body really responds well to being a little bit hungry. I think it’s not so much what you eat, it’s WHEN you don’t eat that’s really important.
Thoughts on metformin as a longevity drug? Does it have a similar impact to fasting?
When you fast, your mitochondria get revved up and they create energy for the body which is insanely important for overall health and defence against diseases. Metformin does this in a similar way to fasting. You do want to talk to your doctor about it as it is a drug, but the power of it cannot be ignored. Berberine is a much cheaper alternative.
What does your diet look like? What is your view on sugar, dairy, gluten, etc?
A lot of vegetables. I love meat but I try to avoid a lot of processed meat and red meat. I eat fish and seafood twice a week - it’s a great source of iron, protein and oils. I’m not too concerned about the metals in the fish but I focus on fish that are not at the top of the food chain for that reason.
I try to keep my blood sugar levels down, meaning I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates. I have no sensitivity to grains so I don’t avoid them but I will avoid highly processed ones such as white rice (raises your blood sugar really quickly). Wholemeal and ancient grains & quinoa are good - unless you have a sensitivity. I will eat bread in small quantities.
Same with fruit, I try to keep my glycemic index low so try not to overload on fruit and particularly high sugar fruit.
I’ll eat dairy (because I love cheese) but not excessively - a bit of milk in my coffee, etc. Those who don’t eat dairy have been proven to be more healthy than people who do.
I drink coffee, but never with sugar in it - always natural sweetener. I also drink alcohol - it’s my vice - but I do believe that red wine is healthy in moderation.
What is your take on organic food?
I try to eat organic all the time. When plants are stressed and not grown in perfect conditions, they release survival molecules called xenohormetons. When we eat these molecules as humans, we get health benefits because our bodies get the impression that our food supply might be running out. Eating organic is great for the body.
What are your thoughts on environmental toxins and their impact? Things like pollution, water, plastics, etc.
Things like Bisphenol A, PCB’s, etc are really bad and are poisoning our cells and accelerating aging. They are everywhere - even the little cup for takeout coffee has them in there, in the lid, and hot water from the coffee makes it worse. I never microwave food that is in plastic and I always avoid products that smell strongly of plastic (new cars).
***SOME OF THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST.