Summary of the book Will We Be Immortal? : The 21st century will be the equivalent of three 20th centuries in terms of technological evolution, and medicine will benefit from it like other fields. In particular, advances in biotechnologies, and then in nanotechnologies, will allow us to reach a point where we will gain more than one year of life expectancy per year (currently, we gain two to three months of life expectancy per year).
This will make us virtually immune to aging; to reach this particular point, which may occur in the 21st century, we need to stay healthy and well for as long as possible; the authors give us the best of what current science knows to achieve this goal.
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Will We Be Immortal?
Let’s start by introducing the authors : Ray Kurweil is an American inventor, millionaire and famous in the USA for his radical ideas on the evolution of technologies and the advent of truly intelligent artificial intelligence (more than man). He was the main developer of the first automatic character recognition (OCR) software, one of the first synthesizers, and a pioneer of speech recognition systems.
In addition, he created 9 companies, and wrote about ten books, most of them not translated into French. He is one of the main architects of Singularity University, created in collaboration with NASA and Google in 2009, whose goal is to train today’s leaders to understand the exponential phenomenon of technological development, and how this fact can help human beings solve the major problems they face.
Terry Grossman is a physician specializing in nutrition and anti-aging medicine, and is founder of Frontier Medical Institut, a clinic specializing in the treatment of aging and increased life expectancy.
The French translator is Dr. Serge Weinman, himself an author of books on biochemistry.
The authors begin by telling us their vision of technological evolution: according to them, it is exponential, and the 21st century will be the equivalent in terms of technological advances to three 20th centuries, which was itself the equivalent of several 19th centuries.
According to them, medicine will evolve at the same pace as the other sciences, and will cross three Bridges :
- Bridge 1 is the longevity program described in Will We Be Immortal? designed to keep you healthy long enough to benefit from Bridges 2 and 3.
- Bridge 2 is the biotechnology revolution. Deciphering the genomic and proteomic code will enable a three-phase revolution:
- Personalized medicine thanks to the knowledge of our genetic code. By knowing the genes you possess, and therefore the intrinsic risk factors of your genetic make-up, you can choose an adapted lifestyle and engage in preventive strategies to modify their impact.
Today, American companies such as 23 and me and Navigenics offer you to decipher part of your DNA for $299 and $999 respectively. And Stephen Quake, professor of biotechnology at Stanford, recently announced in Nature a complete DNA sequencing technique for $50,000. That means it will probably cost $1,000 in five years. Once the process is widely available, doctors will be able to use your genome as a basis for prescribing drugs specifically tailored to you.
- Blocking or altering gene expression. Knowing your genes and the risks they induce is good, but what if we could modify defective genes to replace them with better versions? Initially, this will remain inaccessible to science, but in the second phase it will be possible to modify the expression of genes, i.e. rather than modifying the genes themselves, we modify the factors that lead to their triggering or not.
Thus, we will be able to inhibit the expression of genes that cause disease, and trigger the expression of desired genes. For example, since your genes come from both parents, and each one exists in duplicate, one from the father, the other from the mother, it can happen that the gene from one of the two parents is defective, and takes precedence in its expression over the healthy gene. By inhibiting this defective gene, the other gene can then express itself normally, suppressing or alleviating the genetic disease that the defective gene caused.
- Somatic gene therapy. This is the Holy Grail of biotechnology. It will make it possible to change the genes inside the nucleus of a cell by “infecting” it, in particular via a specially controlled virus that will replace the incriminated strands of DNA with those that have been “loaded” into the virus.
It is also envisaged to use small lipid spheres with an aqueous inner part – liposomes – and ultra-fine nanoballs, 25 nanometers in diameter, to inject the new DNA. In addition, the creation of new organs using stem cells – which will probably come directly from our adult bodies, not from clones as researchers thought until now – and their implantation will make it possible to replace defective organs with brand new ones.
*. Bridge 3 is that of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Nanotechnology will make it possible to build nanomachines, the smallest components of which will be of the order of 100 nanometers, i.e. one hundred billionth of a meter. One nanometer is roughly equal to the diameter of five carbon atoms. These extremely fine machines will be able to be introduced into the body in order to repair and rebuild every cell of the body, with a precision that is absolutely unimaginable today.
All the existing cellular machinery is already made up of nanomachines – proteins, globules, antibodies, etc. – we will just add machines that are much more powerful because they are designed for a very precise purpose with all the design capacity of man. Teams of millions of nanorobots will be able to rebuild muscles and bones, destroy every cell in a tumor, and clean the arteries of any cholesterol that might clog them. These nanorobots will be thousands of times more accurate than the finest surgical instruments used today, leave no scars, and allow for continuous follow-up after major surgery.
The advent of Bridge 3 will make it possible to make extremely advanced changes to our bodies, with possibilities for man-machine interfaces unimaginable until now.
Let us examine one of the perspectives considered by the authors:
…] An original idea appears: to replace the whole genetic machinery (the cell nucleus, ribosomes and related structures) by a small computerized robot. The computer would have the genetic code, which is only about 800 MB (Note: barely larger than a CD-ROM, a 32 GB iPhone 3GS would contain about 40 complete genomes!), or about 30 MB if data compression is used.
The computerized system replacing the nucleus would then perform the function of the ribosomes by directly assembling strings of amino acids according to the computerized genetic information. These computers, connected in a wireless local area network, would then allow improvements to the genetic code to be quickly downloaded from the Internet. A major advantage of this approach is that undesirable replication processes, such as those of pathological viruses or cancer cells, could be quickly interrupted.
Will We Be Immortal? is interspersed with such futuristic prospectives, which are of course the work of Ray Kurzweil whose books revolve around these subjects. I will give you a few of these passages here and there, but be aware that you do not need to taste them, or even believe in them, or agree with them at all to appreciate the heart of the book’s subject, which is to obtain the necessary knowledge and act in order to live a long and healthy life.
The authors’ wager is that if we manage to live long enough, we will reach a time when the increase in life expectancy will be more than one year per year – whereas we are currently gaining two to three months of life expectancy per year – thus making us insensitive to aging. This point is called by the creator of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, a program to permanently reverse aging) Aubrey de Grey the “velocity escape point”:
According to Aubrey de Grey’s foresight, if people aged 80 or 100 today are doomed to die, those aged 30 or 50 are likely, after a period when their remaining life expectancy will decrease, to see it increase to a point where each year will be an opportunity to gain more than one year of life expectancy – thus eliminating any possible death due to old age. You just have to stay alive long enough to reach that point.
To learn more about Aubrey de Grey and her program to suppress old age as a cause of death, you can watch this video of her presentation at TED:
Whether or not you adhere to this vision of things, because of the problems it poses in the face of other problems such as overpopulation, depletion of resources or the financing of pensions, or even its technical feasibility, it is not essential to take advantage of the contents of the book, which again aims to give you the best current knowledge to live long and healthy lives.
This book is based on the premise that 1) Western medicine is primarily a curative medicine that cures you after the onset of symptoms but does not teach you how to prevent illness and 2) that doctors, with all their skills and experience, still only spend 15 minutes with you per consultation.
Apart from many diseases endemic to our western civilization can be largely prevented with the right behaviors. The authors therefore indicate that it is essential to take responsibility and take charge of one’s health, in partnership of course with health professionals.
The book Will We Be Immortal? completely changed my life by making me radically change my attitude on everything related to my diet, my health and my body.
I hope the same will be true for you, and I am convinced that the fact that I am chronicling this book will prevent at least one reader from suffering from a chronic disease, and that it will save him or her from suffering from a chronic disease so that he or she can live many, many years in the future, even many, many years 😉 .
Follow me, and embark on a fantastic adventure to discover your body, the multiple dangers that await it and ways to minimize and even avoid them:
Chapter 5 of Will We Be Immortal: Carbohydrates and Glycemic Loading
What are carbohydrates? As its name suggests, it is “hydrated” carbohydrates, and therefore carbohydrates mixed with water. Their chemical formula is (Cx(H20)x, and they are better known as “sugars” or “carbohydrates”. A simple sugar has for example the formula C6(H20)6: it is the formula of glucose, fructose, galactose, even if they have their atoms arranged differently.
Table sugar is a disaccharide, which indicates that it is a double sugar: each molecule is made up of one unit of fructose and one unit of glucose. It is then rapidly broken down in the body into simple sugars.
Carbohydrates store energy in a very efficient form that is widely used in nature, from plants to complex animals. The immediate source of energy for our cells comes essentially from the simple sugar, glucose, which circulates in the blood.
The most important source of energy, however, is stored in the form of fats, which are much slower to be converted into energy for the cells. Furthermore, fats cannot be broken down into glucose. And proteins, which are essential structures for the functioning of our body, are synthesized indirectly from carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates thus have powerful effects on the body: their proportion in your diet, and especially the type you consume, have very important effects on your health. And the main problem with the modern western diet is its dependence on a large amount of the wrong carbohydrates.
To understand this, we must first understand how carbohydrates are digested: simple sugars are absorbed directly by the epithelial cells of our small intestine. Some complex sugars such as sucrose or lactose – milk sugar – are also absorbed by these cells, but must be broken down into simple sugars in order to be digested.
Lactase converts lactose into glucose and galactose. However, more than half of the human population has a genetic deficiency which means that lactase is poorly or not synthesized, and therefore lactose arrives in the colon without having been digested. It then ferments there, which causes gastrointestinal disorders. Yes, the domestication of the cow is very recent compared to the age of the human species, more than half of the humans currently living cannot digest the most important component of milk! For more information you can visit the Lactose-Free website.
Other complex sugars such as starch and other food sugars cannot be absorbed by the epithelial cells: they must first be broken down into simple sugars, an operation that is carried out by the amylase enzyme, secreted by the salivary glands and the pancreas.
The amylase enzyme breaks down amylose, which is a long chain of glucose units, and is found in large quantities in peeled cereals and starchy vegetables such as potatoes. The carbohydrates consumed with these foods are digested very quickly, and there is not much difference in the rapid rise in blood glucose levels between eating these foods and eating simple sugar.
Once this is understood, it is easier for us to understand the concept of glycemic index: it is the speed at which a food is converted into blood glucose. Simple sugars are almost instantly converted to glucose, and therefore have a very high glycemic index (GI).
Foods consisting mainly of starches – many of which are amylose – such as potatoes, rice, and all foods made from sifted flour such as bread, rolls, pasta and pastries are therefore digested almost as quickly and therefore also have a high GI. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
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Vegetables such as beans and lentils are high in fibre and complex carbohydrates, and therefore have a relatively low GI. Fructose – the sugar in fruit – has a much lower GI than many other sugars because it takes time to be absorbed by the epithelial cells. Despite their sweet taste, fruit therefore has a lower GI than confectionery made from sucrose, such as pastries.
Protein can also be converted to glucose, but this is a long process, so the GI of foods that are mostly protein is usually quite low.
When we eat a meal containing a lot of high GI carbohydrates, blood glucose levels rise quickly and the pancreas responds by immediately secreting a lot of insulin, which regulates glucose, including helping to move it into the cells.
This keeps blood glucose under control, but these temporary spikes in insulin often exceed their target and bring blood glucose levels too low, leading to a more intense need for high GI carbohydrates – a real vicious circle!
Over time, a continual abuse of this cycle causes our body’s cells to develop a lower sensitivity to insulin. This insulin resistance is one of the main causes of the metabolic syndrome, and can also lead to type 2 diabetes, which means that no matter how much insulin the body produces, blood glucose always remains too high.
Many problems are caused by excessive blood glucose levels, such as inhibiting the immune system, promoting the growth of pathological cells such as fungal infections and cancers, competition with vitamin C, which uses the same transport system, and is thus hindered in its mission of fighting infections and the development of body tissues, etc.
Thus, the faster glucose enters your body, the more insulin your insulin increases. But how can you prevent these insulin peaks from occurring? By choosing our food appropriately.
But it’s not that simple: as we’ve seen, some foods that have absolutely no sweet taste, such as potatoes, contain a lot of amylose and considerably increase blood glucose and insulin levels, while others with a sweet taste, such as sweet potatoes, have less of this effect.
The main way to determine how quickly a particular food raises your blood glucose – and therefore insulin – is to know its glycemic index. This GI is measured in the laboratory by taking blood samples at regular intervals after food is eaten, to measure how quickly and at what rate blood glucose rises. It ranges from 0 to 100, and a level below 55 is considered low, a level between 66 and 69 is moderate, and a level above 70 is high. Pure glucose has a level of 100.
However, the glycemic index is only one aspect of the problem: the glycemic load (GL) must be associated with it. It is the number of grams of carbohydrate in a food multiplied by the GI of the food. GLC is a general measure of how much insulin our bodies need to digest food, because the amount of insulin secreted depends on the amount of carbohydrates as well as how quickly they are converted to glucose.
For example, a melon has a high glycemic load (65), but since it is composed mainly of water and fiber, it contains very few carbohydrates and has a GC of only 4. The GC of melon is calculated as: grams of available carbohydrates (total carbohydrates minus the amount of fiber) times the Glycemic Index expressed as a percentage.
Thus, according to the Supermince table, a melon contains 6 grams of carbohydrates and has a GI of 65: its glycemic load will therefore be 6 * 0.65 = 3.9. So to summarize, a melon contains few sugars which are very quickly digested and transformed into glucose. However, the initial low amount of carbohydrates means that blood glucose will only increase very moderately.
Therefore, to maintain our health, we need to eat as many foods with a low glycemic load as possible. We should therefore avoid pure sugar in all its forms, since it is the food with the highest glycemic load – 100 grams of glucose have a GI of 100 and a CG of 100!
For this it may be tempting to use substitutes, but the authors advise against it: in fact, studies have shown a correlation between saccharin and bladder cancer in animals, and aspartame – just like acefulsame K and sucralose – has been the subject of studies showing its harmfulness.
Chapter 6 of Will We Be Immortal: Fats and Proteins
About half a billion years ago, evolution endowed the first animals with thin layers of fat under the skin to provide them with an insulating layer against the cold. More importantly, fat proved to be an excellent way to store energy accumulated during periods of abundance for use during periods of shortage. Plants have never developed this ability.
Today, the human species lives in an era of abundance, at least in the West, in terms of the amount of calories available. We no longer need to store kilos of fat, which in the long term have harmful side effects such as accelerating aging and promoting heart disease, diabetes, or degenerative arthritis.
Unfortunately, we cannot yet reprogram our biochemical software to remove this obsolete functionality, and must therefore take into account this discrepancy between our lifestyle and the aging functions of our metabolic program.
Apart from an excess of calories, whatever the type of food consumed, is stored in the form of body fat. Dietary fat is twice as rich in calories as other foods: it provides 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for protein and carbohydrates.
And our diet has not only become unbalanced in terms of calories consumed in relation to energy expended: for a very long time, until about a century ago, two families of unsaturated fats, omega 6 – mainly found in vegetable oils – and omega 3 – found in fish, nuts, flax seeds – were in relative balance. Modern diets favour omega 6 in a ratio greater than 25 to 1.
However, they promote inflammation, whereas omega 3 is anti-inflammatory. As inflammatory processes have a very important role in degenerative diseases, as we will see later, this imbalance is an essential contributor to chronic diseases.
In addition, modern methods of preparing margarine, vegetable fats and oils create modified forms of fat molecules that did not exist at the time when evolution shaped our digestive system, and which are very harmful.
Before continuing it is necessary to understand what fats are, and the differences between the different types of fat. Beyond their role as energy reservoirs, beneficial fats contribute to the formation of many essential constituents of our body: hormones, phospholipids, and prostaglandins.
Slight changes in the structure of fatty acids determine the different fats, and lead to considerable differences in the types of biochemical interactions in which these fats participate.
All fat molecules have the following common structure:
In the middle is a chain of 2 to 22 carbon-hydrogen (CH2) units. At the far left is the fatty acid part, which ends with a methyl group (CH3-), which is fat-soluble and water-insoluble. On the right is a carboxylic acid group, which is soluble in water and insoluble in fat. You will see that the backbone of a fat molecule is made up of carbon atoms.
In fact, life is based on carbon, because it is an extremely flexible and practical molecule: each carbon atom has 4 electrons that can associate with other atoms.
Thus, a carbon atom can bond to up to 4 other atoms (the carbon atoms in the center of the fat molecule are thus bonded to 2 carbon atoms and 2 hydrogen atoms) or create very strong bonds with another atom (the carbon atom of the carboxyl group on the right is thus bonded to an oxygen atom with a double bond, to an oxygen atom with a single bond – which is itself connected to a hydrogen atom – and to a carbon atom, which “hooks” the carboxyl group to the “trunk” of the fat molecule).
Biological cells are capable of inserting a double bond between two carbon atoms of a fatty acid chain by removing two hydrogen atoms. The carbon-carbon double bond is represented as follows: carbon-carbon double bond . C=C
Fatty acids with one or more carbon-carbon double bonds are unsaturated fatty acids, simply because the part of the fatty acid where the carbon-carbon double bond is located is not saturated by hydrogen atoms.
This has many beneficial effects because it allows this area of the fatty acid to react with other molecular units, such as oxygen, water, hydroxyl and sulfhydryl groups. And this ability to interact chemically is the key to the health benefits of unsaturated fatty acids.
Fatty acids without a carbon-carbon double bond are saturated. They are therefore generally inert, meaning that they do not react with other substances. These saturated fats do not facilitate essential biochemical reactions in our bodies, and when they are in excess, they are a major contributor to diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease.
In addition, when a fatty acid has only one double bond, it is called monounsaturated fatty acid. If there is more than one double bond, it is called a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Each exact location of these carbon-carbon double bonds with missing hydrogen atoms allows for specific types of biochemical reactions.
These are the trans fatty acids, which actually behave more like saturated fatty acids because they are straightforward and biochemically stable. They are found mainly in margarines and vegetable fats, and do not exist in nature. They are of industrial interest because their stability means that they can be stored for a long time, but this stability makes unsaturated fatty acids lose their health advantage, and in fact trans fatty acids contribute to heart disease, just like saturated fats.
The families of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, and therefore have several carbon-carbon double bonds. Both families are essential, but the Western diet is very unbalanced in favor of omega 6, as we have seen. It is therefore necessary to ensure a better balance between these two types of fats by having an adapted diet. In order to choose your food well, you must already be familiar with the different omega 3 and 6.
Omega 3 type fats :
- Alpha-linolenic acid. It is necessary for life and cannot be created by the body from other foods, and is therefore an essential fatty acid (EFA). It helps improve tissue oxygenation, promotes oxidation of food in the mitochondria, healing, lowers blood pressure, etc..
- EPA and DHA. They are absolutely essential, and when consumed in appropriate quantities, they help to facilitate the dispersion of other fats – thus reducing the destructive effects of saturated fats and trans fatty acids – to lower blood pressure, inhibit the growth and metastasis of cancer cells, etc.
The authors recommend, for these last two fats, not to be satisfied only with food containing them and to also take food supplements in order to be sure to obtain optimal quantities.
Omega 6 type fats :
- Linoleic acid (LA). It is also an EFA, but it promotes inflammation, and most Western diets consume excessive amounts of it. It is mainly found in sunflower, soybean, safflower, pumpkin or sesame oil.
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It has important health benefits. The human body converts LA to GLA, but many abnormal conditions, ranging from diabetes to aging, can block this conversion. Evening primrose oil is a good source of GLA.
- Dihomogamma-linolenic acid (DGLA). It also has many health benefits, being necessary for platelet control and blood circulation.
- Arachidonic acid (AA). It is the black sheep of omega 6. It is mainly present in meats and animal products, and the high consumption of meat in the West means that it is over-consumed, causing high levels of inflammation, and leading to coronary artery disease and other degenerative diseases.
Other important monounsaturated fats include :
- Oleic acid (OA). It is an extremely beneficial Omega 9 found in olives, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, peanuts, pecans, cashews, filberts and macadamia nuts.
- Palmitoleic acid (POA). It is an omega 7 that raises cholesterol levels and is unhealthy. It is found in coconut and palm oils, and in fresh industrial creams that are not milk-based.
Finally, there is cholesterol. It is not a fat, but its metabolism makes it very similar to dietary fat. It is an essential substance for human life, but is well known as a risk factor in the formation of plaque in the arteries that can lead to a heart attack.
It is unique because our body knows how to make it, but not how to break it down: it can only be evacuated through the stool, a process facilitated by dietary fiber. It is therefore necessary to limit the consumption of cholesterol: the authors recommend not to exceed 140 grams per week, and even 70 grams if you have cardiovascular risk factors. However, the average American diet contains about 80 grams of cholesterol per day!
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Cholesterol is only found in animal products, including egg yolk (which alone contains about 25 grams of it), shellfish, meats, offal (120 grams of liver contains 25 grams of it) and dairy products (30 grams of butter contains 6 grams of it).
Armed with all this knowledge, what do we need to do to make sure we have the right amount of fat in the right amount to be in the best possible shape?
- The authors recommend limiting fat to 25% of calories, remembering that one gram of fat provides 9 calories, compared to 4 for protein and carbohydrates. Thus 25% of calories in fat represents less than 12% of the weight of food.
- Obviously, practically all of these fats must be good fats. Thus, saturated fat should represent less than 3% of the calories you eat. For people consuming 2400 calories per day, that’s less than 8 grams per day. A 90 gram serving of beef steak contains only 2 grams of saturated fat, but a typical fast food cheeseburger contains 15 grams.
Focus on the following foods :
- Fish rich in EPA and DHA, especially salmon (wild salmon contains more than farmed salmon) and have low levels of mercury.
- Extra-virgin olive oil (this last point is very important).
- Flaxseed and naturally pressed flaxseed oil.
- Lean meats, especially white meats (chicken, turkey). Obviously, it is preferable to select farm-raised poultry raised without hormones and antibiotics.
It is preferable to avoid red meat in all cases, even if it is lean, because livestock is generally saturated with the hormones and antibiotics used in factory farming, especially because it takes longer to raise a cow or pig than a hen.
In addition, this meat is often high in cholesterol, and there is a risk of prion infection due to mad cow disease.
It is absolutely necessary to avoid :
- Saturated fats from fatty meats, butter, milk and other animal products.
- Commercial cooking oils (always prefer extra-virgin olive oil).
- Hydrogenated fats from margarine or vegetable fats, and from almost all commercial baked goods.
- From frying to deep frying. It is best to sauté over high heat using extra-virgin olive oil, and it is best to put water in a wok, add a small amount of oil, and cook for a short time at medium or moderate temperature.
While fats are a relatively recent evolutionary innovation, proteins are the basis of life: DNA has the codes for proteins in all known life forms. The mechanism of protein production is fascinating: the DNA in the nucleus of a cell is copied to create a kind of mirror image, in the form of an RNA molecule.
RNA comes out of the nucleus, then biological machines called ribosomes read it, and create amino acid sequences from the RNA code. Then, in an extremely complex process that is still poorly understood today, the amino acids fold back on themselves to form a complex three-dimensional structure, the protein. The shape of the protein, as well as the amino acids that make it up, will be decisive for the functioning of the protein.
These proteins are involved in absolutely all the functions of living organisms: breathing, digesting, moving, thinking… The misfolding of proteins is an extremely serious source of disease: misfolded proteins are called prions, and are at the origin of mad cow disease, for example. This is why understanding the mechanism of protein folding is a major issue in today’s medical science.
You can contribute to research by lending the unused computing power of your computer or Playstation 3 by downloading and installing [email protected], which performs folding simulations for a scientific project at Stanford University.
Of the 22 amino acids used by the human body to build proteins, 8 are considered essential because they cannot be synthesized by the body: they must come directly from food. The requirement for each of these essential amino acids is about 1 gram per day, and if the diet contains even minimal amounts of meat or fish, deficiencies almost never occur.
However, it is preferable to obtain protein from vegetable rather than animal sources, as the latter include saturated fats that raise cholesterol levels, and from an ecological point of view require 20 times more resources to be produced. Soy protein is ideal, and protein from fish, especially salmon – especially wild salmon, which is not very infected with mercury.
The authors ultimately recommend limiting healthy fats to 25% of calories consumed, and restricting carbohydrates to around 33%, which means that protein intake should represent 42% of calories. For those who need to eat less carbohydrates (e.g. diabetics), carbohydrates should not exceed 16% of calories, so protein should account for at least 59% of the total.
Chapter 7 of Will We Be Immortal: You Are What You Digest
From consumption to absorption, our food follows a long, complex, and dangerous path through the digestive tract – from mouth to anus – that breaks down food into its molecular components to allow it to be transported to its ultimate destination, thousands of billions of cells.
Digestion is an efficient process, but one that suffers from defects that are partly genetic, and partly due to decades of unbalanced nutrition. A study has shown that 70% of Americans suffer from troublesome gastrointestinal symptoms.
Before examining these various disorders and how to remedy them, let’s take a look at the digestion process and its 7 steps:
1 – Digestion begins in the mouth where chewing reduces food to small particles that can be processed. The salivary glands produce about one liter of saliva per day, to wet and lubricate dry food, and to start starch digestion.
Chewing well is very important for our health. Indeed, swallowing too large pieces before they have been properly crushed and mixed with saliva forces the digestive tract to secrete larger amounts of powerful digestive enzymes, which can cause excess gas and bloating, and over time injure the stomach. So take your time when you eat.
2 – Food then passes through the esophagus, where contractions send it into the stomach. It serves as a temporary station that releases food into the intestine in a gradual, controlled manner.
3 – The cells of the stomach lining secrete about a quarter of a liter of gastric juice every day, which consists largely of hydrochloric acid, with a pH between 1 and 2, and digestive enzymes, notably pepsins that break down proteins into their constituent amino acids. The food that leaves the stomach is called chyme, and digestive processes have broken down about 30-50% of starch and 10-15% of protein, but virtually no fat.
The cells in the stomach wall produce two mucus to protect themselves from digestion by their own gastric juice. There is a delicate balance between these acids and the protective action of the stomach mucus. A disruption of this balance, often caused by infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori – which infects about two-thirds of the world’s humans, although it usually has no visible effects), can result in serious damage, such as peptic ulcers of the stomach.
Very little food is absorbed into the bloodstream in the stomach. Small amounts of simple sugars, alcohol and excess water can be easily absorbed from the stomach.
4 – After spending about three hours in the stomach – or longer if your meal was high in fat – the chyme enters the small intestine, which is about 8 meters long and is the largest organ in the body, and the main digestive organ. It has three different regions: the duodeunum, the jejunum and the ileum.
The duodeunum, about 30 centimeters long, receives the digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas and the bile formed by the liver, which emulsifies fats so that they mix well with the other digestive juices.
5 – Although some nutrient absorption takes place in the duodenum, it is mainly in the jejunum. The jejunum is strewn with folds that increase its surface area in order to obtain optimal absorption.
6 – Remaining nutrients are digested in the ileum, the longest part of the intestine, and vitamin B12 can only be absorbed in the ileum.
7 – Digestion is almost complete when the chyme moves from the small intestine to the large intestine, called the colon. It receives about half a liter of chyme each day, and absorbs mainly water, sodium and chlorine. The digestive process ends with a movement of the large intestine that is often triggered by a meal, but normally it is not the most recent meal that eliminates it: the complete transit through the digestive tract usually takes between 24 and 48 hours.
Tests to evaluate your digestive process
Since the effectiveness and long-term health of our digestive process depends on maintaining many delicate balances, the authors recommend non-invasive blood, fecal or urinary tests, in collaboration with your doctor or a qualified nutritionist.
They should be conducted, in the absence of specific symptoms, every two to five years:
- Complete stool analysis (CSA). This analysis evaluates digestion, absorption, metabolism and the number of healthy or pathological yeasts and bacteria.
- Evaluation of hair minerals for nutritive minerals and toxic heavy metals.
- Blood assay for antibodies to food. This allows the detection of food allergies.
Tests for chronic gastrointestinal symptoms
- Examination of parasites in the stool. Parasites affect a significant portion of the world’s population.
- Evaluation of the permeable intestine syndrome. This is a common digestive problem that affects most people after the age of 50. It is the result of chronic inflammation that creates fine spaces developing between the cells lining the small intestine, allowing toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream directly, resulting in high demands for detoxification by the liver and eventually leading to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, even when adequate amounts of food are consumed.
- Breathing tests. They allow the diagnosis of lactose intolerance preventing the proper digestion of milk, and also a microbial swelling in the small intestine, a common disease at the origin of many gastrointestinal symptoms.
- Blood test for H. pylori. This allows the detection of antibodies against the bacterium, an essential cause of ulcers and gastritis and a contributing factor to stomach cancer.
What to eat to stay healthy :
Eat a wide variety of foods.
Eating the same foods day after day can lead to sensitivities and allergies, and eating the same foods will cause “taste fatigue” and encourage overeating. In addition, eating a wide variety of foods will promote a balance of nutrients. Each vegetable has its own specific nutrients, but one vegetable does not provide everything you need.
Reduce or eliminate wheat.
Wheat is a recent agricultural innovation in human history, and its widespread consumption in Western countries has led to a particular sensitivity to gluten, one of its major protein components. Many people have found that eliminating wheat solves long-standing digestive problems. You can try it out by abstaining from eating it for two weeks. You can also have blood tests done for gluten intolerance.
Eating your vegetables
The benefits of eating fresh, natural, low-starch vegetables are countless: they contain a myriad of valuable nutrients and fiber, and have a low glycemic index and caloric density. However, care must be taken not to overcook them: overcooking them will cause them to lose their vitamins, phytochemicals and other nutrients. Ideally, they should be lightly steamed, or eaten raw for some of them.
Eat well-colored products (but not rotten meat!).
By eating a variety of naturally colored vegetables, you get a range of vital nutrients.
Drink freshly squeezed vegetable juice
Putting fresh, natural, low starch vegetables in an electric centrifuge results in one of the healthiest beverages that is low in calories and very rich in vitamins and minerals. The best vegetables for this are celery, cucumber and fennel, and you can use small amounts of red or green leaves of Roman, endive, escarole, spinach, parsley or kale. Avoid sugar-rich vegetables such as beets or carrots.
Drink tea instead of coffee
Many constituents of tea are good for your health. A recent study published in the journal of the American Hearth Assohttp://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/105/21/2476ciation found that drinking two cups of tea a day reduced the risk of death from myocardial infarction by a remarkable 44% (Tea consumption and mortality after acute myocardial infarction). This finding applies to black tea and green tea, but not to herbal teas. Tea also contains L-threonine, which reduces cortisol levels and promotes relaxation. The most beneficial tea is green tea, with additional antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease or cancer.
Take it easy with alcohol
Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with reduced rates of heart disease and stroke, because alcohol is believed to improve the health of the vessels. But beware that alcohol is metabolized in the same way as carbohydrates, and has a relatively high glycemic load. In addition, the dangers of excessive consumption and the dependency it causes are well known.
Eat breakfast and eat frequently
It is better to have breakfast and several small meals than one or two large ones. Eating less each time, but often avoids overloading the digestive system and minimizes insulin spikes.
Avoid unhealthy fast restorations
Fast food is rich in high glycemic index starches, sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.
Readers of this article also read: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
“Everything in moderation, including moderation”.
If you fall off the horse, get back in the saddle right away: many programs have been abandoned by discouraged people after a temporary lapse. Keep small deviations to a minimum, as long as the bulk of your diet remains healthy.
Be informed: sugar is everywhere
Sugar is added to countless products, even products labeled as “healthy” such as soy or rice milk. Most cereals have sugar added, even those labeled as low in sugar. Sugar appears under different names, so pay attention to its different forms in ingredient lists, most of which end in “-ose”: sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose. There is also honey, molasses, maple syrup, sucanat, amasake and corn syrup.
Let’s stop for a moment to consider the digestive system at the advent of Bridge 3 :
As we understand the principles by which the human body and its brain function, we will soon be in a position to design far superior systems that will be more enjoyable, last longer and perform better, without being susceptible to degradation, disease or aging.
We have already come a long way in separating the sensual relational aspects of sex from its biological role in reproduction. Thus, why wouldn’t we bring the same separation of the biological goals of another activity that also brings social intimacy and sensual pleasure, in this case the taking of food? …] Nutrients would be introduced directly into the bloodstream by special metabolic nanobots. […]
One possible scenario is that you may be required to wear a special “nutritional garment” such as a belt. This garment would be loaded with nanobots carrying nutrients that would find their way into or out of the body through the skin or other body cavities.
At this stage of technological development, you will be able to eat whatever you desire, whatever brings you gastronomic pleasure and satisfaction, and because of this, you will appreciate the culinary arts for their flavors, textures and aromas. At the same time, you will receive an optimal influx of nutrients into your bloodstream, using a completely separate process. One possibility would be that all the food you eat would pass through a digestive tract that would be disconnected from any possible absorption by the bloodstream.
The food pyramid is a pyramid-shaped graphical scheme, which includes at its base the foods to be consumed in larger quantities, and at the top those to be consumed episodically. It was created in 1992 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in this form :
According to the authors, there are many problems with this food pyramid:
- The base of the pyramid consists of starchy foods with a high glycemic load. Moreover, no distinction is made between low and high glycemic carbohydrates.
- No distinction is made between healthy and unhealthy fats. Furthermore, meat and fish are put together.
- Dairy products are over-emphasized, and some critics have linked this to intense lobbying by the dairy industry.
- In 2006 (two years after the publication of this book), an update (visible on Mypyramid.gov) solved some of these problems (including finally making a difference between good and bad fats), but still has many limitations.
The authors propose the following food pyramid:
They focus on vegetables, which should be the basis of the diet instead of cereals, and are emphasized over fruits, which have a higher glycemic index. They also emphasize proteins from healthy sources and good fats.
It is obvious that food plays a cultural, social and emotional role that makes it difficult to follow a perfect set of nutritional recommendations. But this pyramid represents what the authors believe to be the best recommendations of modern science for the best possible health and fitness.
Chapter 8 of Will We Be Immortal: Changing Your Weight for Life in One Day
Being overweight has many negative effects on your health. For example, an obese 20-year-old man has a life expectancy 13 years less than those of his contemporaries with a normal weight. And being 20% overweight triples your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, doubles your risk of high cholesterol, and increases your risk of heart disease by 60%.
Of course, having a normal weight also makes you look better, and that’s the number one motivation for the billions of euros spent on diets by Westerners every year. But 95% of people who diet then regain all the weight they have lost, and sometimes more. This “yo-yo” cycle, however, is more harmful to health than never losing weight.
According to the authors, the key to a successful program is to change one’s attitude toward weight loss: rather than thinking of dieting as a temporary period of deprivation, it is better to think of it as a long-term commitment.
Will We Be Immortal? provides a three-step program for weight loss that identifies your body size, optimal weight and the number of calories you should eat each day.
An important factor to consider is that two people may be the same height, weight and build, but one may be much less fat than the other. The real goal of weight loss is to lose fat, not muscle or water. Therefore, it is more important to determine your body fat percentage than your ideal weight. You can do this with the help of impedance meters, which circulate a weak electrical current – which you can’t feel at all – through your feet to determine your body fat percentage.
The ideal percentage of fat is between 12 and 20% for men, and 18 to 26% for women. It is not healthy to be far below or above this percentage, and the authors recommend being at the lower limit of these ranges.
The location of our body fat is also very important: an accumulation of fat in the waist area, known as a “brioche”, is very bad.
The authors recommend the following actions to lose weight permanently:
As we have seen above, consuming carbohydrates with a high glycemic load leads to an increased need for them, and therefore to eating more. Consuming carbohydrates with a low glycemic load helps control the appetite and decrease our needs. Avoid sugary foods, pasta and bread.
As we have seen, one gram of fat provides 9 calories, compared to 4 for carbohydrates and protein. Eating less will therefore reduce your weight.
Vegetables with a low percentage of starch that have a low glycemic index and are rich in nutrients and fiber are ideal. Many green vegetables growing above ground fall into this category.
You should consume at least 25 grams per day, including 10 grams of insoluble fibre.
Don’t change your diet drastically
The authors strongly advise against diets that involve a radical change in the way you eat, as often the people who do this count down the days until they are released from this gastronomic prison, and associate a whole host of negative feelings with their new diet.
Make your health, not your weight loss, your goal.
Be physically active
This is very important to burn calories, decrease our equilibrium weight (the weight around which our body gravitates) and increase our metabolic rate.
Increase your metabolic rate
The metabolic level is the rate at which you burn calories. An essential factor in this is the number of mitochondria in your cells. These are small energy factories, at the heart of all our cells. The more mitochondria you have, the more energy and therefore calories they burn. We can’t take a supplement of mitochondria, but the fact is that fat cells have very few, because their function is to store energy without burning it, whereas muscle cells have many mitochondria. By developing muscle cells and reducing fat cells through exercise, you increase the number of your mitochondria and permanently increase your metabolic rate.
The Caloric Restriction
Caloric restriction (CR) is the only laboratory-validated technique that significantly increases mammalian life expectancy. It consists in eating one third less calories than the normal diet, and this fact translates in all species studied by an increase in life expectancy of 30 to 50%. No experimentation has been completed for the moment on humans, given the average longevity of our species, but there is no reason to believe that this does not apply to us.
A highly publicized experiment in 1982 in rats presented CR for the first time. The control group was fed normally and had a lifespan of about 1000 days, normal for a rat. These rats died from heart damage, kidney disease or cancer.
The experimental group, rats undergoing CR, ate one third fewer calories, but with adequate nutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, protein). These rats lived about 1500 days, an increase in life expectancy of 50%.
In addition to living longer, these rats did not suffer from the weakness, poor health, apathy and greying that accompanied old age in the normally fed control group. And when they did die, they seemed to do so most often for a non-obvious reason, with no apparent disease.
Other experiments showed that rats subjected to CR and fed high levels of carcinogens showed significant resistance to cancer-causing chemicals.
Does CR work? We don’t know exactly yet, but recent research points to the following factors:
- Low body fat: Following CR involves a very low level of body fat.
- Blood glucose levels. Animals undergoing CR have significantly lower blood glucose levels because they burn fewer calories at the same rate as normally fed animals: therefore, there is less unused glucose left circulating in the blood.
- Free radical levels. Free radicals cause a gradual deterioration of body tissues, especially at the level of cell membranes. Many researchers attribute part of the aging process to the effects of free radicals circulating in the blood. Animals in CR have a significantly lower rate of free radicals.
- DNA repair. CR animals have one of the most robust DNA repair enzymes, which reduces the risk of cancer and slows down aging.
- Limits the calories of life. A very interesting fact to note is that the total amount of food consumed over the lifetime of normally fed animals and CR animals is roughly the same. The CR animals eat about two thirds of the food given to the control animals, but live one and a half times longer, giving the same total amount of food. This seems to show that each species has a fixed number of calories that it can burn during its lifetime. By eating a little less each day, more time will pass before these are used up.
There is obviously a limit to CR: since we need to get enough nutrients to maintain our bodies, it is not possible to make a CR limited to, for example, one third of the normal rate to increase life expectancy by 300%. It seems that the optimal rate is two thirds of the diet that would be consumed freely.
Application of CR to humans
Numerous studies illustrate the potential of caloric restriction in humans. For example, populations living in Okinawa, Japan, are 40 times older than the northeastern regions and have very few serious illnesses before the age of 60. Apart from the essential difference in their diet, the main difference in their diet seems to be a lower caloric intake.
Extrapolating animal studies to humans, some researchers have estimated that our maximum lifespan could be increased from 120 years to 180 years with CR. Obviously this is only a potential and theoretical maximum human lifespan, and the authors believe that the technologies of Bridge 2 and Bridge 3 will significantly increase it.
The benefits of caloric restriction extend to our remaining life expectancy. So if you are 40 years old and have a remaining life expectancy of 40 years, you will only extend that remaining period. It is therefore preferable to start a CR as soon as possible.
The authors do not recommend a strict application of CR: the humans who follow it end up lean to the point of being emaciated. Instead, the authors recommend a moderate application of CR, following these recommendations:
- Consume a minimum of 24 calories per kg of optimal weight. Thus, a 75 kg man should consume at least 1800 calories per day approximately. Depending on your level of activity (sedentary, semi-active, active), use values 10 to 33% lower than those given in the diet tables.
- Bring your weight to 95% of your ideal weight.
- Choose foods with low caloric density. Eat low starch vegetables such as broccoli and zucchini instead of potatoes and rice.
- Think about fibre. Choose foods high in fiber, which have many health benefits as they lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Most vegetables are high in fibre.