Life Extension Revealed

Didn’t have the time or the interest to watch Oprah’s Extreme Life Extension Show that aired on TV yesterday?  Luckily for you Singularity Hub is here with a review of the show that you won’t want to miss!  Although going into this we were skeptical that the show would provide any great value to longevity enthusiasts, after watching it we have to admit the show was totally awesome. Below is a 30 second promo/highlight reel for the show:

Within the show there is one takeaway, more than anything else, that is absolutely crystal clear:

The single best thing you can do to live longer and healthier is to eat right and excercise.  Period.

Anyone who has put even the slightest effort into researching life extension is already aware of the benefits of eating right and exercising, but the Oprah show adds value by reinforcing this truth.  As much as we may want it to be otherwise, but at least for the next ten years or so there is no magic pill or surgery that will radically change your health as much as a simple regiment of eating right and exercising.

fruit_vegetablesIn a revealing quote, billionaire and life extension pioneer David Murdock tells Oprah “after my wife was diagnosed with cancer I searched all over the world to find a cure, and the more doctors we talked to, the more I realized that we simply were not eating right.”

So what does eating right mean anyway?  After watching the Oprah show, reading Kurzweil’s book Fantastic Voyage, and after following an avalanche of research and studies such as this one, the evidence is overwhelming: eat lots of fruits and vegetables, minimize consumption of red meat, saturated fat, sugar, and cholesterol.

We could go into more detail, but at a high level it really is that simple.  Your body is a living machine.  If you consume a diet of junk then you will steadily destroy your body.  If instead you consume a diet that is full of nutrients and low on the toxic stuff, then your body will maintain its vitality.

In addition to eating right, you need to exercise.  Exercising has too many benefits to list, but some of the major benefits are lower blood pressure, healthier arteries and heart, and the reduction of toxins in the body.

Lets take a look at each segment of the show:

1.  Calorie Restriction diets

The show opened with a focus on individuals who have been following low calorie diets as a secret to health and longevity.  Taking a cue from mouse studies showing mice lived up to 50% longer when eating low calorie diets, tens of thousands of people are now restricting their caloric intake.  One of the most interesting things about low calorie diets is that they are almost identical to the “healthy diet” of fruits and vegetables  mentioned earlier in this post.  In other words, you can call it calorie restriction if you want, but in the end it pretty much boils down to the same thing: eat lots of vegetables and fruits, cut out the meat!

The calorie restriction guests on Oprah’s show all claim that their health metrics have improved markedly since going on the diet.  Blood pressure is lower, heart rate is down, cholesterol is down, blood glucose is down, and they feel like they have much more energy.  Individuals that are 60 years old or more have medical profiles that  match 20 year olds!

2.  Growing organs in the lab (Anthony Atala’s lab at Wake Forest)

atala_organ_growing_regeneration_1As many of our readers know, The Hub is extremely excited about the work going on at Dr. Anthony Atala’s Lab (pictured left) at Wake Forest, where real organs, such as bladders, blood vessels, and ears are being grown in the lab.  In the coming decades we will be able to purchase and install new organs into our bodies when our original organs fail.  The concept is simply amazing, and it is coming within our lifetimes.

Oprah’s Doctor sidekick, Dr. Oz, tours the lab of Anthony Atala and also shows some organ specimens on the stage to explain how organ regeneration works.  This field is literally exploding.  Researchers have already grown bladders in the lab that have been used to replace patients’ failed bladders.  More success stories are undoubtedly on the way.  Of course, Singularity Hub will be here to tell you about them.

3.  Lee Spievack: The Man Who Grew Back A Finger With Super Healing Powder

Readers may recall the story of Lee Spievack who supposedly grew back a chopped off finger by sprinkling a special powder on his finger (the powder was acellular matrix from a pig, similar to technology used by Cook Biotech and Lifecell).  Lee Spievack went on the stage with Oprah and Dr. Oz to explain his story.  Is the story really true though?  Our discussions with Cook Biotech and others in the field lead us to believe that Spievack’s miraculous story is not reproducible thus far.  Perhaps Spievack’s finger simply grew back naturally the powder had nothing to do with it.  The US Army and others are trying to reproduce Spievack’s success story with the powder, but as of yet there has been no new concrete success announced in the 4 years since Spievack’s “miracle”.  Here are before and after pictures of the finger:


4.  Hyperbaric therapy for oxygenation of the body

Dr. Oz presented an increasingly popular therapy called hyperbaric oxygen therapy.  The therapy places the patient into a vessel loaded with pressurized oxygen that causes higher than normal levels of oxygen to permeate through a person’s body for about one hour.  The thinking is that bodily healing and function will be improved by sending extra oxygen to “oxygen needy” parts of the body, such as the brain and wound areas.  Is the therapy just a bunch of hype, or does it really work?  The Hub is skeptical, but hopefully in a followup story we can look into this more closely.  See picture below of patient recieving treatment:


5.  Infrared Sauna

Dr. Oz next took Oprah into a special sauna, called an infrared sauna that allows individuals to literally burn calories simply by sitting.  In a typical sauna, steam is used to keep a person warm and offer a soothing experience.  With an infrared sauna, the room is not heated up with steam, but instead the person is heated up.  This is done by radiating them with harmless infrared electromagnetic waves.  What does all of this have to do with health you ask?  It turns out that heating up the body causes the body to sweat and it causes the heart rate to speed up.  In other words, by simply sitting and allowing your body to heat up your body will start working harder and burning calories in response.  If you believe that calorie restriction is an important contributor to health and longevity, then you will want to try out the infrared sauna.  Our take is that this is not necessary.  Just eat a healthy diet as described earlier, which also happens to be a low calorie diet, and there is no need to further decrease your calories by burning them off in a sauna.  Many will see the infrared sauna as a way to burn calories without the inconvenience of working out, but this ignores the fact that burning calories is only one of the numerous health benefits that come from exercise.  Picture below:


6.  A Toilet That Captures Your Urine And Analyzes It


Now this was a really awesome idea!  There are dozens of tests that can be performed on human urine to measure hormone levels, protein levels, sugar levels, and so on.  We already urinate multiple times a day…why not automate the process of analyzing our urine daily to keep an eye out for abnormalities and to accumulate valuable trending data?  The toilet, pictured above, currently only measures sugar level, but conceivably will measure much more in the future.  This is definitely a concept to watch, coinciding precisely with our recent story: Body 2.0 – Continuous Monitoring Of The Human Body

7.  David Murdock: Billionaire And Life Extension Pioneer

David Murdock, billionaire owner and chairman of Dole Food Company, has been an ardent life extension pioneer ever since his wife died of cancer 50 years ago.  Murdock has used his massive wealth to fund and create a multi-billion dollar research campus in Kannapolis, North Carolina called the North Carolina Research Campus.  Oprah and her crew went to the North Carolina Research Campus and presented a somewhat shallow overview of the exciting research that is going on there.


Above: North Caroline Research Campus

So what can we learn from an individual that has invested billions of dollars and several decades of effort into the field of life extension?  You guessed it: eat right and exercise!  Oprah followed Murdock for a tour of his daily routine where exercise and diet were promoted as the key to this 85 year old’s outstanding health.  At 85 years old Murdock can do 50 pushups.  He claims not have suffered from the flu or a cold in 20 years!  Murdock does not use supplements, nor does he count his calories.  By simply focusing on eating vegetables and fruits, and avoiding the nasty stuff like saurated fat, Murdock is winning the battle against disease.

8. Resveratrol Supplementation

Resveratrol is a chemical found in red wine that has been shown to increase the longevity of mice when given in high dosages.  According to Dr. Oz, a person would have to drink several bottles of wine per day to get the dosage of resveratrol that is thought to give benefits to longevity.  Of course we can’t drink this much wine, but we can get the desired high dosage of resveratrol by taking the chemical in a pill.  Dr. Oz says that it will likely take many years for us to confirm whether resveratrol truly aids in human longevity because we need to give humans lots of years to live with this supplement before we will have data on how it affects their longevity.  In the meantime, Dr. Oz feels that the supplement is safe to take for those who are interested in experimenting with supplementation.

Dr. Oz revealed that he personally takes a calcium supplement, a multivitamin supplement, and an omega-3 supplement daily, in addition to eating a healthy diet and exercising.  This happens to be the exact regiment followed by the Hub’s Keith Kleiner as well.  Interested readers are strongly advised to consider this regiment for themselves after performing their own research and speaking with their doctors.


Well, that wraps up our coverage of the Oprah life extension show, but our focus on life extension as a theme at Singularity Hub will never cease.  Stay tuned for several life extension related stories later this year, including an upcoming feature on cyronics.  As always we love to hear your comments, so comment away!

Singularity Hub Staff
Singularity Hub Staff
Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world.
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