Illustrative of the Tone of the Conversation

Continuing yesterday's theme on the protective coloring adopted by entrepreneurs in the "anti-aging" marketplace - sound sufficiently like a scientist and you might just fool enough people to get wealthy - I though I'd point out a slightly more subtle example today in the person of Sanjay Gupta.

Many books offering health advice focus on a single area. They may tell you how to keep your brain healthy or how to maintain peak fitness or how to lower your stress or how to sleep better. Some of these books are very good, but common sense tells us that we need a balanced approach between diet and lifestyle. In this book, I will try to offer that. I will also try to make this book a clear and concise guide that rises above the clutter.

Some of the advice may surprise you. For example, physical fitness can have a profound effect on your cognitive abilities later in life, and your mental outlook could have a profound effect on your long-term physical health. Taking lots of supplements, as many experts recommend, may not be effective whatsoever. Eating a low-calorie diet could trigger a cellular reaction that leads to a cascade of events ultimately leading to longer life. How much exercise and what kind you do can make a difference. Eating foods like dark chocolate and dishes containing the spice turmeric and drinking red wine, green tea, and even coffee can all help you live longer and healthier, with a dramatically sharper mind.

Many in the scientific community are thinking about ways to alter the human life span. They are imagining great leaps in understanding aging and dreaming up ways to counteract it. In their brave new world science, we will be able to replace worn organs the way you replace the worn brakes on a car; special enzymes or genetic therapies will rejuvenate our cells; microscopic nanobots will circulate through our bodies, warning of future health problems, which can then be addressed. Researchers are predicting stem cells will someday prevent such degenerative diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. These therapeutic advances could shatter what we now consider a human life span, extending it by decades or more. Ray Kurzweil, a futurist and inventor, thinks scientific progress is advancing so quickly, we will all be able to live forever -- if we can only make it a few more decades.

Despite the flurry of activity in labs across the developed world, there is no magic elixir yet, leaving those of us who want to live longer, healthier lives to use the best information currently available as guideposts. Of course, there are no guarantees. People who live lives that are paradigms of clean living succumb to cancer, and others who spend years ignoring the best advice of doctors and others live into old age. After all, Jeanne Calment reportedly didn't give up smoking until the age of 117.

Which all sounds eminently reasonable; talking about science, stem cells, calorie restriction (and name-dropping Ray Kurzweil). But the bottom line is this is another fellow whose advice is much along the lines of "be happy, eat and exercise the fad of the moment" - which Ray Kurzweil is just as guilty of, frankly:

Instead of eating fast food and drinking way too much soda, we should be eating what Gupta calls "power foods" - foods that have Omega 3, antioxidants, fiber and vitamin value, such as fish, cauliflower and blueberries. And we should also consume foods with high water content, like watermelon.

"That lets you increase the volume of what you eat while lowering the calories. You are eating more food and fewer calories at the same time."

To make sure we get it right, Gupta suggests we "treat our bodies like templates and eat seven different colored foods a day."


"Attitude towards life makes a big difference in how you feel," says Gupta, adding, "people who are happy and successful tend to live longer than people who aren't."

This is the core of it, and all the rest is just a film of scientific knowledge, culled from what researchers are presently saying, and used to convey legitimacy. All part and parcel of making some money from being somewhat well known. There's nothing mysterious about good health practices, and many, many starting points for understanding how eating fewer calories while obtaining optimal nutrition is good for you; it's all common sense, easily researched in this day and age of the internet.

Does this sort of thing wind up doing more good than harm? Is the message of "eat this, drink that and live longer" waking folk to the far greater future possibilities of longevity science, or does it simply lull them into thinking there is nothing beyond supplements and optimization of diet?

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