Do you want to live to 100? This oncological surgeon has the formula

Dr. Peter Attia

“What’s the point of delaying death if we don’t improve life?” asks Dr. Peter Attia. It’s a question to which the former cancer surgeon turned management consultant and now best-selling author dedicates his life. The secret, Attia says, is to focus less on how long we live and more on how well we live: increasing what he calls our “healthspan.”

According to Attia, most of us live longer, but instead of enjoying our later years, many spend them in poor health or pain, or dealing with what he calls the four horsemen of chronic illness: cancer, diabetes, dementia and heart diseases. .

If we take care of our health, Attia says, an 80-year-old person can have the coordination, movement, strength and cognitive function of someone two decades younger, and will be able to enjoy their life until the end. “But only if they build up a nest egg now and put some savings in the bank,” she says.

It is a message that is resonating. Last year, Attia published her book Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity, essentially her recipe for how to improve our health. It was an immediate bestseller. Attia hosts a thriving podcast and has nearly a million followers on social media, where he regularly posts health and fitness tips.

“Prevention is everything. Heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer – none of these diseases happen overnight,” she says. “Even if a person has a sudden heart attack, that is a process that has been going on for 30 to 40 years before the heart attack. If you want to treat chronic diseases, you cannot act with an acute medicine manual; its prevention must be carried out for decades.”

An 80-year-old person may have the coordination, movement, strength and cognitive function of someone two decades youngerAn 80-year-old person may have the coordination, movement, strength and cognitive function of someone two decades younger

An 80-year-old person may have the coordination, movement, strength and cognitive function of someone two decades younger – Robert Daly/Getty

Attia maintains that modern medicine, which he calls medicine 2.0, has reached the limit of what it can do and requires a reboot.

“We are living a much better life than anyone could have imagined five generations ago, and medicine 2.0 has been very successful in treating infectious and acute diseases,” he says. “Modern medicine has had some success in treating chronic diseases, especially heart disease, but it is stagnating. If we want to gain more life expectancy and, more importantly, more life expectancy, we have to move to a system that is much more preventative. That also depends on nutrition, exercise, emotional health and sleep. “It would maintain the good of medicine 2.0 and reinforce the strategies of medicine 3.0.”

Attia himself embodies what he recommends to others. The father of three, who now runs a private practice, has a demanding daily exercise routine, which combines cardio training on a bicycle and strength training with weights. His hobby is archery and on weekends he goes for walks. He also spends at least two hours a week doing exercises focused on stability and strength.

He prioritizes “making sure I spend eight hours in bed every night,” is careful about what he eats and drinks, and is candid about his struggles with emotional health and how he works every day to stay calm and happy.

“It’s pretty simple,” he says. “Time, exercise, sleep and proper nutrition, which is much less expensive than most people think. Fundamentally, living a longer life is within the reach of anyone who is willing to sweat,” she says.

Key to Attia’s philosophy is the idea that it is never too late to start. “The sooner you can make changes, the better,” he says. “You don’t have to wait until you’re 60. If you’re 40, it’s as good a time as any, and if you’re 75, it’s not too late. Any positive changes you make now will benefit you.”

So what should we do to maximize our life expectancy? These are the general principles of Attia:

Exercising daily and lifting weights will add years to your life

“Most people do an insufficient amount of exercise of all varieties and do not do enough strength training,” he says. “If you took someone who didn’t exercise at all and had them exercise 30 minutes a day, five days a week, you would reduce their all-cause mortality by 15 percent; that’s a huge increase in lifespan. “If you take a person who exercises 30 minutes a day and increase it to an hour a day, that would decrease all-cause mortality by 40 to 50 percent.”

Strength training is particularly important as we lose muscle mass as we age, and those with less muscle mass are at greater risk of dying from all causes. Studies show that muscle mass protects people from falls, which is the leading cause of accidental death in people age 65 and older.

The biggest mistake people make is eating too little protein

Attia does not recommend a specific diet, beyond advising to avoid junk food and not overeat.

“In general, people need fewer calories and more protein,” he says. “As we age we develop something called anabolic resistance, which means that it becomes increasingly difficult for our muscles to participate in protein synthesis. So to preserve our muscle mass, we need to make sure we consume enough protein. That means about 2g of protein per kilogram of body, so an 80kg person needs at least 160g of protein per day.

Most people don’t reach those levels by the time they reach their 50s and 60s, and that’s one of the biggest mistakes people make as they age. Protein not only helps build muscle, it also has beneficial effects on metabolism and helps us feel less hungry.

People need fewer calories and more protein.People need fewer calories and more protein.

People need fewer calories and more protein – alle12

Limit candy and alcohol

Attia says of his own routine: “I’m not a monk, I enjoy food, but I don’t get so derailed that I need a big reset. I eat more desserts during the holidays, of course, but the next day I will exercise. One of the things I tell my patients is not to have two bad days in a row. “It is better to have a diet that is 7/10 good than to range between 10/10 perfection and 0 out of 10 misery,” she says.

As for alcohol, drink in moderation. “I don’t drink excessively, I don’t drink just because there is alcohol. If I’m going to drink, I’ll make sure it’s a good bottle of wine or a fantastic Tequila, and I’ll usually have one or two drinks, three times a week at most,” she says.

Manage reflective thoughts so that they do not interrupt sleep.

Poor sleep is linked to multiple health problems, from making us more likely to catch colds to metabolic dysfunction, type 2 diabetes, and the body’s hormonal function. Sleeping well is also vital for our brain and mental health.

“I’m very diligent about how much I sleep,” Attia says. “I try to spend eight hours in bed every night and I do it with a series of routines. So I’m conscious of how much alcohol I drink, I don’t eat too close to bedtime, I make sure the room is the right temperature, I don’t look at electronics, and I find ways to relax.” says Attia.

He recommends turning off unnecessary lights at home and reducing light exposure a couple of hours before bed, as well as banishing electronic devices from the bedroom and exercising during the day.

We also need to prepare our minds for sleep. “Frankly, as we get older we tend to have more reflective thoughts, so we need to create some distance between work and bed to have time to turn off our brain. Avoid things that may cause stress or anxiety, like reading work emails or checking the news, or writing a few lines and creating an action plan for the next day,” says Attia.

Take care of your emotional health every day

Perhaps the most important part of living a better, longer life, Attia believes. She writes candidly about how the trauma he experienced as a child led to perfectionism, workaholism, depression, and anger.

Fixing our emotional health is vital to our physical health because “they are so intertwined,” she says. However, Attia believes that there is also no point in striving for better health if our lives are a misery.

“If we have no joy in our lives, then the concept of living longer seems irrelevant, even grotesque. If you think about feeling miserable, lonely, irritated and angry, the question is why would you want to suffer any longer? Why wouldn’t improving our emotional suffering be our top priority? he says.

“If I’m having a bad day, I have to be curious and work on it, ask myself why I was rude to my wife, why I lost my temper.” he says. “I write in my journal and see a therapist weekly, but honestly, it’s about having the tools to discuss things with people I have conflicts with, without judgment, and listening to the other person’s point of view.”


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Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity by Dr. Peter Attia is now available

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