Q&A: How Harvard's David Sinclair Unlocked His Own Fountain of Youth

By Erin Sharoni May 02, 2016


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Sometimes, you really are talking to the smartest person in the room. David Sinclair, Ph.D. is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. He’s the co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging and has been a member of our scientific advisory board here at Inside Tracker since the early days of the company. David is a world-class expert on aging; a quick Google search will produce an impressive dossier of additional accomplishments that alone would warrant a separate blog post. David's recent claim to fame is that he was selected by Time Magazine as one of their 100 Most Influential People In The World — along with Beyoncé. Not bad company to be in.

But, as I recently learned in a fascinating Q&A with this brilliant scientist, there are always new discoveries to be made... and sometimes, what we discover is that a simple answer has been sitting right in front of us all along. Such is the case in David's own quest to unlock a younger biological age. His acclaimed scientific studies have proven age reversal is possible, but it's InsideTracker that really turned back his clock.

Q: You recently told us that in just 9 months you gained an extra decade of life by following InsideTracker’s recommendations. Hearing that from one of the most respected academics in the world on the topic of aging is pretty impressive!

David: “I was impressed. I didn’t expect to gain an extra decade. And I certainly didn’t expect it to happen over a matter of months. So when I got my results just a few days ago, I was jumping for joy. I called my wife and I said, 'You’re going to have to put up with me for another decade, I’m sorry.'”

What's your biological age?

Q: You’ve been using InsideTracker for quite a while. How many times had you tested prior to this?

David: “Yeah, I test routinely. So it’s many times per year; three or four times. I have a long record of my blood work, going back to 2012, I believe — maybe even 2011. So I know what my body does and I’ve been able to actually see my body getting older over time, which was quite disturbing to me."

 

Q: Aging is an unfortunate consequence of reality. But something clearly kicked you in the butt and got you to take action. You’re a world-class Harvard professor, so what on earth was it that made somebody like you discover something that you didn’t already know?

David: “I had seen that my blood biomarkers were generally okay — within the optimal zone for InsideTracker when I started — but as I entered my late-40s, I could see that just trying to be good with my diet and doing a bit of exercise wasn’t sufficient. And there was one time where it reached a critical point where many of the biomarkers went into the red zone. And I said, ‘Enough is enough, I can’t take this anymore; I’m going to take this very seriously.’

“Until then, I had not taken InsideTracker recommendations to heart as seriously as I should, I would say. Maybe I’d eat some nuts once in awhile and I’d eat some fruits here and there, but I decided to say, ‘You know what? I’m going to follow it to the letter and see what happens!’ And that’s what I did. The results speak for themselves.”

 

Q: What did you actually do to lower your InnerAge? We assume that people like you have all the answers, but it just goes to show that everyone has something to learn, right?

David: Well, that’s exactly right, Erin. What I didn’t realize was that I wasn’t leading a very healthy lifestyle. I thought that just by watching my fat content, I thought that not eating desserts was sufficient. And probably – actually I’m quite sure that if I hadn’t had Inside Tracker, I would still be oblivious to my biological age and that I was cutting a decade off of my potential lifespan.

“And so what I’ve realized now is that you need to be monitoring yourself often to be able to get feedback to see if what you’re doing is actually working. And so now I’m a complete convert. I like InsideTracker, I love the idea; I’m a scientist, I always rely on data and now I have the data. And now I sound like a salesman, but honestly, the way I feel now is that the proof is in the pudding. And it didn’t happen overnight. I could see it steadily come down with the changes I made in my diet.

“My wife has now started her InsideTracker program as well. She’s seen how well it worked for me.”

 

Q: Has she lowered her age as well? She’s going to beat you because the woman always wins, David.

David: “I know that [laughs]. She’s going to outlive me by a long time. But I’m trying to keep up with her. She’s changed her lifestyle, too. She’s following the InsideTracker recommendations and we’ll see. She’s just scheduled her latest test. The jury’s still out, but we’ll see soon who’s ahead.”

 

Q: Most people think about wrinkles and pain and gray hair and disease when they think of aging. But on a biological level, I’m not sure everyone understands why and how these things happen. For the time being, aging is inevitable, but it’s something that can be postponed and potentially even reversed, right?

David: “That’s exactly true. As you know, I’ve been working my whole career on trying to understand why we age and how to be able to slow it down, if not reverse it. And over the last 20 years the field and some of the scientists in my lab have made dramatic discoveries showing that we actually have in-built repair mechanisms that typically do a pretty cool job of keeping us young. But they can be brought to life and activated to keep us younger and healthier for longer. And we’ve all known people who seem to be immune to smoking and to aging; these are the people that through good genetics have very powerful defense mechanisms in their bodies. Whereas for almost all of us, our bodies are fairly complacent and it gets worse if we are sedentary and we don’t eat the right foods in the right amounts.

“So, what we’ve discovered is that you actually get these defense mechanisms to work harder, get them out of bed earlier in the morning, and fix the body. And the results have also been dramatic. We’ve been able to reverse aging in mice in just a week. And I know that these same pathways, these same mechanisms exist in humans. What we’re excited about now is using what we eat and how we live, and supplements and eventually medicines to be able to delay and reverse aging.”

 

Q: As you’ve seen by shaving 10 years off your biological age, right?

David: “Well, yeah Erin, the irony is that I’ve been trying to figure this out my whole life and InsideTracker has already figured it out.”

 

Q: That’s a powerful statement coming from you. What would you say is different about InsideTracker’s approach to the science of aging?

David: “The big difference between what InsideTracker does and all the other offerings I’ve seen, is the real science behind the algorithms that predict your biological age. Every one of the calculations is based on a lot of data and human studies — it’s not just an extrapolation from a little worm or a mouse. It’s true data. And so, when [InsideTracker] tells you how long you’re likely to live, you can take that to the bank. You should really be worried if you start to be much older than your natural age.

“What I love about InsideTracker as well is that while we scientists are working hard at the bench trying to come up with the next breakthroughs and even spending millions of dollars on that question, hoping that one day in our lifetimes we’ll see a breakthrough, most people, even scientists I think would be shocked to know that there is already a way to slow down and reverse aging that you can get already, it’s on the market. I’m really excited about combining InsideTracker with some of the technologies that we’re trying to develop right now. But until those are ready, InsideTracker, I believe, is the best thing out there.”

 

Q: What are the coolest, most interesting anti-aging tools/technology or recent discoveries that are out there right now?

David: “Well, the scientific discovery is that there are three main pathways or mechanisms in our bodies — our cells that can counteract aging really sit at the top of a pyramid of defense functions in our body that we are learning how to tweak. And they have fancy names. The ones that we study are called sirtuins and there’s AMPK and there’s one called mTOR. But the point is that these guardians of the body exist and we’re learning how to activate them and get them to work harder. And that’s really the breakthrough, is that they exist. Now the cutting-edge is trying to figure out how to safely tweak them to live longer and be healthier for longer. What InsideTracker does by giving recommendations about lifestyle and supplements and food to take is, it’s a natural way to be able to turn on these pathways before we’re able to develop these drugs that we’re working hard on.

“I was shocked how well just the simple changes to what I ate and how I lived were able to have such an age-reversal effect. I would have thought that I’d need a potent medicine that we were working on, but I didn’t need that. There’s a lot more that you can do than I think a lot of people realize. But, it really only works, as I’ve witnessed, if you have the feedback. If you go on a diet or you take this or that, or you eat certain foods, you really don’t have any good way of knowing if it’s working. We just hope. And that’s what I did until InsideTracker came along. But when InsideTracker was actually showing me that what I was doing was not enough, that in fact, maybe some of what I was doing wasn’t great for me, I was able to correct that and it’s like I’ve got another 10 years of research in me.”

 

Q: I love it. I too shaved off 10 years by eating chia seeds. So there you go. I didn’t need anything fancy. It works.

David: “Fantastic. Yeah, and you know what, Erin? This is what came to my mind after I called my wife and said, 'How much is an extra year of your life worth? How much longer would you give to have another year with your family? How much is 10 years worth?' I mean this is priceless. Most people would give anything for this. And so I think that it’s a pretty good deal.”

 

Q: Not only that, but those 10 years, or a year, or a day of extra life should be high-quality. That’s something I experienced — the quality of your life improves because the quality of your body improves.

David: “Yeah, I’d be interested to hear if you felt the same, but what I noticed is that I have a lot more energy. What happened to me is that I would get home from work and I’d be worn out and I’d need to sit down and I was stressed and I couldn’t think. I can keep going all night now. I mean, even late hours in the day, without even sitting down. I’ve just got so much energy, both mental and physical. You get more life, it’s healthier and you can do more with those years with all the energy that you get.”

What's your biological age?

 

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