Guide to Living Longer (Alex K. Chen)

Many many many people before me have written longevity guides (eg the nintil longevity guide). There is still a chance that what I write might be higher-impact than what others have written before me. The reasons being (a) I seem to be more obsessed with this than most people are so this guide may be more of a persistent thing you want to keep looking up than all the other longevity guides, (b) I’m more willing to try anything than most people are, which allows for potential areas of expansion that others are unaware of. In terms of my precision-recall balance (compared to legit longevity guides), I am much higher on recall and somewhat lower on precision (more willing to consider experimental approaches than Jose Ricon), (c) there is a perceived sense where I might already be doing this thing better than anyone (even though I have mitigating factors such as high neuroticism and inattentive ADD that make me not the best at fasting).

I’ve written a previous guide at Alex K. Chen's answer to What can I do to live as long as possible? - Quora . Other guides have been written by Mike Lustgarten (great for measuring relevant biomarkers) and https://www.touchedwithaging.com/.

giving someone 5-10 extra years of healthspan/healthy life/neuroplasticity can be (in and of itself) worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (at minimum) given salaries of the set of people you might know. Most people already start to show signs of aging by their mid/late 20s - this CAN be delayed.

One of the great perks of longevity is that doing things better than all others can alone get you 10-15 years of extra life relative to others, which means that spending 6 months obsessed with this can lead to insane returns. The future 100 years from now may be exciting like nothing else, so if you are able to delay some types of gratifiction, you may have a chance of seeing the literal transhumanist utopia that transcends all your prior values.

Supplements/small molecules - What do you consider to be the most promising supplements/small molecules for longevity?

Nutrition

A general guideline I use is to maximize volume to calorie ratio (aka, eat lots of vegetables - this is what Mike Lustgarten does). I don’t deal with hunger as well as some others, who can fast like crazy. There is a long-term risk where too much fiber can cause substantial amounts of gastrointestinal stress (a risk we know very little about given that there are very few people who eat 4+ lbs of vegetables each day), but one way to minimize it is to try lower stress vegetables like {tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms}.

MUFAs: Quantifying Biological Age: Blood Test #2 in 2021 - YouTube

Generally, diet >> exercise. Reducing calorie consumption (and esp protein consumption, AND restricting individual acids like methionine or BCAAs like leucine carry the strongest effects). You can also eat super-healthy (a diet full of carotenoids and several lbs of vegetables in the same way that Mike Lustgarten eats them) - which [especially when combined with rapamycin/metformin] should get you much further than most people even if you are not calorie-restricted. AFAIK, there aren’t many studies done on animals that eat lbs of ultra-healthy vegetables each day (most studies feed animals shitty food). You do not need to eat grains - monounsaturated fatty acids or short-chain fatty acids (unroasted nuts, olives, avocados) are the healthiest source of primary energy on top of a diet primarily composed of fruits and vegetables. One doctor suggests a protein heavy diet + rapamycin (this demands an experiment) - protein stimulates mTOR which can be blocked by rapamycin, though protein is also subject to decomposition via nitrogeneous waste products that might not be great.

Acarbose is great to use w/complex carbs.

When eating out at restaurants, ask what cooking oil they use (oftentimes, it’s soybean/vegetable oil, which is omega-6 heavy - the worst possible cooking oil you can use). Canola oil is primarily MUFAs and is not as “bad” as “natural foods” people think it is (even Michael Rae thinks it’s okay). Best oils are MUFAs. Ideally you should avoid high heat/frying/roasting if possible (go for steaming/boiling/instant pots), but a little bit of saute/low heat oil may not be that bad, esp if it is the only way to otherwise get you eating vegetables. Cold-pressed olive oil is preferrable to more heated methods of processing them.

Repeated exposure to bitter-containing vegetables may acclimatize yourself to vegetables enough such that they taste amazing even when raw (at this point I am even fully capable of eating cabbage raw, if needed). Particularly important vegetables are ones containing allicins (onions, garlic) - sulfur is a HUGE antioxidant, cruciferous vegetables (fewest downsides of any), asparagus, kale (easily contaminated with pesticides). Mushrooms have ergothionine (which reduces brain aging!). Organic strawberries are the healthiest fruit as they have vegetable-like calorie densities. Spices are good, but avoid imported spices as they may be contaminated with heavy metals. Some CR aficidianos go for consuming peels over consuming the entire fruit, as they have much higher nutrient to calorie ratios. Salsa is a great low-calorie seasoning to add to vegetables.

Shirataki noodles are intensely filling for so few calories, but they all seem packaged in liquid in very plastic-y containers (do what you can to make them not packaged in horrible plastics). Solid plastic storage is far less of a concern than food put in liquids that touches super-flexible plastic containers.

Fermented soy products!

[food in gellan gum/carrageen can also be filling, especially when present in soups]

see EWG group for fruits/vegetables contaminated by organophosphate pesticides. Most fruits are more heavily contaminated by pesticides than vegetables. Apples/grapes/strawberries and kale/spinach/bell peppers seem to have uniquely high levels of multiple residue contamination. Organophosphates can disrupt axonal transport in neurons.

Tomatoes and cucumbers are a great vegetable base for filling you up because they are super-easy-to-eat and low-bitterness. Personally I care a lot about convenience so half of my diet is basically {tomatoes, mushrooms, and blueberries}.

Cauliflower rice can be used as a base and an amazing-tasting substitute for grain.

Vegetables may be safer to fry/roast than most other foodstuffs - they are low in protein so they tend to form less acrylamide (from asparagine) and carboxylmethyllysine (from lysine) and heterocyclic amines

Avoid refined grains - Eating more refined grains increases risk of heart attack, early death: The researchers examined diets from diverse populations in low, middle and high-income countries. -- ScienceDaily

[if you do eat grains, then in general whole bran steel-cut oatmeal is healthier than most other grains]. Corn is not the healthiest (you do NOT want to eat corn-fed [as opposed to grass-fed] farm animals) but it is still roughly healthier/lower GI than most grains and is okay in small amounts.

Hot spices are also a way to reduce appetite/hunger pangs (and capsaicin can be a potent anti-inflammatory).

Get a Levels CGM to test changes in blood glucose.

Tea is great for people in general, but make sure the teabag is not full of microplastics. Looseleaf tea is best. You can also just get rid of the teabag and eat the tealeaves straight out of the bag (also great if you don’t want to pee too much after consuming eea)

Coffee also is great (it also induces autophagy too -Coffee induces autophagy in vivo ) and longevity studies seem to show that both tea and coffee contribute to longevity (in coffee’s case it’s especially interesting b/c dark-roasted coffee beans often have acrylamide)

Most of the spices are great and some of the most potent anti-inflammatories known. Especially curry powder. Combining spices is a good idea. Try to only use spices produced in “rich countries” - spices in poorer countries are often more contaminated by heavy metal.

Lifestyle factors

The easiest way to get people who value their time to exercise: run rather than walk from point A to point B. Do anything you can to maximize energy levels/reduce irritability levels (exercise is so much easier when you don’t feel tired all the time)

Get an overnight sleep study - sleep apnea is surprisingly common and can lead to long-term increases in beta amyloid plaque accumulation.

Wear N95/N99 masks when on the subways or near major roadways. Thomas Talheim has a blog (smartairfilters.com) showing that even low-levels of PM1/PM2.5 found in American cities (even NYC/Chicago) are enough to increase inflammation/irritability levels. Do not live within 300 years of a major arterial roadway (esp one populated by trucks or diesel-emitting vehicles). The best air quality is found in US/Canada/ocean-touching areas of Europe. Most of the pollution from automobiles may be from cars causing friction against the asphalt (this is where all electric-powered subway pollution comes from!!), which means that some protection against PM2.5 is necessary even when we transition to all-electric (the amount of PM2.5 emitted here scales nonlinearly with the speed by which the car touches asphalt).

Taking rapamycin + metformin + acarbose may also get you in CR-ish similar states, though there are some effects of CR (eg reduced acetyl-CoA levels or reduced ROS from reduced ETC flux) that this combination may not simulate. Most of the smartest aging scientists i know are more bullish on rapamycin than metformin, though they synergize when taken together.

Get regular tracking of all metabolites/proteins (the more comprehensive the metabolite panel, the better - try to get metabolon or SomaLogic panels if you can, or panels used by the Wyss-Corey lab). I found out I was plasmalogen-deficient by getting OpenCures, and NAD+ deficient by getting a jinfiniti NAD+ test.

Get DEXA scans (dexafit) to track muscle density and bone density over time (jarrow’s bone supplements may be a way to increase bone density).

Get a brain MRI every few years or so (to measure changes in brain volume). 7T over 3T if you can, but any resolution helps.

Get a spirometer to track changes in FEV1 over time.

Try to do neurofeedback to calm a brain (esp do what you can to calm DMN). Get QEEG to see areas of your brain where you can see more work on. Meditation can help calm a brain down and make brain cells fire less - it can also decrease gray matter loss with age.

Modafinil and caffeine are both antioxidant stimulants that suppress appetite (caffeine has SO many weirdly positive effects on longevity). Methylphenidate and Adderall also suppress appetite and increase energy, but may have neurotoxic effects (Adderall much more so than methylphenidate). There are preliminary studies on transplantation of neurons into Parkinson’s brains (grafts) but they are at their early stages and they still haven’t recaptured the right circuit.

Increase deep sleep. There are technologies to play brainwaves at you that can increase it (also play 40Hz to possibly clear out beta-amyloid) - but these technologies may not be developed for a while. [sleep trackers may be able to integrate with audio entrainment technology to possibly increase deep sleep in the far future]

Avoid iron (preston estep’s mindspan shows). Donate blood if you’re male.

Try a vibrator machine to increase bone density.

Get your epigenetic age measured (see morgan levine’s interview with foresight institute)

Friend/follow Doris Loh, Denis Odinokov, Matthew Lake on Facebook - follow the calorie restriction facebook group

HIIT, read Peter Attia, read Ben Greenfield fitness, read SOME Dave Asprey (but don’t do everthing he does). They are not right on all accounts, and not aging-focused as I am, but still have more volume than most who write guides to not aging.

Get an adjustable curved desk if you can, and hold monitor at eye level (standing desks burn more calories and adjustable desks make you less “static”). Try rolfing to get your posture aligned. Also make sure monitor is always at eye level to minimize tension.

Being consistently neophilic throughout life may increase neuroplasticity. There are not many consistently novelty-seeking/super-open adults, but Joon Yun is one of them. Psychedelic communities seem to have more of them than most, as do university towns.

Get an air purifier at home (bluair is most effective)

Staying friends with people in investing/crypto related communities can be a way to massively increase your wealth without trying (but this is risky and depends on knowing the right people). I know many people who have gotten rich off of crypto alone - enough to never have to work a stressful job ever again. In that case, you can optimize for online output and helping train/mentor a new generation of people who can be more convinced (a la fable of the dragon tyrant) that this IS the most important problem and they should consider working in it as much as they would work hard in school (as Laura Deming knows, school is a giant waste - her not being schooled is the reason why she is so independent)

Think about future trends and try to integrate yourself into them (eg try to think of a world where human-machine symbiosis is more robust than ever)

I have a guide for avoiding microplastics (see microplastics.md)

Do what you can to directly support/fund biotechnology research (especially the type of “tools development” that will make all biotechnology research faster, more open, less labor-intense, and automatable). Many papers written in the past may be re-written in a high-throughput (do ALL the seq’s) type of research. The research that really matters are the cell replacement/cell reprogramming/exosomes/chimerism papers.

OTHER longevity guides: Michael Rae, crsociety.org, livingthecrway.com have many guides.

Provide moral support to biohackers and human guinea pigs - they get so much hate, but they produce so much data that is so valuable to other people, whether or not their interventions work.

Make sure you stay relevant/important long-run (so consume long content, try to vlog some portions of your life so future people [the people who will be MOST important in developing the technology to solve the longevity thing] ]will be able to see the “young version of you”)

If you have kids, consider co-raising them in a commune (qiaochu/alterman/conor white-sullivan consider this). It may significantly reduce the amount of intergenerational trauma that is experienced.

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SOCIAL FACTORS:

Spending time with those who are visibly obsessed with longevity will help! I am far more on the diet than exercise side (as Matt Kaeberlein knows, diet is the only way to increase the cap on lifespan, not just healthspan), but the exercise side (esp HIIT side) will help too.

Having diverse friend groups (esp across age) will help insulate you against shocks that may increase correlated friend drift across multiple members of the friendgroup.

It’s unclear what the effects of stress (as experienced in western populations) are on longevity (some stress, esp when intermitently placed, may be better than no stress). Having a strong sense of self-direction (and not being trapped) is what psychologically helps the most. Most of your same-age friends may die earlier than you, so it is also important to get close to people across generations (especially by mentoring younger super-receptive people). A cool perk of longevity is that people who really get it will never drift, because longevity is always on the back of everyone’s minds.

Social stress is weird - you want to escape stupid signalling traps to be free as soon as possible (only Laura Deming stands out in doing this super-early as she was unschooled). Mimetic - Brian Timar is good for reducing stress (also see dan wang’s college as girardian terror). You do not need to obsess over GPAs - no one cares, and leaving this system earlier rather than later is important. Many stupid social games people have played in the past will no longer matter as much in the future - know that the system was built by renters and vested interests. Read Nick Cammarata’s Twitter - he has managed to do more than almost anyone in escaping these unnecessarily stressful social traps (I sometmes say that the Thiel Fellowship was the most beautiful thing ever…).

Try to form an aging cult/a group of people who are as similarly obsessed with aging as I am - it would do a lot. AFAIK, even among aging aficionados, I don’t think anyone in the world is as obsessed with this as I am…

Peoplein some cities live longer than others (in the US - Vail/Aspen/Breckenridge/Frisco have unusually high lifespans.)

Spending time with experienced meditators or tai chi/qigong masters can have an intensely calming effect on some (they also can live unusually long, though it takes the confounding factor of extremely high conscientiousness to get in that state)

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