What Causes Aging? (And How Can You Reverse It?) with Dave Asprey

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In this week’s series of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are joined by author and Bulletproof Coffee founder Dave Asprey to talk about biohacking. This first episode features a discussion on the specific causes of aging in the body. Arming yourself with this information will give you the tools to slow down, and perhaps even reverse the aging process in your own body.

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like Brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome everybody. We are just thrilled for this week. We have our friend biohacking pioneer, the author of the new book, Super Human, Dave Asprey, the founder and CEO of Bulletproof 360, the creator of the global phenomenon, Bulletproof Coffee. He's a two-time New York Times bestselling author. I'm so proud of him. He's the host of the Webby Award-winning podcast, Bulletproof Radio, that I've been on. He's a serial entrepreneur, a global change agent, a speaker, a friend. He got scanned 13 years ago, 14 years ago. Not here, but at a friend of mine's place in San Jose. I got to do is follow-up scan, which was so much better. He produced the movie, Moldy, which I was blessed to be in.
Tana Amen: Yeah, we turned a lot of people on to that.
Dr Daniel Amen: I mean he's iconic.
Tana Amen: Yeah, and I just have to say, Dave, you sponsored our event when we held an event and your booth was the busiest booth by far, Bulletproof. You hired the nicest kids. I have to say, just the coolest kids. I'm still trying to decide which product I like better, Bulletproof coffee or your bars because there are not a lot of high-quality bars out there. Both of those products, the Bulletproof bars and the Bulletproof coffee are amazing.
Dave Asprey: Thank you. I made them because I couldn't buy anything that works.
Tana Amen: Yes, right? And so your bars are actually, they're really high quality. I actually do like them a lot.
Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome.
Dave Asprey: I am so happy to be here. I support you. It was your work, Dr. Amen, your very first book I read when I was struggling in business school. I was already kind of successful in that I had a great career in tech, but I had the accelerator all the way to the floor and I was slowing down and I couldn't push because there was nowhere else to accelerate. And I read your book and said, "Oh my God, I might have a hardware problem instead of just being one of those 'I'm not trying hard enough' problems." It was that that opened my eyes to what eventually evolved into this field of biohacking that I helped to put out there.
Tana Amen: I love that.
Dr Daniel Amen: Talk to us about Super Human and why you wrote this book at this time. The subtitle is the Bulletproof Plan to Age Backwards and Maybe Even Live Forever.
Dave Asprey: Those are audacious claims, but they're based on some really serious experience. Even before I found out about your work, I had struggled with what I now recognize were the degenerative diseases that happen as you age, but I had just happened to get them in my 20s. I had arthritis in my knees starting at age 14. I thought it was supposed to hurt when you walked all the time. I had brain fog, that cognitive dysfunction, can't remember why I went to the store or why I opened the fridge, dropping names and dropping words all the time. You just lose your train of fire right in the middle of an interview. And now if something like that happens, it's so rare. But oh, I got crappy sleep last night, I ate something inflammatory or I was exposed to toxic mold, I know exactly why my brain would misfire even one time per week, and I'm in my mid 40s.
I also had high risk of stroke and heart attack before I was 30, diagnosed with lab tests. I had lower testosterone and higher estrogen than my mom. And so, I mean, I lived all this, and I started hanging out with an antiaging, nonprofit research and education group in the Bay area called the Silicon Valley Health Institute. I ended up becoming chairman and president, but I was learning from people two and sometimes almost three times my age. I was hanging out with my friend Mike, who was 88. And he had enough energy to meet with me at 11:30 at night and get on the phone and just bursting with enthusiasm, and was dating someone a couple of decades younger than him because he had the energy of a young person.
And I've seen it happen. I've seen people, thousands of people on the Bulletproof Diet lose 50 or 100 pounds. But most importantly, I've seen them get their brain back over and over and over. And I had to go through this, so I wrote this book for two reasons. One, I don't want anyone to go through that at any age, much less when they're young like I did. And two, almost everything amazing that I've learned came from spending time with people who were my elders. I still to this day, 680 episodes of Bulletproof Radio later, I've had the great pleasure of interviewing Eric Kendel, Nobel Prize winner, who's 94; Stan Grof, father of transpersonal psychology, who's actually also 94. These are the people who they've got 50 years more experience in wisdom than I do.
We have this ridiculous, sort of okay boomer mentality, like are you kidding? You can either make the mistakes yourself or you can learn from the people who already made the mistakes and are actually desperate just to share it so you don't go through all the crap they went through. I wrote superhuman because I got to be old when I was young and because I've learned so much from people who are older. I want us to have older people with brains that are dialed in and fully working so they can do their job as our village elders because we have a deficiency of that right now.
Tana Amen: And I think you sort of have aged backwards, if I recall. Didn't you tell me you developed Bulletproof Diet because you, yourself, you lost a lot of weight with it and you sort of went from there and you got really healthy?
Dave Asprey: Oh yeah. I kind of didn't mention that in my story there. I did weight 300 pounds, and I'm about 10.1% body fat. I don't exercise all the time. I'm not hungry all the time. I eat the Bulletproof Diet and what that means is I focus on the quality of my food. It's sometimes, it's keto a little bit, but it's not an excessive zero carbs forever diet. It's also not a high sugar diet, and I don't eat fried crap and bad oils.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dave Asprey: And so there's a whole book on that. At this point, I feel really safe saying people have lost more than a million pounds on the Bulletproof Diet just because you sell half a million copies. If you can't lose two pounds on the Bulletproof Diet, you're doing something wrong because most people lose seven pounds in the first 10 days. It's pretty easy to make that claim.
But whatever the deal is, it's about how you feel. And whether you have an extra muffin top or not, it's not going to be a big deal. But if the muffin top shows up today and it wasn't there yesterday, it's not fat, it's inflammation. And that matters because if you can see a muffin top on your belt, you also have muffin top in your brain, and it's a big thing.
Super Human is about, hey, here's the four things that are going to kill us and the seven things that now we know about aging that we did not know 10 years ago, the actual causes. And if you take care of those seven things, at least some, perfection not required, what's going to happen is you're going to either age backwards or at least age less quickly. You're going to feel a lot better no matter what your age is and you're going to be able to maintain yourself.
If you think about a car, you could say, "Oh, what's the one secret to having your car last a long time?" Well, I'm pretty sure you have to change the oil and rotate your tires and change the brake fluid. Well, we didn't know which of those things to take care of in the human body until very recently. By interviewing the world's best experts, by being a New York Times Science Bestseller author and a researcher and a computer hacker and creator of the field of biohacking, I put all this stuff together from these people I've known for 20 years who are doing the research, who are feeling safe to come out of their academic halls and say, "We can actually change the biological clock in ourselves and we couldn't do that before." When they feel safe to do that, and I'm saying, "We're already doing it, just no one will talk about it." That's why I wrote Super Human. The time is now. We actually know.
Dr Daniel Amen: It's actually really well-written, easy to understand. I think that's one of your strengths. Can you list the seven things for us, and then in the next podcast we'll begin to dive in to them.
Dave Asprey: One of the things that most people have heard about is telomeres. And as your cells divide, your telomeres get a little bit shorter. It's like a little counter or a wick on a candle. It turns out that you can increase the length of your telomeres. And the way the book is structured is for all of these seven pillars, here's the free stuff you can do, here's the cheap stuff that you can do and here's what the crazy millionaire of the future treatments are, and I went I did all of them. And then I write about what they're like and where you can get them. This is meant to be accessible for everyone. And we're seeing all of the things I'm going to talk about and the other six, all of the treatments for them are available and becoming cheaper and cheaper and cheaper with each year. These are like cell phones. They're a lot better now than they were a little while ago.
And after telomeres, we have this problem called extracellular stiffening, and this comes from when the cells lose flexibility. We have stem cell loss, which leads to loss of tissue itself. And as we age, we get thinner skin. We have something called sarcopenia, where there's less muscles. We also have mitochondrial DNA mutation, and your mitochondria are responsible for making energy and it turns out some neurotransmitters and hormones and doing all sorts of stuff. And when they start getting mutated, which happens a much more easily than your DNA, it's one of the primary causes of aging. And then we have junk build up outside of the cells, and in a separate category we have junk buildup inside the cells and they're caused by different things. I think that was seven.
And the whole point here is that aging is death by a thousand cuts. There is no one cause of aging. What if you could have less cuts, they were not as deep and you healed like Wolverine instead of just putting a band-aid on them and hoping they got better? That's the strategy. And when you do that, you are going to feel like Wolverine along the way, maybe less angry but at least we're thin. That's how to do it.
Dr Daniel Amen: And where does inflammation fit in the categories?
Dave Asprey: Inflammation is an underlying cause of almost every single one of those, except for mitochondrial mutation. Mitochondria mutation is actually a cause of inflammation. Everything else is pretty much a symptom of inflammation.
Let's talk about extracellular stiffening. You can imagine a callus on your foot, let's say, or on your hands. You get that stiffening as a result of rubbing, which creates inflammation, the body goes to protect itself. If you have chronic inflammation, whether we're talking brain, cardiovascular, me, it doesn't really matter, what's going to happen is the cells build up more. We'll call it protective mechanisms, but they can even build up to something called amyloid proteins.
And in Alzheimer's disease, as you well know, beta amyloid is that inflammation in the brain over and over. It creates beta amyloid. But the other amyloid plaques throughout the body are particularly nasty, and so there's things you can do that cause inflammation that causes amyloids. There's also things you can eat that cause amyloids. The algorithm for that one is, hey, what if you could reduce the formation of that stuff that makes your cells so stiff? What if you didn't eat a few things that were triggering factors? What would happen? And there's science that's come out even since the book was written that supports it even more than it was when I wrote the book, and the book just came out so it's right.
Dr Daniel Amen: When we come back, we're going to dive in to some of these areas. The book is Super Human. You can get it anywhere. How do people also connect with you and learn more about your work beyond the books?
Dave Asprey: If you go to daveasprey.com, there's almost 1600 blog posts on Bulletproof radio. There's 650 podcasts with full transcripts available for free. It's about what a college diplomas worth of content would be. It's all there for free. This is the stuff that no one told me when I was 20 that would have helped me not gain a hundred pounds and have a brain that works and not be in pain a lot. It's there for that. And if you send me a receipt from the book, I have a set of eight audio interviews that are only for people who have read the book with just the top people in aging. If you want to be young for a long time, pick up a copy of the book and it's worth your time.
Tana Amen: I love that.
Dr Daniel Amen: All right, stay with us. We'll be back.
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