Longevity is a topic that has fascinated humans for centuries. We all aspire to live long, healthy lives, but how can we achieve this? Dr. Peter Attia, a renowned longevity and healthspan expert, has some valuable insights to share. Here are eight tips based on his principles and strategies for increasing longevity.
1. Set Clear Objectives
The first step towards achieving longevity is setting clear objectives. Dr. Attia emphasizes the importance of understanding what you want to achieve at the end of your life. He says, "You always want to start with the objective and I do think it's worth being clear for any individual what their objective is." This could be anything from maintaining physical mobility to preserving cognitive function.
Identify your key values and priorities - what matters most to you in life? This will help guide your objectives.
- Get specific on the outcomes you want to achieve - do you want to preserve mobility, cognitive function, quality of life? Quantify goals if possible.
- Discuss your objectives with loved ones - they can provide perspective and support.
- Write down 1-3 key overarching objectives and review them regularly.
2. Develop a Strategy
Once you have your objectives, the next step is to develop a strategy. This involves understanding the steps you need to take to achieve your objectives. Dr. Attia warns against jumping straight to tactics without considering the overall strategy. He states, "I think this is the step that most people just skip altogether and go right to the tactics."
Do research on longevity - read books, studies, talk to experts to understand key factors.
- Take a whole-systems approach - consider diet, exercise, sleep, mental health together.
- Identify gaps between your current lifestyle and longevity goals.
- Make a 1-3 year plan with specific actions in each area of focus.
- Get bloodwork done to establish health baselines and biomarkers to optimize.
3. Understand the Concept of the Marginal Decade
Dr. Attia introduces the concept of the "marginal decade", which is the last decade of your life. He encourages us to think about what we want to be true in that decade. "The framework that I use for that is called the marginal decade...the question then becomes what do you want to be true in that decade."
Visualize your ideal marginal decade - what mobility, cognition, activities do you want?
- Identify risks to that decade based on current trajectory.
- Make decisions through the lens of - will this benefit me in my marginal decade?
4. Use Strategic Insight
Strategic insight involves using various sources of information to develop effective tactics for longevity. Dr. Attia discusses the importance of observational data of long-lived humans, short-term human studies, non-human literature, mechanistic studies, and Mendelian randomization. He believes that these insights can help to develop effective tactics for longevity.
Consult a longevity doctor who can interpret tests and studies.
- Get advanced biomarkers tested beyond standard bloodwork.
- Research family history, genetics, conditions you may be prone to.
- Track basic health metrics - weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids.
- Review studies, but emphasize randomized controlled trials as highest quality.
5. Focus on Five Key Areas
Dr. Attia identifies five key areas that people should focus on for longevity: diet, exercise and movement, sleep, drugs/molecules/supplements/hormones, and managing emotional and mental health. He believes that all five areas are important and should be given equal attention.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule with 7-9 hours nightly.
- Follow a whole foods diet high in vegetables, fiber, anti-oxidants. See Peter Attia's guide to fiber diet.
- Incorporate strength training 2-3x a week in addition to cardio exercise.
- Schedule regular check-ins with a therapist or pursue mindfulness practices.
- Discuss hormone optimization with a doctor if levels are sub-optimal.
6. Avoid Overemphasis on One Area
While all five areas are important, Dr. Attia warns against focusing too much on one area at the expense of others. He says, "It's very tempting to just focus on your favorite thing...but when you say my objective is to live 10 years longer than I otherwise would and do so at a much higher function...you can't just jump to tactics."
Strive for balance across health areas based on your strategy.
Beware of obsession over one tactic - long-term moderation is key.
- Monitor for burnout and overtraining when ramping up exercise.
- Have bloodwork done regularly to catch deficiencies.
7. Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals for the marginal decade is crucial. Dr. Attia discusses how walking a dog at 90 years old requires building up a reserve of balance and strength from a younger age. He emphasizes, "You have to build up an enormous reserve in those capacities today to cope with and anticipate the inevitable decline that's going to come in all of those."
Set small milestones working back from your end objectives.
- Focus on progress not perfection - make incremental improvements.
- Allow flexibility - adapt goals as needed based on changing circumstances.
- Enlist a coach or accountability partner to help stay on track realistically.
8. Maintain Metabolic Health
Lastly, Dr. Attia highlights the importance of metabolic health, especially in maintaining sexual function in old age. He mentions that conditions like type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis can cause impotence due to their impact on the microvasculature.
In conclusion, achieving longevity involves a comprehensive and strategic approach, focusing on multiple areas of health and wellness, and setting realistic goals based on individual objectives. As Dr. Attia suggests, it's about playing the long game and working backwards from what you want to be true at the end of your life.
Get advanced lipid testing beyond just total cholesterol.
- Discuss plaque imaging tests with your doctor.
- Follow a low-glycemic diet to prevent blood sugar spikes.
- Take metabolic supplements like berberine, magnesium, omega-3s.
- Prioritize sleep, exercise, and stress management for optimal metabolism.