There are all types of AI gadgets on the market that can help us live healthier, from smartwatches that track our steps, calorie burn, and activity levels to meditation devices that change the intensity of their soundscapes based on our brainwaves.
Personally, I became invested in my health a few years ago and decided to do everything I could to live as long as possible. I knew that I would need some help figuring out the best way to do that, and I continue to rely on several tools to help me track my health and progress.
I’m going to tell you a little about my journey to better health to show you how I used technology and data to learn more about how my body works and what I need to do now so that I can live to be 100 or older.
My Journey to Better Health Through Technology
You may have figured out by now that I’m the kind of person who likes to go all-in when I’m interested in something. My journey to better health began about six years ago, when I got really interested in learning more about how the human brain works and, specifically, how I could make mine work better. I was searching for ways to optimize my brain so it would act more like a computer. I wanted to be more efficient, so I could work longer and get more out of my days.
I started by learning techniques to read faster. Before long, I was reading more words in less time. At first, I thought this was amazing! I could get through more books in a month than most people got through in a year.
But then I had the sharp realization that even though I was reading a ton, I wasn’t retaining most of it. The words were going in and then floating out of my brain. I found that the brain just can’t hold all of that information. No matter how fast I could read the words on the pages, my brain was only retaining a small percentage of information in a short amount of time. I could only remember the most important things out of all the books and articles I read. I couldn’t recall any of the more minor details.
So, armed with this newfound knowledge, I started looking for other ways to improve how my brain works. Surely, there has to be a way to think more clearly and be more productive that doesn’t require me to read more than my brain can process.
I started thinking about how athletes train. Now, I’m not an elite athlete and am not claiming to be one. But that doesn’t mean I can’t train like one.
Think about how elite athletes train. They are always so focused on every aspect of their body because their livelihood quite literally depends on how well their body functions. They’re in the gym every day, practicing drills and working on endurance. When they aren’t training, they’re hyper-focused on eating a balanced diet that will fuel them with all the nutrients they need to heal today and ensure they’re ready to perform at the top of their game tomorrow.
Why doesn’t everybody approach their body the way elite athletes do? How much healthier would we all be if we took treating our bodies as seriously as we take our jobs?
I started doing some research to figure out what, exactly, elite athletes do to get in top shape. Here’s what I learned about eating. First, I needed to reduce my sugar intake. Sugar can wreak havoc on our brains, causing them to think more slowly and have shorter attention spans. When we overeat sugar, we experience a loss of memory and energy. (If you’ve ever watched a kid crash and burn after eating too much birthday cake, you know what I’m talking about.)
There’s even research that suggests a link between excess sugar and severe cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. My goal is to live to be at least 100 and still have all my mental abilities. I don’t want to live to be 100 but not be able to use my brain or have a solid understanding of what’s going on in the world around me. Cutting sugar became a priority.
In addition to cutting down on sugar, I learned that reducing how much fat and red meat I ate would help me sleep better and prevent me from feeling sluggish after lunch. Foods that are high in fat and protein take longer to digest than vegetables. I was interested in this lifestyle change and did some research into vegetarianism and veganism.
I tried several different diets (there are a lot of them out there!) and finally decided that I felt better after eating a vegan diet. I spent 21 days on a strict vegan diet. By the end of it, I was hooked. I was able to sleep less and work more. The sleep I got was significantly better than what I had gotten before, so I could sleep for fewer hours and have the same or higher amount of energy. I didn’t need to nap after lunch and was able to get through a long workday with more energy than ever. It was amazing!
What was even better was that I had metrics to confirm that the changes I was making were positively impacting my body. This wasn’t a case of the placebo effect, tricking me into thinking that eating a vegan diet was helping me to feel better.
I had metrics because, in addition to paying attention to how I felt, I tracked how my body reacted using data points. As I was experimenting with different types of diets, I tracked my insulin and sugar levels using a glucose meter. I wanted empirical data that would show me how eating in different ways was impacting the way my body functioned.
I started a spreadsheet to track what I ate, how high my insulin levels were, and how I felt every day. I wanted to track my habit as well as the results of that habit to watch myself make progress.
After about a year of this, I decided to take my health to the next level. I was feeling great, and I wanted to know what I should do to continue feeling youthful as I aged. I want to do everything I can now to feel and act as healthy as possible when I’m 100.
I made an appointment with Dr. Rosenstein to learn more. They did a bunch of different tests on me to get my blueprint. These tests included cognitive and physical examinations. They took blood samples and scanned my body to discover my bone mass and figure out where fat is located.
With all that data, the doctor was able to predict how long you will be able to live if you stick with your current lifestyle. They can also tell you what you should do to live longer and healthier based on your DNA.
The thing that struck me the most as I was going to the doctor and learning all the ways to take care of my health was that so few people are aware of the impact their decisions now will make on their future. The only people who are taking extreme measures like flying across the country to meet with a doctor who specializes in anti-aging are people who are already concerned with their health. Usually, the people who get serious about their health later in life only do so because they have been diagnosed with a serious or chronic disease.
The people who really need to know this stuff about their personal health don’t realize that technology and science exist to tell them what their risks are and how to avoid them through making lifestyle changes.
Usually, people start taking tests only after they have gotten sick. Most people don’t take tests just out of curiosity. They don’t treat themselves like elite athletes. Instead, they act like everyone else, going to work, coming home, and zoning out to Netflix while eating takeout.
Without knowing how to improve ourselves, we don’t. We sort of skate through life, not worrying about the future or thinking of how we can help our future selves live happier and healthier lives. Sometimes, we decide to get fit for one reason or another. Often, it’s a superficial or short-term goal, like losing weight before a vacation. When we decide to commit to living healthier, we give up easily. We’ve become so accustomed to a culture of instant gratification that we throw in the towel if we don’t see results immediately.
These are all intensely human reactions. We don’t like to step outside of our comfort zones or do things that will take a long time to pay off.
That’s where technology and AI can help.
One of the most amazing things I learned during my time with the doctor is that our bodies can actually reverse the aging process! Yes, that’s right, we can take actionable steps to slow down the aging process inside our bodies. You might be 35 years old and have the biological body of a 40-year-old because you have neglected parts of your health. Or, you could have the body of a 25-year-old even though the calendar says you are 35 if you take care of yourself and pay attention to your health.
One of the tests that I did at the doctor’s office measured the telomeres on my cells. Telomeres live at the ends of chromosomes in our bodies. Think of them like little tails that hang off the end of chromosomes and contain stretches of DNA and protein.
Every time a chromosome divides, the telomere also divides. Eventually, the telomere is too short to be divided, and the cell dies.
Scientists can determine our biological age based on the length of our telomeres. In my case, I took a blood test when I went to the doctor’s office and then again six months later to measure my telomeres. The goal is to either keep them the same length or try to regrow them if they are shorter than they should be.
Based on all the data that the doctor collects from their patients, they can estimate your biological age and tell you if it has gone up or down since your first test. You can continue on your health plan, checking in every six months or so to track your progress and see if your body has reversed the aging process.
While I have found these tests and the information I learned from my doctor to be extremely helpful, I recognize that not everyone can (or wants to) take the time to visit this type of specialized doctor and take all these tests. But, the real takeaway here is that there is so much technology and science out there that can help us live healthier! The data that scientists and doctors track tell us that we can make changes that help us live longer and biologically roll back the clock.
Fortunately, there are plenty of at-home tools that you can use to monitor your health and prevent diseases instead of waiting for a diagnosis to convince you to get back on track with a healthy lifestyle.