• Shreyas Prakash

Updated: Jun 24

The medical information has been extracted from a summarisation of the podcast between David A. Sinclair and Shane Parrish as a part of The Knowledge Project Podcast.

 


When we talk about ageing or life-extension, the first question that is posed is—Why is biological ageing a problem? Isn't it natural for us to age and die over time?


David A. Sinclair however points out that the very fact that we dont consider ageing as a problem is a real problem. He notes that it's possible to live another 100 years while remaining physically and mentally fit.


If there was a special Olympics for centenarians (100+ year olds), would we be able to participate in that?



Illustration by: Shreyas Prakash



What really happens to our body as we age?


According to the Information Theory of Ageing, through ageing, cells lose information making them degrade over time and the diseases kill us. To shed some light on what's going on, Sinclair gives this analogy of a DVD player. As you play the DVDs, they tend to get scratched over time and gradually lose information.


Ageing is like scratching, with DNA base pairs tending to comprise of broken chromosomes.


If we could figure out a way to polish the scratches and play sweet music again, can't we do the same with reversing ageing?

Here are some concrete steps taken from the podcast excerpts on how we could live a life of longevity—


Reduce the meals


We've been told over and over again that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's not true. We don't have to eat three/four meals a day.

Sinclair suggests to reduce the time interval between our meals. Instead of separating three meals in regular intervals, we could take in the same calories over a much shorter time interval. Body being the best when it's not hungry is a myth.


The hormones which kick in to make you feel hungry is a short-term consequence. In 3 weeks, this artificial hunger also goes away if we're consistent.

The most common version of this method is called as the 16:8 fast, where you eat as much as you can within the 8 hours, and leave out the rest 16 hours in a day for fasting. Sinclair practises a more extreme version of this (OMAD) - One Meal A Day which has proven longevity benefits as it kicks in the process of autophagy.


  • Drink lots and lots of water and hot tea to suppress our hunger while getting used to this diet.

  • Always have carbohydrates after you have protein. Doing it the other way round spikes your glycemic index.

  • Prefer plant based diet over a meat based diet due to the lower ratio of amino acids. [1]

  • Avoid gluten, sugar, meat as much as possible


What doesn't kill you makes you stronger


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's quote —'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' has a lot of potent biological implications. In our human body, this antifragility observed is nothing but autophagy — a conserved degradation of our cells to remove the unnecessary and dysfunctional components over time.


Not just us, but even plants undergo such stress while being exposed to extremes of temperature variation, water or nutrient availability. Environmentally stressed plants have been proven to produce therapeutic bioactive compounds with proven health benefits, also called as xeno hormesis.


For example, the light stress on a cucumber is found to be helpful in treating arthritis and cardiovascular diseases. Mustard when exposed to mild bacterial or fungal infection has been proven to fight cancer. [2] And some of them have been shown to have benefits when it comes to longevity.


  • Matcha tea which is grown in shaded conditions produce xeno hormetic molecules which boost their body's defences.

  • Eating bright fruits is always a good idea owing to the induced process of xeno hormesis which creates such vivid colors.

While picking an ideal diet, we can take these factors into consideration. [3]


Sleep, Exercise and Wellness


The exercises can be primarily divided into three major categories to check on our lung health, heart health as well as our muscle health.


  • Yoga and Pilates for flexibility

  • Weightlifting for maintaining our muscle (we tend to loose upto 1% muscle every year)

  • Aerobic exercises for our lung capacity— every week, we could lose our breath alteast 3 times a week for 10 minutes to maintain this capacity.

  • To sleep atleast 7 hours a night [4]

  • Meditation as a part of our pre-bed routine

  • Regular saunas could induce thermal shock proteins within our body


Supplements


Our regular diet does not entirely provide the exact requirements for a longevity based diet. The following is not medical advice. These are just some of the supplements endorsed by David A. Sinclair to live longer. He suggests the following—


Nicotinamide mononucleotide

  • 1g per day, in the morning can boost the production of NAD. As we get older, we tend to loose the production of the chemicals. [5]


Resperitol

Resperitol is produced in grapes every morning.

  • 1g per day, in the morning. As it's insoluble in water, it's advisable to mix 2 tbsp of yoghurt with 1 gm of resperitol so it gets absorbed.


Athletic greens

For those primarily on a vegetarian diet, athletic greens provides the dosage of multivitamins, minerals and probiotics.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D deficiency in humans has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D can reduce the risk of various aging-related diseases.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K is important not just for bone health, but also vascular and mitochondrial health. Vitamin K also improves skin appearance.



 

Footnotes

  1. Plants make molecules that are very healthy for us. In addition to anti-oxidants, they activate sertuin genes which have been proven to expand our longevity.↩︎

  2. Hooper, P. L., Hooper, P. L., Tytell, M., & Vígh, L. (2010). Xenohormesis: health benefits from an eon of plant stress response evolution. Cell Stress and Chaperones, 15(6), 761–770. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12192-010-0206-x↩︎

  3. The Okinawa diet of Japan is believed to have contributed to the exceptional longevity of the people there. Even Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce ageing owing to their excessive consumption of fruits, vegetables and olive oil. ‌↩︎

  4. This is an important factor as our sertuin genes might get disrupted owing to lack of sleep↩︎

  5. NMN has been shown to slow down many aspects of aging in animal studies (1,2,3,4).↩︎

  • Shreyas Prakash
Could the future business model of government be a subscription model?

Based on the ideas of Balaji S from his recent podcast with Tim Ferris


We are seeing everything becoming a subscription model right now. From softwares, to social media, books, games and even food delivery services. Everything and everyone is taking the subscription route.


Which leads to the question of whether governments would follow a similar route?


We saw the great 'bundling' happening in the recent decades. Companies packaging their products into neatly bundled services making it easier to opt-in via recurring fees.


If we look at governments more closely, we realise that the future business model of the government could also be subscription based. We've already seen it happening with Singpass in Singapore, or the X-Road in Estonia.


The way this model might work is quite simple. You opt-in for the subscription in the relevant states. Your identity, passport, driver's license and other digital assets are all bundled neatly together to make services accessible. The doors are literally open, both digitally and physically.


However, on the flip side, giving such a root access of your identity and assets to the government provides enormous control to the state.


Even if the future governments might have a subscription-type model, there might be differences in the way each of these states might be varying in their approach of offering SERVICES of the subscription model.


We can broadly classify the approaches the government might take into three major approaches— submission, sovereignity and sympathy. Eventually, every country is competing with every other country in providing a lucrative value proposition for their 'residents' varying in these three approaches.


You have your free will to opt-in to any of the states providing a better subscription package that better aligns with your ideological values.


Classifying governments


Submission — Communist Capital


Here, the state becomes more powerful than the individual and submit in this process. The Chinese Communist Party is an obvious choice.


Bow your head, because they are powerful. Submit to the party or be doomed.

For any state, too much of submission even leads to the decapitation of the private companies. China's communist party has been essentially seizing previously founder-controlled companies such as Alibaba and ByteDance. This is followed by an intense demonization on media as CCP is essentially a state-controlled press. The CCP is also famous for regulating not just the physical packets that come in through it's borders, but also the digital packets that come in through the internet.


Too less submission can become dangerous too. This can also lead to anarchy causing high unemployment rates and absence of a social security net. Lawless SF is one such example.


If there is absolutely no submission, The multiple human groups would find it difficult to arrive at a consensus over any topic. They will clash and collide with each other until it leads to a full-blown anarchy. Anarchy could lead to high unemployment rates and absence of a basic security net for the citizens of the 'state'.


Sovereignity — Crypto Capital


On the other axis of submission, you have sovereignity. How much, or how less you value freedom.


Total individual sovereignity is a capitalist virtue where you do everything yourself without having to rely on anyone else. You are 'free' of external dependencies.


However, humans are not just individual animals, they are social animals. And when you start with a position of distrust where you dont want to rely on anyone else, that might also be problematic.


The total opposite of sovereignity is also bad. The corporation or the state can deplatform anyone any time.


Sympathy — Woke Capital


Total sympathy leads to the rise of 'woke capital' which we are seeing how the consequences look like. Woke Capital would be an example of how a press-controlled state would look like. Here, a corporate journalist can get a politician fired, but not really vice versa. Owing to "male, white privilege", you might have to apologise. Too less sympathy can also be harmful as it might lead to a zero charity society.


Every country ultimately becomes a combination of sympathy, submission and sovereignity. Different people will trace out different optima according to their liking. Netherlands for example is a functional society, but so is Singapore.

We essentially create multi-polar society where we can choose our pole of liking based on our ideological principles, nature and nurture.





  • Shreyas Prakash

These are some of the trajectories in which Nietzsche has influenced my thinking:


  • Being authentic, and finding a true voice (it sometimes feels like we’re all in this collective internet soup). He asks us important questions on how we could escape competition, and find our own unique voice, we live more fulfilled lives.

  • Being wary of experts who claim to be the established voice across domains of—stock markets, weather forecast, pandemic prediction etc. Sometimes, the actual experts don't even look like experts.

  • To optimise interestingness in one's life. Nietzsche calls for fighting great battles, being at peace and war with companions, robbers and strangers. Advocating the barbell strategy by seeking extremities and not the middle ground.

  • To incorporate walking in our daily life. Nietzsche's eight hour walks across the Swiss alps inspired me to use walking as a means of creative rejuvenation and divergent thinking. It has led to a lot of interesting ideations in the past.


Finding personal monopoly in this collective internet soup

Probably the biggest battle we face everyday is to be true to ourselves. It's a difficult question to answer as a lot of times, we just imitate, innovate, and make it a part of our identity.


Recently, I was seeing my nephew mimic the same exact hand gestures which his 7yo elder brother was making. He was imitating the gestures, then adapting them as his own. In a sense, we are all mimetic creatures. Between this tension between imitation and uniqueness, we find our middle ground somewhere.

David Perell talks about how we could strive to find this intersection where skills, interests and personality traits come together.


Within this collective internet soup, it has definitely become difficult to find our own unique voice. Naval Ravikant talks about building and marketing something that's an extension of who you are. 'You are the only you'. 'I am the only me'. Being authentic does have its fair share of advantages.


If you are building and marketing something that’s an extension of who you are, no one can compete with you. Who’s going to compete with Joe Rogan or Scott Adams? It’s impossible. Is somebody else going write a better Dilbert? No. Is someone going to compete with Bill Watterson and create a better Calvin and Hobbes? No. Artist are, by definition, authentic. Entrepreneurs are authentic, too. Who’s going to be Elon Musk? Who’s going to be Jack Dorsey? These people are authentic, and the businesses and products they create are authentic to their desires and means.

Source: Escape Competition Through Authenticity by Naval Ravikant

Nietzsche helped me realise that a part of the problem in being authentic is in finding a deeply purposeful meaning one could attach to. It's really hard to find something we truly truly love.


In a podcast with Joe Rogan, Mr. Beast talks about the Daily Masterminds group that set the stage for his Youtube success. It was just a group of friends talking about Youtube strategy for 1000 days straight, analyzing why certain videos became viral, whereas others didn't. He mentions that this level of hyper-obsession with Youtube only came because he truly loved it, and that he was glad to have found what he loved at a very young age.


As Nietzsche puts it, if you have a why to live, you can bear almost any how. A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship; whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal. Infact, Jordan Peterson talks about how we should optimise for meaning instead of optimising for happiness.

Great craving can power great action—even when the friction is high. [1]


Perhaps, pursuing deeper meanings makes us inherently authentic.


Shoo away the Bildungsphilisters


Nietzsche cautions against the bildungsphilisters— educated philistines. In what's considered to be the most potent sentence in all of Nietzsche's century—"What is not intelligible to me is not necessarily unintelligent". He cautions against the educated philistines who mistake what they don't understand for nonsense. It's like a barber who, one day, decides to do a brain surgery.


Nassim Taleb is heavily influenced by these sayings, and brings it all together in his Incerto series through a series of conversations encircling experts with expert expertise. He claims that the real experts actually dont look like experts. We need to be really picky when we blindly follow 'expert opinion'.





For example, Nassim gives this example of how if we're given two profiles: two surgeons of similar rank. One looks highly refined in terms of speech, delicate gestures with elegant figures of speech. Whereas the other looks like a butcher, is overweight, uncouth speech and unkempt appearance. Who would we choose?


We might probably choose the first one. Nassim challenges us to think differently in this context,


Now if I had to pick, I would overcome my suckerproneness and take the butcher any minute. Even more: I would seek the butcher as a third option if my choice was between two doctors who looked like doctors. Why? Simply the one who doesn’t look the part, conditional of having made a (sort of) successful career in his profession, had to have much to overcome in terms of perception. And if we are lucky enough to have people who do not look the part, it is thanks to the presence of some skin in the game, the contact with reality that filters out incompetence, as reality is blind to looks.

Source: Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons by Nassim Taleb

Perhaps this might be one of the ways in which we can weed out the 'bildungsphilisters', but Nietzsche advises us to be cautious of these pseudo-experts in general.


To live an interesting life

This is a sentiment which is also shared by other thinkers such as Wagner (the musician) apart from Nietzsche. Both of them shared a deep contempt for the bourgeouis culture, for the idea that life was to be lived easily, blandly, punctually, by the book. In fact, Wagner's Sturm und Drang—"storm and stress" was heavily appreciated by Nietzsche. Why should life be bland when it can be titillating?

For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! — Nietzsche

Walking as a nourishment of the spirit


He seldom talks about how great ideas just emerge out of a simple activity of walking. Longer walks do help in creative rejuvenation of our souls. Nikola Tesla envisioned the rotating magnetic field, one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time on a walk across the city of Budapest in 1882. Søren Kierkegaard, the cantankerous philosopher used to walk every day for atleast two-to-three miles across the streets of Copenhagen to be in a "state of well-being", in his own words. Even Thoreau, one of the greatest wanderer-thinkers writes, "Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow".


Bringing the focus back to Nietzsche, he was surrounded by scenic trails in Europe where he used to walk up to eight hours a day carrying a small pocket notebook. His scribblings on that notebook, became The Wanderer and His Shadow, the first of the many proses he wrote in a decade fueled by walking and writing. Nietzschean Walks are actually a thing.


Related Notes


Celebrity Thinkers : A list of all the influential philosophers who have had an impact in my thinking. Some of them have literally put words in my mouth. One of my closest friend's calls me 'Nassim's Bulldog' owing to my obsessive fascination to Nassim Taleb's Incerto series. Apart from Nassim Taleb, I've also been influenced majorly by Naval Ravikant, Balaji S, Søren Kierkegaard and their likes.



 


[1] It was also for those same reasons why he vehemently denied the practise of christianity. In his opinion, christianity emerged from the minds of timid slaves in the Roman empire who had lacked the stomach to climb the tops of mountains, so they had built a philosophy that claimed that their bases were delightful. He felt that both alcohol and christianity had similar traits—both led to a weakness of the will. He claimed that this was dangerous, as you had lesser craving towards action. As only great craving can power great action.↩︎