Join the club for FREE to access the whole archive and other member benefits.

Age Later: Health Span, Life Span, and the New Science of Longevity

Secrets of the Healthiest, Sharpest Centenarians - by Nir Barzilai

How do some people avoid the slowing down, deteriorating, and weakening that plagues many of their peers decades earlier? Are they just lucky? Or do they know something the rest of us don’t? Is it possible to grow older without getting sicker? What if you could look and feel fifty through your eighties and nineties?

Founder of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and one of the leading pioneers of longevity research, Dr. Nir Barzilai’s life’s work is tackling the challenges of aging to delay and prevent the onset of all age-related diseases including “the big four”: diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

One of Dr. Barzilai’s most fascinating studies features volunteers that include 750 SuperAgers—individuals who maintain active lives well into their nineties and even beyond—and, more importantly, who reached that ripe old age never having experienced cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or cognitive decline.

Adrian Cull's highlights from reading the book:

  • treatment HIV patients they receive to survive may be aging them faster than the virus
  • mice die at around three years of age with longer telomeres, suggesting that telomeres are really not a major factor in aging for animals or humans
  • removing visceral fat has significant effects on longevity
  • genetic background is very important
  • caloric restriction cannot be universally applied.
  • babies who are born small have different epigenetic methylation patterns than average-size babies
  • statins usually did not change overall mortality even though heart diseases play such a large role in mortality
  • centenarians and their offspring have more HDL and also much larger HDL and LDL particles than average
  • some of our centenarians had a mutation in the APOC3 gene, which is found on triglyceride-rich lipoprotein, and that these centenarians had lower triglycerides and higher HDL cholesterol
  • even reducing adult diabetes by a "modest" percentage could evaporate our national debt.
  • people with a variant in FOXO3a have better metabolisms and less cardiovascular disease than people without it
  • mitochondria might be manufacturing hundreds of peptides
  • while humanin levels decline with aging, our centenarians and their families have elevated levels
  • we have identified several hundred peptides
  • Hassy has identified an exciting new peptide called MOTS-C, which is a promising therapy for obesity, type-2 diabetes, and NASH (nonalcoholic stentohepatitis)
  • CohBar is currently focusing on NASH with an analog to MOTS-C that is in a clinical study. Stay
  • interventions that extend the life span of mice often improve their muscle function and heart function, reduce age-related cognitive
  • Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) study aims to prove that a drug can target the biology of aging itself
  • when someone is diagnosed with a chronic disease between ages seventy and seventy-nine, their chances of developing another chronic disease is the same as their chances were for getting the first disease or any other diseases
  • NIH reviewers ultimately turned us down for a grant ostensibly because they were not convinced that the biology of aging can be treated as a whole
  • about 50 percent of Americans from ages fifty to seventy-four suffer from impaired mobility
  • daughter companies are developing drugs to individually target the hallmarks of aging
  • the most important intervention we have for aging is physical exercise
  • while muscle mass loss is a concern, losing strength is a more significant problem
  • metformin seemed to inhibit some of the benefits of exercise, in particular the addition of muscle mass
  • only about 2 percent of our centenarians are vegetarians, suggesting that genetic factors are important for health span and longevity
  • we just don’t need as much water as the companies selling it want us to believe
  • the microbiome does not change significantly in aging adults unless they are in hospitals or institutions
  • olive oils that were not extra-virgin did not appear to produce any benefits
  • high-protein snacks that can be good for younger people may not be a good choice for older people
  • sarcosine was high in young people and went down with age
  • sarcosine significantly enhanced one of the processes of autophagy
  • Nir Barzilai is fasting for sixteen hours a day because that’s how long it appears to take for our bodies to use up stored sugar called glycogen
  • no scientific evidence to support "breakfast is the most important meal of the day"
  • it’s not likely that breakfast was part of the plan for our prehistoric ancestors, who spent the day hunting, fishing, and gathering
  • night shift workers tend to experience more ulcers, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • getting genetic information without a clear explanation or without counseling can be unnecessarily stressful
  • exercise may be even more important than staying mentally engaged when it comes to staving off cognitive decline and dementia
  • people whose sleep was often disrupted had a 1.68 times greater risk for cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s
  • mental engagement such as working crossword puzzles delays cognitive decline
  • people with a strong purpose in life lived longer than people who did not
  • identified 585 proteins whose levels increased or decreased significantly with age
  • found twenty-five proteins in the offspring of centenarians that are unique to them, and may be protecting them from the hallmarks of aging
  • one in one thousand people with melanoma have or develop an immunological capacity to deal with it
  • Regenera Pharma is testing a botanical that appears to have helped animals and humans with a variety of age-related problems

Visit website:

Book Amazon

See also: Academic Nir Barzilai - Founding director of the Institute for Aging Research

Mentioned in this Resource


Company focused on the research and development of mitochondria based therapeutics.

Regenera Pharma

Aiming to restore neural function in a wide range of neurological and neurodegenerative disorders