How To Live Forever
Graham Simpson M.D. has a problem with how we manage our health and he doesn’t mind telling us in the bluntest of terms. Here’s his warning about heart disease: “The problem is that the first sign for half of all sufferers is sudden death.” Nice.
His more general point, aside from scaring the bejesus out anyone over 40 (and not to worry you but he says there are 30-somethings also at risk) is this: what possible reason is there for not getting tested for ailments before you get sick?
According to Dr. Simpson, the whole medical industry shares the blame for our lack of pro-activity. “The pharmaceutical sector, which is worth over three trillion dollars in the US, promotes a lopsided system that focuses on treatments instead of preventative measures. And it’s not like people are getting healthier; they’re getting sicker.”
If that sounds like a blame-the-evil-system theory, Simpson, points out that in the 1980s, 15 percent of Americans were fat. That figure is now over 35 percent — and a recent study in the UAE showed that one in three children are obese. “People born after 2000 are going to live shorter lives than their parents,” he laments. “It’s the first time in the history of the species.”
But the primary culprit, he argues, is the Western diet. “Heart disease and cancer are our biggest killers and they are essentially food-borne epidemics.” Sugar, particularly high-fructose corn syrup, which was introduced just before obesity rates shot up, gets an especially bad rap. “That guy drinking the can of soda is on his way to getting fat, and that leads to diabetes, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, and then you die. It’s not a good way to go.”
The Eternity Medicine Institute, of which Dr. Simpson is founder and Chief Medical Officer, doesn’t just focus on weight management or diet — it’s just that the latter is the biggest cause of bad health. 500 biomarkers and health indicators are used to formulate a tailor-made programme that encompasses diet, stress management, fitness, and pharmaceuticals when necessary.
The first sign of heart disease for half of all sufferers is sudden death
Simpson says the average age of first-time patients is around 50, and they come because they don’t feel as good as they used to do. “They’ll tell me, ‘My energy is low, my strength is down, my sex drive isn’t as good as it used to be.’ Things don’t just work automatically like they did in their 20s.”
The thing is, it doesn’t always have to be that way. If the emphasis is moved “from sick-care to healthcare” then many of those ailments-in-waiting can be forestalled. Pre-diabetes can be reversed, heart disease can be warded off through lifestyle changes and cancers are way more treatable when caught early.
The two other important points: you’re as old as your arteries. If they’re healthy, you live a long time. Second: body fat is a very good indicator of overall metabolic function: 15 percent is perfect for a guy. Most of the bad stuff that happens – high sugars, fats, uric acid, inflammation of blood vessels – kicks in when you go above 20 percent.
Simpson also recommends checking testosterone levels in guys over 40, and supplementing where necessary. It naturally decreases over time, with noticeable side effects. “For guys getting older, the world doesn’t look as bright as it used to. It’s not depression per se but the mojo is not quite there.”
And get yourself screened. “Having been in primary care for a long time, it’s very archaic,” says Dr. Simpson. “The idea of a stethoscope or an EKG is not terribly useful. We scan your heart with an $800,000 machine, and why wouldn’t you use that in 2013?”
Simpson’s final piece of advice: “The more aware you are, the better choices you make and the longer you live.” In other words, know what’s going on under the bonnet if you want to get more mileage further down the road.
NOT TO WORRY YOU BUT…
100,000 generations: hunter gatherers
2 generations: modern Western diet
For details on screening programmes, visit eternitymedicine.com