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Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 03:41 PM   #1
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Book Review: AgeLess

In a thread over at Raddr's board, I mentioned that I was looking for an Idiot's Guide to Health and Diet, and PainInTheAS recommended this book:

AgeLess: Take Control of Your Age and Stay Youthful for Life

It's pretty close to what I was looking for. It's written by Ed Schneider, former Dean of the USC School of Gerentology, and he tries to take a data-driven approach using what he considers the best designed studies.

He participated in, and was probably most influenced by, the Swedish twin study which followed 20,000 identical twins over 40 years.

The study's conclusion: health is 70% dependent on lifestyle, 30% genetic.

He goes on to give a fair amount of interesting data, including dose-response relationships such as:

2.5 servings of fruit/veggies decreases colon cancer risk 65% vs 1.5 servings
11-18 lbs of weight gain increases heart attack risk by 25%, while 44 lbs of gain increases risk by 250%

Many of his conclusions on diet were consistent with another book I liked and reviewed here:

The China Study

It's nice to have two world-class researchers agree on stuff using two independent large studies.

In general, I thought he was spot-on in his conclusions, he provided a fair amount of data to back them up, and he directly attacks the most difficult aspect of dealing with this data: compliance to a program of diet and exercise.

He also offers good data on what doesn't work, like supplements and calorie restriction dieting (e.g., of dieters who managed to lose >= 10% of their weight, 80% gained back every pound).

Personally, I've taken his advice. I've increased my servings of fruits and veggies to 5/day, and I'm doing a lot more exercise: about an hour a day of aerobic exercise, weight training, and stretching.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 05:05 PM   #2
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
Personally, I've taken his advice. I've increased my servings of fruits and veggies to 5/day, and I'm doing a lot more exercise: about an hour a day of aerobic exercise, weight training, and stretching.
Have you noticed any difference in how you feel?
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 05:37 PM   #3
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by mb
Have you noticed any difference in how you feel?
My goal is to go beyond feelings and find a lifestyle that I can sustain, that makes a measurable improvement in my health, and that is supported by scientific evidence.

I took some baseline health and fitness measurements before starting:
  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • pulse
  • serum cholesterol
  • blood glucose
  • fat as a percentage of body weight (bioelectric and calipers)
  • number of push-ups
  • hamstring stretching distance
  • VO2max (Cooper running test)

I've had pretty healthy habits most of my life (at least, what used to be considered healthy habits), but my compliance to good diet/exercise has been pretty poor over the last 10 years or so.* *So, I'm now eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day (up from 1-2), and I've hired a personal trainer to guilt me into about one hour per day of aerobic exercise, and two hours per week of weights and stretching.

After 12 weeks, I'll remeasure to see what the effects were.* *So far, I'm enjoying both the food and the exercise.* *The real test will come with the winter rainy season.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 05:48 PM   #4
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
He also offers good data on what doesn't work, like supplements and calorie restriction dieting (e.g., of dieters who managed to lose >= 10% of their weight, 80% gained back every pound).
This is a pretty bold claim, and does directly contradict other published research.* *From what i understand, the most confirmed science on longevitiy supported by overlapping, published science is that eating fewer calories means longer life.* Here's one of the main websites supporting this:* http://www.calorierestriction.org/

In an oversimplified explanation, I understand that consuming and processing calories causes oxidation, and "oxidation" is the latest theory on what actually happens in the process of aging.* *Hence, the popularity of "antioxidant" vitamins.

Further, there is also overrlapping reserach that antioxidants (including suppliments of antioxidants) do indeed help and can add as much as 2-4 years to lifespan.* *I actually had the opportunity to listen to one lecturer with a Ph.D with emphasis on this field at Baylor U., who gave a presentation on the latest science in this area.* *I asked him after the lectur, and he confirmed that he takes an entire coctail of suppliments.* *Sites like realage.com also continue to support the benefits of suppliments.

If you were saying that weight loss doesnt work because most people always go back, then i hate it for them, because i'm going on 4 years now of maintaining 15 pounds under my 'setpoint' through maintenance dieting.* *That's 15 pounds less my body has to pump blood to.* *I've never been "most people", and this is no exception.

Azanon
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 05:56 PM   #5
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azanon
This is a pretty bold claim, and does directly contradict other published research.* *From what i understand, the most confirmed science on longevitiy supported by overlapping, published science is that eating fewer calories means longer life.* Here's one of the main websites supporting this:* http://www.calorierestriction.org/
He addresses this specifically in the book.* *What has been proven to work for rats, hasn't been proven to work for humans.* *In fact, he shows that if you're too skinny, your health is worse than if you have enough body fat.* *Men live longest with a BMI between 22 and 27 (from memory, so might be off a bit).

His bottom line is that there are *many* studies out there, and many of them have condradictory findings.* *He looks at only the studies he considers to have the best designs (e.g., double blind is better than observational studies), and he presents his findings.* * All of these books require some belief in the author, and since this guy was the top dog in one of the nation's only schools of gerontology, that gives him some cred.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 05:56 PM   #6
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Just found Ageless and The China Study online in the library.* I'm #1 in the queue.* Meantime, I always eat a lot of fruits and veggies, anyway.* While I was there, I did notice that the French seemed to eat everything, just in smaller portions.* And they love, as do I, red wine.*

I talked to a cardiologist this year who seemed to be convinced that genes were dominant.* He wasn't impressed with what I ate.* Since my cholesterol was above 200 at the time, he could be right.* Zetia has brought that reading down 30 points.* I tried eating and exercise, but zetia got it done.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 07:57 PM   #7
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
In fact, he shows that if you're too skinny, your health is worse than if you have enough body fat.* *Men live longest with a BMI between 22 and 27 (from memory, so might be off a bit).
Interesting. Rich recently posted to the effect that:

Quote:
I think the closest thing to a fountain of youth (aside from dumb luck and good genes) is skinniness. Not just "not overweight" but downright skinny, like a BMI of 20 (6 feet tall, 150 lbs) and fit.
So, are we talking about dueling studies here or ...? I'd like to know before I cut my food budget by 50% -- clearly a tempting proposition 8)
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 08:04 PM   #8
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

I already returned the book to the library, but Amazon says this is on page 122:

A 1999 study that tracked over 1 million adults over 14 pinpointed the weight ranges with the lowest mortality rates for men and women.

...

White women: BMI 18.5 - 28
White men: BMI 20.5 - 28
African-american women: BMI 18.5-30
African-american men: BMI 22-25

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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 08:26 PM   #9
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
A 1999 study that tracked over 1 million adults over 14 pinpointed the weight ranges with the lowest mortality rates for men and women.

White women: BMI 18.5 - 28
White men: BMI 20.5 - 28
African-american women: BMI 18.5-30
African-american men: BMI 22-25
Wow, that's a HUGE range for everybody but black males! For a 5'10" white male it covers anything between 143lb and 195lb. I wonder if there are more granular studies out there and, if so, whether Rich had them in mind?
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 08:33 PM   #10
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrooge
Wow, that's a HUGE range for everybody but black males! For a 5'10" white male it covers anything between 143lb and 195lb. I wonder if there are more granular studies out there and, if so, whether Rich had them in mind?
The main point is that there's a sweet spot in the mortality rate curve at those ranges, and mortality increased for *both* skinnier people and fatter people.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 08:59 PM   #11
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
The main point is that there's a sweet spot in the mortality rate curve at those ranges, and mortality increased for *both* skinnier people and fatter people.
Well, the book/study that you are quoting suggests that a 19-20 BMI is not as good as a 21-22 BMI, but Rich seemed to suggest otherwise. Wonder what's causing the discrepancy? Is it due to some unspoken assumptions about endomorphs, ectomorphs and mesomorphs, perhaps? Or is it just that different studies yiled different numbers?

Also, my BMI was 19 when I was 22 and I was in very good shape back then. If I were to try to get back to 19 now that I am 40, um, I suspect it would be a recipe for immediate hospitalization*
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 09:13 PM   #12
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrooge
Also, my BMI was 19 when I was 22 and I was in very good shape back then. If I were to try to get back to 19 now that I am 40, um, I suspect it would be a recipe for immediate hospitalization*
Studies are all over the map.* * I've looked at a few and tried to assign weights to evidence and weights to effects before -- I gave up.* *This guy gives it a pretty good shot.* *He gives more weight to better designed studies, and he identifies the low-hanging fruit in terms of cause and effect. He also gives mechanisms of action when known.

Some other notes I took:

Waistline is more important than BMI.* *Abdominal fat (apple shape) = high risk, esp >= 40".

I didn't note the actual risk changes, but I think he also says that simply getting off your butt and doing some moderate exercise reduces disease risk something like 30% vs being sedentary.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 09:25 PM   #13
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

WAB,

As a Ph.D. engineer I like your approach but as a long time aerobic sports fanatic I also know that I "feel" much better when I'm exercising (I would do it even if it didn't have health benefits) so I was wondering if you have noticed any effects.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
I've hired a personal trainer to guilt me into about one hour per day of aerobic exercise, and two hours per week of weights and stretching.
Hope this works for you but my observation is that people that don't like it don't keep it up. *To much like work. *ERs should understand that. *I absolutely hate it when I can't get my run or bike fix in. *I look forward to it all day. * * * *

Good luck. *Please let us know the results.

MB
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 09:37 PM   #14
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by mb
As a Ph.D. engineer I like your approach but as a long time aerobic sports fanatic I also know that I "feel" much better when I'm exercising (I would do it even if it didn't have health benefits) so I was wondering if you have noticed any effects.
I used to be addicted to exercise.* *I loved being outdoors, and the endorphins probably didn't hurt either.* *My problem with the "feelings" is that they're fairly short-term incentives.* *If I stopped exercising for a couple weeks due to the flu or some other diversion, I found it hard to get back into the rhythm.

So, I'm just trying to identify my own hurdles and clear them.* *Paying somebody to whip me into shape might help maintain the pace.*
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 11:21 PM   #15
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
My goal is to go beyond feelings and find a lifestyle that I can sustain, that makes a measurable improvement in my health, and that is supported by scientific evidence.

I took some baseline health and fitness measurements before starting:
  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • pulse
  • serum cholesterol
  • blood glucose
  • fat as a percentage of body weight (bioelectric and calipers)
  • number of push-ups
  • hamstring stretching distance
  • VO2max (Cooper running test)

I've had pretty healthy habits most of my life (at least, what used to be considered healthy habits), but my compliance to good diet/exercise has been pretty poor over the last 10 years or so. So, I'm now eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day (up from 1-2), and I've hired a personal trainer to guilt me into about one hour per day of aerobic exercise, and two hours per week of weights and stretching.

After 12 weeks, I'll remeasure to see what the effects were. So far, I'm enjoying both the food and the exercise. The real test will come with the winter rainy season.
an hour a day of muscle eating aerobic exercise? sounds like an awful lot of work to me, and all for what? for nothing!! aerobic exercise doesn't improve health. You'd be better off taking a nice walk.....My goal is to feel good, all the time. I don't feel good running on some treadmill like a mindless rat. Seriously, I would skip the aerobic part of your exercise program unless it makes you feel really REALLY good. The health benefits can be matched by simply taking a good dump. Now, resistance training - that is IMHO far superior. Increased muscle mass burns more calories allowing me to drink more beer and eat more food without becoming a fat sloppy porker.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-12-2006, 11:47 PM   #16
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

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Originally Posted by Alex
an hour a day of muscle eating aerobic exercise? sounds like an awful lot of work to me, and all for what?* for nothing!! aerobic exercise doesn't improve health. You'd be better off taking a nice walk.....My goal is to feel good, all the time. I don't feel good running on some treadmill like a mindless rat.* Seriously, I would skip the aerobic part of your exercise program unless it makes you feel really REALLY good. The health benefits can be matched by simply taking a good dump.* Now, resistance training - that is IMHO far superior. Increased muscle mass burns more calories allowing me to drink more beer and eat more food without becoming a fat sloppy porker.
You should write a book.*

I don't get too excited by treadmills, either.* I usually walk/run/bike outside.* *Your leg muscles are your biggest muscles, so use them if you want to burn calories.* *Then you can eat like a pig without becoming one.

Supposedly, the VO2max test is one of the better indicators of overall cardiac fitness.* * I don't think you can improve your O2 utilization just with more muscle mass, but I'm not an exercise physiologist....
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-13-2006, 12:01 AM   #17
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

An hour a day of aerobic exersize is quite a bit. We run marathrons and we only run about 25 miles per week (or 3.5 hours/week). except for the few weeks before the race where we bump it up to around 50 miles/week. I say... find something that you like to do. If you need a trainer to motivate you then you won't last long doing this.

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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-13-2006, 12:15 AM   #18
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

I used to do around 30-minutes/day.* *I just bumped it up to an hour for this 12-week trial period so I can hopefully see some measurable differences at the end of the period.* * Besides, I'm retired.* *I can easily do 3 x 20-minute things a day as long as the weather is good.

The trainer is just for some external accountability in addition to my internal motivation.* *I'm meeting with her twice a week now to establish a good resistance/weights/stretching routine.* *I plan to reduce that to once a week or two just to stay on course.* *Oh, and she's a good-looking Swede with a hard bod.*

Anyway, the book is one of the better no-nonsense approaches I've seen.* *It probably didn't sell too well because of the old people on the cover with the hiked-up pants, but I'd recommend it to anybody who is making that transition from immortality to that age (around 35+) where you're starting to see the long-term effects of bodily abuse.
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-13-2006, 11:36 AM   #19
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

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Oh, and she's a good-looking Swede with a hard bod.*
If you keep omitting crucial pieces of the puzzle, we'll never get anywhere!*
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess
Old 08-13-2006, 11:45 AM   #20
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Re: Book Review: AgeLess

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
If I stopped exercising for a couple weeks due to the flu or some other diversion, I found it hard to get back into the rhythm.
I don't know if this is typical "Welcome to your 40s" physiology, but my recovery time is a lot longer than in my 20s and my conditioning fades much faster than I remember from those days. *"Use it or lose it" goes much faster now.

After my knee injury I went three months without thrice-weekly tae kwon do, I only surfed (in a knee brace) 3-4 times a month, and I staggered walked for an hour once or twice a week (instead of 3-4x). *I'd say that I was less than a quarter as active as usual, except in the area of weight gain where I manged to put on about 10 pounds.

When I restarted TKD I worked out for two weeks (four workouts) before sparring-- and that first night of sparring was still brutal. *I discovered that strapping on a couple 10-ounce knee braces and trying to jump rope for five minutes actually pushed my calves to failure and they were still sore three days later.

The second night of sparring (a week later) was much better. *My (braced) knees last a lot longer now so I can push my body further. *I was totally winded and exhausted at the end of the hour but I could feel the reserves were there if I needed them. *(Luckily my daughter is still a sucker for a close-in head kick.) *The jump rope went a little better but my calves were still at the ragged edge of failure. *At least they're not sore two days later. *I've recovered my motivation, the conditioning will eventually catch up, and it'll be interesting to see how the next year goes.

I doubt I'll ever drop back below 180 pounds, though, and at 5'10" I'll always be at the upper end of the BMI numbers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex
Seriously, I would skip the aerobic part of your exercise program unless it makes you feel really REALLY good. The health benefits can be matched by simply taking a good dump. *Now, resistance training - that is IMHO far superior. Increased muscle mass burns more calories allowing me to drink more beer and eat more food without becoming a fat sloppy porker.
As far as the first two options go, I much prefer the former than the latter. *Those endorphins really are addictive.

Resistance training is boooooring. *Between surfing & TKD I hardly ever find the time to push around a weight stack anymore. *Vigorous yardwork, hauling home-improvement supplies, situps & pushups as part of a TKD workout-- no problem. *Sitting down with a bunch of Nautilus or Universal equipment... well, there's too many other things I'd rather be doing. *If my daughter got back into it and pestered me into going as a workout buddy then I'd be there for her. *But she pretty much dropped the weights (so to speak) when she started basketball, and there's no motivation to go back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
... where you're starting to see the long-term effects of bodily abuse.
That's what worries me the most. *I can already see the end of my knee-joint warranty, and I'd hate to spend the rest of my life on boring good-for-you exercise when I can enjoy the aerobic & anaerobic stuff. *

If she doesn't already know how, tell your personal trainer that I'd be happy to offer surfing lessons!
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