March 8, 2018
Podcast From: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/beyond-human/
[00:00] Birdwell Beach Britches/Zip Recruiter
[04:31] About Eve Herold
[05:58] About Brain Pacemakers
[13:53] On Neural Stem Cells
[21:49] Eve's Daily Diet
[25:07] On Artificial Organ Transplants
[33:22] On Exogenous Ketones
[37:40] Four Sigmatic/Health IQ
[39:50] On Brain-To-Machine Reports
[42:26] Nanotechnology & Life Extension
[48:39] Anti-aging Supplements
[56:07] On Eve's Dietary Schedule
[1:03:32] End of the Podcast
Ben: Oh hello, ladies and germs. Who came up with that, calling the guys germs but the ladies are ladies? I don't even understand. It confuses me, but what does not confuse me is cutting-edge science, and I love it. I'm talking to somebody who's a wealth of knowledge on cutting edge science. I just like throwing that word, cutting edge. Now she wrote a great book on longevity, awesome book. Her name is Eve Herold, and this podcast is going to blow your mind, and it's brought to you, of all things, by Surf Shop Board Shorts. Now I'm not kidding, there was this lady in 1961, a surf model named Carrie Birdwell Mann, and she took her little California home, and she turned it into a sewing room and a store, and probably slightly pissed off her family in the process. But either way, she started making these amazing board shorts, and they still exist. This Santa Ana factory still exists, and they're called Birdwell Beach Britches, I need to be careful of how I say that. And they look like this classic, almost this 1960s kind-of-like beach look. I like to put them on and go and kick sand in the face of the really skinny kids in the beach. That was just hard to do because I'm the skinniest one there.
But anyways, they have this unbreakable surfable fabric. It's the toughest in the business. It's a two-ply nylon fabric, so you can get attacked by sharks and survive rock scrapes and reef slashes and get tons of wear on these bad boys, and they look good. They do, my wife likes them, which say something if I put on shorts and she nods approvingly, then daring. They're good, so to get ten percent off your first Birdwell purchase with a lifetime guarantee on the shorts and free shipping over ninety-nine dollars, go to birdwell.com. Just like it sounds, Birdwell, B-I-R-D-W-E-L-L, birdwell.com, and use discount code.
This podcast is also brought to you by Zip Recruiter, and as you know, it can be tough to find great candidates for your business, and if you're in need for a great candidate for your business, talent, but you don't have the time. You don't want to get lost in this big stack of resumes drowning in paper, or e-mails to find your perfect tire. Zip recruiter has a very smart, smart tool for you. They post your job to over a hundred of the web's lading job orders with one click. They find the most qualified candidates, they invite them to apply. You don't have to do anything at all, except sit back and wait for the qualified candidates to roll in. Eighty percent of employers who post on Zip Recruiter get a quality candidate through the site in just one day. It's called Zip Recruiter, the smartest way to hire, and you get to post jobs for free, you lucky duck. Just go to ziprecruiter.com/green, like my last name, ziprecruiter.com/green to try it absolutely for free.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“And then they could enter every cell in your body, and do a diagnostic and decide whether those cells are actually expressing the DNA as it's supposed to be expressed. When they're not, they can break down, fall to DNA and then rebuild, reassemble.” “And those cells not only live and thrive and divide, they actually network themselves into the neural net, and very quickly will start communicating back and forth with other neurons”
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield, and I am holding in my hand right now this book called “Beyond Human”. I think I found this when I was lurking around on a device website reading a bunch of articles on longevity and anti-aging, as I'm prone to do when I'm either (a) bored, or (b) curious, and I found an anecdote about this book, and I picked it up. It's very intriguing. If you're into longevity or anti-aging and also how that ties into a lot of the radical medical technologies that are emerging today, this book is a must-read for you. This podcast is probably a must-listen for you because I was able to wrangle the author to come on the show. The author of this book, Eve Herold, and the book is called “Beyond Human: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Extending Our Lives” and it goes into microelectronics, engineering, nanotechnology, cellular and gene therapies, robotics, artificial intelligence. It's very intriguing and extremely thought provoking. So Eve, first of all, nice job on this book, and second, thanks for coming on the show.
Eve: Oh, thanks for having me, Ben.
Ben: Yeah, and I'm just curious. Before we dive into this book and also how you got interested in this whole anti-aging phenomenon in the first place, are you one of those folks who falls into the category of someone who plans on living to the ripe old age of a hundred and sixty or a hundred and eighty or two hundred? Are you one of those people?
Eve: Well it all depends on how well my brain does, you know? Because as long as my brain is functional and my memory is good and I have clear thinking, I can't really foresee when I would want to wind down. I mean I think eighty years is too little to accomplish a lot of the things that I would like to do in my life. So I would like to live, assuming again that my brain holds out, I would be happy to live to be a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty.
Ben: Yeah, well you actually talk about, I think you called it a brain pacemaker in the book. Would that fall in the category of something that would allow your brain to work better as you age?
Eve: Well it would, and most of the research using brain pacemakers that's going on today is aimed at restoring memory. So this is something that the U.S. Military is on the cutting edge of a new project they call R.A.M., Restoring Active Memory, and they're using that targeted mostly at soldiers who have traumatic brain injuries and are having trouble with their memories of just trying to remember things like how you tie their shoes, how to get dressed. These are some of the common problems with traumatic brain injuries, and so they're working on an implant that would actually stimulate memory, would be completely self-enclosed in the brain, and it seems to be working well with rats and monkeys. So what it does is it boosts the memory in general, and it helps people to remember al kind of things that hopefully would return them to a normal life. So this is something that could be available in 2018, if everything goes well with the military, but their projection as far as when to make it available to our soldiers should be sometime this year.
Ben: So they're essentially stimulating. I guess what I understood from your book is they're stimulating areas of the brain that are responsible for alertness and attention and focus and decision making like the executive function of the brain in the same way that you'd stimulate the heart via heart pacemaker to fire. When it's supposed to fire, they're doing the same thing, but to the brain, to these circuitry areas in the brain.
Eve: That's exactly right, and they can target it so finely. You can even target some of these implants to individual neurons. So this is proceeding apace as long as the doctors are also learning advanced imaging techniques on the brain. So some of the research in imaging techniques has allowed doctors to focus in on individual neurons and actually elucidate what those neurons do. So once you do a map of the brain and you understand which neurons are used and recruited in different activities and different functions, then you can directly stimulate those neurons and have a whole range of its sacks. Anything from helping you to stay awake for a very long time, to remembering certain things to blocking emotions. Some of these are scary things, and there are people who have a lot of reservations about them, but in terms of the technology moving ahead, it's moving ahead very rapidly.
Ben: Yeah, I mean I use some of these devices that stimulate the brain myself. I granted have not yet pulled the plug and gotten the holes drilled into my skull to have a brain pacemaker installed, even though some of the science that you talk about in the book sounds fascinating, especially with regards to being able to target certain neurons, but I'll use, you're probably familiar with TDCS, right? Where you can just stimulate, well essentially I use a device called the Halo before workouts, and you can stimulate motor neurons. You can amplify the activity of motor neurons, prior to a workout or prior to skill acquisition, right? Like let's say playing the ukulele or shooting a basketball.
There's another one called the Circadia made by a company called Fisher-Wallace, and I'll slap that on sometimes before naps, and it targets areas of the brain responsible for deceasing cortisol and increasing serotonin and dopamine, and that one also I guess is a form of brain stimulation, and there's one also, based on this concept of photobiomodulation, where you're targeting the brain with light. It's like a device that goes into your head, and there's a probe, more or less, that goes into your nose, and they've used this in Alzheimer's and Dementia patients to improve firing and increase nitric oxide and to increase, well it's acting on a part of the mitochondria called the Cytochrome C Oxidase complex, so it's activating increased activity in the mitochondria. So yeah, there's all sorts of external devices, but I thought it was fascinating in your book how you go into the fact that we're kind of on the cuss with these internal devices instead that would allow us to, as you've alluded to, target very specific areas of the brain to keep it functioning well into age, so it's very interesting.
Eve: Yeah, and you know, it's interesting too that some of those external techniques actually do seem to work, and once you get into an internal implant, you're directly accessing in the brain. You're not going through the skull or the skin or any kind of obstruction. These tie to stimulation devices could prove to be much more effective than the external ones.
Ben: Yeah, and in the book, you talk a little bit about this transcranial magnetic stimulation as one of these cognition enhancing technologies, but I didn't realize how big of an industry it is. It's like over a billion dollars a year that people are spending on smart drugs and brain training games and brain enhancement.
Eve: Oh my god, yeah, and can you blame them? I mean I personally interested in anything that would enhance my brain that's legal and ethical and that isn't dangerous, you know? So yeah, it's a huge business, and I think the market is there. Once these implants actually come into the market, and they'll come to use a medical treatments, that'll be the entry point into our lives as people who have the beginning stages of Dementia or PTSD or memory loss or some other cause. They're going to be the first people to have access to these types of technologies, but it's hard to say. Once you have, say ten percent of the population getting some type of brain implant, there's going to be some kind of a keeping up with the Jones' kind of social pressure on people, and I think that in the long run, brain enhancement is really going to be a thing. It's going to be very widespread, and it'll start out through medicine, but I think we're very quickly going to get comfortable with things that actually enhance our ability to learn and remember and think clearly.
Ben: Now I noticed that you wrote a book before this one about stem cell wars, and you're also the public education manager for the stem cell research foundation, and so a question that I have for you related to this idea of neural enhancement would be that topic of stem cells, you know? When it comes to regenerating the brain or neuro-genesis or anything along those lines. Is there proof that stem cells could potentially regenerate the brain, or let's say make an old brain young?
Eve: Well as a matter of fact, there's really good animal research in this area that shows that you can implant brand new neural cells into the brains of animals, and those cells, not only live and thrive and divide, they actually network themselves into the neural net, and very quickly will start communicating back and forth with other neurons. So I think that's one of the most promising areas for stem cell science is that, well because in Alzheimer's disease for example. Ultimately what happens is there is a massive dying off of brain cells. Just say if you could just continuously regenerate your brain cells, you might be able to do that through stem cells for a very long time and stave off Alzheimer's disease, either completely or unto the very end of life. So brain cells are very, very promising when it comes to possible stem cell treatments. I'm not aware of any treatments going on in humans right now, but like I said, the animal research has been very encouraging.
Ben: Now when it comes to just the practical aspects of this, how would you actually deliver stem cells to the brain. Could you go through the cerebral spinal fluid, for example?
Eve: I don't think you can do that and rely on the cells to be distributed into the areas where you want them to be, so probably what you would do is, and this obviously has to be done by a highly trained physician, is that you would target the actual areas of damage in the brain. You could do that through electrodes, and we're actually pretty good at targeting very specific areas of the brain through things like deep electronic stimulation for Parkinson's patients. We can do that, we can find the areas that are diseased or have degenerated or are in distress, and then use these electrodes to guide the way in, and actually applying new neurons.
The problem is that right now, we don't really know exactly what areas to go in the brain in a typical Alzheimer's patient or actual things faster than others. But again, I've become very optimistic when I look at the state of medical imaging and how detailed we're becoming at being able to read the brain, map the brain, diagnose the brain through things like functional magnetic residence imaging, and I think there's a great future there for people with conditions like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, as far as getting new brain cells. It's also interesting too, a story that just came out recently is that there's a family of stem cells that are generated by the brain that seem to have almost an orchestrating effect on the whole aging process, and these cells actually go down as we get older. Animals have them, we have them. They tend to be kind of like a master fill that controls aging in the body and in the whole body. So these cells, they exist in the hypothalamus, and it's possible to isolate some neural stem cells and to transport them into the hypothalamus, and theoretically, that could possibly have a dramatic effect on a person's aging process.
Ben: Wow, that's fascinating. Have you yourself, personally based on some of the research and the writing you've done as well as being on the education board for this stem cell foundation, banked your own stem cells?
Eve: No I haven't banked my stem cells because I'm at an age where I need newer stem cells. I mean there isn't such thing as bottling neural stem cells, stem cells for other parts of the body that get created throughout life, but I'm sixty years old. So I would really want to get younger stem cells. Now if someone could take something like say my fat cells and reliably return them to a pluripotent state which means that they can give rise to any cell type of the human body. Now if someone could do that, which theoretically that's possible, then I would be interested, but as of now I don't really have a reason to bank my own stem cells.
Ben: Yeah, I've personally banked my fat stem cells through the U.S. Stem Cell Clinic and also my bone stem cells though a company called Forever Labs. I wasn't aware that they could actually induce those fat cells to potentially become pluripotent. That's pretty cool actually, so right now I've got, well technically it's my thirty-four year old stem cells kind of saved the way for the rest of my life from bone and fat. For bone from what I understand, it's a little bit more favorable for longevity and for anti-aging, to do a yearly re-injection of the thirty-five-year-old me when I'm seventy or when I'm sixty or fifty or whenever. And then from what I understand right now, fat stem cells are better for re-injection into joints or into areas where there might be chronic inflammation or the need for enhanced repair. So I've kind of done both.
Eve: I think it's great that you've done that, and you should be covered if you ever get a lot of different age related conditions that would need new cells. It's one of the commonalities of age-related conditions that there's a loss of young cells and there's a kind of a winding down of the creation of adult stem cells. So this process has to be somehow stimulated. It's also possible that somebody could find interventions in the body itself and say give you an injection that makes your brain create more neural stem cells, kind of globally within your brain. That's not something that we have yet, but I think that's also an exciting area of research.
Ben: Yeah, I'm certainly interested in how these stem cells, for example that I've personally banked, could be used for the brain. If anyone is listening in and you know much about brain stem cell injections or anything like that, I'm going to put Eve's book and also the show notes for this entire episode and also a place where you can go and comment and leave questions and feedback over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/beyondhuman. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/beyondhuman which is the name of Eve's book, and you can go over there and pipe in if you've got your own take on these things.
So Eve, I'm curious. Before we delve into a few of these other fascinating strategies that you have in the book, in terms of your own typical day, are there specific techniques that you use? I mean anything from green tea and sirtuin-rich foods like blueberries to fringe supplements, or anything that you kind of weave into your own day that you've learned in your own writing and research and found to be efficacious for yourself?
Eve: Yeah, I mean I'm a big believer in the basics, Ben. You know getting plenty of sleep I think is really important because your body repairs itself while you're sleeping. You know, making sure that I've got all the antioxidants and vitamins on board and not just taking supplements, but the best and the most effective way for your body to utilize vitamins and minerals is through food. So I tend to keep a very healthy diet, lot of vegetables in fruits, and then the other thing is exercise, which again I mean that we've known about it forever. Exercising actually restores your body to a more useful state metabolically and helps to fight a lot of the problems of aging, so I don't really do anything that's all that special in terms of everything that we know about in terms of cutting-edge science, but I'm a big believer in those things, and I also rely on genetics because both of my parents are very old and function very well and have lived healthy lives. So I think I'm probably a little bit lucky in the genetics department, but just the basics. Making sure you have the basics in place I think can make a big difference in a person's lifestyle, especially after the age of forty.
Ben: Yeah, but that's not sexy, Eve. I mean, come on. Sleep, exercise, eating real food? Come on. Seriously though, those kind of things do need to be emphasized in this area where we tend to get caught up with biohacking and fancy devices, and then I think once you've got those bases covered, some of these other things can put the icing on the cake or take you from a hundred to a little bit more than that.
Eve: Well absolutely, and you want to keep a healthy baseline to your body so some of these treatments will be not global treatments for aging. Like for example, if I have a heart attack and part of my heart muscle needs to be restored, it could be restored through stem cells, but I don't want a twenty-year-old heart and the body of a biologically ninety-year-old person. I want a biologically young body, so that I can focus on different forms of regeneration and refreshment that'll all work together and give me the kind of vitality and vigor that I want to maintain for the rest of my life, if possible, or at least as long as possible into the very end of life.
Ben: Now speaking of organ transplants though, you do have a chapter where you talk about kidney and lung and liver disease and the current state of organ transplantation. It's come along a little bit farther than what I was aware of. For example, you talk about artificial kidneys, for example, and how they're actually able to produce membranes that I believe are very similar to what our kidneys themselves actually have in them. Can you talk about the current state of organ transplantation and some of the fascinating things that you've discovered?
Eve: So I'm very excited that we have a lot of research now into artificial organs, and that's because as you've probably heard, the waiting list for organs are very long. There's a severe shortage of biological organs, and then another thing that I've learned in doing the book is that no biological organ transplant is permanent. So the organ being transplanted will eventually be rejected by your body. So the best case scenario is that you can suppress the immune system long enough to get a good, maybe fifteen years out of a transplanted heart or lung. So this is really not the best solution, considering that few people donate their organs. We just don't have enough, we never seem to get on top of the list. So a lot of doctors in different areas around the world has started to create artificial organs. I'll give you an example, the total artificial heart is made by a company called SynCardia, and that's a total heart. That's not a defibrillator with a pacemaker. That's a total heart. They take out the actual human heart, they've implanted over thirteen hundreds of these artificial hearts. They work amazingly well, people can live normal lives with them.
The only thing that’s abnormal about their life to date is that they have to carry a certain contraption on their back and a backpack that connects a hose through their actual heart. That's a problem that's being rapidly worked out, and I think within five years of having a completely, totally enclosed, artificial heart that can allow people literally to run marathons. We don't know how long they can last. So far the longest they've been used is a bridge to transplant up until now. So what happens is that you have someone with a failing heart who needs a biological heart, and there isn't one available, and so the technique is to give them this artificial heart while they wait for a biological organ to become available. We already have patients who are saying things like when the biological heart became available, I had deeply mixed feeling because I knew that my biological heart would eventually be rejected sooner or later, and the artificial heart works so well, it's so reliable that people actually have mixed feelings about getting a biological organ, and I think that this is going to happen with kidneys, with livers, with lungs.
Ben: Yeah, I mean the title of that chapter that I think you have is “It's Better Than The Heart I Was Born With” is thing is a quote from one of the patients which was crazy.
Eve: Which is what was told to me by the woman that I interviewed who had a total artificial heart, and she really did have mixed feelings when the biological heart came available. And the artificial hearts, because they're tend to be made of polymers and metals, and they're non-rejectable.
Ben: So you don't have to be on anti-rejection, immune suppression drugs like you do with a regular heart transplant?
Eve: No. Which are very dangerous. I mean living with immune suppressive drugs is not a good solution in the long run because you put yourself in the risk of having all kinds of deadly infections, and it doesn't work very well. It has a major heath impact on you. So yeah, I mean I think that this is something that has a huge advantage, as far as not being rejectable.
Ben: That's crazy, and I can totally see the Chinese Olympic team eventually stepping up to the Olympic marathon, each of them with a brand new, extremely high cardiac output-based, artificial heart. Totally see something like that happening. Hopefully the Chinese Olympic committee doesn't listen to this podcast and get offended by what I've just said. Now what about when it comes to like the kidneys, the lungs, the liver, anything interesting going on those fronts? I mean, all the same things? Are we creating brand new artificial organs that can be transplanted similarly, or is there an uphill battle when it comes to these other organs?
Eve: So there's a very interesting artificial kidney that's in the works, and it should be in clinical trials this years. It's called the kidney [0:30:37] ______ spearheaded by some scientist at the University of California, San Francisco, and this is a totally enclosed contraption that sits into your body. There's no open incision or any other external devices that you have to wear on a belt or carry around in your hand, and it's worked very, very well in animals. It creates urine. It's driven by the body's blood pressure, so there isn't like a battery or some other component that has to be replaced periodically. It just interphases with your body, and your blood pressure takes over and does all the work for it. The only thing that's a little bit dicey about it is that it does use actual, it uses a combination of artificial ingredients and actual human kidney cells, but there shouldn't be a problem with rejection because those cells are isolated from the patient's blood. So you have a new type of device which isn't quite human and isn't quite machine, it's a combination of both, but it's being explored as a destination technology. So if you actually have one of these implants, you will then have a permanent implant. That's the hope, that you will not have to be on the waiting list for a kidney, and you'll have an absolutely healthy level kidney function for, hopefully, a very long time, and then assuming that the device has a life, you couldn't replace the device with a new model, say in ten or fifteen years that incorporates new innovations and new advances in the technology. So it's very exciting, it hasn't come on the market yet, but it's in human trials. It’s worked very well in animals, and it's definitely a great sense of hope for people who have kidney disease.
Ben: It's crazy, I'm actually going to start drinking more based on this chapter 'cause I figured within a decade, you're going to be able to replace everything, so I want to have my cake and eat it too. Two Moscow meals for me every night now.
Eve: As I noted in my book, there's never been a shortage of people who were willing to experiment on their own brains and bodies, so we should harness that somehow. Unfortunately, we don't have a way to harness this.
Ben: Yeah, I probably fall into that self-experimentation category. By the way, speaking of drinking and drugs, specifically, you also get into the U.S. Military, and I find a lot of what they do fascinating, right? Like the latest sexy thing on the streets right now, getting marketed to a lot of athletes and a lot of people, kind of like in the biohacking sector are these exogenous ketones that you consume to go for very long periods of time without much food, that a great deal of the funding for that was led by DARPA. Another device that I know that recently came to light is a blood extraction technology that allows you to very easily get blood out of your system via microtubule for laboratory analysis and not have to drive to a lab to give a bunch of tubes of blood, but then you have a few interesting things that you go into. Tell me about the sleep deprivation drug. This drug that allows soldiers to stay awake, I mean it's like modafinil on steroids. I think it's like a hundred and sixty plus hours you get into in the book.
Eve: Yeah, so there's a drug that the military is testing on soldiers that would help them stay awake and alert for approximately a hundred and sixty-eight hours. The reason this is so important to the military is because it would completely change what they would call operational tempo. So when they have a military operation, say to flush out some terrorists from a village, there's so many hours that soldiers can be expected to engage in a maximal state of alertness and energy and focus before those soldiers get tired. And then a lot of battles are fought and lost or won based on operational tempo because if you can outlast the enemy, you've got a huge advantage point right there. So that's one of the things that the military is working on. It's a little bit concerning to me though when I think about it because if these drugs, for example like other military innovations make their way into the civilian market, then you may have people using them as a competitive advantage in school or in business. Once that happens, we have all kinds of people…
Ben: Oh yeah, school, business and sports too, right?
Eve: And in sports, exactly. And those would create plateaus that other people would then need to compete with, and I don't know if we're ever going to get into this kind of drug-related arms race to stay awake and stay alert for a hundred and sixty-eight hours, or maybe two hundred and fifty hours and then the bargains even higher than that. You know we don't know what the actual long term health effects are of staying awake for a very long time. I can only assume this is totally unprofessional. I just assume that there's a reason why we sleep and there's a reason why we have circadian rhythms, and if we really, really mess with those things, then there could be unintended consequences.
Ben: That's foolishness, we all know how much money some of these Silicon Valley execs are making on modafinil and microdosing with LSD. I'm sure there's absolutely no biological side effect. I think we're probably going to see some amazing new companies emerge, right?
Eve: Well you may be right, and I think it would be fantastic.
Ben: And high functioning CEOs dropping dead by the time they're fifty, but yeah. It's interesting. It is a catch-22, but I mean when it comes to our country's defense or some of the research DARPA's doing, I totally see this stuff being efficacious for soldiers, and there's been times when I've done some crazy long endurance competitions where I wish I had something like that. I'm my own person, but in the meantime, I was just primarily using no-dose caffeine tablets, honestly.
Eve: Yeah. [laughs]
Ben: Hey, I want to interrupt today's show to tell you a way that you can drink copious amounts of coffee without getting the jitters. There's this new stuff called adaptogen coffee. Our good friends at Four Sigmatic, they make the best mushroom stuff on the face of the planet. They have taken coffee, and they've added tulsi to it, which is a calm-promoting adaptogen. It's also going to be a longevity adaptogen. It's got all sorts of really good flavonoids and polysaccharides in it and then paired with antioxidant-rich coffee. It's a match made in longevity heaven, as they say. I don't know if they say that, but I said it. Astragalus is also in there. Astragalus can have an effect on the telomere length, so it's also got a little bit of a longevity kick to it, but very similar to tulsi, it's an adaptogenic compound that can calm you down a little bit if you're hyped up. So it's a very, very cool way to experience coffee, I love it. It's called their adaptogen coffee. You can get this or any of their fine blends over at foursigmatic.com/bengreenfield. That's foursigmatic.com/bengreenfield. When you use that URL, you're going to save fifteen percent off of anything on the site.
This podcast is also brought to you by Health IQ. They use science and data to secure lower rates on life insurance for health conscious people, like runners and cyclists and strength trainers and people like you who care about your body, gosh darn it. Fifty-six percent of their customers, of the Health IQ customers save up to thirty-three percent on their life insurance. Nobody else can do that for you, and they go to bat for you. They save you money on your life insurance because you live a health conscious lifestyle, and you deserve it, gosh darn it. You're good, you're great, you're wonderful, and people like you. So go to healthiq.com/ben. That'll support the show, that'll also light to see if you're qualified, healthiq.com/ben. Check it out.
Ben: What about this other active area of research by DARPA on brain to machine interphases 'cause it seems like something out of a minority report or maybe even more than that, right? Where without typing or without actually touching a machine like a computer, we can somehow interact with it?
Eve: That's a very active area of research, and it's been kind of the first stage of using brain-to-machine interphases with people who are paralyzed or who have ALS, who can't move their muscles. You know, now we have implants into the brain that communicate with external machinery, so that people who are paralyzed can actually move robotic arms and other devices to see them or bring a cup to their lips or whatever else they want to do. So this, in principle, works. It's out there, it's available, so I think in terms of the way the technology is developing, I think that in the military, there's going to be a huge need for brain implants in soldiers who can actually operate heavy equipment and carry huge loads of things that their bodies couldn't normally do. In other words, they might be able to activate robotic bodies or other types of devices that do things that's kind of an extension of their body.
Ben: Like Iron Man?
Eve: So that's where it's going. Yes, exactly.
Ben: That's crazy, that's very cool. I interviewed somebody, I would imagine that interview will have come out by the time I release this interview with you, but Dr. Ken Ford. They’re working on a full body suit like that. I forget the name of his company. I'm blanking up, but Dr. Ken Ford. He's also got a podcast, it's a fantastic podcast on emerging technologies and some of these same anti-aging concepts and he goes into a similar, like Iron Man suit that they’re building that can be controlled by a human to do something. Like let's say a super-heavy squat or I guess you could lift a car off a child or go to battle wearing one of these suits, so it's fascinating.
Eve: Yeah, it is. It's amazing.
Ben: Now what about, speaking of robots, it's the idea of the tiny ones, right? Like the nanobots 'cause you start to talk about those in the book a little bit, and you specifically go into how nanobots could potentially be used to extend life. How would that actually work?
Eve: So nanobots to me, if this happens in my lifetime, I'll be one of the first people to line up for them because nanobots have…
Ben: You have not read Hugh Howey's book “Silo” have you?
Eve: No I haven't. Is it a dystopian nightmare type of thing, with nanotechnology?
Ben: You got it.
Eve: Okay, no. Nanobots for reversing aging, it's really very simple in concept. So nanobots, obviously, are little tiny, I mean extremely tiny, sub-molecule size bots that can be programmed, that can be directed to different areas of the body, but the thing in aging, the theory is that you could take nanobots that were programmed with a perfect copy of our DNA. So all of your body cells, obviously, have a copy of your DNA. You would isolate perfect copies of your DNA that worked as perfectly, and then you would inject these nanobots into the body. So what the nanobot does, because it's so tiny, it can enter any part of the body. It can go inside cells, it can go between cells, it can go anywhere because it's so tiny, and those little bots will have that little blueprint of how your DNA is supposed to look, and then they could enter every cell in your body and do a diagnostic and decide whether those cells are actually expressing the DNA as it's supposed to be expressed. When they're not, they can break down, fall to DNA and then rebuild, reassemble, perfectly working fresh banking new DNA in every cell of the body, and this obviously, it would go from the cell to the tissue to the organ, to the system, to your entire body. The possibility is there theoretically [0:44:57] ______ to keep you young for a very, very long time. As long as you have a healthy source of your own DNA, you could potentially stay young for hundreds of years.
Ben: That's crazy.
Eve: Now obviously no one's done this yet, but nanotechnology was something that was very exciting and big in the 80s. We thought we were going to have a quick turnaround, and there was going to be widespread nanotechnology. It hasn't developed quite as quickly as some of the techno-optimists would have liked, but just incrementally, you know? We have been finding proof of principles that nanotechnology works here and there, and over all, I think the trajectory is very positive. I think nanotechnology eventually is going to replace a lot of the technologies that we talked about today. So you won't need an artificial organ if all of your heart cells are in perfect condition genetically.
Ben: Yeah, I interviewed Aubrey De Gray a few years ago.
Eve: Oh yeah, I knew Aubrey.
Ben: His seven different causes of aging, and one of them is cross-linked to proteins, and this direct repair of internal proteins by nanobots would actually address that major cause of aging that he gets into that right now we really can't fix, right? We just can't repair cross-linked proteins internally.
Eve: Right. No. I think it's incredibly promising, you know? The question is when will it become available, and that is an open question, and I don't have an answer for that. But like I said, I hope it's in my lifetime because I will be one of the people, I would be a guinea pig for that technology.
Ben: Yeah, well like I mentioned, you may want to read Hugh Howey's “Silo” series because nanobots can be controlled just like any other machine, right?
Eve: Well they can be. But the thing is nanobots don't have to build up in your body. That's where a lot of the concern is, that somebody would be able to hack into these nanobots if they're circulating throughout your body, but they can be created by cells dissolving telomeres, similar to the kind of material they use in self-dissolving sutures. So that's what scientists are working on now. I think the first application of nanotechnology is going to be nanobots that actually are kind of loaded with anti-cancer drugs that'll be injected into the body, that'll then hone into tumors wherever they are in the body. Even if there's metastatic development, they can find and they're very good at honing in on specific type of cells, and then they attest to those cells. They release the cancer drug, and then they simply dissolve and get excreted through the urine.
So there's no hangover of nanobots in your body. Once they've done their job, then they just go away. So I think that's the key to overcoming one of the problems, which of the too much buildup of the nanobots in your body, and you don't know how that's going to happen. If you get an injection once a year, say for rejuvenation purposes, you don't want a bunch of nanobots building up in your body year after year after year because we don't know what effect that would have.
Ben: Right, right, that makes sense. Now a lot of people are obviously not going to go get stem cells injected into their brain or their kidney replaced or even do something like a brain pacemaker anytime soon, but supplements are obviously something people are just like, they break down the doors to get their hands on the latest anti-aging supplement, and you talk about a lot of them in the book. One of the ones that you hear talked about a lot is this one that's being developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, which is the isolate of the bacterium from beneath one of the statues on Easter Island called Rapamycin, and I've interviewed folks like Tim Ferris, he's talked about that on my show and Peter Attia, and a lot of these guys will do things like Rapamycin or calorie-restriction mimicking type of drugs, things like that. When you wrote this book, you obviously talked to a lot of people about supplements. What did you find as anything that you would say would be an anti-aging pill that based off what you found right in the book like you would take, or you think isn't especially compelling anti-aging supplement?
Eve: Well the supplement that I find interesting is NAD Plus, you know? There is some scientific evidence to support the fact or the idea that it could be protecting brain cells from the effects of aging. The problem with the supplements is that a lot of the research is not really reported in mainstream medical journals, and there's a certain amount of secrecy involved in the formulations. There isn't a lot of control, so I'm more interested in when are we going to have these anti-aging drugs hit the market and how will I go about getting them because I think there's a lot of promise in Resveratrol. I think Rapamycin is very promising, Metformin is already doing pretty amazing things, I believe that's a diabetes drug that people are already getting that's just… doctors started to observe that they were having better bone density and better heart injection fractions. They were having an anti-aging effect, so then they started to look at it actually, scientifically. Now there is also work being done on a class of drugs called senolytic drugs. I don't know if you're familiar with that, but what they do…
Ben: Senolytic drugs?
Eve: They go throughout the body. Yeah, so the idea is to get rid of the senescent cells. So senescent cells are cells that are aging, that are on their way out, and they start sending out a lot of distress signals and kind of unhealthy chemicals come out of them that effect other cells, so the cells around them will start to degenerate and die. And senolytics, the idea is to actually go in and eliminate all these senescent cells, so they can't create a toxic environment for healthy cells. So there's a number of drugs that are in development that seem to have a lot of promise in terms of anti-aging. Not all of them target every single sign of aging, they might target just the bone density or the muscle mass, but you could easily in the next twenty years, be on a cocktail of these drugs that could pretty dramatically retard aging.
Ben: Yeah, that's what I personally do. I use some calorie-restriction, mimicking agents. Probably one of the ones that I use that acts most similarly to the diabetic drug, Metformin is bitter melon extract which, from what I understand is something that's used quite frequently as like a pre-meal digestive in places like Okinawa, but I've done some research on these calorie-restriction mimickers, and it turns out that Metformin can cause some pretty serious Vitamin-B12 deficiencies, and also has some issues when it comes to generating larger amounts of lactic acid, leading to the potential for lactic acidosis and a little bit of hepatotoxicity as well. So I looked into Metformin for a while, and I said it’s just wasn't for me based on a lot of the potential side effects. It still shocks me how many people take… I mean if I have diabetes, I might consider it. But I use bitter melon and then I eat a lot of these sirtuin-rich foods. Like I do a lot of dark chocolate and blueberries and resveratrol, and then you talked about NAD Plus, and I have interviewed the folks from San Diego who do these NAD injections, and I'm going down there myself for an eight-hour long NAD injection where you're just hooked up to an NAD IV, and you feel like Superman for several weeks afterwards, but each day, I actually consume, have you heard of beta-Lapachone before?
Eve: No I haven't.
Ben: Okay, so beta-Lapachone actually increases your NAD to NADH ratio, and it turns out there's a type of tea called Pau D'arco bark tea, and I order this on Amazon for pennies on the dollar, and I make myself Pau D'arco bark tea every day, and it allows me to kind of get all the benefits of NAD without taking a lot of expensive supplements. So I basically do that and bitter melon extract and then a lot of sirtuin-rich foods to kind of tap into these supplementation categories, but your book is quite interesting, in terms of getting into a lot of these drugs and supplements that a lot of people are working on, and then of course as you've alluded to, this concept of nanomedicine. So it is fascinating, you know? I question and I suppose, actually I'd love to hear you comment on this. I question the effect on telomere length and how significant it is compared to something like, lets say, stem cell injection. Have you ever had your telomeres measured, Eve?
Eve: No, I never have. I'm almost afraid to know how long they are.
Ben: Yeah, I was too. I actually measured at thirty-six years old when I was thirty-four years old, so most likely due to my ten years of Ironman triathlon and extreme Spartan racing, they were a little bit longer than what I would've liked, but there's this company called TeloYears that does a white blood cell analysis of telomere length, and so I'm just repeating that every quarter or so to see what's working and what's not. So for those of you listening in, I'll, of course, be sure to continue to update folks on my own anti-aging protocols, but Eve, another question that I have for you is in terms of writing this book, and all of the things that you learned while writing it, if you could choose any handful of the top techniques that you would consider or that you might even advise like a young person to do, or perhaps someone who is aging and becoming senescent? Anything that we haven't talked about that you think is quite compelling that you discovered while writing this book?
Eve: Well I don't think there's another compelling route that I'm aware of, and I know that most of the research in aging, as far as the most reliable way to retard aging that tends to work all the time is calorie restriction, but I don't really consider that a realistic alternative. I mean we live in a super-size-me society, and I think if there's anything that a person should do or can do, however, is not to become a beast because once you become a beast, then you send a whole cascade of functions into motion that advanced aging, that contribute to age-related diseases and conditions. If you can maintain a healthy body weight, I think that's just really important, and it's also important in how you look and feel.
Ben: Well I guess like playing devil's advocate though, there is this concept of an obesity paradox, right? Which holds that obesity and high cholesterol to a certain extent could counter-intuitively be protected and associated with greater survival and certain group of people like elderly folks who might be predisposed to like muscle wasting or chronic disease, and so I think it's almost like a sweet spot when it comes to the amount of fat that you have. It's interesting that certain types of fat almost appear to be protective, you know? It's kind of like a sweet spot between not being too overweight and not having so much fat that you're tuning out constant inflammation, but also not being frail and cold I guess, your whole life?
Eve: Yeah, well obviously there's something that you need to pursue, but I will say that a lot of the research on fat that there has been some preliminary research that says that people with a certain amount of fat actually live longer than other people, but there's a very long, very huge body of research that says beyond your healthy body mass index, more fat means more disease and more decline. So I tend to be a little skeptical, I go with the big mass of research, and I mean it's just there. I mean the relationship between obesity and diabetes, heart disease, cancer, all kinds of conditions is convincing enough that I feel like one of the best things that you can possibly do for yourself, especially if you get older, is maintain a healthy body weight.
Ben: Interesting, are you doing anything specifically when it comes to fasting protocols yourself? Like do you follow like an alternate day fast or intermittent fasting or anything like that?
Eve: Well I don't do it 'cause I have hypoglycemia, so when I don't eat, I tend to get blood sugar crashes, so it's hard for me to do that. When I was younger, I did do periodic fasting, and it was great. I loved the way it made me feel. I felt like it was a real detox kind of thing to do, and so I think there is a good reason. If you can fast to periodically do that, especially if you can go off of all your toxin-producing type of things like caffeine and sugar and the thing that really kind of are toxic to your metabolism. I think that's a good thing to do, I personally just don't do it. I just try to maintain the right ratio of activity to calories, so a lot of the food that I eat, because I am at a bit of a stickler about getting all those vitamins and minerals through food, is obviously a low-fat diet, but also keeping the activity level up so that you've got the right equilibrium between fat, between calories-in and calories-out. It sounds so simple, but it's not an easy thing to do, and if you can ever get into kind of an equilibrium on that level, then you're doing better than most of us.
Ben: Yeah, I agree with everything you just said except the part about the low-fat diet. I think unless you have familial hypercholesterolemia or some kind of like a PPRA gene issue or something else that causes fat to be inflammatory or to cause a very high particle count that a high fat intake could be actually cardio protective and offer some neuro-protective properties as well, but that might be a whole discussion for another day. I'm on the same page as you are, when it comes to specifically choleric restriction and periods of fasting. I just got done with a twenty-four fast, which I do once a week now from Saturday night until Sunday night, and then I fast twelve to sixteen hours each day, which allows me as an athlete to not to have to do these three to five-day long draining fasts but still get some of the benefits of fasting.
Well I'm going to link to your book in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/beyondhuman, bengreenfieldfitness.com/beyondhuman. So if you're listening in right now, you can go there to leave your own comments, leave your own feedback. Check out Eve's book, “Beyond Human” along with her other books, “Stem Cell Wars” and you're also writing a book called, correct me if I'm wrong here, Eve, “Robots And The Women Who Love Them”?
Ben: I'll have to have you back on the show once that one comes out, it sounds fascinating.
Eve: Oh I'd love too.
Ben: Alright, cool. Well again folks, I'll also put links to everything that Eve and I talked about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/beyondhuman. My previous interview with Aubrey De Grey and my podcast on NAD, my Pau D'arco Tea recipe, TeloYears website for measuring your telomere length, where I got my own bone marrow and fat marrow stem cells extracted and plenty more. And also read this book, so grab it all over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/beyondhuman, and Eve, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all this with us.
Eve: Thanks so much for having me, Ben. It's been really interesting.
Ben: Awesome, alright. I'll take that as a compliment, I guess. Alright folks, well I'm Ben Greenfield along with Eve Herold, signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Never before in the history of medicine has mankind faced such hope and peril as those of us poised to embrace the radical medical technologies of today.
Eve Herold's new book Beyond Human: How Cutting-Edge Science Is Extending Our Lives examines the medical technologies taking shape at the nexus of computing, microelectronics, engineering, nanotechnology, cellular and gene therapies, and robotics. These technologies will dramatically transform our lives and allow us to live for hundreds of years. Yet, with these blessings come complicated practical and ethical issues, some of which we can predict, but many we cannot.
Beyond Human taps the minds of doctors, scientists, and engineers engaged in developing a host of new technologies while telling the stories of some of the patients courageously testing the radical new treatments about to come into the market.
Beyond Human asks the difficult questions of the scientists and bioethicists who seek to ensure that as our bodies and brains become ever more artificial, we hold onto our humanity. In this new world, will everyone have access to technological miracles, or will we end up living in a world of radical disparities? How will society accommodate life spans that extend into hundreds of years? Will we and our descendants be able to bring about the dream of a future liberated by technology, or will we end up merely serving the machines and devices that keep us healthy, smart, young, and alive?
Eve Herold is a science writer specializing in issues at the intersection of science and society. She has written and spoken extensively about stem cell research and regenerative medicine and the social and bioethical aspects of leading-edge medicine. She is the past director of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs at the American Psychiatric Association and has served as Director of Public Policy Research and Education for the Genetics Policy Institute.
Other positions include Public Education Manager for the Stem Cell Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting biomedical research and education. She is the former managing editor of The Gerontologist, a scholarly journal that explores the many facets of aging and its impact on society. Her 2007 book, Stem Cell Wars, was awarded a Commendation in Popular Medicine by the British Medical Association. Her 2016 book, Beyond Human, has been nominated for the Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction. A new book, Robots and the Women Who Love Them, will be released in 2018.
During my discussion with Eve in today's show, you'll discover:
-Whether Eve Herold is one of those folks who are striving to live to be 160 or 180 or 200…[6:12]
-How a brain pacemaker works and if you should get one installed someday…[6:50]
-How to inject your brain with stem cells…[14:10]
-Why Ben has banked both his fat marrow stem cells and bone marrow stem cells…[19:25]
-What Eve's typical day looks like in terms of anti-aging “techniques” she currently uses…[21:45]
-The fascinating current state of organ implantation or organ technology to replace failing organs…[25:10]
-The crazy military and DARPA research that is allowing soldiers to function at a high level for more than 168 hours without sleep…[33:25]
-How a brain-to-machine interface allows for computers to be controlled with sheer mental power…[40:00]
-How nanobots can be used to repair internal proteins and to extend lifespan…[42:30]
-What Eve thinks about so-called anti-aging pills like NAD+, resveratrol, metformin, etc…[49:05]
-Whether you live longer if you are slightly fat…[58:00]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–Six crazy cocktails (including my Pau D' Arco bark tea recipe)
–Circadia – use code GREENFIELD for $100 discount
–Foreverlabs for bone marrow stem cells – use code GREENFIELD for $250 discount
-Birdwell Beach Britches – To get 10% off your first Birdwell purchase, with Lifetime Guarantee and free shipping over $99, go to – Birdwell.com and use discount code BEN at checkout.
-ZipRecruiter – Post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE by visiting ZipRecruiter.com/GREEN.
-Four Sigmatic – Try Four Sigmatic's new adaptogen coffee at FourSigmatic.com/BenGreenfield for 15% off your order.
-HealthIQ – The “Ben Greenfield Fitness” podcast is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people like runners, cyclist, weightlifters and vegetarians get lower rates on their life insurance. Go to healthiq.com/BEN to support the show and see if you qualify.
Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Eve or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!