I am not 100 years old
(No. 63) Ageism on 8th Avenue, fasting, Twitter by Stephen P. Williams
First, a tweet:
When, not how much, you eat
Photo by RODOLFO BARRETO on Unsplash
For nearly a century, scientists have known that mice who eat fewer calories than other mice live longer. In recent years, it has been shown that these mice benefit, at least in part, because their diet helps regulate their glucose and insulin levels. Some longevity obsessed humans have extrapolated that the mice findings probably also apply to humans, and have embraced caloric restriction as a way of extending their own lives.
Now they’ve got intellectual competition. Lately, a practice called intermittent fasting has become popular among longevity explorers, as well as others who just want to hack their way to good health. Intermittent fasting comes in many forms, but perhaps the most popular is called 16/8, meaning you stop eating for 16 hours (including time spent sleeping), and then have all your meals in the remaining 8 hours. If your first meal is at 10 am, you stop eating at 6 pm. Variations include 12/12 and 18/6, and everything else you could imagine.
One of the most notorious descriptions of of intermittent fasting occurred in 2019 when Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of both Twitter and the payment company called Square, described his habits on a podcast (you must give your email to read the transcript). Dorsey said he eats only once a day --- some chicken, fish or steak, along with a salad and a vegetable and red wine, along with some berries or dark chocolate for dessert -- during the week, and sometimes ingests nothing on the weekends.
“I’ll go from Friday ’til Sunday. I won’t have dinner on Friday. I won’t have dinner or any meal on Saturday. And the first time I’ll eat will be Sunday evening…The first time I did it, like day three, I felt like I was hallucinating. It was a weird state to be in,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey is chiseled, for sure, but I can’t access his metabolic reports to see if he might live longer now than if he wasn’t restricting his calories. However, a recent study suggests that Dorsey’s habit of intermittent fasting, rather than calorie restriction, might be the key to a long life.
A study recently published in Nature Metabolism exploded the idea of limiting calorie restriction in mice. The researchers studied three groups of mice: one group had access to low calorie food all day; another dealt with both low calorie diets and restricted hours when they could eat; and a third just had restricted hours during which they could eat as much as they wanted.
It turns out that reducing calories did not have as powerful an effect in regulating the metabolic reactions of these mice as intermittent fasting (restricted eating window) did -- even when calories weren’t restricted. Certainly, if a person wants to lose weight, restricting calories along with limiting the food window will work best -- if it’s possible to keep up with such a strict diet. But to improve longevity, based on metabolic biomarkers in mice, then intermittent fasting does the trick.
If you decide to try intermittent fasting, this app might help. Or you can just use your watch. I can say from personal experience that limiting food intake to an 8 hour window isn’t that hard. A six hour window can be challenging. And a four hour eating window, which a friend of mine did for a year, can be a little painful. The time restraints create lots of issues around going out to dinner with friends, and sharing meals with family members who might want to get breakfast with you, or have a meal past six o’clock in the evening (if that’s your cut off).
So expect to be challenged if you start intermittent fasting. But also expect to be healthier, longer.
Do French women get aging right?
Exercise away anxiety
You’ve heard it before. Now hear it again. Really, exercise is such a simple way to feel better, physically and mentally. And those two improvements will surely help you feel better spiritually.
I track my sleep habits using an Oura ring. Occasionally, I don’t get much deep sleep, and I notice I don’t feel that great. Apparently, deep sleep helps your brain reformat itself. Here are some tips on how to ensure that some of your sleep is deep.
I’ve been teaching myself to sleep better, little by little. Often, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’ll use this breathing technique to fall back asleep.
Naps are often called the dessert of sleep. Or at least they should be called that, because they are so sweet and special. And good for your health and memory.
A beautiful development in a world of haters.
On the street
I recently had an encounter on 8th Avenue, in the 20s, near my home in NYC. As I walked towards the grocery store late one afternoon, a slightly disheveled 20-something guy approached me:
“Hey buddy, wanna buy some drugs?” he said.
I ignored him, kept walking. About 10 seconds later I heard him call out to me.
I turned and looked at him. He stared at me.
“You’re an idiot,” I said.
He stared for a moment longer, summoning a retort.
“What are you, like, 100 years old or something?” he said.
“Well, I’m getting close,” I said. “Getting very close to that, yes.”
He laughed. I laughed. We both walked our separate ways.
At that moment I felt very young inside, and very old outside. I regretted shooting my mouth off. The moral of the story? I don’t know. There are many things to consider.
For instance: Why did he think a hundred year old guy would buy drugs on the street?
Hey….send me your questions and thoughts. I love to hear from you (even if I am sometimes not a good return correspondent.) Talk to you soon. Stephen