Aug 3, 2023 - Health

Axios Speed Read: Peter Attia's new book on living longer

Mike Allen

Cover: Harmony

I'm going to start bringing you Smart Brevity™ versions of books I find worthy of your time.

Zoom in: "Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity," by Peter Attia, M.D., is getting tons of buzz, and has spent 18 weeks on the N.Y. Times bestseller list (no. 2 for hardcover nonfiction in the list for Aug. 13).

Here's what I learned in the 482 pages of "Outlive":

  1. Healthspan: Longevity has two components — how long you live, but equally important how well you live. That's healthspan — "the period of life when we are free from disability or disease." (p. 10)
  2. Why cutting total caloric intake makes us healthier: "Reducing the amount of nutrients available to a cell seems to trigger a group of innate pathways that enhance the cell's stress resistance and metabolic efficiency." Autophagy (ah-TAH-fah-gee) cleanses our cells, allowing them to run more efficiently. As we age, autophagy declines. (p. 81-83)
  3. Explanation for the diabetes epidemic: Our metabolism, "as it evolved over millennia, is not equipped to cope with our ultramodern diet, which has appeared only within the last century or so. Evolution is no longer our friend." (p. 103)
  4. To try to stave off Alzheimer's, try varied challenges "requiring more nimble thinking and processing ... Simply doing a crossword puzzle every day ... seems only to make people better at doing crossword puzzles." (p. 193)
  5. Exercise: "The Most Powerful Longevity Drug." (p. 216)
  6. The Centenarian Decathlon: Make a list of the 10 "most important physical tasks you will want to be able to do for the rest of your life" — Hike 1.5 miles ... Get off the floor using only one arm for support ... Pick up a child ... Carry two 5-pound grocery bags ... Lift a 20-pound suitcase into the overhead, balance on one leg for 30 seconds ... Have sex. (p. 231-233)
  7. Why you shouldn't do squats crooked (a big problem for me): Stability = longevity. Stability training starts with breath. (p. 269-272)
  8. Sleep hack: "For folks who have access, spend time in a sauna or hot tub prior to bed. Once you get into the cool bed, your lowering body temperature will signal to your brain that it's time to sleep. (A hot bath or shower works too.)" (p. 375)

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