The Longevity Code: The New Science of Aging by Kris Verburgh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As a health and wellness coach dedicated to helping people make healthier lifestyle choices how could I not enjoy yet another book that espouses the benefits of eating a balanced plant-based diet and getting regular exercise.
Some other reviewers commented that there was nothing new here, which I think is part of the point. The recommendations haven't changed much even though our understanding of why those recommendations work does. While Verburgh does talk about some up and coming anti-aging treatments that work at the cellular level to defy what has always been assumed to be the inevitability of aging, the reality is that at least for now, the best defense the masses have against aging is to eat whole foods, mostly plants, and move regularly.
Verburgh also delves into the science and physiology of aging in a way that is not overly technical. For example, he doesn't just say why heavy protein diets can contribute to aging, he explains why and I think that's important. He also questions the assumption that aging is unavoidable by describing anti-aging jelly fish and immortal polyps. He even references human reproductive cells that seem immune to aging in order to make a point. According to Verburgh, life expectancy continues to increase and a few of the youngest among us may actually live well beyond a 100 to 135. Unfortunately, we live longer but are sicker during those years thanks to age-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer and the like.
Though much of the book does focus on nutrition and a little time is given to exercise, sleep and stress management barely get an honorable mention. Though unfortunate, there is still much here for both the novice and those with a deeper understanding as the book (even if only superficially) lays the groundwork for the "what's next" phase of anti-aging medicine.
The weakest part of the book is undoubtedly the section in which he argues in favor of living longer, mainly by refuting the arguments against living longer such as overpopulation or boredom with life in general.
For someone who believes in the power of a healthy lifestyle, the book is both validating and empowering. Living to 1,000 years aside, I think we would all like to believe that we can lessen the effects of aging both on the outside and the inside. It is only fitting that today I read an article in Women's Health about a 71 year old grandmother who just set a new world record for a half-marathon in her age group...1:37:07. Age really is only a number and how we age can and is impacted by our daily choices.