The Science of Longevity with Janice Stanger: PYP 274

Janice Stanger, PhD, is author of The Perfect Formula Diet and a genius at getting other people to become nutritional geniuses. Her approach to any topic – diabetes, pregnancy, hormones, whatever – is to dig down into first principles and build from there.

This way of thinking helps non-experts understand the issues without having to rely on experts or gurus to tell them what to think. Grok the first principles, and you can build your own understanding on any topic.

Janice is a three-peat guest on this podcast. I usually reach out to book her after hearing one of her new talks. This year, she brought down the house at the Wellness Forum Health annual conference by sharing the science of longevity.

She's fierce and unforgiving in her analysis of data: Blue Zones are nice, but mostly lack any scientific validation. Valter Longo‘s research is “mostly on mice and yeasts” and far too preliminary to apply to humans.

With those two pillars kicked out from under us, we explored the actual data on what helps humans live long and prosper. We covered:

  • how to approach the protein question: “what is protein, where does it come from, and how does the body use it?”
  • “buying someone else's house to get lumber for yours”
  • excess protein gets turned into fat or glucose
  • what is aging? “accumulation of damage over time”
  • “each cell is its own little life”
  • metabolism, oxidation, and the capacity for self-repair
  • the usefulness of moderate amounts of stress (age- and situation-dependent)
  • airplanes don't defy gravity; they work with it
  • stories and myths of long-lived populations vs verified scientific data
  • Okinawa – the best-documented group of centenarians
  • the Okinawans ate the exact opposite of the ketogenic diet: 9% protein, 6% fat, 85% carbohydrates
  • Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California: fewer centenarians, but highest life expectancy in the world
  • how to add 10 years of life (it's frequently a choice)
  • longer life typically correlates with higher quality of life
  • myths and facts of the Inuit, and the fishy origins of the “no heart disease” story
  • the surprising link between animal foods and indoor air quality
  • three dominant theories of cellular damage
  • oxidation
  • inflammation
  • telomeres
  • the difference between plant- and animal-based iron
  • the hidden danger of vegetable oils: lipid peroxidation (I'd never heard of it either)
  • how sedentarism damages the body
  • the takeaways: healthy diet, moderate physical activity, and a meaningful, purposeful life
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Talk Back


Dr Stanger's website: The Perfect Formula Diet

“Ten Years of Life: Is It a Choice?”

“‘Fishing' for the origins of the ‘Eskimos and heart disease' story: facts or wishful thinking?”

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Thanks to Kelly Michiya, there's a new transcript available, for Bethany Stec Janicek's interview.

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4 Responses to “The Science of Longevity with Janice Stanger: PYP 274”

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  1. Angela says:

    Thank you for this great talk! You are right, longevity is hard to talk about because everyone wants to claim they know the secret and there is much research to be done! Hopefully we will get more scientific studies as more people who eat a whole food plant based diet age. I loved hearing about the telomere study and know you went light on the chemistry of how food can help or harm are bodies- , though you know it well. I love being plant based and never feel like I’m missing out! I am excited to live a life where I am helping animals and preventing disease. Quality of life rather than just surviving and holding on in the medical system is my idea of longevity.

  2. Valerie Suwanseree says:

    Ha ha ha! I like the part where Howard says dying is “not the end of the world.” Actually, it is, Howard, for the consciousness of the person who dies. But I think I know what you mean, that the rest of the world continues on as normal when we die. I really like your attitude about death and I think it is something that people need to talk about more because it is the inevitable end of every life. It would be great if you could get an expert on end-of-life decisions/practices to come on the podcast and talk about how to die a good death. You could call the episode “All’s well that ends well.”

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