If you want to get confused, try following the latest health and diet advice. Low fat or low carb? Will coffee kill you or help you live longer? What's the best kind of exercise to keep your body and mind young?
Expert advice seems to change at a blistering pace, but if you want to know which findings are definitive enough to follow in your own life, you could do a lot worse than asking David Sinclair. He's been studying how to slow aging at Harvard since 1999 and is a top expert in the field of longevity research. He's also founded several biotechnology companies.
If you want to know how to put off dying (and who doesn't?), he's your man. And if you really want to know which interventions are road tested enough to move from the lab to real-world practice, there's no better way to find out than to see what changes he's made to his own routine.
Which is just what Medium's Alexandra Sifferlin did recently. In a brief but illuminating interview, Sinclair shared the research-backed tips he's actually incorporated into his own busy lifestyle as a top academic and father of three. Here are a few that stuck out:
1. He takes supplements.
Among Sinclair's best-known findings is the possible protective properties of resveratrol, a molecule which is found on the skin of grapes (and may have something to do with the reported health benefits of drinking moderate amounts of red wine, though the science of that is still under dispute.) This discovery isn't just theory for Sinclair. He tells Medium he practices what he preaches:
"I take resveratrol, which we discovered had health properties 15 years ago, and an NAD supplement each day," he says. (It's worth reading up on the potential pros and cons of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a.k.a. NAD, before you consider taking it yourself.)
2. He's cut way back on calories.
Sinclair isn't some extreme biohacker -- "I tried calorie restriction and couldn't do it. It's really hard to be hungry all the time," he admits -- but he does find the science linking restricted calories and longer life compelling. That's led him to make more moderate alterations to his own diet.
"It's been known since 1916 that cutting back calories is beneficial in every organism it's been tested on -- from yeast to worms to mice to monkeys. I think it would be a surprise if we are an exception to that rule," he notes. "If I'm not hungry and I'm busy, I am quite happy to skip a meal. It's informal intermittent fasting. I feel strongly that this is one of the strongest areas of longevity research."
Even if he does have lunch, he's not going in for the foot-long sub. "I have a small soup or six pieces of sushi. That's it," he says.
Dinner is more of a regular family affair, but Sinclair sticks to small portions and despite his wife's excellent cooking, "I don't go back for seconds," he claims. He also swore off more than a forkful of dessert ten years ago and has stuck to his sweets-free approach.
3. He eats homemade yogurt.
It's not clear whether Sinclair does this mostly for pleasure or science, but it definitely sounds both doable and delicious.
"It's whole milk with some special bacteria that we put in the oven. It takes 24 hours for it to culture, and it's better than anything I know that you can buy. I sweeten it up with some stevia and throw some blueberries in there. I haven't been sick since I started doing that a year ago," Sinclair reports.