Silicon Valley’s elite spend serious coin to stay as alive as long as possible.
And Bryan Johnson put most of that rarified circle to shame. The wealthy software entrepreneur based in Venice, California, is 45 years old and spending $2 million a year in an effort to reverse the aging process so he has the body of an 18-year-old, biologically.
In a new Bloomberg profile, Johnson opens up about his enamorment with the idea of being biologically young again. For better or worse, he has a team of 30 doctors helping him execute a range of medical interventions and tests aimed at reversing his chronological age.
Johnson and his medical team call this journey Project Blueprint, and it involves both common and invasive steps to turn back his biological clock, from regular MRI scans to electromagnetic pulses to improve the muscles in his pelvic floor.
Johnson’s lead doctor and “regenerative medicine physician,” Oliver Zolman, 29, reportedly charges up to $1,000 an hour.
Despite Johnson’s mountain of moula, Zolman admits: “We have not achieved any remarkable results.” Womp, womp.
Instead, they’ve claimed Johnson’s gained “small, reasonable results, and it’s to be expected.” Namely, Johnson reportedly has the heart of a 37-year-old, and has lowered his biological age by about five years.
While this particular lifespan adventure may seem over-the-top and fanciful, what exactly is Johnson doing to his body in the name of science to unlock the coveted fountain of youth? And what should you know about those choices and habits? Do any apply to your quest for a better healthspan and a longer lifespan?
We assess Johnson’s methods, based on the reporting available, and codify them into “Smart,” “Pointless,” or “Unsure” bets on longevity.
Does High-Intensity Exercise: Smart
You don’t need to be Chris Hemsworth to hit the gym (or home weights, or the pavement outside) for just an hour per day, which is moderate enough. Johnson completes at least an hour a day, three days a week. Plus, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been linked to special longevity benefits.
Follows a Strict Diet (1,977 vegan calories a day): Smart
Keeping a regular, healthy diet is essential for so many reasons, but it need not come with strict limitations. That said, 1,977 calories per day is about in line with recommended ranges for physically active men.
As for veganism: Being vegan doesn’t automatically mean being healthy, but it could have advantages for people trying to lose weight, manage diabetes, reduce heart disease risk, or even reduce risk of certain cancers.
Follows a Sleep Routine: Smart
Everyone should aim to get consistent sleep. A regular bedtime (not just for kids) helps maintain the body’s internal clock. Kudos on that front, but Johnson takes it a step further by using blue-light blocking glasses for two hours prior to bed. That’s a big “Unsure,” as blue light glasses haven’t proven all that effective for digital eye strain, according to Cleveland Clinic. But they also won’t hurt.
Completes Monthly Blood Tests, MRIs, Ultrasounds, and Colonoscopies: Smart(ish)
We’re believers in examining your blood and hormones to measure and understand your overall health picture. These types of tests, colonoscopies, and the like can be literal lifesavers when it comes to diagnoses for cancer and other illnesses. But subjecting yourself to this level of testing every single month is generally not advised, especially one for patients presenting as healthy as Johnson.
MRI scans are not only elaborate and exorbitantly expensive, they are only be ordered when a medical professional observes a reason why a patient should get one. Cancer patients, for example, may require MRI imaging.
For everyone else, trust expert guidance when it comes to testing possibilities. David Chan, MD from UCLA, Stanford Oncology Fellowship, writes: “It’s pretty clear that people should not be having routine imaging in the absence of inherited genetic risk (as established by genetic testing) or symptoms of illness.”
Uses Whole-Body Light Therapy: Smart
While not everybody has the means to undergo regular laser and light therapy, the treatments have proven effective in treating chronic inflammation, which is often a trigger for other conditions and illnesses, according to Main Line Health.
In particular, “red light therapy (RLT) is an emerging treatment that’s showing promise in treating wrinkles, redness, acne, scars, and other signs of aging,” according to Cleveland Clinic.
Uses Testosterone Patches: Smart
Uses Electromagnetic Pulses to Improve Muscle: Unsure
Johnson gets his electromagnetic pulses directed at “hard-to-reach” places in his pelvic floor. While active pelvic floor muscle exercises can be essential for some, according to the National Library of Medicine, research has shown very limited benefits to electromagnetic stimulation of pelvic floor muscles in patients with incontinence and other pelvic floor issues.
We can’t speak to any problems Johnson may have when it comes to his pelvic floor, but this seems likely unnecessary, though not harmful.
He also claims a high intensity electromagnetic device allows him to do the equivalent of “20,000 sit ups” in 30 minutes. “What it feels like is it’s pulling your entire stomach out—it’s ripping it out,” he says in the video. Yikes. According to a recent review high intensity electromagnetic therapy can strengthen muscle and reduce fat.
However, a stimulation equivalent to 20,000 sit ups is unlikely, says Sydney Bueckert, The Edge’s fitness and nutrition editor. “Think about it: If you actually did 20,000 sit ups you’d need an immense amount of recovery—so much so it would be a detriment to the rest of your fitness routine,” she says.
High intensity electromagnetic therapy is a treatment offered by many plastic surgeons. While it may have benefits, it’s not a replacement for actual exercise.
Makes Himself Cry Twice a Day: Unsure
As part of his extreme self-quantifying research, Johnson says that he discovered that his eyes weren’t producing an optimal amount of fluid. While he first opted for eye drops multiple times a day, he’s now going the more natural route by making himself cry twice a day.
He uses the iTear 100 to stimulate a nerve on the side of his nose that makes his eyes water. According to Johnson, the device feels like the most “intense anticipatory sneeze.” Pleasant.
Counts Overnight Erections: Pointless
Erectile dysfunction is a real problem for men as they age, and Johnson is reportedly as virile as a teenager when it comes to his erections, so cheers for him. But meticulously tallying sleeping hard-ons isn’t necessary for someone with that level of general health.
If you’re having ED problems, your urologist may measure your nighttime erections, but only during a course of treatment to alleviate your symptoms.
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