On the one hand, extending life to the point of practical immortality (longevity escape velocity, or LEV) is an absurdly bad idea, the epitome of human hubris, fraught with all manner of social, economic, and philosophical problems—many of which we probably can’t foresee.
On the other hand, if aging is a disease like any other (as epigeneticists tend to think), and our number one killer at that, aren’t we morally obliged to work on a cure—especially if, as researchers claim, a cure most definitely exists? Aubrey de Grey, one of the most public advocates of life extension research, answers the question of why he wants to cure aging with another: “What the hell is wrong with everyone else that stops them from being motivated to cure aging? It’s responsible for the overwhelming majority of global suffering. WTF?”
On yet another hand (who knows, maybe we’ll graft one on next), if you’re enjoying life, why not prolong it indefinitely? It’s not like we’re going to eliminate death entirely and force everyone to live forever; we’re just looking at ways to tackle its primary cause.
In any case, wherever you stand on life extension, there are certain things you can do right now to improve your odds of living long enough to see it happen. And, even if when that day comes you opt out of “living forever,” these top 10 tips for practical immortality can only improve your health in the meantime. For the most part anyway.
10. Take supplements
Although there’s very little evidence in favor of supplementing nutrients for longevity (something de Grey himself points out), life extension zealot Ray Kurzweil takes hundreds of pills every day. If you want to stand a chance of living forever, he insists, you must “be aggressive with your supplementation.”
Stephen Coles, another life extension enthusiast, appears to agree, prescribing a daunting nutrient cocktail of vitamins (B, C, E, etc.), fish oil, soya lecithin, and many, many other supplements.
Obviously the cost of so many pills can rapidly get out of control. It’s also no small feat keeping up with the often contradictory research and adjusting your regimen accordingly, while at the same time accounting for differences in size, weight, gender, health, lifestyle, diet, and so on. Given that individual supplements could end up interfering with, duplicating, or even counteracting the effects of the others, fine-tuning your intake can become a rather tedious full-time job. And it’s probably not worth the hassle.
But if you’re serious about supplementation (because there is in fact reason to be), then the best way to get started is to plan out your own “personal supplement pyramid.” The idea is to start with a reliable foundation of supplements recommended for everyone—multivitamin, CoQ10, essential fatty acids, probiotics, and so on—before customizing your intake from there. First, you’ll add supplements recommended for your own medical profile (e.g. pomegranate extract for a family history of heart disease), and then you’ll top off your pyramid with some of the more faddish or experimental wonder-supplements (or drugs) of the day. These might include protein-refolding supplements, Basis, or metformin. Ned David, co-founder of Unity Biotechnology, is said to look 20 years younger, in part because he uses metformin—a diabetes drug that helped even elderly diabetics live longer than a healthy control group.