Functional medicine and optimum health is the focus of my work at Dubai’s DNA Center. But I’m also a new father to nine-month-old twins and over the last six months I’ve shifted my obsession to ‘longevity science.’ I think having my twins made me want to live as long as possible (maybe live to 100).
So what are the ways to live to 100? Here’s some of the new things I’m doing to get there.
Go to sleep earlier
These days I’m in bed by 9 to 9.30pm, rising with the twins at 6 or 6.30am. I also track my sleep with an Oura Ring. This tells me how much REM/deep sleep I’ve been getting and what my Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is –the higher the better. This helps guide me with respect to recovery and training. Measuring HRV has become an accepted way to measure how the body’s autonomic nervous system, which regulates biological processes including heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, is performing.
Track glycemic variability
I regularly wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor to track my glycemic variability. Why is this important? Because glycemic variability is linked to all modern disease, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. Through a small sensor that is easily inserted just under the skin, CGMs take glucose measurements at regular intervals, providing insight into the impact eating, working out and other factors have on glucose levels.
Plants, fish and Blue Zones
I’m eating less protein and a more vegetable-based diet, with mainly fish. Blue Zones are areas around the world with the highest number of centenarians. Their lifestyle habits have been observed and are now the focus of much interest in the longevity field. This is the advice I now practice and preach.
There are five blue zones: the Italian island of Sardinia,. Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California, Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula and Ikaria, a Greek island. The longevity of those living in those places, which has been studied extensively, results from a mix of lifestyle factors that includes natural movement, a healthy, plant-heavy diet and a sense of belonging and community.
I intermittently fast 16 hours per day and have shifted my eight-hour eating window to earlier in the day. I also do a 24-to-36 hour fast once a week. Seasonally I do a five-day water-only fast or ‘fasting mimicking,’ which involves taking in 800 vegan calories for five days. Why? Because fasting makes the body more stress resistant, re-balances hormones, metabolism and so on.
Conditional vs anabolic resistance training
When it comes to exercise, I’ve switched to more movement-based training – think brisk walking and short, sharp bursts of exercise – and more body weight-based workouts rather than anabolic resistance training. The simple fact is, high-level sportsmen and bodybuilders have a low life expectancy. That’s partly because they are anabolic all the time, which is not good for ageing!
I do occasional short sprints as well as compound or whole-body movements three times per week, incorporating squats, deadlifts, power cleans and pullups or dips. And I’ve reduced my muscle mass – and fat – by 10 kilograms.
Take NAD supplements
NAD, or Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, is the darling of the anti-ageing world. NAD works by increasing mitochondrial efficiency; improving stem cell function and activating sirtuins, which are cellular proteins that enhance metabolic efficiency, increase antioxidant pathways and facilitate DNA repair. In short, a pretty good bang for your buck.
Featured image Andrew Wong/Unsplash
Dr Nasr Al Jafari
Based in Dubai and educated in Britain, Dr Nasr Al Jafari decided to focus on functional medicine after becoming disillusioned by mainstream medicine and the perpetual cycle of sicker patients and more medications.