In September I spit in a plastic collection device and sent the saliva to Great Britain to be analyzed by FitnessGenes. The lab extracted my DNA from the saliva sample and analyzed it.
Three weeks later I received an analysis of 40 genetic variations related to the big three of sports types: endurance, strength, and speed. My results also included the types of training that I should undertake, along with specific dietary recommendations and even supplements that my particular body should respond to.
I’m still digesting the results, but the actual data confirmed that I was on the right track with my approach to training and eating even before I learned about what was up, or down in some findings, with my genes.
In sum, I have a profile suggesting that my endurance is stronger than strength and speed. I have been successful in long distance endurance events ( Triple Crown of hiking), so the details of my particular genetic package will be useful in my planning to continue to home my dietary and training choices.
My experience with FitnessGenes led me to understand that there can be no one “true” dietary or training recommendation that fits all, whether it be drinking milk as an adult, or as the following article explains, consuming coffee. There are few things the wellness world is more divided on than morning joe.
I love coffee. I thank my parents, Chester and Isabel, for providing me with a favorable CYP1A2 gene. My AA genotype characterizes me as a fast coffee metabolizer. Forty percent of people are fast metabolizers. About 45 percent have both a slow and a fast copy, and 15 percent carry two copies of the slow allele. Studies have shown that taking caffeine improves performance in sports and exercise. Research also indicates that fast metabolizers, like me, also saw their risk of hypertension fall as their coffee intake rose.
This long overdue blog post was inspired by the Parade Magazine supplement from my Sunday paper. It’s a weak piece of literature, but occasionally I pull a recipe. Here is an article that even sparked a response from my wife , Marcia, who warned me, ” You better not read this or I am going to end up with you trying to reach 100 years old.”
The article features a typical day in the life of Michael Roizen, M.D., who has dedicated 20 years to the study of longevity—specifically, the idea that certain daily choices can make your body and mind years younger than your calendar age. Roizen has an upcoming book, “AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip“, so this article is probably just one limb of a deep-pocketed marketing campaign, with Dr. Mike showing up on National Public Radio, in an interview with Terry Gross. I’ve seen the same thing with the mega-sucessful Wild, a movie that came after the book went Top 10. Yes, I will probably read his book, even if I just squeeze out a few extra weeks of existence and never even make it to be 100 years old. Right now, I am not so sure that things are going to get better in the next 30 years. Just to be clear, this book is not even out yet.
Since I have a huge interest in continuing my daily hikes, backpacking ventures, and riding through the woods on my bikes, I check out practices and products that assist me moving. I decided to X-Ray the article and see how I measured up against Dr. Mike.
Here’s a snapshot of Mike’s typical work day. The italicized portions are quoted from Parade. My own comments follow in standard print:
Morning smooches– 5:00 a.m. “The first thing I do is kiss my wife, Nancy.” Choosing your partner wisely and with passion is one of Roizen’s keys to longevity. Nope! I am an early riser, usually at or just before daybreak. I need to be careful to get up and out of bed without waking up Marcia. Definitely not part of my daily practice, so far. Maybe I should leave a nice note by her bed stand instead? On the positive side, we continue to enjoy each other’s company over the past 43 years.
Meditation– 5:05 a.m. A five-minute meditation in the shower sets his intentions for the day and helps manage stress. Big yes. I was taught Transcendental Meditation when I attended UMass back in 1970. I even went to Canada and then Spain for several months to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 1070’s, when I became a TM teacher. I continue to practice the technique for 30 minutes, every morning, accumulating 46 years of experiences, or non-experience if you prefer.
Heart Healthy Breakfast: 5:45 a.m. He eats heart-healthy oatmeal with walnuts. Six days a week I have one cup of organic wild blueberries, 1 cup of whole mile yogurt, and 1/4 cup of granola, which is 75% nuts and seeds. In August, I fill half a freezer with 130 pounds of fresh Maine wild berries that are grown across town. On Sundays I treat myself to eggs and a bagel.
His cup runneth over: 8-9 cups coffee, 32 oz. water. Roizen drinks a lot of coffee. (It counts toward his daily fluid intake, he says.) He doesn’t use cream or sugar and also drinks plenty of H2O. This would be way too much coffee for me. I generally have 2 to 3 cups of high quality coffee in the morning. Four months ago, I purchased a package from Fitness Genes, including a DNA test kit, that analyzed my genetic information related to health and metabolism. One of those 42 genes reflects caffeine metabolism. I carry two copies of the “fast metabolizer” A allele. Caffeine works fast for me and is metabolized quickly, suggesting that I can use it to my advantage by downing a cup immediately before I ride or hike. I have no problems with sleeping if I do have a shot of espresso after dinner. Bing! This finding alone was worth the cost of the testing!
Lunchtime veggie madness: In the employee cafeteria, Roizen assembles a low-calorie, nutrient-rich salad with an assortment of veggies such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peas, dressed with balsamic vinegar. Or he’ll have a hot plate with steamed broccoli, sautéed green beans and another veggie. During farmers’ market season on the Cleveland Clinic campus, Roizen stocks up on healthy snacks for his staff. My lunch is usually a large bowl of fake pho or phauxpho, as I term it. I came up with this meal this past summer, when I was harvesting various vegetables from my garden. It is composed of rich broth, steamed or sauteed veggies, a protein source, and a few rice noodles. Here’s my blog post laying out my phauxpho recipe, which looked like this one day.
Walk and talk: 2:00 p.m. Roizen breaks up sitting time by walking up a flight of stairs or two with patients, while monitoring their pulse, or having one-on-one “walking meetings” with colleagues. The closest I come to this is walking and talking with my friend Frank. We try to walk in the Camden Hills State park on Friday afternoons.
Afternoon meditation: Another 30 minute TM session every afternoon for me, generally in the late afternoon.
Connecting with friends: 5:30 p.m. His evening commute is good for the soul: He likes to catch up with friends on the phone. And several times a week he uses FaceTime to video chat at home with his grown children, Jennifer and Jeffrey, and granddaughter, Julien. I have this one down. For over 25 years. I meet every single Monday night at 5:30 PM with 6 other guys who part of my Men’s Group, or as I term it now my Personal Board of Advisers. We take turns cooking a completed dinner for each other on a rotating location, generally each person’s home. Thus has gone on for over 25 years. Serious discussions are rare these days, even once a week. I am also a member of The Bubbas, a group of local guys and a limited number of gals ( generally 1 or 2) who ride mountain bikes over challenging conditions in the woods at three different locations in Midcoast Maine on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and on Sunday mornings. We do catch up on things, but mostly make fun of each other in some unsavory manner. I love The Bubbaas.
Plenty of fun: 8:00 p.m. You can find the sports-loving Roizens cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indians. “If we don’t have tickets or they’re away, I’m usually watching the game on TV just before bed,” he says. “That’s my calm-down ritual.” The only sports team that still matters to me is the New England Patriots, who have posted a winning season for some time now, and brought to the Patriots Nation yet another Super Bowl triumph this week! Unfortunately I have to keep my allegiance silent outside of New England, due to the many millions of Patriots haters out there.
Sleep smart: 10:30 p.m. “If I have a weakness, it’s that I don’t honor sleep as much as I should,” he admits. “I used to feel great on six hours—now seven is much better for me.” Most people need more as they age, he says, and everyone should get at least 6.5 hours for the best longevity benefits. I picked up the new Fitbit Charge 2 after Christmas through my Maine Guide discount at LLBean. One function is the automatic tracking of how long and how well I sleep. I am asleep at least an hour before Mr. Roizen. I have no use for the Silent Alarm, and tend to wake up at daybreak, if not before.
Additional facts: 90 The number of minutes Roizen aims to spend on his treadmill desk by walking during conference calls and radio interviews. I average 75-90 minutes a day of brisk walking or biking.
10,000 The number of steps Roizen tries to log daily on his fitness tracker. If he hasn’t hit his goal, he walks on the treadmill while he watches TV. “That’s about the only time I catch The Daily Show live,” he says. My 2017 goal is 12,000 steps a day, supporting the 75-90 minute figures above. 2017 is also my goal for this year. I plan to walk or bike that many miles this year. Using the Strava program/ app allows me to track each and every ride, walk, hike that I experience. Monitoring my progress toward my yearly goal is made much easier with the metrics and the graphics of the Premium ( paid) version of the app.
25 The calories in a small piece of dark chocolate, a favorite Roizen pick-me-up (along with a handful of walnuts) if dinner will be late. I consume 0.5 oz. of 70% or more dark chocolate a day. It’s three times what Dr. Mike takes. It’s for my health!
So, there you go, one researched path to centarianism. One hundred years of life may not be everyone’s target, but can’t we all use professional guidance in holding our bodies and spirits together as we move along life’s trails and trials.
I invite any further “hacks” that you might share with us all. Please consider commenting, and subscribing to this blog !