Episode 105: Art De Vany talks about healthspan, lifespan and healing the wounds of aging
// Mar 31, 2020
Our guest today is Dr. Arthur De Vany, who we interviewed three years ago on episode 30 of STEM-Talk. Art, who is perhaps best known as one of the founders of the Paleo movement, is the author of “The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us About Weight Loss, Fitness and Aging.”
Art is a professor emeritus of economics at the University of California, Irvine. In our first interview, we talked to Art about his early research into the economics of the movie business and how he created mathematical and statistical models to precisely describe the motion-picture market.
In today’s interview, Art talks to us about the new book he’s working on that’s tentatively titled, “The Youthful Brain—A Revolutionary Program to protect the Brain, Extend Youthfulness and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.”
The book is a continuation of Art’s ongoing study of the human body and brain and offers his strategies for preventing brain deterioration and maintaining a healthy, lean body.
Show notes:[00:03:13] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that it has been three years since Art’s first appearance on the podcast. She asks Art what it is about the modern Western lifestyle that sends so many people to an early grave. [00:05:42] Dawn asks about Art’s discovery that the world’s healthiest, long-living individuals typically have low insulin. [00:07:44] Ken mentions that Art is working on a new book that will look at brain-body signaling and provide strategies for preventing brain deterioration and maintaining a healthy lean body. Art talks about how we originally planned to write about aging, but that most aging research is bull and that nobody really understands what it is. He explains that in his mind aging is basically a directed random walk into entropy. [00:10:11] Ken asks about one of Art’s key points, that Alzheimer’s disease and many other diseases of neural degeneration and cognitive decline are largely metabolic diseases compounded by loss of muscle mass and stem-cell exhaustion. [00:13:09] Dawn asks about the evolution of the human brain, and how the most recent additions to the brain are the most dependent on glucose metabolism. [00:14:22] Dawn mentions that synapses are essential to neuronal function, as they are the means by which neurons communicate signals. She asks Art to expand on the comment he made in his recent lecture at IHMC stating that “synapses are forever young but in ever need of support and protection.” [00:16:29] Ken asks about the lactate shuttle hypothesis, which is based on the observation that lactate is formed and utilized continuously in diverse cells under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions. [00:18:51] Dawn mentions the role of mitochondria, and how when they are not working the way they should that cells and tissues of our body become starved for energy, forcing us to rely on anaerobic metabolism. This results in a number of issues. She asks Art what we can do to maintain healthy mitochondria over our lifespan. [00:21:25] Art gives advice for reprograming the metabolism of the aging brain. [00:22:35] Ken asks about mTOR from an evolutionary perspective and why people have so many concerns regarding its role in cancer and degenerative disease. [00:24:35] Art explains his view of aging as the “failure of a renewal program,” and why aging is not programmed. [00:26:35] Dawn mentions that she has heard that Art eats just two meals a day, an early breakfast and dinner, to create a long interval between meals so his body can maintain low-insulin signaling. She asks how this brings on the defensive and repair pathways. [00:28:52] Ken asks about Art’s exercise routine and why he prefers fasted exercise. [00:30:46] Dawn asks about the importance of sleep, if Art still takes melatonin to help with his sleep, and what advice he has for people in terms of getting good sleep. [00:32:56] Dawn mentions that Art has commented that physically and genetically we are built to run fast and climb trees, but given the state of the modern world she asks what is the best way to stay physically fit if we are not allowed to regularly do those things that we evolved to do. [00:35:47] Ken asks for Art’s thoughts on why we have seen the loss of mass in the human brain, particularly in the hippocampus. [00:41:44] Ken asks about the role of oxytocin in preserving brain mass. [00:43:02] Dawn points out that Art is 82 years old. If aging is indeed a random walk into entropy, she asks Art what he considers a reasonable expectation is in terms of human lifespan. [00:43:50] Dawn mentions that Art has in the past said that he was 78 years old when he first started thinking about aging. Given that most people start having those thoughts in their 60s, she asks why it took him so long. [00:44:55] Ken closes the interview asking Art what advice he would give to his younger self.