If you haven’t heard of Metformin yet, chances are you soon will. It’s one of the biggest unkept secrets of celebrities and billionaires who are looking to extend their lives indefinitely.
Metformin, produced from the French lilac plant, has actually been around for decades as a safe, effective treatment for diabetes. Before it was a pharmaceutical, Metformin has been in use as an herbal remedy for frequent urination, measles, and worms, among other conditions.
Recently, Metformin has seen a surge of interest in the burgeoning field of longevity science. Numerous studies, mostly on diabetes, have shown that people taking Metformin tend to have fewer heart attacks and cancer diagnoses, and it also seems to stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, people appear to live longer and put off most age-related disease for a greater number of years as compared to people not on the drug. Metformin thus seems to work to not only to increase lifespans but also to increase health spans, which is arguably more important.
How does it work? Metformin has been shown to increase the production of mTOR and AMPK, both of which promote youthful function inside the cell, promote fat utilization, and decrease sugar storage. Cellular AMPK levels decline with age, which biologically leads to some of the cellular signs of aging, such as the inability to repair damaged DNA. Considering the overwhelming evidence, the FDA has now approved the first longevity study ever, called TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin), which aims to prove these benefits over the long term.
Like any drug, Metformin does have some possible side effects, such as low blood sugar and gastrointestinal disturbances (diarrhea, nausea, gas). A potentially serious side effect, lactic acidosis, (symptoms include tiredness, muscle pain, breathing difficulty, slow heart rate), is discussed in the literature, but several large studies have debunked the association of Metformin with this condition. People with liver or kidney disease should not take Metformin. To be safe, before and after (on regular intervals) taking Metformin, you should have bloodwork done.
With billions of dollars being poured by tech titans into longevity research, we are likely to rapidly see many breakthroughs in longevity science. Billionaires Sergey Brin, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg are investing in extending their healthy lifespans, sidestepping the traditional Big Pharma/FDA research pathways that could take decades. Big data, artificial intelligence, and the overwhelming amount of money being invested into biotech has exponentially increased the rate of discovery in the anti-aging arena.
So, where do you start? First, no amount of Metformin will help if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle. You must first get the basics right: 7 hours of sleep, a plant-based diet, and daily physical activity. Second, you need some objective measures of your health and cellular age. A Next|Health Baseline blood panel, combined with a telomere test (a measurement of the length of the end caps of your DNA to identify your cellular age), is a great starting point. Third, talk to our medical professionals to see if Metformin is a good addition to your daily supplement protocol. Other than losing some weight, you may not see or feel any immediate results. But stick with it, as the long-term studies show you may helping yourself live a longer, healthier life!
Over the last few years there have been a plethora of “brain games” introduced to the market, purporting to improve your cognitive abilities in just a few minutes a day. Luminosity, BrainHQ, Peak Labs, and Elevate are a few of the more popular ones that you may have heard of.
Are they really worth the time and money? Does playing a game really help your brain to stay sharp and focused? Unfortunately, the research is conflicting. The website cognitivetrainingdata.com has an up-to-date list of many of the papers published on the topic. A quick review reveals that the data is inconclusive. In fact, the scientific community battled it out in 2014 when Stanford published a “consensus paper” stating that there was “little evidence” that brain training worked. A group of dozens of scientists fired back with a letter stating the opposite.
In my personal experience, both with myself and patients, I have found small but measurable improvements after a few weeks of training with a "brain game" app (the one I used was Peak labs). I used the app BrainCheck to evaluate before and after benchmarks. The results were more dramatic in people who led sedentary lives with lower-than-average “regular” mental stimulation (ie. socially isolated or retired persons).
In contrast, we have an abundance of evidence implicating that stimulating the brain with problem-solving, social activities, and goal-oriented tasks play a role in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Combine this with regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and good control of your sugar intake, and you have almost guaranteed yourself improved brain function for years to come.
Protecting and supporting your brain should be a top priority for every single one of person. Knowing where you currently score by using an app like BrainCheck, and keeping track of that score on a monthly or quarterly basis, should be a regular part of your health care routine. If you find that your score is slipping or that you are in a brain fog, it’s imperative that you proactively address your “brain care” so the damage doesn’t stack up to the point of no return. Talk to a Next|Health medical professional for more information.
As a physician for the last 20 years, I have practiced in almost every health care setting imaginable.
Dr. Darshan Shah is a physician, surgeon, entrepreneur, and is considered by many to be the "Doctor of the Future." His passion is educating the public on the newest technologies in health & wellness and how to look and feel your best!