ZEN+ : Helping you Stay Young and Age Well

DARE to be 100 – The plasticity of human ageing (review)

By Marcus Santer

Favourite quote of the week:

“There is now a virtual consensus that the maximum human lifespan is around 120 years or one million hours.”
Dr Walter M. Bortz

I first came across the work of Dr Bortz back in 2008 when writing my first book: Shaolin Chi Kung.

I was waking up to the importance of your attitude and its effect on ageing.

Yesterday I stumbled across a 2016 video featuring Dr. Bortz aged 86 giving a fascinating lecture on ageing.

As I watched it, I did what I always do when reading or watching something fascinating…

I made notes (helps with remembering it).

And I’d like to share my notes with you here, in case you haven’t got a spare 1 hour, 14 minutes and 52 seconds.

If you have, you should watch it if living and ageing well is important to you.

But just in case, you can read my notes below. Just remember they’re my notes of Dr Bortz’s presentation. If you want the full story… Watch the video =)


Most people are dying not from disease, but from health illiteracy.

Q: What’s your most important asses?
A: Your health is the only sensible answer to that.
Q: Who owns this asset?
A: Exactly!

Use it or lose it and it’s your responsibility to use it.

We are designed to live to 100, that is our biogenetic blueprint, we’re all born to live to 100, if we don’t screw it up.

DARE to be 100!

It ain’t where you came from, it’s how you play the hand – If hereditary is responsible for ageing, identical twins should die at the same age of the same illness. But studies show this isn’t true and that hereditary accounts for 15 percent of how long you’re gonna live. So it’s important, but you can’t do much about it. It’s the other 85 percent where you can stack the odds of longer, healthier and more independent life squarely in your favour.

Genes matter – just not as much as you might think.

(Catabolic wears you out) Inactivity is catabolic.

NASA astronauts discovered the withering effects of space travel. When you don’t use your bones, they mobilise and create calcium stores which increases the risk of kidney stones. You don’t want a kidney stone in space! So you have to exercise to keep the calcium where it belongs… In your bones. Similar for your muscles, when you go into space – because of a lack of gravity – everything ‘goes to hell in a hurry’.

JAMA – Disuse and ageing – 1982 (a study worth checking out)

Most of what people think of as ageing isn’t ageing… It’s disuse.

If who you are is what you do, what you don’t do you aint <-- Think about it. We become what we do, not what we think about =) It's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get up. Exercise is important because it's the signal all the genes in your body listen for. 43 minutes 47 seconds - Interesting chart suggesting a fit person in their 70's is like an unfit person in their 40's. The most important thing your body does is move oxygen. Oxygen is the spark to the candle that keeps your body going. Fitness is a 30 year age offset, it's never to late to start but it's always too soon to stop. the older you get the more predictive of mortality your fitness becomes (as measured by V02 max) There are 3 popular ways to die:

  1. In your 60’s of cancer
  2. In your 70’s of single organ failure (heart, kidneys, lungs etc)
  3. In your 80’s from being too frail

Being necessary is a wonderful reason to live.

William James: “We live lives inferior to ourselves” – we can do better.

George Bernard Shaw: “Some people see things as they are and ask: Why? Others see things as they might be and ask: Why not?”

Question and Answer section

Q: Why is obesity a world wide epidemic?

A: It used to be you blessed someone by saying: “May all your children be fat.”, because for most of our time on this planet we’ve been fighting against starvation. It wasn’t until the agricultural revolution that we started to regularly get enough to eat.
There’s no magic diet, it’s simply how much you eat.

Q: What about GMO’s and big pharma in regards to living a healthy life?

A: Medicine is corrupt. What are we doing to keep people out of hospital? Nothing because there’s no money in it. They (the medical establishment) want you to get sick because then they can get paid. You can prevent 90 percent of what’s out there, but where’s the money in that?

Q: What if your over 60 and so overweight you can’t exercise?

A: Nobody is ever too ill or too old not to exercise. But it has to be tailored to the individuals situation.

Q: What do you thing about supplements?

A: “Americans have the most expensive urine in the world.” (I love this) You can get everything you need out of a balanced diet. Linus Pauling lost his objectivity in pursuit of his idea of the value of vitamin C. “There’s no evidence that anyone has ever lived longer because of any supplement.”

Q: What are your thoughts on dementia?

A: The brain is a fragile tissue, Robert Dustman wrote a paper showing how exercise raised a bunch of old folks’s IQ. Carl Cotman at UC Irvine (Institute for brain ageing and dementia) is an expert on Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) – comes from the hypothalamus – it’s been shown to stimulate brain growth. And what’s the thing that stimulates BDNF? Exercise!
Why is exercise good for everything and a lack of exercise bad for everything? Because exercise puts you were you’re most productive. What ancient Greeks called: The Golden Mean – The desirable middle between two extremes.

Q: What’s your regimen between marathons?

A: I run there times a week, because Bushmen run three times a week.

Q: What about Sleep?

A: How much sleep do we need? MORE! We’re nothing more than a bunch of circadian rhythms. Travelling, stress, processed foods etc can mess these rhythms up, but exercise can get them back in phase again.

Q: Do you recommend swimming?

A: There are four types of exercise:

  1. Aerobic
  2. Strength
  3. Balance
  4. Flexibility

You want to do all four… If you can.

Q: What about sugar?

A: We’re just not clever enough to put a restraint on it. Sugar gives your metabolism (the chemical processes that occur in living organisms to maintain life) a sudden jolt which raises insulin and spike circadian rhythms.

Q: What about the latest trends in healthy diets?

A: It’s calories that count. Find a diet you can stay on. There’s nothing magic about any diet, it’s the amount that counts.

Q: Can you comment on people living longer?

A: The most rapidly growing population in the world is the centenarians. Why? Because we’re living into our potential. But! The take home message from the studies of Super Centenarians – those 110+ years of age – is: ‘You don’t want to live to be 115’. The amount of life you have isn’t the ultimate; it’s the quality of your life. It’s the quality of your last years that matter. Try to be as good as you can as long as you can.

Thanks Dr Walter M. Bortz =)

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