Ben Greenfield: Anti Aging

Check out the Ben Greenfield Fitness Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways (what you need to do to live a long, healthy life)

  • Avoid smoking and be conscious of the air quality you’re breathing in
  • Eat more wild plants, herbs, and spices (mint, thyme, rosemary, curry, turmeric, and cayenne)
  • Avoid eating processed and packaged food
  • Eat more legumes and low glycemic index foods
  • Engineer your work environment to allow yourself to engage in low-level physical activity throughout the day
  • You NEED human-to-human interaction (the majority of your social interaction shouldn’t be digital)
  • Choose your alcohol carefully – specifically with wine (only drink organic biodynamic wine to avoid pesticide and herbicide contamination)
  • Practice a mix of fasting (intermittent fasting, prolonged fasts, and a periodic fasting mimicking diet)
  • You should be able to articulate your life’s purpose in one succinct sentence
  • Learn to control stress through breathwork
  • Incorporate some element of religion or spiritual discipline into your life
  • Have more sex

Relevant Products & Supplements Mentioned

Books Mentioned


  • This is a talk from Ben (@bengreenfield) about longevity and increasing lifespan
    • “We have to use a multi-modal approach to aging and implement as many different strategies and tactics as we can”
  • The average human lifespan is around 77 years (although it’s slightly higher for females)
  • This talk largely focuses on the world’s blue zones (areas around the world containing a disproportionately high number of centenarians) and commonalities observed throughout their populations
  • All concepts are discussed more in Blue Zones by Dan Buettner

Don’t Smoke and Be Conscious of the Air Quality You’re Breathing In

  • “What I think flies under the radar is the increasing amount of air pollution that we’re bombarded with on a daily basis in our post-industrial lives”
    • Last year there were a 150,000 cases of diabetes based on pancreatic dysregulation directly related to air pollution
  • How can you improve the air quality you’re exposed to?
    • Keeping certain plants around your home or office can reduce air pollution
      • (Plants release natural polyphenols and essential oils that have a healing effect on the lungs and can reduce cortisol)
      • Which plants?
        • Peace Lily
        • English Ivy
  • Supplementing with a full-spectrum antioxidant as well as taurine has been found to help reverse the lung damage associated with cigarette smoking

All the Longevity Hot Spots Have a High Intake of Wild Plants, Herbs, and Spices

  • The idea of hormesis is that things that are bad for you in large amounts, actually increase your body’s stress resilience and make you stronger in small amounts (exercise, cold, heat, and sunlight)
    • The same can be said of eating plants – plants have natural built-in defense mechanisms that allow them to do a little bit of damage to the mammalian gut with the idea that humans are able to poop out the plant elsewhere to propagate its species
      • So by eating certain plants, you experience hormesis (aka xenohormesis)
  • What kind of plants/herbs/spices?
    • Mint, thyme, rosemary, curry, turmeric, and cayenne
  • Pro tip: rip up your kale the night before you plan to eat it to increase the hormetic effect of consuming it
    • Why? – By tearing it up, the kale upregulates it’s natural built-in defense mechanisms

Avoid Processed and Packaged Foods

  • They’re wreaking havoc on your blood glucose levels and increasing inflammation within the body
    • Processed and packaged food typically contain inflammatory vegetable oil in addition to sugar
  • “Processed and packaged food should be the minority of your diet”
    • EAT REAL FOOD – vegetables, meat, etc. – NOT stuff you have to unwrap and open

Eat More Legumes and Low Glycemic Index Foods

  • Low glycemic index = a minimal blood sugar spike from eating it
    • Lentils and beans are good examples of a legume (and legumes have a low glycemic index)
  • You might also refer to eating low glycemic index foods as eating “slow-carb” ( a term popularized by Tim Ferris in The 4-Hour Body)
    • Some examples of slow carbs – purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro
  • Whole wheat and whole grain bread will often have the same negative effect on your blood sugar as a Snicker’s bar (they’re not slow-release carbohydrates)
  • Caveat – many of these blue zone societies soak/ferment/sprout their legumes
    • For example – quiona is covered in an irritant that can cause harm to the human gut (this is why it’s best to rinse before cooking to wash the irritants off)

Engineer Your Work Environment to Allow Yourself to Engage in Low-Level Physical Activity Throughout the Day

  • “Gyms are a fabrication of a post-industrial era in which we’ve been relegated to sitting on our asses for eight hours a day. We have to somehow satisfy that primal urge to get out and move so we go to the gym for our movement session in a bottle… and then we sit in a chair for the rest of the day. That’s actually a very unhealthy way to live.”
  • People who live in blue zones tend to live a life than allows them to move all day long
    • They’re working outside in the sunshine constantly, walking long distances, carrying/lifting things
  • So what can you do?
    • Put a pull-up bar and kettlebell near your desk and use them frequently throughout the day
    • Take your phone calls while walking
  • “You should structure your life so that by the end of the day going to the gym is an option, not a necessity, because you’ve engineered your work environment to engage in low-level physical activity during the day”

One of the Secrets to a Long Life is Frequent Social Interaction

  • “There is a growing epidemic of loneliness right now because people are primarily engaging digitally”
  • “Always be analyzing your life and asking yourself, ‘How often am I eating alone? How often is the majority of my social interaction occurring digitally?’ If it’s happening the majority of the time, you need to fix that if you truly want to live a long life. You have to prioritize flesh-and-blood physical relationships, friends and family.”

Choose Your Alcohol Carefully

  • In all the blue zones, women have an average of 1 drink/day while men are averaging ~2
  • Ben Greenfield’s cocktail of choice: Gin or vodka on the rocks with a wedge of lemon (or a little bit of club soda) and a selection of house bitters (like thyme or rosemary) – why?
    • There’s no sugar
    • If he’s drinking the cocktail after a meal, the bitters act to reduce the blood glucose response of the food
  • Be VERY careful with wine – only drink organic biodynamic wine
    • Wines in the U.S. alone ~75-80 pesticides and herbicides, are typically very high in sugar + sulfite, and low in antioxidants
    • Wines from France, Italy, and New Zealand typically have lower amounts of pesticide and herbicide contamination

Practice a Mix of Fasting Routines

  • During long periods of fasting, cellular autophagy is upregulated (the cleanup of cellular debris and turnover of old cells)
  • Ben Fasting Routine: A daily 14-16 hour intermittent fast, a monthly 24-hour fast, and a quarterly fasting mimicking diet
    • Ben estimates he eats about 5-6k calories per day within a 8-12 hour window (between 10 AM – 8 PM)
    • What’s a fasting mimicking diet (FMD)?
      • Over a 5 day period, you reduce your calorie intake to ~40% of your normal intake – this provides many of the same benefits as a complete fast

You Should Be Able to Articulate Your Life’s Purpose in One Succinct Sentence

  • People in blue zones possess a strong sense of life purpose that keeps them going every single day
  • “Everybody should have a reason for getting up in the morning and a very clear idea of the reason that they exist… You should be able to, at any given point, close your eyes and in one single, succinct statement state your life’s purpose.”
  • Ben’s purpose?
    • To empower people to live a more adventurous, joyful, and fulfilling life
  • To help identify your life’s purpose, Ben recommends reading Claim Your Power by Mastin Kipp
  • Mark Manson, discussed more in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, has some good advice related to finding your life’s calling – do things that make you forget to eat and poop

Learn to Control Stress Through Breathwork

  • Ben’s favorite breathing exercises:
    • Box breathing – 4 count in, 4 count hold
    • Alternate nostril breathing – breathe in through the right nostril, breathe out through the left
    • 4-7-8 breathing – 4 count in, 7 count hold, 8 count out
  • “The number one most potent way to control stress at the end of the day is to learn how to do it yourself without using supplements and without using exogenous tactics… it’s to do it by tapping into the power of your breath instead”

Most Blue Zones Have an Element of Religion or Spiritual Discipline (both of which are lacking in Western society)

  • Many blue zones practice fasting, breathwork, and meditation, spend hours in silence/solitude, and have some sort of prayer/worship practice
  • “In our day and age, especially in a Westernized society, we’re very good at biohacking cognition, upgrading IQ, and working on our brain… we’re very good at muscle building and fitness and working on our bodies, but very few of us care for I what I think is the most important part of being a human and what happens to be one of the most shriveled-up and neglected parts of all of us: our soul and our spirit.”
  • Things you could do:
    • Gratitude journaling
    • Breathwork

One of the keys to a longer life? – More Sex

  • “From yeast models to fungus to fruit flies to rodents, all the way up to humans, the more often you are making babies, being fertile, or at least sending your body the message that you’re trying to make babies, AKA sex on a regular basis, the longer you live”
    • Why? – From an ancestral standpoint, nature doesn’t want to keep living organisms around that aren’t useful to the propagation of that living species

Advanced Biohacking – Going Beyond the Basics

  • Using a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber
    • “Brief exposure to extremely high amounts of oxygen causes your body to upregulate its own antioxidant production”
  • Thermogenesis
    • “The idea of getting cold every single day for a brief period of time is a fantastic hormetic strategy
      • Ben takes a cold shower to start every single day and has a cold pool (kept at 55 F) that he’ll jump in after using the sauna
      • You could also use a cryptherapy chamber
    • Same with heat – Ben prefers infrared saunas as the infrared light blasts deeply into your tissues and increases your body heat to a greater extent (compared to a dry sauna)
  • Taking rhodioloa mitigates the radiation damage associated with airline travel
  • Calorie restriction memetics are things which mimic the physiological benefits of fasting
    • Ketone esters fit this bill
      • They can keep your appetite satiated for quite some time and activate many of the same pathways as fasting
  • Fisetin (also found in wild strawberries) and Quercetin (found in wild apples) are sirtuin-activating compounds (these protect your mitochondria)
  • Supplements that stave off aging of the mitochondria:
  • A plant compounds which increase telomerase activity (telomerase is a special telomere rebuilding enzyme – as we age, our telomeres shorten) – astragalus

Additional Notes

  • The two most important blood markers to track:
    • Your glycemic variability (how frequently your blood glucose is fluctuating throughout the day – which you want to minimize)
    • CRP (a marker for inflammation within the body)