The Deadly Epidemic No One’s Talking About
And how it’s linked to depression, dementia and heart disease
Ric Edelman: It's Wednesday, April 26th. I've been talking with you a lot lately about longevity. Now if you're alive in 2030, you'll probably live to age 100. I've also talked with you about Alzheimer's - the fact that by age 90, 1 in 2 will have Alzheimer's disease. So do you really want to live to age 100 if it just means that you or your spouse are going to have Alzheimer's?
Well, what I mean is that we need to change our focus. It's not how long is your lifespan; it's how long is your health span. There's a lot of effort underway to extend both. One company that has come onto the scene is Retro Biosciences. They've raised $180 million. Their goal is to add 10 years, not just to the average human lifespan, but to the average human health span as well. And who put up that $180 million? Sam Altman. He's the CEO of OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT. He's 37 years old. We spend $4 trillion on healthcare in the US, 20% of our GDP. If we can delay the onset of diseases like cancer and heart disease, we can not only improve the quality of life, we can boost our economy, rejuvenation techniques on T-cells, the CRISPR gene editing tool and more. But do we really need fancy tech to solve our problem?
The Surgeon General of the United States recently testified at the US Senate. He said a reason we're dying young and dying sick is because we're lonely. He called it an epidemic. 1 in 3 Americans struggle with loneliness. Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety. It leads to cardiovascular disease, dementia and early mortality. His advice? Fourfold. Number one, set aside time every day to talk with people you love. Number two, when you interact with people, give them your full attention. Being fully present can make five minutes feel like 50. Number three, engage in volunteering. Service reaffirms that we have value to add to the world. And four, form a Moai. This is a tradition from Okinawa, Japan where a small group of people serve as lifelong support for one another.
There's another reason we're dying young. It's because we're fat. America is the fattest country in the developed world. 20% of our children, 42% of our adults are obese. Nearly 60% of the calories we consume as a nation come from ultra-processed foods. 75% of us eat red meat every day. Meanwhile, we already know how to live healthier, longer.
And if you want evidence of people who are getting it right, just look at Seventh Day Adventists. Research shows that Seventh Day Adventists are the healthiest people in America. They have lower rates of cancer, a longer life expectancy and better physical and mental health throughout their lives. These folks will tell you that they believe God made the body as a temple to hold the soul. They believe that taking care of the body honors God. Devout members of the faith eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains. They avoid ultra-processed foods.
One notable Seventh Day Adventist community is Loma Linda, California. It's an area of the world that has a disproportionately large number of people who are more than 100 years old. Research has found that Adventists who follow the religion's healthy lifestyle live 10 years longer than those who don't. This is also true for Black members of the religion. Whites typically live longer than Blacks in the US, but Black Adventists live longer than White non-Adventists. Is it their diet or is it their devotion to God? I'll leave that to you.
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