“What was the secret to your longevity?” we asked my grandfather at his 100th birthday party. Dropping his voice, so we all had to gather around to hear him, he replied, “Well, as soon as I was born, I took in a good breath, and then I let it out. And I just kept repeating this . . . again and again.”
Health And Wellness In My Experience by Terry Grossman, M.D.
If you want to live a long time in excellent health, it doesn’t hurt to have good genes. I feel quite fortunate in that at least one of my grandparents, my mother’s father enjoyed remarkably good health until, at almost 105, he died of a stroke suddenly during lunch. He was hospitalized only briefly twice in his life, for pneumonia at age 96 and appendicitis at 97. Most of his brothers and sisters lived well into their 90s. Knowing that I have at least some of his genes is a comfort to me, because I know that I also have a number of potentially harmful genes as well. For instance, his wife, my maternal grandmother, died of colon cancer at 57 years old, and I have quite a few of her genes too.
I have performed complete genome sequencing (all 22,000 genes!) on myself, and this information has played an important role in the fine-tuning of my health-maintenance program. After I recovered from the initial depression of finding out about some of my “bad genes” (perhaps feeling a bit like Neo after he took the red pill in the initial Matrix film and had my eyes opened to “the real world”), I became even more motivated to follow the principles outlined in my latest book, Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.
Statistically, I might expect to live another 12 to 25 years. The figure of 12 years is based on actuarial tables from the Social Security Administration, the 25 year figure is based on questionnaires (“How Long Will You Live?”) that ask specific questions about my lifestyle. But this projected life span doesn’t take into account the accelerating progression of scientific discoveries, while actuarial tables of today are based on the past.
In my actuarially projected life span of 12 years, many therapies should be enormously beneficial to me. Sophisticated scanning devices and new tests are now able to both detect and destroy any cancer cells in my body before they have a chance to get out of control. If my heart begins to fail me, as it almost undoubtedly will eventually if I live long enough, I expect to be able to receive new heart tissue cloned from my own stem cells. I had a sample of my stem cells collected and placed in cryonic (frozen) storage back in 2013, so that I would have the most youthful cells available for this contingency. Other options include a heart transplant from a transgenic animal (an animal that has had human genes inserted) or even a shiny new bionic heart.
Now, I would like to share with you some specifics on what I am doing to increase my chances of living a longer, healthier life. Please click on the sections below to expand the specifics:
At 6 feet tall, I weigh 164 pounds. My body composition is 14 percent fat, within the acceptable range for men of 12 to 20 percent. I find strict caloric restriction difficult and even though I do not have diabetes, I take metformin, the most commonly prescribed drug for type II diabetes. Metformin has been shown to reduce cancer risk and has some caloric restriction properties. Metformin is a key component of our Program for Optional Wellness (POW)™.
I have been a vegan since 2015 and have lost over 15 pounds since adopting this diet. I enjoy ethnic cuisines and find that vegan options are widely available when I eat out. I have several cups of green tea and coffee (both have antioxidant benefits) throughout the morning and try for 8 -10 glasses of alkalinized, ionized water per day.
My typical lunch consists of vegetable soup and a salad, a veggie burrito, steamed or stir fry vegetables, sometimes tofu or tempeh, a small amount of brown rice, and green tea. For supper, I have a wide variety of vegan options including veggie burgers, whole grain pastas or grains with vegetables and very often a salad. When I have a desire for something sweet, I eat some wild organic blueberries or organic fruit.
While I travel and eat out frequently, I have found a wide variety of restaurants to be very accommodating to my dietary program. Meals consisting of vegan options are easy to find. I never eat at conventional fast-food restaurants.
I have undergone a full panel of genomics tests and have taken measures to tailor my diet and supplement program to counter and minimize the risks presented by my specific genetic makeup. For example, high blood pressure is very common in my family. My genomic testing revealed I possess copies of specific ACE, AGT, and AT1R polymorphisms, which predispose me to high blood pressure. Therefore, I am careful to limit my sodium consumption, try to exercise regularly, and keep my weight at an optimal level.
INFLAMATION & METHYLATION
I have tested my hs-CRP (the screening test for silent inflammation in the body). I am proud to report that it is 0.02, the lowest level I have seen in any patient I have ever tested. I attribute this low level of inflammation (which many physicians feel is the common denominator in most chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer) to my low-fat, plant-based vegan diet. My homocysteine level tested at 12.6, within the normal range, but well above our POW program optimal range of 7.5 or less. I do carry a common MTHFR mutation, which predisposes me to abnormal methylation and elevated homocysteine levels. Therefore, I take folic acid, B6, and TMG orally along with bi-weekly vitamin B12 injections to optimize methylation and reduce homocysteine levels in my body. Vegans, by the way, often have elevated homocysteine levels because B12 is only found in animal products.
My detoxification testing offered a bright spot among some of my other somewhat sobering genomics results. My detoxification capacities are well above average for survival in our increasingly polluted world. Even so, I try to limit my exposure to environmental toxins as much as I can. I eat organic food whenever possible. I drink double-filtered, alkalinized water at home. I have had my mercury-containing dental fillings removed. I have a Far Infrared (FIR) Sauna, in my home, which I use to promote the elimination of environmental toxins through sweat. I have many houseplants throughout my home to filter my indoor air. I try to limit my cell-phone use and my exposure to electromagnetic radiation. I undergo intravenous chelation therapy on a regular basis to assist in toxic heavy metal removal (lead, cadmium, aluminum, mercury, etc.) This consists of an intravenous amino acid, EDTA, along with vitamins and some minerals. Our clinic performs chelation therapy on patients thousands of times a year and we recently participated in the federally sponsored TACT study (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy). This was a $30 million randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, which showed that chelation therapy provided a statistically significant benefit in the treatment and prevention of heart disease.
CORONARY HEART DISEASE AND CANCER
I have had a total-body ultrafast CT scan, including a cardiac (coronary artery calcium) scan, and perform periodic blood screening. I get a treadmill test and undergo screening colonoscopies on a regular basis. Rather than being content with an "acceptable" cholesterol level, in addition to my low-fat vegan diet, I use a low dose of statins to achieve an optimal level (total cholesterol < 140 and HDL <57). This is exactly what we offer to our Program for Optimal Wellness (POW)TM patients, and is consistent with our basic philosophy that "Good is not good enough!" I seek optimal levels for myself and my patients. This applies to cholesterol levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, body fat, and all the parameters associated with optimal health. I feel this use is among many other benefits of low-dose statin therapy, another key component of our Program for Optional Wellness (POW)TM.
Because cancer is easily treated when detected early, and can often prove fatal at more advanced stages, our clinic offers Oncoblot testing. This novel test can detect minuscule numbers of circulating cancer cells in the bloodstream, and can reveal the presents of tumors the size of a pinhead. Being able to detect the presence of cancer cells at a very early stage allows for treatment at a time when curative action is extremely likely.
I check my hormone levels regularly, but don’t find that I yet need hormonal supplementation. I take DIM (di-indole-methane) and a low dose of anastrazole to reduce conversion of testosterone into estrogen, as well as a saw-palmetto complex for prostate health and to reduce excess formation of DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
I try to engage myself in both intellectually challenging left-brain as well as artistic right-brain activities. I find that writing provides an excellent outlet for both. I take a few “smart nutrients” to enhance memory, including vinpocetine, and huperzine-A.
I take supplements to treat what I have identified as my specific health risks. Essential nutrients. I take a multiple vitamin/mineral/antioxidant formulation. To provide for essential fatty acids, I take a fish-oil EPA/DHA formula (omega-3).
Super-nutrients. For their powerful antioxidant properties and other benefits, I take coenzyme Q10 in the form of ubiquinol, and a fruit extract which contains grapeseed extract, and resveratrol. To maintain mental clarity and protect brain function, I take the “smart nutrients” listed above. Specific supplements. To help control stress and aid with sleep, I take GABA and melatonin before bed. My program is not particularly onerous or expensive and I find it very simple to take a few handfuls of pills each day to ensure that my cells are bathed in these powerful nutrients at all times. EXERCISE I try to engage in vigorous interval training and aerobic exercise a few times a week. I enjoy outdoor activities such as cross-country skiing in winter and in-line skating and bicycling in summer. I engage in weight training in my home gym twice a week.
Like most of my patients, I often suffer feelings of excessive stress. I have a number of close friends and try to maintain strong relationships with family, which I feel is a very important aspect of my stress-reduction program. I try to get regular massages to assist with both lymphatic detoxification as well as stress reduction. I also use an alpha-wave stimulator to increase calming alpha waves in my brain.
I entered the official ranks of “senior citizen” when I became eligible for Medicare back in 2012. As I watch many people my age trying to figure out ways to use the time they have “on their hands” now that they are retired, a bigger problem for me is trying to maintain balance in my life by not working on too many projects at once. I still have many goals that I want to accomplish, so I try to incorporate the advice in my books into my daily life. I feel that as a physician and health educator, I must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. By eating well, exercising regularly, controlling stress, and following the Longevity Programs I recommend to my patients rather strictly, I feel great almost all of the time. And although we can never be absolutely certain of the future, I am confident that my lifestyle choices will maximize my prospects of living long enough to take full advantage of the radical life-extending therapies that lie just ahead.