- in aging , guest/interview , health by allan
How to be a younger you with Dr. Kara Fitzgerald
We grow up celebrating birthdays, marks of our chronological age, but that can differ drastically from our biological age. In her book, Younger You, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald shows us how we can slow and even reverse our biological aging.
Let's Say Hello
[00:01:13.450] – Allan
[00:01:14.590] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. How are you today?
[00:01:16.190] – Allan
I'm doing all right. Good and bad. Like I said, the last time we talked, there were some things going on with me here with the gym in particular. My landlord decided that it was time for them to Mark up my rent. What they felt was full market on the space. And in the past, the agreement had kind of been that they wanted a gym next door, that it was good for them to have a gym next door. And so they agreed to a moderate reduction in what would be considered market rent. But now they just full out want market rent. And we've been open over a month, over a year since covid. We just had a year when they decided to do this. And so it was just bump. There's a 45% increase in rent. And I can tell you, the gym business is not a high margin business. In general, you have members, they pay. There's no contracts here. So this is not like I've got people locked into a year and they pay and they don't show up here. If they don't pay, they don't show up. They don't show up, they don't pay.
[00:02:20.310] – Allan
And so it's just that I can't. There's no way you tell your members, okay, rent went up 45%. I need you to pay me 45% more. I would lose all my members. So I decided it was a good time for me to go check out this thing called the market. And he was absolutely right. They wanted to mark it up to a market price and all that. I'm like, well, that's great. But I knew if I paid market, I could probably get something better, something that was more suitable. They've been having issues with their hostels. What they are hotel hostel. And so some of their members are right on the other side of the wall of our gym. And so people are in their lifting weights or the music's playing maybe just a little louder than you need it. And so they get complaints, and it happens about once every four or five months. Someone will send me an email saying, you guys got to cut the music off and move away from the wall. And I'm like, no, I'm done. Anyway, and also the gym doesn't have a bathroom, so now I've found a space.
[00:03:24.940] – Allan
We're going to have a bathroom. It's going to be a fair amount of space. It's not as big as what we have, but it's something we can make work and it's still right in town. So I think it'll be a good move for us from the perspective of having something solid locked in and then be able to run the gym, at least with some expectations that our landlords not going to come after us. Rent increases.
[00:03:50.350] – Rachel
[00:03:51.050] – Allan
Yeah. So how are things up there?
[00:03:53.300] – Rachel
Good. I just got back from a race, and my training that I've been doing with the trainer has been paying off. I had a great race day. And I'm excited for what's up ahead. My marathon will be in a few more weeks.
[00:04:08.090] – Allan
[00:04:09.100] – Rachel
[00:04:10.990] – Allan
no, not fingers crossed. You've got this. Put the work in.
[00:04:14.970] – Rachel
[00:04:15.420] – Allan
You put the work in.
[00:04:16.190] – Rachel
Yes. Doing the work. Making progress. That's right.
[00:04:19.650] – Allan
It's not luck. This is dedication and investment.
[00:04:25.630] – Rachel
Absolutely. My trainer has been really great, so it's definitely paying off.
[00:04:30.850] – Allan
Good. All right, well, you want to have this conversation with Kara?
[00:04:34.670] – Rachel
[00:05:17.080] – Allan
Dr. Fitzgerald, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:05:20.050] – Dr. Fitzgerald
It's great to be with you today.
[00:05:23.050] – Allan
I'm going to admit I'm a health geek. That's why I do what I do. And your book Younger You: Reduce Your Bio Age and Live Longer Better. I so geeked out on this book. I don't want to scare anybody away. It is a great book for a geek, but it's also very easy to understand. You've written things in a way that anyone can go through and kind of pull this together and say, hey, all those words that were out there that used to just kind of confuse me, they now make so much more sense.
[00:05:59.350] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Got it. So appreciative to hear that. That's very high praise. We worked hard. Kate Hanley worked with me in writing this, and she really got in there and translated so that it is understandable and the analogies make sense and people can do it. So thank you.
[00:06:16.470] – Allan
Now one of the quotes, the good books. I'll just say when I find a good book, I'll usually find something in it like this, just this nugget of quote. Typically a quote or it might be a stat, but usually a quote that I'll say, okay, this is important, and this is something that needs to be shared over and over and over again. And here's the quote I'm taking from your book. When you give your body what it needs without beating it over the head with Pharmaceuticals, synthetic hormones, you empower your body's own innate wisdom to lead the way. And that is such a powerful statement.
[00:06:53.610] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah. Just allow trusting the body wisdom.
[00:06:57.640] – Allan
Yeah. And your younger you program. That's exactly what you're doing.
[00:07:01.500] – Dr. Fitzgerald
[00:07:02.460] – Allan
So I want to start out with some definitions because this is a technical issue. When you start talking about genetics, we're not talking about carbs and protein and fat, and we're not talking about bench presses and barbell curls and things like that. Those are complicated for a lot of people. But when you start getting into genetics and epigenetics and those things, it can seem very intimidating to someone that didn't study this or isn't really comfortable with the science of all of this. Can we talk about chronological age versus biological age or bio age?
[00:07:38.980] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah, absolutely. It's simple. Chronological age is how many years we've been here on the planet. You can't change it no matter how much we might want to be 29 again, we're not changing that. Biological age is really the measurement of our physiologic age, how healthy we are, what our wear and tear looks like. Are we breaking down faster physically than our chronological age, or are we breaking down more slowly? And obviously, we want the latter.
[00:08:15.880] – Allan
Yes. And in the book, you give us some references to places we can go to get this done, like in a lab situation. But you also give us some easy tests, like just take this test and this will give you a general idea, plus or minus how well you're doing. So I appreciate you making that easy for someone to go out there and just say, okay, Where's my starting point? And then after going through some of this, actually be able to see progress, because progress is what makes us what motivates us to keep doing these things. So I appreciate that being a part of this book.
[00:08:47.240] – Dr. Fitzgerald
We have it online now. So that biological age subjective questionnaire you're referring to is online. And I'll give you the link. It's youngeryouprorogram.com, and then you can just do it yourself. Easy peasy. And as many times as you want. And it is fun and it is illuminating.
[00:09:04.330] – Allan
Now, let's talk about what genes are and what epigenetics is.
[00:09:11.320] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah. Okay. And I want to make sure that I fold into that at some point how we actually measure biological age, because that's tucked into this epigenetic conversation. Our genes are hardware basically. They're just kind of tucked into the nucleus of the cell, really not doing anything unless they're called upon to turn on. So we've got about 23000 genes, far, far less actually than most plants. Our genome is relatively simple. And when we mapped the genome out back in the early two thousands, there was a belief that we were going to be able to find a genetic cause for all of the chronic diseases that we are swamped with. And upon completion of the genome, it was clear that it was too simplistic of a goal and that ushered in the era of epigenetics or epigenomics. Epigenetics has been around for a long time, but there's a lot of attention here now. And what that is epic is above and genetics is our genetic material. So above the genetic material or how we regulate genetic expression. And this is where the rubber meets the road. This is how our diet and lifestyle habits, our mental and emotional experience, our stress, our toxins, et cetera, all of these things that we're interested in in the health space, it influences genetic expression.
[00:10:57.850] – Dr. Fitzgerald
And you're looking at those changes right here in epigenetics. So it's where environment meets genetics.
[00:11:07.030] – Allan
The way I kind of understand it is okay. I used to think a gene was either on or off, but as I understand, it's sort of like a dimmer switch and the epigenetic aspects of it are kind of okay, is this more on, more off or all the way off or all the way on? And some of these genes, like you talk about tumor suppression genes that over time kind of get turned more off, more off, more off as we get older or as we deal with toxins or we just don't take care of ourselves. So the epigenetics aspect of it is really kind of almost toggling on how much is the gene working versus not working?
[00:11:41.740] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah, perfect. That's exactly right.
[00:11:43.990] – Allan
It's different then I can't toggle my different colors by messing with my epigenetics. Some of these things are hardwired, but a lot of the health aspect things that we're seeing, like cancers and other diseases of age, mostly diseases of age and lifestyle, we're seeing those are controlled by epigenetics.
[00:12:02.290] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yes, that's right.
[00:12:04.790] – Allan
Okay, now you're diving one layer deeper. Okay. So we're going to take this next step down and this is a very important step because this is the basis for how you've organized everything you do, and that is DNA methylation. Can you first tell us what methylation is and then what is DNA methylation?
[00:12:25.220] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah. So methylation is a process that's happening and really everywhere in the body pretty much all of the time. This isn't scientifically correct, but it's like oxygen. We know we need to be breathing all of the time or will die. Methylation is like that ubiquitous and really maybe more so. And it's a methyl group is a carbon with three hydrogens. It's very simple, very fundamental. We're making methyl groups in the methylation cycle, and then they are carted off in the structure of a compound called S adenosine methionine. People might know it as Sam or CME. So this compound, CME, hangs onto a methyl group and then it goes off to the myriad enzymes that use a methyl group and just engages in a whole lot of biochemical reactions in the body. We use methylation to detox. We use methylation to make hormones, things like adrenaline or dopamine or noradrenaline. What else do we use methylation for? To make really important fatty acid associated compounds like phosphatidyl choline, and choline? You know, just on and on. I think at last count there were over 300 reactions requiring a methyl group.
[00:13:53.290] – Allan
Okay. So the way I like to look at this, just from a simplistic and maybe it's not simplistic, but to me it's simplistic because I didn't grow up around computers, but I spent a lot of time with computers is I look at genes is kind of being like you said, it's sort of the hardware and the operating system. You bought an IBM, you're an IBM or you're an Apple. You operate a certain way. And then the epigenetics is sort of the software we decided to put in there. So do I want to do graphics work and I'm going to be over here doing cad and working with drawings and things like that, or am I going to do crunch big numbers and do spreadsheets and databases? So you use a different software that is going on in that sort of deciding how you're operating and you're doing things. And the methylation is the data entry. It's the bits and pieces that go in there to say, okay, so if this, then that well, now what's the if? What was that if? And it's like if you ate whole food, then this, if you ate crap, then this.
[00:14:50.270] – Allan
And so the software is already there and we're affecting the DNA methylation, hitting that kind of stuff with our lifestyle and our food and everything else.
[00:15:02.530] – Dr. Fitzgerald
That's interesting. I haven't thought of it in that way, and I'll have to ponder it a little bit. There are a lot of biochemical processes involved in epigenetics, involved in gene regulation, and DNA methylation is one of them. So I have to ponder your analogy. At a glance, really it makes sense, but it's one of the software programs and I think it's one of the big guys software programs to regulate what's going on in us.
[00:15:38.650] – Allan
Okay, now you have a formula in there, and this formula, I think, kind of helps us drive how we approach this whole your whole younger you program is built on.
[00:15:48.360] – Allan
Okay. We've got this group of things. We got to think about this group of things and this group of things. So you put them into three buckets, but it's a plus plus plus. And then that's going to equal where you are with your younger you. First is methyl donors, which, as I understand, is basically things that are going to help, that are going to be donating the things that are going to go into that process, the DNA methylation adaptogens, which are going to kind of be the enzyme, but things are going to make that happen. And then the lifestyle practices that are going to define how well it happens.
[00:16:21.910] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yes. So donors help with fundamental methylation. We need to be effectively methylating all the time, and we need to supply the body with the ingredients in order to do that. And as we age, we actually do it way less efficiently. The adaptogens are foods or compounds that sort of direct where they go. And I think that that's what you said. And our lifestyle pieces also influence what is happening at DNA methylation as well. So maybe they're refinements. I look at them as further all important support in regulating optimal genetic expression.
[00:17:06.070] – Allan
My thought process goes like this. It's like I can't really control methyl donors. It's not like I could have a switch on my shoulder or something. It's like turn it on or turn it off or make it move here, make it move. The same thing with the methylation adaptogens, but the lifestyle practices, I have a little bit more control now. I do have control of my food, which is where a lot of these donors and adaption come from. So let's talk a little bit.
[00:17:30.910] – Dr. Fitzgerald
They do. They all do. So, I mean, I would challenge you on that. I would say you do have control over what you're putting in your mouth.
[00:17:37.910] – Allan
Yeah. Okay. So let's talk about the food. You have a lot of different aspects to it that I think are really important. Can you talk about food and this approach and why it's giving us the methyl donors and the DNA methylation adaptions?
[00:17:59.350] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah. So going back to that first quote about giving our body the ingredients it needs for optimal chain expression, our food is information. It's extraordinarily complex information, actually. Scientists are really just unpacking it. They were just learning how extraordinary it is. And it's not just the isolated ingredients. It's the interaction between the ingredients that are on your fork and then the interactions with your gut, microbiome, et cetera. It's just the food matrix is beautiful and extraordinary. And my appreciation is always sort of expanded as the science grows. So we want to be consuming foods. So we want to be consuming these methyl donors that we need a lot of instead of an isolated vitamins. Actually, I shouldn't say instead of because there are times when we need isolated vitamins. So I want to be clear that I'm not suggesting we stop isolated vitamins as needed, but eating as many in a food matrix will yield more bang for our buck. And so that means leafy Greens, that means spinach, that means kale, asparagus. That means mushrooms like shiitake or Inake that are just maitake that are just loaded with Folate and B.12 If you can do it, have some eggs.
[00:19:29.650] – Dr. Fitzgerald
If you're a fan of eating eggs, eggs are loaded with choline, beets. I try to have a couple of small beets every day. They're packed with the methyl support nutrient Batine. Another methyl donor superfood is liver. We like people to do about three servings of liver per week, so not loads. And the eggs we look at in a weekly serving as well. So you don't have to have them every day, but maybe five to ten eggs per week. We do have a vegetarian/vegan program that one can follow. We just didn't do our research study on it. So you'll have to stay tuned. We're actually continuing to research. So stay tuned there. But this original study was used using animal products. So those are methylation adaptogens. And then those are the methyl donors foods, and then the methylation adaptogens. These are the beautiful polyphenols that seem to direct how the methyl donors behave and where they go. Top ones include green tea, the catechins egcgb most famous. Rosemarynic acid, and Rosemary, quercetin, curcumin, luteolin. What else? Resveratrol. All of the beautiful compounds and blueberries and berries in general. So think andanal methane, sulforaphane.
[00:20:57.800] – Dr. Fitzgerald
So cruciferous vegetables. We want you to just be just fill your cup with these nutrients. And I think together they just pack a really profound punch. So I'll just stop there and see if you can.
[00:21:09.730] – Allan
No, that's great, because a couple of things that are there is yes. If you eat keto, if you eat vegetarian, if you eat Paleo, if you eat Mediterranean, all of these stack on top of the way that you're approaching this. But you're just saying there's some very core things here. High quality whole food. You didn't say Twinkies or Twiskets or anything like that. These are high quality whole foods. It is plant forward because a lot of these methyl donors and the adaptogens that we need, they're going to come from plants. In fact, I think this week was the first time I've ever bought fresh Rosemary in my entire life.
[00:21:52.650] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Well, good. Oh, it's great. Cool.
[00:21:56.150] – Allan
And a lot of the foods that you mentioned, I love. I love beets, I love liver. And so those are normal things. But it just kind of reminds me to make sure that they're in the rotation enough that I'm getting enough methyl donors. As you say, one thing that I think is going to be kind of interesting to a lot of people is that your approach is sort of keto leaning, not necessarily all the way to ketosis all the time, but at least leaning towards keto and utilizing intermittent fasting.
[00:22:23.650] – Dr. Fitzgerald
[00:22:24.220] – Allan
So why are those two a part of this? What do they do?
[00:22:27.780] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Well, we know that ketones are extremely helpful. Before I jump into the answer those two questions, I just want to underline the comment that you made about how stackable this is. We used this in clinic practice years before we got to research it. And so we layered these principles into the myriad very individualized diet program. So if we had a strict keto protein restricted keto with a cancer patient, we could layer in these principles. If we have somebody with profound allergies or on a fodmap or any of the myriad diets that one might use in clinic practice or even out in the world, that the diets that people might be exploring, these principles are designed to be layerable layerable layerable. This is not exclusive. The only time you might consider doing this and following it exclusively is if you really want to get the results from our study. And that's an eight week chunk of time. And so that's when I would say.
[00:23:31.930] – Allan
But it is a reduction of over three years of bio ages which you are finding in your study. It is eight weeks and it's restrictive and it's intensive. It's called intensive. We're going to talk about it a little bit more detail later, but it has some pretty profile. At least it was a small group. But to be fair, pretty profound findings from just that small trial in just eight weeks. I think anyone here can sit there and say, I can do anything for eight weeks, particularly if you see the benefits that I think you'll see if you do this. And then the other side of it is if you're eating a certain way and you hear about some of these other foods, you might have thought, okay, well, I'm in keto, and beets are root vegetables, so therefore I shouldn't be eating them. You can still stay in ketosis and eat beets. I do it all the time. It's just a function of being aware of how much you're eating, how many carbs you're taking it and what your tolerance is. And if you get your insulin resistance under control, which is a part of what this diet does as a part of the anti-aging aspects of it, you will probably be able to tolerate more natural sugars from things like beets.
[00:24:39.310] – Dr. Fitzgerald
That's exactly right. That's a great point. Yeah, right. Absolutely. And you can figure out when you may consider eating your beets, perhaps after you've done something cardio. And we're not talking about a ton of beets. I think two medium beets a day, so you can cut them in quarters and just have a bite of beet if you're working with blood sugar issues. So ketone bodies are important. I think epigenetic signal molecules. And I think the data around ketones as epigenetic regulators is just emerging. So they're included. We wanted it to be keto leaning for that reason, but also just the potent anti inflammatory potential of having background ketones, their brain fuel. I mean, they just serve so many having some circulating ketones, having our bodies exposed to some circulating ketones daily, even for a limited period, I think is really important in long term health and longevity.
[00:25:49.150] – Allan
When someone gets the metabolic flexibility to be able to use Ketones in addition to glucose, what I found is that the cravings for glucose go away because the energy source is always there. We carry enough body fat to pretty much function for a long time. And we already have enough blood sugar and basic available sugar to last us for a couple of hours of even intermediate level work. So for most of us, if we get that metabolic flexibility, we're not constantly hungry, not constantly hungry. And so having the ability to utilize Ketones gives us that capacity to choose give us some freedom. For a lot of people, then that also leads into the intermittent fasting and how easy it becomes once you're adapted to using Ketones.
[00:26:39.770] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah, that's right. And of course, we know that Longo has done lots of research and data continue to come out showing the benefits of different fasting structures. And we wanted something doable. We didn't want this study to be about intermittent fasting or fasting. We really wanted this program to be easy to be doable for a large population. So it's 12 hours on, 12 hours off. It's very gentle. But the data on fasting, on time restricted eating and biological age is just growing. And I think it's good. It's impressive.
[00:27:20.020] – Allan
Yes. And these are not extremes and these are not low calories. Eat cardboard stuff.
[00:27:28.390] – Dr. Fitzgerald
[00:27:29.310] – Allan
You're eating healthy, high quality foods. You're not trying to blast your body with a bunch of supplements. You're supplementing as necessary. So this time of year up north, probably some vitamin D if you're vegan, probably some vitamin B12. Just kind of making sure that you're putting the right things in your body. If you can't get it from your nutrition or your body can't make it itself, then you do some supplements.
[00:27:56.960] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah, we do. In our study, it was very simple. We didn't want to lean on supplements. But I agree with you. And there's actually in the book there's a supplement section in the book where I talk about just some workhorse nutrients, as you said, like vitamin D or if you're vegan, B12, and possibly iron in some circumstances, fish oil. There are some basic things we want in our background if we're not adequately consuming them in the diet or if we're not consuming them at all. But in the study, we only used a Greens powder to get just another little hit of those all important polyphenols that I mentioned. And we used a probiotic Lactobacillus Plantarum. And the reason we use Lactobacillus plantarum is this particular strain has some nice science on it for a variety of healthy gut reasons. But it's also been shown to be able to increase bacterial production of folate. And we make a lot we make a ton of vitamins. A healthy gut makes lots of vitamins that we need. And we know. So beyond just making vitamins. We know that the microbiome regulates host epigenetics, and it plays a lot of roles and it's just continually being unpacked.
[00:29:10.700] – Dr. Fitzgerald
We're just starting to wrap our arms around it. So we know that a healthy gut microbiome is an essential component. So those were just the only two things we used in our study.
[00:29:19.240] – Allan
Yeah. There were a couple of things that I took away as you got into this as far as supplementing and things like something as simple as put your mushrooms out in the sun for a little while and they'll have some more vitamin D.
[00:29:30.090] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Isn't that cool? Like an easy mushroom hack? Yes.
[00:29:33.740] – Allan
Just put it out there. If you got high quality sun, put it out there for an hour or so. If you can put it out there longer and it's going to soup up the vitamin D you can get from those mushrooms. Also, you talk a little bit about how folate but typically when we get a supplement for folate, we're getting folic acid, which is problematic.
[00:29:55.330] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah. I do want to acknowledge that food folic acid fortification, grain fortification has reduced birth defects in this country and other countries. So we have to acknowledge that public health success. But we also have to acknowledge that that means there are some people get ingesting a lot of folate, be it folic acid and fortified foods or the other so in grains, but also in milk, in alternative milks. And it's a huge issue how much fortification goes on. If you buy soy or almond or cashew milk, etc. That's been any degree processed, it will be fortified with various vitamins. And so we need to keep our eyes open. Folate exists in a U curve. And actually, let me finish the folic gas piece first. Folic acid is synthetic. It's not bioidentical to the folates that we use. And so it has to be active. And I think your listeners probably know you've talked about this I'm sure that it takes a few steps. It takes more steps, and we don't all activate it equally well. And circulating folic acid has been associated with issues as far as DNA methylation goes, imbalanced methylation isn't going to come from folic acid, though, so I don't follow that thread in the book too far.
[00:31:20.230] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Imbalanced DNA methylation can come from folic acid has to be activated into a body usable, a bio dentical form, and then it could go on to influence DNA methylation. So any excess forms of any I think isolated vitamins can in some people probably be problematic. And it is not black and white. This does not mean that you throw your supplements out at all, but it does mean that you recognize if there's excess and you're paying attention and if you're taking isolated vitamins, you're doing it for a reason. You know why you're taking that much? Are you taking it long term? If so, why is someone managing that, et cetera, in the age of epigenetics. So in the Omics era, where we can see our genome, our microbiome or epigenome, et cetera, in this era, we are able to see nutrients, lifestyle vitamins, influence on our physiology more than at any other time. And because of this, I don't think we can any longer say we'll pee out the vitamins we don't use, et cetera. I think we need to be a little bit more mindful.
[00:32:35.890] – Allan
Yeah. And you're wasting money
[00:32:39.010] – Dr. Fitzgerald
[00:32:43.450] – Allan
so let's jump into some of the lifestyle things. And in there, you had pretty much four things. And the reason I want to talk about these four things, in addition, is this is the message that we hear over and over. You can take this back to Buettner when he was talking about blue zones. Doctor Day, the probably the last, I would say the last ten episodes if we didn't talk about these four or five things. We talked about food, we talked about exercise, we talked about we talked about stress management in some cases we talked about toxins, which I kind of lump in with stress management. So it's emotional stress or actual chemical stress and then social connection. Those four things, exercise, sleep, stress management, and social connection are so important. But they're affecting us at this level. They're at this level. This is not just, oh, I feel tired because I didn't sleep. We're doing something to DNA methylation.
[00:33:39.450] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yes, it's pretty crazy. So here we are in this era where we can see what the heck is happening. And, yeah, we need these lifestyle practices for a reason. We evolved moving our bodies. We evolved getting a certain amount of sleep, and you can see that people. So originally it was animal studies. There are animals and human studies, but most still are animal. But just one poor sleep session. In an animal model, damages the central nervous systems. There's neuronal damage, the regeneration of neurons or the maintenance of neurons. It becomes problematic. And we see in humans insomnia being very proaging, as measured by DNA methylation. So sleep is important. And then just going beyond specifically looking at DNA methylation. So we see that it's disruptive there, but we see that poor sleep is linked to all of the chronic diseases, which are all fueled by aging. So it comes full circle. So, yeah, it's essential for us to get sufficient sleep for those of us who want a healthy longevity and a good health plan to go with our longevity, we really need to be considering sleep. We need to prioritize it. I talked a lot about sleep in my book and how to do it because I was a bad sleeper.
[00:35:08.190] – Dr. Fitzgerald
I think of all of the components of our program. Sleep was the hardest for me. And so how did I improve it? It was a lot of little steps. Probably the biggest one was going to bed early enough to actually allow my body to get 8 hours and not staying up in this anxious state of ‘oh my gosh, I'm not going to fall asleep' and we're going to talk about meditation in a minute. That's a great way to bring the body down into a sleep place. Making sure my room is dark enough. I put an air conditioner in the window in my bedroom so the rest of my house wouldn't be cold to turning down the central air because I sleep better in a really cold room. I think most people do, so just little hacks along the way can add up to good quality sleep. I love using a sleep tracker. I wear an aura ring that motivates me because I'm a data Hound. I like looking at it. I feel excited when I get sufficient deep sleep and REM. And I can also track did I exercise too late? When I exercise a little bit too late, my heart rate doesn't drop and I tend to be a less efficient sleeper.
[00:36:16.210] – Dr. Fitzgerald
I'll have more disruption if I exercise in the morning. However, I can really get fabulous sleep, so it helps me, but there's a timing component and I just kind of move through some of those things when I wake up at night. So I have a toddler at home. Honestly, I wake up most nights with her and then I need to be able to fall back to sleep. And one of the ways that I've done that actually an important tool. I got this from her, right? I would play white noise for her or rain sounds, et cetera. And I just started doing that for myself. And now it really makes a difference when I need to kind of bring myself back down into sleep in the middle of the night when I've been woken up.
[00:36:56.170] – Allan
Yeah, I also use the white noise and keep the room cool. Now that my wife is menopause, she agrees with me. The room should be colder. Before we were ten degrees difference in where we wanted the temperature of the room to be. We're much closer now, but it is that what is something. And so mine was an internal dialogue. Meditation, if you will. It's a very different thing and that I just visualize myself doing something. At first I was struggling with stress of being under a house, a dad of a house, and then it's very expensive house. We're having troubles with contractors and everything. So it was stressing me out. I actually was laying there when I think that I'm under the house, but it's on sand and so all I have to do is just start digging and I would dig out and I would see blue light and then I would feel the Sunshine, smell the air, hear the noises of the waves and the birds. And then I'd climb out and I'd start walking and I'd be asleep. And what I found was every morning then I found myself. It gets easier and easier to dig out.
[00:38:06.640] – Allan
I'd be out and I'd be walking down the beach earlier, and I would sleep better. And then one night I was just already standing on the beach.
[00:38:15.190] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Well, that's pretty cool.
[00:38:16.400] – Allan
And so I'm not going to call it a dream as much as just when I was just sitting there thinking about my state of mind and where I needed to be and where I was and what was going to take it was going to take me digging through the sand. And so every night I would just kind of mentally dig myself through the sand and just say, okay, this is easy. I'm just digging through sand. I can do this. Blue light. Okay, great. I'm moving in the right direction. I'm doing the right things. And then I'm asleep. So it's just for me, it was a unique thing. Now I don't have that house. I don't have those problems. So now I just visualize myself.
[00:38:48.460] – Dr. Fitzgerald
And you live on a beach.
[00:38:49.550] – Allan
I live on a beach, but I've just visualize myself somewhere I want to be that I would enjoy. And I start thinking about the sun on my face and how that warmth feels and how the air smells fresh and you can just kind of feeling in the waves and all of that. When you start doing that, it kind of clears your brain of anything else because you're trying to sensory perceive yourself somewhere. Everything else just falls apart. So if there's things that are bothering you over the day, it's like that guy cut me off in traffic. Damn it. I should have got his driver's license. He should have his plate number and turn them into you're not thinking about that anymore. You're thinking about the sun on your face, or maybe you like skiing and it's the brisk and the cold and you can see your breath and those types of things. For me, the big point of sleep is to just find a way to turn and yes, white noise is a big part of that, too.
[00:39:42.910] – Dr. Fitzgerald
I think the take home what you're doing, it just sounds perfect, is that we can succeed at this for people who have struggled with insomnia. And I am right there. Stress induced insomnia, like what you're talking about. I've absolutely struggled or just being woken up a lot because of my daughter. But both varieties, simple steps, we can do it. And there are times I know we have other areas to talk about, but I want to just say that because I know people listening are going to say this or think this any insomniacs out there. Yeah, that won't work for me. Yeah, that won't work for me. There's just this discouragement. And I've also been there. And the fact of the matter is it can work for you if you continue to return yourself to whatever the exercise is like. Ok. If you return yourself to the stand and to the blue light, and then your mind goes right back to being under the house and stuck under that debt. It's so overwhelming. Then just return. It is a meditation practice. It's not like a meditation practice. It is, but you just have to keep with it.
[00:41:01.050] – Dr. Fitzgerald
I'm sure there were times when you didn't do when you failed at it, and then you'd have to keep returning.
[00:41:06.080] – Allan
Yeah. Other things were going on. Yeah. And then I'd get stuck again. But the other thing I found was, okay, if there's something you can't do, what's important is for you to focus on what you can do. So if when I injured my shoulder. Okay, well, I couldn't exercise the way I wanted to exercise, but I could exercise some ways. I didn't feel like I was making the progress, but I could really focus on my nutrition. I could really start focusing on my stress if I can't be in the gym for an hour and a half, because that's what I enjoy doing now, my basic workout because I can't work parts of my upper body. My workout was done in an hour. I now have a half an hour. What do I do? I go home and I sit down and I just do a quick meditation, a 15,20 minutes meditation before I take my shower. And I use that 30 minutes to change something or I made sure I made good meal prep. So I know my lunch is packed and everything is ready to go. So I've had a good breakfast. I'm going to have a good, healthy lunch.
[00:42:03.740] – Allan
And so it's just do what you can with what you have, where you are.
[00:42:07.160] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yes, that's right. Amen to that. Okay. Do we want to move on?
[00:42:13.880] – Allan
Yes, we're going to move on. But the only reason I said is I want to back up a little bit because earlier I talked about the software piece, and you got the hardware with the operating system, the software and the data. And in my mind, the food, the exercise, the sleep, the stress management and the social connections. That's all information. And the information is not just something that's out there. It literally goes to your genes. It goes to the expression of your genes. It's the information that makes that stuff happen, good or bad.
[00:42:43.880] – Dr. Fitzgerald
That's right. That's exactly right.
[00:42:45.330] – Allan
You talk a lot about trauma in the book and how trauma carries forward all the way to our DNA to the point that we can take it forward to the next generation.
[00:42:53.470] – Dr. Fitzgerald
[00:42:54.090] – Allan
So this is not a little thing. This is the information that drives your life. And it potentially is driving future generation. A lot of us are not of age where we're going to have children again. But just be thinking about it in terms of your daughter's, son looking at having children. If they start using some of these practices, they're setting that child up for a much better future because their DNA is made of their DNA, which means that all that encoding is some of it's going over. And the more we can clean that up now, the better.
[00:43:29.490] – Dr. Fitzgerald
That's right. And we do the best we can. And it does exist on a continuum. So you can see changes after one healthy meal or one exercise event. But clearly you're going to see stronger and more deeply rooted favorable changes on DNA methylation or the epigenome with continued practice. I just want to say, because it's so cool, is there's a study looking at exercise and the heritability of that and you've can pass some of those beneficial genetic changes down. I just think it's so cool. I mean, we know this for food, and I think trauma has been probably better studied than almost anything the heritability of trauma. But it's just if you're doing your crunches and you're going to conceive, I mean, go you. You're doing your power lifting or whatever, you can hand some of that down and actually just thinking about exercising in older people, they get more of an epigenetic bang for their buck than younger folks. So you had brought up those tumor suppressor genes. These are cancer fighters in our body. And as we age or if we have cancer, these genes get really kind of turned off. And exercise helps with re-expression. So it's neat. It acts like a methylation adaptogen.
[00:44:52.370] – Allan
So now I want to quickly talk about alcohol because you talked about an adaptogen and everybody thinks, oh, great, I can have a few glasses of wine every night and all I'm doing is putting antioxidants in my body and I'm good. Maybe the story is not that clean.
[00:45:13.420] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah, it's not. Sorry, guys. I feel for you. I'm not a drinker at all. But I appreciate people who want to have a drink. It inhibits methylation. I mean, it's not via a variety of mechanisms. It kind of shuts methylation down. So I think if you're going to drink well, if you want to do our intensive and if you want to get that three year biological age reversal that we got on our study participants, just like offers eight weeks, just eight weeks after that, we've got an everyday program that you can resume drinking if you like to, but it's modest. We don't want you pounding back the sauce a lot because you will mess with methylation and DNA methylation. You can have some wine. So have some dark red. I think it's helped. That's a good variety, a good type. Have it be low glycemic or do some clean, gluten free vodka or something like that. But keep it modest. And maybe if you're into it, consider having an extra serving of some methyl donor food that you particularly like in conjunction with that. Just to support it.
[00:46:29.430] – Allan
Let's get a little into the program, because what I really liked and part of the reason that your book is as thick as it is is that you gave us every tool imaginable to make this manageable for everybody. Meaning there is an intensive program you recommend eight weeks. That's how your study was designed and got great benefits. There is an everyday version, which is kind of a light version of this is a little bit more leeway to do some things. But even in the book, you talk about how you can walk your way into this by just picking one or two things to do a little differently and get there. You provide meal plans. If someone wants to follow something stringent, you give us kind of guidelines. If we want to have a little bit more give and take of eating the kind of foods in a way we want to, you show us how we can layer it across different ways of eating, like vegan, vegetarian, keto, Mediterranean paleo, which pretty much is already paleo if you really map it out.
[00:47:31.210] – Dr. Fitzgerald
[00:47:31.790] – Allan
And then at the end, you give us a bunch of recipes to kind of make all this work and shopping list. So you didn't leave anything out. It's like you literally take the shopping list going, okay, here's the recipe to make this dish. This is my meal plan for the week. And quite literally, you've laid everything out. It made the book over 490 pages, I think. It's weightlifting, just think of it that way. You pick it up off the ground, use your legs. It's a big book, but it's got everything in there to kind of walk us through this program. So is there anything else you want to talk about with the program that someone should know?
[00:48:11.410] – Dr. Fitzgerald
I appreciate you highlighting that because I have an amazing nutrition team in my clinic practice. We have a nutrition internship program that's world recognized, and it's competitive. So we get just the best and the brightest nutritionists. And they did a lot of the heavy lifting and establishing our recipes and doing tasting and establishing the macro and the micronutrient on each of the recipes. And we worked so hard together as a team. And I just always need to give them a shout out. And our founding nutrition director, Ronald Hodges, actually worked on birthing our original program back in 2015, 2016. And so, yeah, it's been built by really brilliant minds. And so they'll certainly appreciate you just giving all of this work, this hard work a call out. In fact, you're the first person who really has brought it to light.
[00:49:08.510] – Allan
No honest truth. I've done over 325 of these interviews, and almost every one of them, they'll do their book and they'll have a plan or program eat these foods, do eat this way, and then they follow it up about a year later with a cookbook. So you bought the first book and now you buy the cookbook. So if they have a best seller with the first book, then the cookbook is going to be a best seller, too. That's typically the way that math works. You've just put both books together, but you've done it very well in that it's completely thought out. I'm not going to say it's dummy proof because you still have to go to the grocery store. You still have to find these things. You still have to Cook it. All those are good things. This is going to teach about nutrition. This is going to teach you about cooking. You're going to have some delicious. And I wish I had been in the tasting rooms when you guys are putting these dishes together. You guys had some great meals, I'm sure.
[00:50:03.450] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Yeah, we did. They're so good and they're satiating. I want to say that the dummy proof program is in the app, so you can link to that in the show notes. It's the three YY program, but you can find it at younger youth program. You can find a link to the book and then a link to the app. And that's where we'll really hold your hand through doing it. And then all of the sort of next generation younger you content that we're interested in will be in the app. And actually, we're going to continue to research in the app. So if anybody is interested in participating, that's where you want to go. I want to say one more piece here. Just given your appreciation of this nutrition component and the attention we gave. So we ended up needing to create. I just had to and I'm so glad the publishers let us kind of nudge it in what we call the younger you hybrid. It's half the intensive layered some of the everyday principles in. It's for when you're getting ready to conceive for men and women, because if you read the book, you'll see men in the world of epigenetics, yeah you're a big player in what happens with your baby, both in utero while your partner is carrying the baby.
[00:51:20.260] – Dr. Fitzgerald
But then the genetic expression pattern that they inherit, you play a huge role here. So how do we prepare for conception, men and women? What do we want to be thinking about during pregnancy and breastfeeding? And so we designed this younger you hybrid for that. It just seemed such a hugely important time in DNA methylation and demethylation. It's such a huge important time that I just couldn't leave it out of the book. So that information is in there as well.
[00:51:53.920] – Allan
So it's going to be a great reference for you today, for your kids today, for your grandkids, tomorrow. Now, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:52:08.350] – Dr. Fitzgerald
I love it. I love that. I think that's just such a beautiful, you know what? If somebody's going to be the healthiest fittest and happiest, I think that they're going to be epigenetically young as well. When I read your definition and just sat with it, what I thought was get into the driver's seat of your genetic expression. When we age in this country, in the United States, the final 16 years, we have at least one diagnosis and most of us have two. We're on multiple medications. We end up turning over our life savings and all of our hard work to Pharma, to skilled nursing care facilities, to hospitalizations. Like all of our hard existence, we just fork it over to the medical establishment. And it's just so sad to me. So aging is the biggest risk factor for all of these chronic diseases that we just want to avoid with every fiber of our being. And it looks like these diseases, the whole aging journey, take over our genetic expression like they get in the driver's seat. And so I would say that we want to be in the driver's seat of our genetic expression.
[00:53:31.840] – Dr. Fitzgerald
We want to take it back from these chronic diseases. We want to take it back from the aging process and do it. This program will allow you to do that. So I would say bathe your genes in methyl donors and adapt in the healthy way we outline. Get enough sleep, exercise, and well, this is more I'm going beyond your three, but community connection would be the final.
[00:54:01.570] – Allan
Right. Dr. Fitzgerald, if someone wanted to learn more about you, learn more about the book Younger You, the Younger You program and the app that you spoke about, where would you like for me to send them?
[00:54:15.250] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Very simple. It's just youngeryouprogram.com.
[00:54:19.500] – Allan
Great. Well, you can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/526, and I'll be sure to have all the links there.
[00:54:26.540] – Allan
Dr. Fitzgerald, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[00:54:30.340] – Dr. Fitzgerald
Oh, it was my pleasure. It was really great talking with you today.
Post show with Rach
[00:54:40.970] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[00:54:42.470] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. What a really interesting conversation with Dr. Fitzgerald. We've always been told how eating and moving and all these lifestyle changes are good for our health, but now it sounds like the science is out there to kind of prove it. As far as our genetics go.
[00:54:59.470] – Allan
Yeah. I think people feel like they are genetically wired to be a certain way.
[00:55:05.520] – Rachel
[00:55:05.860] – Allan
Obviously, you have blue eyes or you have Brown eyes and that we know why that happens, but there's a lot of things out there that are not so solid state, and they can be changed over time through the process called epigenetics. And the mechanics for that is this process called DNA methylation. And so basically what she's showing us here is that the lifestyle and the food all blend into that communication. It's the information that drives our epigenetics that makes our genes do what they're there to do. We used to buy an IBM computer. It had all these little dip switches on the back. So you'd read the manual and you'd set the dip switches for different things. And it felt very complex. And of course, they made software that started doing that stuff. And now with data, you can say, okay, and I'm user Allan or you're user Tammy on the computer. And it's a whole different experience. And so it's just the complexity of all that is there in our genes. So it's just a function of saying if you do the right things and she goes into detail in the book how to do that with her program, then you're going to be able to slow the aging curve and be biologically younger.
[00:56:33.420] – Allan
And it's fascinating with how quickly some of that change can be seen and measured as far as your genetic age, your bio age, it can be flipped really quickly.
[00:56:48.530] – Rachel
Yeah, it was really fascinating how you described it as also a dimmer switch. You're right. I've got Brown eyes and Brown hair. But our overall health can kind of vacillate. It can kind of change based on our lifestyle habits.
[00:57:05.450] – Allan
Yeah. Well, it's things that we knew. We knew genes were going to drive us to be certain limits, certain things. And we knew that, okay. If you have a particular gene, when they first started doing the coding of that and getting the whole code, the map of the human genome, when they started putting that all together and it took a long time and a lot of money, they thought they were going to have the answer to everything. They thought that this $3 billion in years and years put into this program to get the first one done and now $100, $125, you can have that done over the course of a week or so. But that didn't answer all the questions. And then they realized, well, okay, jeans can be turned on and turn off is what the initial premise was. For a long time, that's what we thought. And now they're realizing, no, some genes are always on. Brown hair, Brown eyes. Some genes are set on dimmer switches. And those ones that are on these, like dimmer switches, we have some control over based on things that we do, what we eat, our stress management, our movement, social connections.
[00:58:26.690] – Allan
And if we put good practices in, we put good food in, it's this information that goes in and says, hey, slow this process down and speed this process up. And so it allows our body to age slower. It allows our body, in some cases to reverse age biologically now, not chronologically. You're still 56 years old. I am 56 years old. So I can't reverse that. But I can reverse my biological age. If I take the time to implement these strategies that she has, you can see that difference. She can measure that difference.
[00:59:15.110] – Rachel
And the strategies are the things that we talk about all the time, which is eating high quality nutritious foods, having some level of movement, getting good sleep, reducing stress, which is not always easy, but is important. And it's all these things that make for a healthier lifestyle, which it's interesting to see that actually show in the science.
[00:59:39.490] – Allan
Well, you go back to the blue zones. I mean, when Buettner wrote The Book Blue Zones, It has to have been 15,20 years ago now, I think. But he wrote the book about why are people living past 100 in all of these different areas? And he tracked what they ate and how they lived and it was the social connection. It was low stress. It was high regular movement. Not necessarily intense stuff, but just they're walking and they're moving and they're doing stuff and then it's the food. And so you go through that process and you say, okay, if I go ahead and start improving these things, I'm going to slow my aging curve. And it goes even a little bit beyond that. It's also about not just living longer but living better. And that's also in the subtitle of the book Is that most of us will get to an age and then we'll just decline really quickly and that's the aging curve. And it's a scary slope when it starts to happen that way you can delay that and have that slope happen later in your life if you take the time to do it.
[01:00:47.450] – Allan
We live longer because it keeps us alive longer, but it doesn't keep us healthier. Medicine doesn't do that. So what we have to do is do the right things with the foods we're eating movement, the sleep, the stress, doing the things that put good information in so that the dimmer switches are turned on and off in a way that help us live longer and better.
[01:01:09.490] – Rachel
Yes, that sounds great. What a fascinating interview.
[01:01:12.500] – Allan
Yeah, it's a good book if you're interested in the science of all of this. She did a lot of research on these different things and even some of the kind of more fruitful things that are out there that you can try, but this is just a real good solid. Okay, this is how it works. Understanding this formula, you go through the process and you start trying to eliminate bad things and add good things and it works.
[01:01:39.170] – Rachel
Awesome. That sounds great.
[01:01:41.570] – Allan
All right, well, talk to you next week.
[01:01:44.130] – Rachel
Great. Take care, Allan.
[01:01:45.570] – Allan
[01:01:46.420] – Rachel
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