Centenarian‘s Secret to Aging Isn’t Their Diet

If I want to age like the population in Okinawa, Japan, who have the highest number of people living to age 100 or beyond, the Centenarians, the first thing I need to do is lose 19 inches.

If you think I am referring to my waistline… first, shut up! 

But really, that would be better than the truth. 

I would have to lose 19 inches of height.

The average male Centenarian is 4’9” tall.

The only difference identified between the men living to 100 years of age or older and a man that lives to 75 in the same population was 2 inches in height, with the shorter man living longer.

That doesn’t give shorter people any breaks when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Shorter, unhealthier people are at higher risk of disease and premature death than unhealthy taller people. 

So, no one gets a pass at healthy living. Sorry.

Some limited data has shown that overly muscular men who spent their lives as football players, bodybuilders, competitive weightlifters, or gym overachievers have a similar life expectancy as a man who is morbidly obese. 

I call this my “excess tissue hypothesis.”

Health and longevity is an expressions of the body’s functional efficiency. 

A more efficient body is healthier, lives longer, and heals better.

“Wait, Don, studies have shown that muscle mass is positively correlated to health and wellbeing, so what’s up?”

Yes, and no.

It’s not just muscle mass but rather functional muscle mass.

Having excess muscle mass is as much of a health and morbidity risk factor as excess body fat and as it turns out, excess (if you can call it that) height.

More tissue is more tissue. Muscle, fat, bone, or all together in stature can all be a health detriment.

Muscle and fat are almost equal metabolically when we are at rest, contributing an insignificant amount to our metabolic rate and expenditure when at rest.

The big difference between muscle and fat is seen when active and in use, with muscle dominating the stats compared to any other tissue when exercising. 

Use it or lose it, they say.

Use what or lose what exactly?

Well, it’s not the muscle mass itself we need to worry about losing, as it turns out.

In the case of muscle, use it functionally or lose metabolic capacity and health.

Muscle mass does not directly correlate to health or even strength, and neither does muscle volume (size). 

Bigger muscles usually indicate increased strength, but they are not a linear predator of it or power or as it turns out function, health, or longevity.

So what does? Density and what I call capacity. 

What is gained and lost through use or inactivity metabolically in our muscles is not muscle fibers, not size, but what’s on the inside in the form of it’s metabolic capacity. 

What determines a muscle’s metabolic capacity is twofold:

  • One is the ability of a muscle to store energy in the form of glycogen.

  • Two is the ability of the muscle to produce and use energy in the form of ATP from the number and health of it’s mitochondria.

Think of mitochondria as engines and glycogen as gas tanks.

Metabolic health is a direct measure of energy efficiency in both production and use.

Having more, stronger engines, and larger gas tanks to keep your body and in this case muscles running smoothly is the measure of metabolic health and energy production and efficiency.

This metabolic efficiency can change independent of muscle size or strength and it is exactly what is lost as people age that snowballs them to chronic disease and premature death.

The muscular key to not having your health snowball down the very predictable mountainside of the standard American end of life health experience is maintaining metabolic efficiency, flexibility, and optimal amounts of them for you and your body.

Over time, too much muscle or fat will cause excess wear and tear on the incredibly intelligent machine we call the human body and lead to breakdown like any other machine.

The difference between our body and a true machine is we have the ability to change it almost at will through our lifestyle and health and healing personal efforts. 

Life is the only sustainable force in the universe, and the reason it is is due to its ability to adapt, change, and in our case, heal.

If it is not adapting, or changing, it is not healing and will not sustain health or life.

So sorry, my gym enthusiasts out there, it’s not muscle at all cost. In this case there exists a scenario of too much of a good thing regarding muscle.

This also means that using the excuse of needing muscle at all costs to support our forcing of excess protein, use of protein powders, increased meal frequency, and use of anabolically focused supplements, foods, or drugs are also unnecessary and, in most cases, can be detrimental. 

Back to the centenarians.

If you are like me and don’t meet the body advantage range of our Okinawan friends in Japan, then your goal may be similar to mine of being as strong as I can be at the lightest weight and as metabolically efficient as I possibly can in this body that I do have.

We can do better!

Dr. Don


kids candies
ozempic success