Biohacking to add a billion years of healthy life
Chris Mirabile | CEO/Founder, NOVOS
BY PETER BOWES | THURSDAY NOVEMBER 16, 2023
As a teenager Chris Mirabile developed a “humble appreciation of life” that turned into a life-long dedication to biohacking and self-experimentation. He survived a brain tumor at the age of 16 – an experience that piqued his interest in longevity research and eventually led to the launch of NOVOS, a nutraceutical company that targets the biological causes of aging to increase longevity. An appreciation of science and peer-reviewed research has seen Chris emerge as a leading voice in the pursuit of healthy aging and longevity.
In this interview we cover:
- Recovering from a brain tumor – Chris’s lightbulb moment.
- Evolving interest in human longevity – seminal article Cell – Hallmarks of Aging
- How an invincible attitude as a teenage morphed into a humbling appreciation of life
- Tacking the US Marine Corps benchmark for fitness
- Nurturing an interest in biohacking through citizen science and self experimentation
- The lifestyle interventions to make the biggest impact on health
- The value of strong healthy relationships and social tied to the community
- How our definition of moderation (in everything) is shifting and changing
- The value of recovery over pushing too hard to achieve optimum fitness
- Adding a billion years of healthy life to humanity
- How longevity plays a role in how your look
- Clarifying the differences between biological and chronological age
Photo credit: Chris Mirabile | slowmyage.com
TRANSCRIPT – This conversation with Chris Mirobile was recorded on September 11, 2023 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.
Peter Bowes: Chris, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. Now say we have similar goals. I talk a lot about Healthspan as opposed to lifespan. There is a distinct difference. Is that how you see it?
Chris Mirabile: Yes, there is a distinct difference, but when I think of the term longevity, I actually combine the two. Now that’s not how everyone sees it. So if you speak to scientists that study longevity, they’re often times looking at life extension. And the way they do it is they look at an animal species, for example, and they look to maximum species lifespan. And they’re able to extend the maximum species lifespan? But practically speaking, what’s the highest importance to us as as living, breathing people? It is to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. And so the way I look at longevity and that of my company as well, is for us to focus on increasing healthspan as much as possible, which then by extension, will also increase lifespan. So you will be healthy into the later years of your life and ideally living even more years than you otherwise would. So both are very important, but the order of operations is healthspan first lifespan follows.
Peter Bowes: Yeah, I agree with that. So I, in our introduction described you as having a light bulb moment at the age of 16. Is that assumption correct that it really was that moment? It was more than a moment. It was presumably quite a period of time when you were dealing with your brain tumor that really catapulted you into this world of of longevity and healthspan and lifespan.
Chris Mirabile: Yes. Though it actually progressed over the period of, you know, a decade and a half technically. Right. So my my brain tumor was discovered when I was 16 years old. I suddenly had a seizure while in New York City on a school trip. And I woke up with blood all over my shirt from severing my tongue. And I was rushed to the emergency room where with a CAT scan, they told me and my parents the news that I had a large mass above my left temporal lobe, larger than a golf ball, and so they had to do emergency surgery. And without going into detail about that life changing experience, which really did change my perspective on life, what I wanted to get out of it, and I consider it to be a tremendous blessing to have gone through it. Not that I ever want to go through it again, but having gone through it really transformed me as a person, and it planted a seed in my subconscious. Prior to that, I was already into health. I was exercising more than literally anyone else in my high school and eating healthy at the time I was really into fitness. But it was was purely superficial fitness, right? I just wanted to be attractive to the girls and play sports well, you know, I saw Men’s Health magazine, which inspired me. That’s the superficial side of health. But this then woke me up to the idea of the biological side of health and disease prevention, and now my interest in health. It evolved into one that most people don’t really consider until oftentimes they’re in the later decades of their lives. I was considering as a 16 year old and that seed, it didn’t blossom until about a decade ago, when I came across a seminal paper in the journal Cell called The Hallmarks of Aging, which at the time I had always been looking for things that I could do. I was kind of biohacking, but always asking the question, is what I’m doing now good for me? Not only for this short term goal. Maybe that goal was better focus at work, or better athletic performance, or sleeping better, whatever that goal may have been. The question was, is this also good for me in the long term? And the answer is not always. There’s often times health advice given, whether by the medical establishment or by wellness practitioners with the best of intentions that are very short sighted and so seeing this paper, the Hallmarks of Aging, it crystallized for me, this is the way that I can actually use a rubric of sorts to figure out whether this intervention, this approach is actually good for me, both in the short term and the long term, based on the impact it would have on these mechanisms of aging. And so that’s when I started the journey of researching and eventually got to the point where I said, I need to start a company that can provide this valuable information, this new perspective on the idea of aging, and that it is preventable, and that the best way to do it is to address all of the 12 hallmarks simultaneously. And that’s when it really crystallized. But it took, you know, from 16 until my mid 30s. So almost two decades before I got there.
Peter Bowes: Just to go back to the pre tumor times during your early teens. And you mentioned that you were a very healthy kid. You you read Men’s Health magazine, you aspired to be healthy and to run fast and to have those attributes that most young teenage boys want. Would it be fair to say that you were a very typical kid in that respect, that you didn’t really think much about the aging process? And it’s something I often talk to and reflect on with younger people, that the idea of aging isn’t really something that is thought about until we are actually much older and the signs of aging become apparent either in ourselves or perhaps we see them in our parents. But as as kids at school, aging isn’t something that really comes into our minds very much.
Chris Mirabile: No, not at all. I was as a teenager, I was like many teenagers, I was invincible. Nothing could stop me. And so you could imagine when I was literally stopped and and in a hospital bed, not sure whether I would wake up the next day after my operation. That was, was humbling and it really brought me down to reality very quickly. But if not for that experience, I would have been like any other teenager, growing into even adulthood, thinking I’m invincible until some sort of significant event occurs in my life, whether losing a loved one or becoming ill or sick or whatnot in your 20s or 30s or 40s, I would not even have contemplated it. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind.
Peter Bowes: So you had that humbling experience that really lit up in your mind the idea of longevity and aging and the consequences of how we live our lives, whether it be exercise or diet. In a practical sense. What did you do next? You realized that you had this interest and this goal, but what did you do to a, get the knowledge and then put that knowledge into practice?
Chris Mirabile: Well, the very first thing I literally did after the brain tumor was actually very foolish. I was told by the doctors not to exercise, but I was. I wanted to so much that I was in the basement of my home with my parents upstairs, laying in bed watching television, and I tried to bench press in the basement, and my muscles had atrophied and I had to throw the bar off of me, and it crashed against the wall and woke my parents up. And I learned very quickly that I should take things a little bit more slowly. But then I set myself a goal to achieve the status of a nationally ranked person in physical fitness. So the United States Marine Corps hosts physical fitness national championships for high school students every year, and I set that as the goal. So I basically had one year that the countdown had already started for me to get back into great shape and happy to say I did achieve it. And that was like that was that was the first significant health achievement that that I really set for myself and, and did reach. And I was motivated by proving to myself that I could overcome the, the sickness and I could emerge even better than I was prior to it. Now, going specifically into longevity, it’s not something that I was even aware of. I wasn’t aware of longevity research until I came across that paper about a decade ago. So all the while during the period of 16 to, you know, roughly 29 or so 30 years old, I was really just focused on health. And like I said, I got interested in biohacking, but I was really I was focused on going straight to the source. So PubMed was my best friend. And I would I would play around with different sites like Reddit and Longecity just to to read about the commentary and different perspectives. But then that would spark an idea where then I would dig into the research and learn. So I became like, you know, a self-educated citizen scientist of sorts. Right? So like running experiments on myself and tracking, of course, always tracking with different. biometrics and seeing how I was doing. And that was kind of my my biggest step into the area that I think eventually then evolved into longevity because as I said, I always had that nagging question, is this good for me in the long term as well? And these short term biometrics only tell you part of the story. And so when I came across that paper, that’s when the, as I said before, crystallized. That’s when the transition was made or, it matured into a higher level comprehension of health. When I understood that we could essentially understand the biological causes on a microscopic level of aging, why is it happening in the first place? And then I could take that knowledge that I had accumulated and use that as the backbone to then dig into additional research and learning more, to then focus specifically on that area of aging.
Peter Bowes: And what was your understanding then and now of the interventions, the different things that we can do to change our lifestyle that are most effective? So obviously the common ones are exercise, diet, attention to our sleep, nutraceuticals, which of course you are an expert in a business sense as well. Now, I think a lot of people focus mostly on exercise and diet, but where do you fall in terms of those interventions that perhaps initially made the biggest impact on you?
Chris Mirabile: So exercise and diet are of course very relevant, very important. But when when you dig into each one of those, there are very specific ways that you can go about doing it right. So specific types of foods to eat and to avoid even the timing of your foods, the caloric intake on a daily basis or on a longer term basis, exercise the different zones of cardio you’re in, whether you’re weightlifting or not, so on and so forth. So there’s a lot of details in there. And then going beyond just those two specific categories you mentioned sleep. There’s also recovery and stress resilience and mindset something that’s oftentimes neglected in the longevity world, especially when you see headlines of of people spending, you know, millions of dollars for longevity and, and the things that they’re doing, but oftentimes doing so at the expense of their social life and relationships, that is also very important for longevity is having healthy, strong relationships, positive relationships that exerts an effect on our lifespans. And when you look at people in blue zones, for example, you see that they are community oriented people, strong social ties, a lot of time outdoors, low stress environment, not this high stress, high paced work environment. So there are all of these other forgotten elements, right? We focus on almost the alpha thinking of like, I’m going to get it done, I’m going to do it right. So I’m going to exercise hard and I’m going to diet until, you know, I’m only eating a few stalks of celery a day and so on. And realistically it’s actually more about balance. That is the lost message I think, that most people aren’t picking up on yet.
Peter Bowes: Yeah, it is a balance and it is a combination of all of those factors and things like social connections and maybe even sleep to some extent. Those are the aspects of of healthy aging that I think are often overlooked, especially the way that we interact with other people. And everyone knows diet, exercise. Yes, that’s fine, but it’s the it’s the complete life as I see it. And another word that I use frequently. I’d be interesting to get your take on this is moderation in everything. A phrase moderation in everything. That sounds kind of boring. It isn’t exciting, it isn’t futuristic sounding. But if you think of moderation in terms of your diet, if your exercise the number of hours that you’re awake during the day, the number of hours that you sleep and rest at night as a package, it tends to come out on top in terms of the best approach to life, to live as long as we can and enjoy optimum health.
Chris Mirabile: Yes, I agree with you, Peter, but what I would say is just one caveat to that is that our definition of moderation is constantly changing. It’s shifting over time. So if you ask somebody prior to whether we could actually communicate or not is another matter. But prior to farming, right when we were hunter gatherers, what the idea of moderation was, which is the large majority of our evolution was during that period compared to somebody’s idea of moderation. Today, they are vastly different. They are extremely, extremely different. And so we can’t lose sight of that, which is that? Our idea of moderation today for somebody might be, oh, okay, so I can only have, I don’t know, like one pack of cookies and one bag of chips today. All right. That’s moderation compared to what I normally have. So we have to be clear on the definitions of what is moderation and what is health and what is historically been health. And then set those, those standards from which we then derive that moderation. But then ultimately, yes, I do agree with you. It is about moderation. It’s about recovery. And this is something I didn’t realize as much in my 20s where I would always be working out. Like sometimes I’d go to the gym to start my workday.I maybe do cardio in the morning, and then in the evening I would like weight lift. And I was I was just pushing myself too hard. And so in my 30s, I started to appreciate the science first. It’s not that my body needed it as much as I was comprehending it intellectually. And then I forced myself to kind of slow down a little bit to recover more. And then different devices like the Aura Ring or the Apple Watch and so on. When you monitor things like HRV or your your resting pulse and breathing rate and so on, then you start to see the data first hand and you’re like, oh, okay, maybe I was pushing myself too hard. And then you become like really closely attuned to how your body is feeling and like seeing the difference on a day when you have overworked yourself versus a day that you’ve rested enough and just the subtleties in how you feel, your mood, how you react to people, what you perceive like you might perceive, colors and sound, and so on more vibrantly when you’re well rested versus when you’re overworking yourself like these little things you start noticing when you make a point to notice them.
Peter Bowes: That’s a really interesting point. And maybe just broadening that out a little bit. You are clearly deeply invested and interested in this subject area as I am. And so I use an aura ring. I use other techniques and devices to to monitor myself and then try to learn from actually what happens compared with how I’ve lived my life over the last few. It could be the last few hours, it could be the last few days or months. So the intense interest there hopefully produces results. I’m just curious what your view is on how the knowledge that you’ve gleaned, and many others have gleaned in this area can be shared with people who don’t have the intensity of interest, and that is probably most people who are not monitoring themselves every day, not counting calories or steps or hours in the gym or reps, or the absolute infinite detail of what you might do to learn from. How can that general knowledge be shared with people who, yes, want to be healthy, but let’s just say don’t want to be bothered with the the absolute detail of it?
Chris Mirabile: Sure. Well, one way is your podcast, right, Peter? Like getting the information out there and educating people. And so to that point, the way I try to do it is through my company. So NOVOS, we are registered as a public benefit corporation. I intentionally started the company this way so that we could go beyond just maximizing profit. We can actually do things that are are good for the public interest that are going to improve health. And my vision for NOVOS is that we will one day be able to say that we have added a billion years of healthy life to humanity, and I don’t expect we’re going to do that all, at least not in any time soon. All through our products and selling products. A majority of that perhaps is going to be coming just through education, free knowledge, where people can take that info, be empowered and then improve their their health spans and life spans without even having to buy anything from NOVOS. And so how do we do this? One way is through all of the education and information we share on our website. So we have a blog called NOVOS Flow where we’ve got at this point, more than 150 scientifically referenced articles, typically written by a PhD or a medical doctor, that give as much guidance as possible on how to improve your your lifespan and your health span essentially increase your longevity. The other thing is we also offer free digital tools. So you mentioned not everyone is necessarily into the nitty gritty details. In fact, a lot of people are only interested in the superficial sides of aging, right? At least initially.And so we offer something called Face Age, which can help people to based on I can can understand how young they look, but then skin health markers like wrinkles and inflammation and pore size and so on. And then we give practical tips for how people can improve those scores with the hopes that. People start to understand that longevity plays a role in how you look as well. And if that’s the hook that some people in the world need to then get interested in longevity, so be it. We hope that then they evolve to understand that longevity and health is much more important than simply how you look in the mirror, even if that is important to them. And then finally, we also offer a tool set where it’s a questionnaire that you answer a handful of questions in less than ten minutes, and then we give you hyper personalized recommendations. The red category of things that are most important yellow is moderately important and green is what you’re doing well already. And then we give you actionable insights and recommendations and and access to articles on our blog that are the scientifically referenced articles to reinforce why we’re recommending this to you. So this is just the first step in a long vision that we have for technology, tools that we can provide to the general public for free, to enable them to be able to make these significant improvements without having to look into the details, like you and I do.
Peter Bowes: Yeah. No, I think that’s really, really useful. Just going back to something you just said about the the superficial side of what it’s like to age that some people might think is the most important thing, how I look, whether I’ve got wrinkles on my face, whether my hair is going gray, those kinds of things, and I think I’m at one point in my career might have been, or my life indeed have been dismissive of that, saying, well, I don’t care if I get a few wrinkles, if my hair, as it has goes from being a blond color to a gray color, I don’t care. It doesn’t really affect how physically I am, and I’ve come to believe that that’s probably the wrong attitude, that actually how we feel and how we present ourselves actually has quite a significant impact. You could say mentally, in terms of our health and well being and how we portray ourselves to people. And that in itself is a factor in how we age. Just feeling good and feeling as if other people see us as being healthy and vibrant can be a positive aspect of of aging as well as the diet and the exercise. And whether you’ve got big muscles, small muscles, but just looking good can actually be and should be nurtured as an aspect of of positive longevity.
Chris Mirabile: Well, I agree with that, Peter, in the sense that, as I mentioned before, there is a community aspect of aging as well social relationships, connection and so on. And when you feel attractive and others are attracted to you, it is just drawing that much more, you know, positive, reinforcing energy to you. And so there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with wanting to feel attractive. Right? It’s just a human instinct as a social, as a social creature that humans are. We want to be attractive to one another, to again, to have that community. So so that’s without question true. But what I would also say is that it’s reverse to the way that you look, can also be a reflection of the rate at which you’re aging. So specifically, there is a scientific study from which a set of biological age clocks have been created, called the DunedinPACE clocks. We actually sell the DunedinPACE clock at Novus as part of the NOVOS age kit that we sell, and we sell it because it is the most accurate and most precise according to objective measures of all of the biological age clocks out there. The reason I bring it up is that in that study, the present, it’s this beautiful image of a male and female, three of each male and female, and it’s a computer generated image where they merge the ten youngest looking 45 year olds according to the epigenetic results. So not like what they look like perceptually, but what their epigenetics said. Who were the youngest or the slowest? Aging, specifically, the ten average aging 45 year olds and the ten fastest aging 45 year olds? Again, just based on the data, not visually. And when they merge the faces and you look at them side by side, the slowest aging 45 year olds look 7 to 10 years younger and the fastest aging look about a decade older. And then when you you put them together, the youngest, slowest aging and the fastest aging side by side, the difference is extreme. It is. It looks like almost two decades have passed for the fastest aging versus the slowest aging. And I think that that is a beautiful illustration to make this relevant to all of us. We all see ourselves in our reflections every day. We know what we look like and we see. Each other, our loved ones and some people are aging faster than others. Some are aging slower than others. But what’s critical to understand is that only 10% of aging is genetic, and 90% of it is lifestyle and environmental. So you have the power to be able to be that younger looking for 45 year old, not only younger looking, but younger behavior. The fact that the epigenetics pointed out what then manifested in the physical form in the esthetic side of it, just goes to show that what’s happening internally on an organ level is very similar to what’s happening externally to our skin, which is an organ and our bone structure and our adipose tissue and our face, so on and so forth. So I think it goes both ways when it comes to the relevance of the esthetic side of aging.
Peter Bowes: Yeah, it does. Now, I know you’ve talked a lot about biological aging, chronological aging and how you, in terms of your own personal physicality and health, have managed to, in effect, reverse your biological age. Can we just delve into that a little bit and tell me where you are now in terms of chronological age and what you believe you your biological age is and what has happened and what sort of research have you done to reach that kind of conclusion? In other words, how do you know what your biological age is?
Chris Mirabile: Sure. So. So first, I’d like to just clarify a little bit about the difference between chronological age and biological age. A lot of people think that it is literally like, if I’m biologically 13 years younger than my chronological age, which is approximately what my results show that I am, like literally 13 years younger in every sense of the word. And that’s not actually true. It’s it’s more a matter of the way I choose to think about it is it’s more a matter of morbidity, risk, mortality risk, and my physical capabilities more or less. But it doesn’t literally mean everything about me is going to be that of someone 13 years younger. So my chance of a heart attack or dropping dead at any moment is going to be more like that of a 26 year old than it would be of a 39 year old. But there are other aspects of aging that are different. Like, for example, I don’t look like I’m 26, I look like I’m in my my 30s or hopefully not quite 40, which I’m on the brink of, but hopefully I look a little younger than that. But I’m looking older than 26, right? So it’s not to be taken literally. Now with that said, it is still extremely relevant again because of the disease risk, the death risk, but then also what it then allows me to be able to do in a physical sense and a mental sense and so on. And so how do we measure it specifically? Well, there’s different ways that you can measure biological age the most popular way, and probably because there’s the most research behind it is by looking at the epigenome. But there are other ways to look at biological age. You can look at the transcriptome, the proteome, the metabolome and so on. But those are not as far along in terms of their development and the algorithms and accuracy as the epigenome, even the microbiome. There’s been some studies to look at biological aging based on your microbiome composition, not as accurate as the epigenome. So your epigenome is this layer that sits on top of your genome. So the analogy I like to give is that if your genes are the piano keys, the epigenome is the piano player. And when you’re young you’re playing this beautiful Tchaikovsky piece. And then when you’re older, it might increasingly sound like a kid crashing down on the keys, like certain keys that shouldn’t be pressed are, and vice versa. So there are patterns that emerge from this, and scientists have been able to detect these patterns and then create algorithms that are then going to essentially tell you how old you are biologically. It’s not every gene in our body. There are specific genes that are more are more likely to predict than others. But then based on that information, they can then create this biological age or biological pace of aging. So for me specifically, I have had a whole bunch of these tests done on me. So I actually have a list here. I can I can read some of them. So if your audience is aware of them, like I’ve had the Hannum immune system age done, Principal Component Horvath clock done. And then a second Horvath clock done. Another Hannum clock done with principal component analysis. I’ve done the True Age test. I’ve done the Dunedin pace clock, I’ve done the Grimm Age clock, I’ve done the Levine Pheno age clock. I’ve done all of these. And so across all of those clocks. The average was more than a decade younger biologically than chronologically. Throw in there then. also my telomere age. It’s at one of the higher percentiles, and that is says that I’m essentially a child about I have the telomere length of a of an eight year old and then going going beyond that. So then a question that that emerges from this and one of our scientific advisory board members is Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, who is one of the most renowned researchers in the longevity field and is very famous for his work with rapamycin and the Dog Aging Project and so on. And I was having a one on one call with him, and I was sharing these results with him, and he said, all right, that’s great. But like, what does it actually say about you? What about physiologically like this is just looking at your epigenome, but like, are you able to essentially perform like someone younger? And fortunately I have been tracking that too with all of my devices. And I said, well, actually I have some data for that. So my pulse wave velocity, for example, is something that can be tracked with the Withings scales, at least the European versions. I don’t think the US version permits it, but I have one of those and that is 5.8m/s, which is that of a 24.5 year old on average. My VO2 max is that of a 26 year old. It’s 55.5. My max heart rate is that is about 192 beats per minute based on sprints I’ve done. That’s about a 28 year old. My visceral fat is that of a 20 year old, and the face age AI is coming back telling me that I have the face of someone who’s approximately. It depends on the day I do it, but approximately 30 to 32 years old. So averaging out all of those markers basically comes out to aging somewhere around 13 years slower or younger than chronologically.
Peter Bowes: And there’s one other aspect, and that is mentally how you feel. Do you feel like a 39 year old, or do you like most men, and probably women as well, might say, I still feel like a kid. I never feel like, I mean, yes, we’ve all grown up, but there’s something in us. You get this especially from very old people, people in their 90s or their hundreds. You ask them how they feel and they say, well, I still feel like a boy. I still feel like a girl in terms of how I think and my view of the world and my aspirations. Is that something that sticks with you?
Chris Mirabile: Without question, Peter. So, you know, we’re doing an interview, and whenever people see me publicly, it’s more the business side of Chris. But the other side that people don’t see is like the very silly, goofy side of Chris. And, you know, I have a girlfriend who’s a little bit younger than me. And so there are elements of that that kind of rub off on me as well. And so I just yes, 100%. I even look the way I look at things in life. So there’s a period in my early 30s when I fell into depression, had a failed start up venture, and it was a rough time and I had $0 to my name. My apartment was robbed after hurricane Sandy hit New York City, and it was just it was a rough time, and I started meditating and reading some books and perspectives that I would probably not ordinarily have read. But one of the things that that I came across was this philosophy of looking at everything in life as a child does, with childlike, open eyes of curiosity and not presuming things or making erroneous assumptions about things, but just letting things happen and observing and almost a meditative state. And I’ve tried to instill that into into my life when I can. It’s not always the right thing to do. Sometimes you need to go into a business meeting knowing the answers, but in other times, just in my free time, yes, I do very much look at life with that curiosity and and the novelty that comes along with that.
Peter Bowes: And there’s one other factor I would add, and that is always maintaining the questioning ethos of a child. In other words, never believing anything and saying, well, well, why is that? How can you do that? In other words, the the lack of a complete understanding and an ability to say, I don’t know, and I’m skeptical about that. I think if you can hold on to that throughout your life and I suppose not believe everything you hear, which is a tendency, I think, of some people, especially in this sphere, but to be very brutal and questioning over what you’re doing and what the potential outcomes are of perhaps of some of these interventions that you’re using.
Chris Mirabile: I completely agree with that. It reminds me of when I said I was reading types of works that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. One of the the. I was reading was that of someone named Jiddu Krishnamurti, who was a spiritualist, and within his philosophy was very much asking the asking questions like a child, but also always asking why. And that’s actually what helped me get out of my depression was asking, why am I depressed? And then I would have an answer and then I would ask, but why? And then my brain would come up with another answer. And eventually I would keep asking why so many times that I got down to the fundamental kernel of truth, of what was really making me depressed. And then from there, that’s when I was able to have the information I needed from which to then build a new foundation for the next chapter of my life. So almost like peeling off the layers of an onion, getting deeper and deeper and deeper until I saw that core, and then from there, starting that next chapter.
Peter Bowes: Chris, I was wondering whether you could give me just a little snapshot of a day in the life of Chris. In other words, what an average day looks like. And there’s one thing you said earlier that piqued my interest, and that is the time that we eat. And I’m wondering if you practice time restricted eating as part of that daily regime?
Chris Mirabile: Yes. Well, I’m glad you called it time restricted eating instead of intermittent fasting, which many people erroneously call it. So specifically, what I mean by that is that it would only be intermittent fasting if I was eating fewer calories during that period, but if I’m doing it every single day, it’s no longer fasting. It’s really just time restricted feeding. So not to be a stickler for the definition, but that’s technically the distinction between between the two.
Peter Bowes: I think it comes from the excellent work of Satchin Panda.
Chris Mirabile: Yes.
Peter Bowes: Here in California at the Salk Institute, I think I think he coined that phrase. And it certainly stuck with me as perhaps more specific and relevant to what this kind of regime.
Chris Mirabile: Yes, you’re right, Peter. And he has also been quoted as saying that even scientists get it wrong in terms of the strict definition. So there’s some leeway there. But if we want to be precise with the language, there is a difference. So my day, well, I’m an entrepreneur and I’m an entrepreneur basically 24/7. So there are things I would love to be able to do for my health. But the the challenge that I’ve brought on to my life to create NOVOS and to see it succeed, means that I can’t have it all, so to speak. But I am very disciplined with with my days, particularly on weekdays, and then on the weekends is when I live a little. So my weekdays I wake up and immediately have typically two glasses of water, probably about 20/24 four ounces of water with sodium and potassium salts in it. So I use the light salt that Morton’s creates. You could also use Himalayan salt and then get some potassium, pure potassium salts, whatever you want. But while you’re sleeping you are sweating. And then you urinate in the morning and you are dehydrated. And the best way to rehydrate is not simply drinking water, but having electrolytes in that water. And I don’t want calories, so I don’t get any other types of drinks. So that’s how I do it. So I have that first, and then shortly after that I go out for a light run zone two cardio about 30 minutes, 30 to 40 minutes depending on the day. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I weightlift. And on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I’m more focused on cardio. So on those Monday, Wednesday, Fridays it’s the 30 to 40 minutes of zone two. Then I go into the gym and depending on the day, I’ll weightlift like Monday is chest, triceps, a little bit of shoulders, Wednesday back biceps and deadlifts, and Fridays emphasis on shoulders, but then a mix of a little bit of everything else so that I hit the muscle groups twice per week. On Tuesdays I will do long run. Typically not super long, but typically about six miles. And then Thursdays I’ll bike ride for about 45 to 50 minutes, and on Saturdays I’ll go for either a longer run or I’ll be more intense with things like hit training and so on. Even on the bike rides, I’ll try to do some intervals of higher heart rate intensity. So getting into zone four and zone five, what else do I do? So Sunday is my rest day. I get back from my workout and I immediately sit down and start work. My mornings are typically full of team meetings and video conferences, and so on afternoons, I try as much as I can to allocate for myself to be able to be productive, but oftentimes that ends up meaning a lot of additional phone calls. I don’t start, let’s see when I get home. I also do have coffee. I’ve been on a decaf streak for the last few months now. I typically have caffeine. There’s nothing wrong with having caffeinated coffee, I find myself. Actually focusing better without the caffeine, believe it or not. So that’s the experiment I’m running right now to see how I do. After that. I don’t have my first meal until typically about 12:00 pm, sometimes a little bit later. It depends on like if I worked out, if I lifted weights and so on. I want to have a protein shake. And so I’ll have typically a vegan protein sometimes its way, but typically it’s a vegan protein shake. And I mix a bunch of other things in there like mixed mushrooms, some spirulina, chlorella, creatine, and a few other things mixed with some vegan yogurt like a coconut yogurt, for example, and some to get the probiotics, that is. And then some vegan milk, like a hemp milk or something like that. So that that’ll be like the first meal. And then a couple of hours after that, I’ll have an actual sit down lunch, which can consist of the base is a lot of vegetables and mushrooms. I’m typically very low carb at this point in the day, but I’m not allergic to carbs. I’ll have them, but typically ends up being just a lot of vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli and cauliflower and spinach and so on and so forth. The protein will either be sardines, maybe smoked salmon, maybe whole salmon or chicken and olive oil, and maybe some balsamic vinegar, stuff like that. I’ll start then having my NOVOS core, which I typically mix with some apple cider vinegar as well. And I do a half a packet at this point of my novos core. What I forgot to mention earlier was when I start my day, I also do have B vitamins and Novos boost and NOVOS boost is NMN. So that’s at the start of the day. So at this point now I have have my lunch. I’ll also have essentially the equivalent of a multivitamin and multimineral with my lunch meal as well. Get back to work and around 6 p.m. I try to go out for a walk. Even if I’m still working, I might be on a phone call or might be checking emails, but I want to get outside. Fresh air, sunlight, so on. And I typically walk for about 45 minutes, which ends up being about three two and a half miles or so, and then come back, have dinner at about seven, finish eating at about eight. So it ends up being like a 16 to 8 time restricted feeding window. And and that that meal is again tons of vegetables, typically fatty fish in that meal.That’s when I will have some carbs. It might be quinoa. It might be if I had intense workouts. It might be like a sweet potato with some olive oil and some of the light salt. I always use the light salt just to get that much more potassium into my diet, and then hopefully I’m done with work around eight 9:00. There’s unfortunately, especially for my girlfriend’s sake, times that I’m still working. But the thing about my work is that I’m I love my work, I love what I do, and of course, there are periods of high stress that comes with any, any job, especially as a CEO of a of a startup. But with that said, I still like what I do, so I oftentimes don’t see it as work. Like yesterday was Sunday and I went to a bookstore with my laptop, and we have some new hires coming on today and tomorrow. And I spent the whole day working on planning for those new hires. I was excited, it was fun. It was a good way to spend my Sunday. A lot of people don’t think that way when they’re at a job that they don’t, that they don’t love, but I do, so I don’t. I see it as part of my life. I’ll pause here. There’s stuff I do for sleep and so on. But if you have any questions, I’ll pause here.
Peter Bowes: I was going to ask you about sleep. Do you sleep well and how long do you generally sleep for?
Chris Mirabile: Yes, so I do tend to sleep well. I had a period where I slept terribly, and so then I really dug into the research over the span of more than a year, trying to figure out what would work best for me and experimenting with different supplements and routines and so on. So the things that stuck over that time are one pitch black room two, even with the pitch black room sleeping with a sleeping mask. Because if the girlfriend gets up and turns the light on or she gets up before me, I don’t want to be disrupted at all. Also, in the morning, you know the sun rises. I’m not ready to wake up at sunrise, so I also don’t want that to disrupt my sleep. So the sleep mask helps me sleep through sunrise. Second is I wear earplugs. And the critical thing about earplugs is most people don’t know how to put them in their ears properly. They just try to shove it in. And there’s actually a method to it. You should watch a YouTube video about how to properly install earplugs into your ears, but those go a long way too. Because if there’s any noise outside, like a car going by, or a garbage truck, or the girlfriend gets up to use the restroom, or I have a dog and the dog might be trotting along like I don’t want to wake up. So. So that helps a lot too.
Peter Bowes: Do you use the wax earplugs?
Chris Mirabile: You know, it’s funny you ask that because I had bought them maybe three years ago and I lost track of them. And then a couple of days ago, I was cleaning up and I found them again, and I’m going to try them again. But I haven’t been using wax ones. I’ve been just using the the more foam ones that you know, so you have to replace those after I use them. A couple of, you know, maybe like 3 or 4 days and then I replace those.
Peter Bowes: Yeah, I converted to the wax ones quite a while ago. I use them for swimming as well, and I find them infinitely better at night time as well, because they mold better to your ear and keep out all that extraneous noise. So. It’s worth trying.
Chris Mirabile: I’ll try it. I’ll try it again. I found them so I know where they are now, so I’ll do that tonight. What else do I do? I keep the temperature very low in the upper 60s, like around 67, 68 degrees. And they also have a ceiling fan that I have running at night while I’m sleeping. I have a mattress topper. I have a pillow that works very well for my spine, silk pillow sheets to just keep it very super soft. And then before going to sleep, first of all, I make sure I’m well hydrated, but I don’t want to drink a lot before going to bed. Otherwise you wake up and you have to urinate. So I make sure that when I’m having dinner, I’m drinking enough water so that I’m well hydrated throughout the night because if you’re dehydrated during sleep, that can also disrupt your sleep. But I don’t want to be peeing at night, so I do it a few hours before bedtime. And then there’s a couple of supplements that I’ll take at night, magnesium being one. Sometimes I’ll also take valerian root, which I know I need it. If I’ve overworked myself, I’m overstressed, especially physically overstressed. And then finally, one thing that I notice for myself, which most people might not suspect, but I know 100% there’s a connection to this is if I have under eaten by too much. If I’m to hypocaloric, my sleep will be terrible. So I need to make sure that if I’m hypocaloric, it’s only by say, 10 to 20%. If if I’ve worked out really hard or I’ve been walking a ton and I haven’t eaten a lot, I’ve been busy all day. I know my sleep is going to be a wreck, so I need to like, maybe eat more food than I normally would for dinner to be able to sleep well that night. Otherwise I’m going to wake up at 3 or 4 a.m., presumably like gluconeogenesis sets in, cortisol levels rise, and then you wake up in the middle of the night. And so that’s that’s something I’ve observed. And I’ve observed it in friends of mine who who tend to be like very thin overachievers, always like working out hard and like, like maybe under-eating and doing time restricted feeding and even like, prolonged fasts and so on. And they’re complaining about their sleep. I say just experiment with overeating for a few days and then they sleep perfectly. So I say that you got to find the balance between the two.
Peter Bowes: Do you ever include in your day things like cryotherapy, infrared saunas that are know a lot in the biohacking community actually swears by? I think sometimes the, the science and the, the research could be questionable in terms of long term benefits, but in terms of short term benefits, I know a lot of people I’ve tried both that speak very highly, especially of cryotherapy.
Chris Mirabile: So I’ve done cryotherapy a handful of times. It’s not something that is convenient for me to be able to do on a regular basis, so I don’t if I, if I had the cryotherapy unit in my in my bedroom, sure, I would do it every day, but for me to have to drive and then exactly. It’s not it’s not that it’s not practical at all. I mean, I’m so busy with NOVOS that I don’t really have the time on a weekday to drive to the place. And then not to mention I don’t feel like spending the money to do it, but.
Peter Bowes: Agreed on that too.
Chris Mirabile: Yes, but but I do take the opportunity, whenever it’s given to me, to to be able to access one of those machines. And then when it comes to infrared. Yeah. So there’s near-infrared and there’s far infrared so far infrared being what you what really heats you up. That’s more of the sauna side. But then there’s also near infrared and red light therapy for things like skin health and hair growth and pain management and so on. So I do have near infrared devices for like you have the panels, you’ve got the face masks with the near infrared and the red light therapies and so on. So I do those every so often. The truth is that that I’m not that disciplined with them. I haven’t seen any like significant benefit from it for me to then be regularly using it. Some people might. And so for them it might make great sense for them to use it all of the time. And then for the far infrared, those are great when I can access one of those saunas. But otherwise the only alternatives to have in my home are things like blankets almost, or like sleeping bag types of devices that have the far infrared built into them. I just don’t like the idea of like sweating in this plastic device and then like the hygiene of cleaning it and all of that. So I don’t I don’t care to do it, but my, my building does have a traditional sauna that I do use, and I find benefits from the traditional sauna. So I’m more more likely to do that than either of the other two.
Peter Bowes: Chris, this has been a fascinating conversation. We could go on quite easily for another hour, I’m sure, but I will draw it to a close and maybe just ask. In closing, this is a podcast about human longevity. We look to the future, we look to the decades ahead and the kind of life that we can aspire to in 20, 30, maybe even 50 years time. Is that something that you spend much time thinking about, of what kind of life you will be having and what kind of life you want when you’re 80 or 90 or 100 years old. And whether you actually have a goal in mind in terms of years. I know some people in this area do have very specific ideas. Some people believe that we can all potentially live to about 120, and that’s the number that they focus on. How do you see it?
Chris Mirabile: So you’ve opened Pandora’s box in some sense where I do think I’m a technology minded person. And so I do think a lot about the future. I love sci fi. You know, one of my favorite movies of all time was The Matrix. And so when I think of what life will be like when I’m 90, I’m excited by it. But there’s there’s also a big question mark of what the world will be like when I’m 90 years old. So basically just over 50 years from now, it’s going to be a very different place, as we’ve seen over the last 50 years. And that pace of change is accelerating. So that’s always a question of what will life be like. And what I mean by that is that there will probably be a lot of virtual reality worlds that we can connect into. There will be like our definition of of life and health will will be different. But. What I know for sure of what I want is to be the healthiest version of myself. Optimized version of myself. Not relying on medicine to have found the cure for every chronic illness. Because that’s not likely to be the case. If it’s not one thing, it’ll be another. So I want to slow down. The common denominator is aging. I want to slow down that aging process so that I’m not assuming anything or taking anything for granted. That’s most important to me. In terms of maximum lifespan. I think that we’re going to find that we go far beyond Jeanne Calment in terms of maximum species of I believe she was 122 years old, going well beyond that. I don’t see any reason why that would be the limit, especially when we look at whether it be the epigenetic programing and resetting those programs on an organ basis or on a whole body basis to the more macro damage, molecular damage that takes place in repairing that damage through more low tech solutions like different molecules that NOVOS can provide and currently does provide to higher tech solutions. Maybe like nanobots, which I know we’ve been talking about for decades. But if we fast forward 50 years, they’ll almost definitely be making a difference in their lives. So I think for a number of reasons, we will be able to extend both that health span and that lifespan in the process.
Peter Bowes: Well, Chris, your work, your outlook on life and your achievements to date are indeed fascinating. I wish you all the very best for the future. And thank you very much indeed.
Chris Mirabile: Thank you Peter, it was a pleasure to be here.
Peter Bowes: And if you’d like to read more about Chris and his company, NOVOS, there are some useful links and background information in the show notes for this episode, along with a transcript of our conversation. The LLAMA podcast is a Healthspan media production. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll be back soon with another deep dive into human longevity and the science behind healthy aging.
The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.