Live Long and Master Aging podcast

Episode

250

Defying aging myths

Maddy Dychtwald | Age Wave

BY PETER BOWES | TUESDAY MAY 14, 2024

Maddy Dychtwald has been unraveling the mysteries of aging for decades. Before biohacking was a thing and the recent surge in interest in age-reversal science, she and her husband launched a mission to address longevity as a new frontier. Through her work with Age Wave, the company they founded, the writer and renowned thought-leader has curated the best advice from the some of the world’s leading experts. Now, she is sharing her wisdom with a science-based guide to growing old with good health, vitality and optimism.

In Ageless Aging: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan, Brainspan, and Lifespan, Maddy presents a critical assessment of how the medical and wellness industries have historically overlooked women in research and product development. She explores the democratization of longevity hacks which, contrary to popular belief, do not necessitate considerable financial investment but are accessible through simple, everyday choices like diet, physical movement, and social engagement.

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DISCOUNTS & AFFILIATION DISCLOSURES: This podcast is supported by sponsorship and affiliate arrangements with a select number of companies. The income helps to cover production costs and ensures that our interviews, sharing information about human longevity, remain free for all to listen.


Topics covered in this interview include (time stamps go to YouTube)

  • 00:01 Introduction, Maddy’s background and book profile.
  • 00:48 How it all started and Age Wave, the company Maddy co-founded, focusing on its inception and mission to transform the image of aging.
  • 02:32 Transformations in aging attitudes
  • 03:49 Defining and measuring aging
  • 06:33 Combatting Ageism and Empowering Older Women
  • 08:22 Maddy’s Personal Journey with Aging
  • 15:38 Healthspan, Lifespan, and Brainspan
  • 19:08 Tackling Longevity with a Gender Perspective
  • 26:40 Moderation in everything?

Connect with Maddy Dychtwald: Website | Bio | X | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn

Book: Ageless Aging: A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan, Brainspan, and Lifespan

TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Maddy Dychtwald was recorded on March 20, 2024 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:00:01] Let’s face it, this whole longevity world, it’s new territory. We’re the pioneers, and we’re really trying to pave the way for ourselves and for generations that come after us. So we’re kind of the guinea pigs.

Peter Bowes: [00:00:17] Maddy Dychtwald is a writer and co-founder of Age Wave. Her new book is Ageless Aging A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan, Brainspan and Lifespan. Hello again. Welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. My name is Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity. Maddy, it’s good to talk to you.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:00:43] It’s great to talk to you too, Peter. Thanks for having me.

Peter Bowes: [00:00:46] I want to ask you, first of all, Age Wave. For anyone not familiar with it, just give me a little background as to what you do.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:00:55] Yeah, that’s a great question to start with. We’ve been around for close to 40 years, and frankly, we started at our kitchen table as the idea being that my husband and I decided that we wanted to really transform the whole image of aging. So keep in mind, at the time, we were in our 30s and we started going out doing keynote speeches to big corporations, and from big speeches, we started doing thought leadership studies, and it was all about how the aging are coming, that there is this shift going on in our country, actually globally, that it’s never happened before. And that is we’re seeing longevity rising for the very first time in history. And at the same time, we saw a demographic shift. That is, for the first time, we were seeing the growth in the population happening with older people, not younger people. Now, the third thing to keep in mind that was a dramatic shift is that most people thought of 50 at the time as being kind of over the hill. So we wanted to transform that image and let corporate America know so that they could take out their megaphone and make changes in their advertising and their product design to let them know. And the world know that not only are the aging coming, but it’s a different breed of aging – more active, more energetic, more youthful, and most importantly, they have discretionary income and want to buy things.

Peter Bowes: [00:02:29] Well, I’m interested, having been working in this sphere for such a long time, I’m just curious what changes and what differences in attitudes you’ve noticed amongst people towards aging, the aging process, and perhaps the attitudes that we hear every day about aging and the whole idea of getting older.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:02:50] We recently did a study called The New Age of Aging, and in the study we asked older adults, people 50 plus. We asked them, how is how would you define aging today and how would you have defined it for your parents or grandparents? And they defined it for their parents or grandparents as age 60. So that was basically old age. And then for this generation of older adults today defined it as age 80. So if you’re going to use chronologic aging, which is not my favorite marker of aging, but if you are to do that, and that’s what most people do, that number has transformed pretty dramatically.

Peter Bowes: [00:03:34] That’s very significant. So what is your favorite marker of aging? If it isn’t chronological aging, how do you, what kind of definition do you use?

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:03:44] Yeah, there’s three different kinds of aging. And one of them is chronologic aging. And that’s how many birthdays have you had. And that’s that’s what most people use. That’s how we measure. Do you get Social Security? Are you old enough to drink alcohol? I mean, this is a marker of aging. The second one, which I think is a very important one, is our biologic or our physiologic aging. And there are tests that exist. I’ve taken some of them that can measure how old your insides are. Are you, for instance, physiologically 50 or 60, when in fact your chronological age is 70 or 80. And that is certainly possible. Of course, you can go the other way too. I know that there are people who are 40 who physiologically may be 60 or 70, and that’s not good news. But the third way is one that I find particularly exciting and that is this psychological or emotional aging. So I would sometimes think about that as emotional intelligence. And what we’ve discovered in our studies that age wave. Is that resilience, wisdom, experience those all seem to grow as we get older. In fact, Covid, we saw that the resilience of older adults was actually pretty mind blowing. I mean, while younger adults, from the fact of being alone so much and having their lives changed so much during Covid with the isolation, they were devastated. Where in general, whereas in general, older adults in their 50s, 60s and maybe even beyond, they were realizing, you know, I’ve been through hard times before. I know I’m going to come out the other end. Things are going to be great. There’s one other thing to keep in mind from some of our studies and studies that were done at Stanford, we saw that there’s this u-curve of happiness, and that is that young people are pretty happy. Older people are pretty happy. It’s the people in between, midlife people not so happy. They’re so busy trying to raise a family potentially, and building a career that it’s very stressful and their cortisol levels are pretty high, whereas you hit around the age of 50 and you see happiness levels and contentment levels really go high and you see stress and anxiety levels really begin to fall. And that’s kind of counterintuitive, not really what you would expect.

Peter Bowes: [00:06:28] I think that’s really interesting. Do you think society at large generally sees being older? And I’m using that very specific word deliberately, an older person in a positive light? Or are there still overwhelmingly negative connotations that if you’re old, you must in some way be past it or or physically decrepit?

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:06:50] What’s so interesting to me today is that we’ve done a relatively good job of battling against sexism, racism, even. You know, fat shaming has become something that we don’t really want to do as a society. But when it comes to ageism, it’s so pervasive. And so everywhere you look in our society that somehow it seems acceptable. And by the way, women have that double whammy. Not well, maybe it’s a triple whammy. They have ageism as they’re getting older, they have sexism. They also have something that’s been identified as lookism. The fact is, when men get older, a lot of times they’re considered distinguished looking and their wisdom seems to rise and their leadership capabilities. Women, well, they just get old. And, you know, somehow as a woman, I don’t see that as being fair at all, especially I’m a 74 year old woman, and I like to think of myself as being at the top of my game.

Peter Bowes: [00:07:54] Well, let’s dive into in a second some of the chapters of your book, which is a really fascinating read. But before we do that, I already detect your passion for this subject. I’m just curious. All those years ago, how did you first get into this sphere? What sort of piqued your interest as a as a much younger woman in the ideas and the philosophies and the science around aging? 

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:08:18] Well, there’s two things that I can say about that. First is my earlier career I worked as an actor, and one of the things that I was always being hired for is that I looked very young, so I could be 21 or 22 or 25 and people said, oh, you look like you’re 18, let’s hire you. And then when I started hitting my 28 and 29, I started getting other feedback. And that feedback was, well, if you don’t make it big, by the time you’re 30 or 32, you’re not going to make it. You might as well quit. And frankly, that really got me aware at a very young age of the fact that there’s ageism in every element of our society. And it it frightened me. Then when I met my husband, who was already studying this whole age wave and this demographic shift in older adults and what happens to them as they get older, I became fascinated and really became interested, not just in older adults, although of course, that was interesting to me, but I was interested in the demographic shift. The fact is that in our country, we’re seeing such dramatic shifts away from youth and towards an older population, and yet we’re still holding on to these agist thoughts and ideas. And as a society that’s not going to serve us at all. So when I started recognizing that, I wanted to dive in and learn more about the subject, and I started studying all about it, and that was 40 years ago, almost 40 years ago. And through the work at Age Wave, we’ve been digging deep into the research and doing thought leadership studies on behalf of our a variety of different clients. And as we’ve been learning more. I’ve had the great privilege of interacting with the cutting edge leading experts scientists, physicians, researchers, academics, and from them I’ve learned so much that I really wanted to keep going. Then something really interesting happens. So I’m along the way getting a little bit older, and I started having some physical challenges myself. I’m a big exerciser, and I started really getting a lot of pain in my hips, and so much to the fact that I started limping. And even my son, who, you know, has always thought of me as being kind of like an aging hero or heroine, whichever you want to say, said to me, mom, you have got to get this checked out. You’re starting to look like you’re like old. And so I went to a doctor and I got an MRI, and I found out that I had hip dysplasia, which is a pretty common thing for kids, actually. And today they correct it in kids. But I was a kid a long time ago and they were not correcting it then. Nobody even knew what it was, I guess. So when I got an MRI, I saw that I was bone on bone and both of my hips and the surgeon said to me, you just have to get surgery in both of your hips. And he said, so do one and then do another. And I said, well, what would you do if you were me? And he said, I’d get both done at one time. So I decided that that’s what I was going to do. And so many people warned me against it because they said, you’re going to be out of out of it for like a month and you’re not going to be able to walk, you’re going to be confined to your bed. And so rather than I took this as a challenge, I said to myself, okay, I’m going to go to some of the experts that I’ve spoken to professionally, and I’m going to ask them, what should I do? And so I went to people like Mark Hyman and Andy Weil, and I asked them and I came up with what I call and I speak about this in my in Ageless Aging in my book. I’m going to create a precovery program because I couldn’t get the surgery for months because the surgeon was so busy. So I started with an anti-inflammatory diet, cut out all dairy products, all sugar, all gluten, and frankly, within a matter of six weeks, all the pain in my hips went away. Now just by that happening, I did some other things also which were pretty enlightening. And ultimately what happened was I was in the hospital instead of for a week or two for one night, and I got home and two days later I was able to walk. without any kind of assistance at all, without any kind of a cane or a walker or anything. And, you know, I have a lot of stairs in my house, so I was able to do stairs. No problem. I walked like a duck. So I was kind of funny to look at, but I was able to get around and I was able to really feel great about what I’d gone through. So that’s part of what inspired me to write Ageless Aging. I realized that there are things that we can do right here and right now that can make our experience of aging better.

Peter Bowes: [00:13:41] I thought for one moment you were going to tell me that having changed your diet and your lifestyle a little bit in those weeks, that you didn’t need surgery at all?

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:13:50] Oh, no, I was still bone on bone.

Peter Bowes: [00:13:53] Yeah, exactly. But what it enabled you to do is to recover far more quickly.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:13:58] And get rid of the pain immediately, so that when I went into surgery, I was actually in a pretty good place, and that made a huge difference. I was also able to continue exercising regularly, and I started meditating, which I had never done before, and it helped keep my stress at bay, which was, you know, going into surgery. I’d never had surgery before. It was scary, except when I had children, if you call that surgery. But I was scared to death. And the meditation really, really made a difference. There was another thing, and that came from a psychiatrist, out of Harvard. And she talked about affirmations. I mean, creating some positive messages not just for yourself, but for your surgeon and for the surgical team, nurses, anesthesiologists, all the people around you. And I was a little embarrassed to bring in to the surgical space like, oh, here, could you please read these affirmations to yourself before you do the surgery and after you do the surgery? But oddly, they were like, no, no, we do this all the time. So it was it was really affirming to me that they were so willing to do that. Also, even pre-surgery, the nurses gave me lavender to smell, to try to calm my nerves, and it was really helpful. I mean, it was a really positive experience.

Peter Bowes: [00:15:29] So in your book Ageless Aging, you focus in on at least in the title, Healthspan Lifespan and BrainSpan. Now, we’ve talked on this podcast a lot about lifespan and healthspan, and the very distinctive difference between the two healthspan being the number of years that we enjoy the best of health without those chronic illnesses, those chronic diseases that will probably inevitably creep up on us in later life. But the idea being to just push them back as long as we can and then brain span. That’s what I really want to talk to you about, because I assume the principle is the same to live with the the best health in our brain, the most active brain, the most responsive brain for as long as possible.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:16:10] That’s exactly right. So as you said, this idea of matching health span to lifespan, it’s not that new, although more and more people are talking about it all the time. But keep in mind that on average, women spend the last 12 to 14 years of their lives in cascading poor health. And that’s not nobody wants to go through that. So anything we can do now, what we’ve learned and what I really got to see and hear from experts at the cutting edge of this whole neurologic research that’s been going on in terms of cognitive decline is that there are, in fact, things we can do to both match our brain span, to our health span and to our life span. And that’s actually new news. So just as an example, my mom and my grandmother both had cognitive decline. I got to watch my mother go through a horrible, horrible decline. That was it was devastating to watch. And it scared me to death because the old message just a decade ago was, sorry, whatever are your genetic packages? That’s your genetic package. If your family has a history of cognitive decline, you’re going to get it. So now, through the new research and the new scientific discoveries we’ve learned, you know what? That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, you can prevent potentially board least delay the onset of cognitive decline. And there are things we can do that is such great news. Now, one of the other big pieces of news is that a lot of what we do, what’s good for your heart, is also good for your brain. So that’s kind of a shortcut for some people. Although in Ageless Aging, I give a whole list of a variety of different steps to take to increase your brain span. But you know the obvious stuff. You know, the silver bullet, of course, is fitness. And there’s some secrets to making your fitness more effective, like maybe exercising in the morning. It’s far more effective than later in the day. The good news, by the way, for women, is that exercise is a far more effective tool for women than it is for men. And that’s just from the most recent studies that have just come out.

Peter Bowes: [00:18:39] Yeah, that’s really interesting. And in fact, I was just going to ask you this book. Clearly you describe it as a woman’s guide, but I’m curious to what extent are some of the interventions that you talk about, and you’ve just referred to a few of them. Are they exclusive to women? I think certainly in my world, that a lot of those exercise interventions, they apply equally to men and women.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:19:02] Okay, you’re 100% right. There are a lot of the game changers and the action steps that I suggest in the book that are in fact good for men as well. For instance, exercise, for instance, eating the rainbow is one of the suggestions I make. I mean, taking out ultra processed foods from our life and knowing that sugar is toxic and removing it as much as possible. These are standard things for both women and men. However, there are things that are specifically for women in Ageless Aging. For instance, this whole idea that the health care system is for everybody, well, honestly, it was created for men by men. Just as a perfect example, it wasn’t until the year 2016. Now that’s pretty recent, that women, according to the FDA, should be included in clinical trials. They didn’t necessarily have to be, but they should be. And by the way, a lot of pharmaceutical products haven’t been tested on women. And I’ll give you an example from my own life, metformin, which is a diabetes drug. It’s been around forever. You might be aware of it. It’s considered very safe. But a lot of the longevity Biohackers are using it for longevity because it’s been linked to longer lifespan. Well, I went to my doctor and I said, please, please, can I try this? I want to do what the Biohackers are doing. And she said to me, well. I don’t know if this is such a great idea, but I’ll let you try it as long as we can get testing all the time. So I tried it within days. Days I got so sick from it that I had to stop immediately, and I had such gut issues for literally weeks that I knew that this drug had never been tested on women.

Peter Bowes: [00:21:05] And you talk about Biohackers. Do you think in the world that we live in now, and a lot of the longevity has become something of a buzzword, hasn’t it? And biohacking goes alongside that. Are we getting the kind of accurate information? And this really goes back to the point that you’ve just made, that the kind of accurate information that is, is really beneficial to us? Or do you think sometimes the potential benefits from in quotes, biohacking are not fully understood and therefore could be potentially quite misleading and and dangerous to people if they apply them without the proper medical knowledge and support.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:21:47] I think there’s some truth to that. I think biohacking, let’s face it, this whole longevity world, it’s new territory. We’re the pioneers and we’re really trying to pave the way for ourselves and for generations that come after us. So we’re kind of the guinea pigs. However, with saying that there are some proven, action steps and hacks that we can take that are safe and scientifically proven. My, just as an example for Ageless Aging, it was published by Mayo Clinic Press, and I was the only author that they were dealing with that was not a physician. So they were very particular about the book itself. So what they did is that they brought the book to three of their top physicians, and they ran it through a medical review. And so all the action steps and all the hacks that are in my book have been gotten the gold stamp from the Mayo Clinic press. So I feel very comfortable in in suggesting those action steps and hacks. But I will give you an example of something that the Biohackers bring to an extreme that’s in its most pure sense, is good for you. But the way they do it maybe not so good. And that’s this whole idea of intermittent fasting. So many of the biohackers are taking intermittent fasting to its extreme. They’re fasting for 16 to 18 hours a day, and they’re calling that good for you. Well, I have the great privilege of interviewing Doctor Valter Longo, who is the pioneer behind intermittent fasting. And he was like, no, no, no, they’re doing it all wrong. In fact, that could actually be dangerous and cause health problems. In fact, what he suggests is to go 12 hours without eating. Now think about that. That’s pretty easy. Stop eating dinner at 8:00 at night. Don’t eat breakfast until 8:00 in the morning. How hard is that? And he also added that he thought that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. So, you know, there it goes the way a lot of people are thinking about intermittent fasting. And he added that for women, it’s even more important to limit it to 12 to 13 hours a day because our protein needs are far greater than men’s. So yes, there’s a lot of things men and women have in common, but there’s a lot of things that are different.

Peter Bowes: [00:24:25] I know Valter very well. We’ve worked on a number of projects together. He’s been on this podcast before, and everything you say in terms of interpreting what he says about maybe 12 hours, is the optimum fasting period, as opposed to your eating period during the day. A lot of his work is really, really fascinating to me. And of course, what he talks a lot about is the fasting mimicking diet.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:24:48] Prolon

Peter Bowes: [00:24:50] And you mentioned intermittent fasting. Exactly? One of the issues that I see is the use of the term intermittent fasting, because it can mean so many different protocols, and there doesn’t seem to be general agreement as to exactly what it is. So as you say, it could be even more extreme than you’ve talked about. It could be a 23:1. It could be 12:12. It could be shorter periods of eating intersperced over a longer period of time. So over a number of days, the problem is that it just confuses people.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:25:22] It’s very confusing. And that’s one of the things I want to do is clear up the confusion. One of the things that Doctor Longo I first of all, I’m a fan. I’m like a fan girl. I think he’s amazing. And I love the work that he’s done. And I love the fact that all of the income that he’s gotten from his work in books and such, he puts right back into research. So to me, that’s, you know, he’s got a great moral compass. And I love that. He calls it time restricted eating. And I’m sure you know that. But maybe your listeners don’t. And I think that that’s a little bit easier to swallow, so to speak, because it’s more clear. He also makes a great point, and I think it’s an important one, is that one of the essential steps in this process is to stop eating dinner three hours before you go to sleep. And that’s like, if you think about it, it’s just logical. It’s like something my grandmother would have told me to do before she got cognitive decline. Of course. You know, just sort of like an old wives tale. It’s the idea that your body needs the time to digest the food so that you can sleep more effectively. So I kind of love that.

Peter Bowes: [00:26:36] What do you think of the word moderation? Moderation in everything, which is, again, something that your grandmother may have told you. I know I talk to people in the sphere of longevity, and people have some pretty strong views for and against the use of the word moderation. To me, it is actually quite a good, sensible way to live your life. You don’t want to have a diet that goes too extreme. You don’t want to do extreme exercise, you want to do it in moderation. And if you apply that to the amount of alcohol you drink, the amount of red meat you eat or don’t eat, you’re probably doing okay. Others will say that moderation simply gives people an excuse to do what they want.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:27:18] Both things are true. I think that moderation is a lovely word, and I think it does resonate with a lot of suggestions that I make in Ageless Aging. On the other hand, it’s also a great excuse. For instance, like I would not suggest to people that they eat ultra processed food. I would take that out of my diet completely. I mean, seriously, there’s no need for that. I love what Michael Pollan says. You know, eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I think that there’s a few things that we really need to consider because our world has changed so much. Just as an example,  Dr Stephen Kopecky, who is with the Mayo Clinic, he and I were talking, and he’s a cardiologist, but, you know, he’s pretty moderate in his points of view. However, he said to me that you really ought to eat organic and that he didn’t feel that way even five years ago, but because of climate change, he would suggest that wherever possible, to eat organic food, because you just things have changed so much. And if you can’t buy fresh, organic. He thought frozen. Flash frozen organic was a great, great way to go.

Peter Bowes: [00:28:41] What do you think is the biggest obstacle to living the best lifestyle with your longevity in mind? Is it finance? Is it access to the best food or facilities to exercise? Or indeed an understanding of not just exercise, but movement and how that can benefit is what is it in terms of populations at large that people are missing out on? Where are people failing?

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:29:09] One of my key messages is, and I think I learned this from talking. I interviewed over 100 different scientists and medical experts and academics from my book, and one of the things that I really came to understand is that it’s not just about one thing. It’s not just about your food or your exercise, or your sleep, or your hormones or your sense of purpose. It’s there’s sort of a holistic recipe that includes all of these elements because they all work together. And frankly, it even includes finance. So let’s say that you don’t have your financial game in place, and it’s you’re doing terribly there. It’s going to affect your stress levels, which is going to affect your health and well-being. And then the idea, will I be able to even pay for my health care really comes into play? If you’re not eating a healthy diet, it’s going to affect your sleep. If you’re drinking a lot of alcohol, your sleep is going to go down the toilet and your stress levels potentially can actually go up, not down. So these things all work together. And and that’s actually I think there’s a certain beauty in that because you can potentially say, okay, well today I might have screwed up a little bit when it came to my diet, but I exercised and I’m getting a good night’s sleep. And I’m when I did exercise, I took a walk with friends and was out in nature. I mean, all these things work together to create a healthier, happier you. And I would add one more thing. One of the things I stress in ageless aging is it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. A one of the myths that we have is, oh, if I want to extend my lifespan or my healthspan, this is going to really cost me money. It doesn’t have to. There’s some hacks that don’t have to cost much at all.

Peter Bowes: [00:31:04] Like going for a walk. Like going for a long walk every morning. And you’re saying exactly what I try to explain to a lot of people that some of the most effective, you can call them hacks if you like. They’re just lifestyle traits. Cost us absolutely nothing. And indeed, I think to some extent, the healthier diets, the healthier sort of nutrition regimes can actually be the cheapest if you fill your life full of vegetables. Yes, ideally organic, and that will cost you a little bit more, you’re going to be doing quite well.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:31:36] Yes, 100% agree. And and if you do it with friends, you know, let’s say that let’s cook a meal together and do it in a potluck manner. You’re combining eating good food with, creating really important social connections, because social connections have really been linked very strongly with extended lifespan and extended healthspan. And there’s something great about that I love that.

Peter Bowes: [00:32:03] Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Did you look into you mentioned some longevity hacks cost a little bit of money, things like red light therapy or these places that offer cold plunges or cryotherapy. What’s your view on all of that?

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:32:19] Well, I use myself as a guinea pig on this, which gave me permission to try a lot of these things. So I actually love red light therapy if you have the money to spend on it. I think that it really has impact on your inflammation levels as well as on your skin, and it helps me sleep at night. So I think that it’s a great method to really increase your longevity. And also, you know, it’s supposedly I can’t prove it, but supposedly works on a cellular level. So that’s good news. Cryotherapy. You know, the Wim Hof method that’s been so popular lately. There’s something to it, I think, again, fighting inflammation and infrared saunas, they’ve been linked with better health also. So yeah, I’m a believer, but I don’t think you need to do those things unless you want to try to take your healthspan and your lifespan to its very highest level. You know, there are other. Things you can do, for instance, dental flossing and using a tongue scraper every day that has actually been proven to not only increase your health span, but also your brain span, because there’s some bacteria in our mouth that the thought is that it makes its way up to our brain and can actually help accumulate the amyloid in the tau that creates cognitive decline. So you don’t want that happening. Just buy a $2 tooth tongue scraper.

Peter Bowes: [00:33:54] Yeah, exactly. You mentioned social connections, and I just want to dive into that a little bit with you because I think and the US Surgeon General has identified this loneliness is one of the biggest killers, not only in this country, the United States, but around the world. And I think that is still quite a little known fact, isn’t it? I think we all acknowledge the the benefit of having friends, but extreme loneliness can be absolutely devastating for, for a lot of people.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:34:22] Yeah. That’s right. In fact, loneliness is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of your health span. So if that’s not an incentive to, you know, go out with a friend or make a new friend, one of the things that I think is really kind of exciting is the idea, can you make a friend that’s of a different generation than you, maybe from a different neighborhood from you, someone that you just never thought you would ever be friends with? You know, just smiling, by the way, at a stranger is considered a kind of social cue that can actually impact your cortisol levels. So there is a variety of different things we can do, many of which are not very difficult. And not only do they increase our lifespan, our health span and our brain span, but they also bring joy to our lives.

Peter Bowes: [00:35:13] I think that’s a great way to bring this to a close. Maddy this has been a really fascinating conversation. Your book is called Ageless Aging. It’s Just Out A Woman’s Guide to Increasing Healthspan Brain Span and Lifespan, published, as you say, by Mayo Clinic Press. And there’s a link to it and a transcript of this conversation in the show notes. Let me ask you, Maddy, just before we close from all of your, well, decades of research that you’ve been doing now brought it together nicely in this book. What are the lifestyle hacks that maybe in recent months and years that you’ve maybe learned about, that you’ve applied to yourself and you will definitely be continuing in the coming years?

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:35:54] Well, I’ve always been a big exerciser. I love exercise, it keeps my stress levels really down. But one of the things that I’ve really begun to do is not just exercise early in the morning, because that increases the effect, the positive effect of exercise, but also do it before I eat, because that too has been linked with more effective exercise. So easy thing to do. I try to do the easy things, to be honest with you, and that is an easy thing for me to do. One of the big changes that I’ve made has to do with my sleep. One of the things I learned from the research for Ageless Aging was that sleep science is actually beginning to morph into circadian rhythm science, and what you do in the mornings and during the day is as important to your sleep as what you do in the night time. So when I wake up in the morning and I try to do it the same, wake up within 15 minutes of the same time, every single morning, I worshiped the sun. I do maybe a sun salutation because I like to add in a little yoga there, but I just really spend time just nourishing myself in the sun. And I know this sounds crazy, but it has really impacted my sleep in a positive way.

Peter Bowes: [00:37:14] Maddy, it doesn’t sound crazy. It doesn’t sound crazy at all, because you’re doing exactly what I do. And it’s really it’s really good for me to hear from people like you who’ve done, I guess, similar research. I’ve interviewed a lot of the, I guess, the same people that you’ve talked to and come to exactly the same conclusions and the lifestyle trait, and you’ve just beautifully described it, and that is getting up early in the morning. At the same time, every day. I like to be starting my morning walk as the sun is just become beginning to come up. So you have that point of day when you don’t need any sunscreen. The sun isn’t particularly strong, but you’re getting the the benefit of that light. It’s kickstarting the circadian rhythm. I also do it before breakfast because, as you say, I think there are benefits of doing that and bringing it all together. I always say, well, look, that’s the best hour of the day. It frankly doesn’t get any better than this.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:38:05] It’s the magic hour.

Peter Bowes: [00:38:06] The magic hour. That’s a good way to put it. Look, Maddie, I’ve really enjoyed this. It’s a fascinating book. I would really recommend it not only to women, but to men as well. I think there’s a lot of valuable information in there for both sexes, and I wish you all the best with this.

Maddy Dychtwald: [00:38:21] Thank you so much Peter. Enjoyed this so much.

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.

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