Live Long and Master Aging podcast



Little cells, big ideas for living longer

Greg Macpherson: Science Research Wellness


To maintain mental and physical vitality, the status of the most basic building blocks of our bodies is all important.  There has been an explosion in research relating to cellular health and the measures we can take to nurture their wellbeing. Greg Macpherson is a biotechnologist, pharmacist and the author of Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging: Turning Our Cells Into Little Pharmaceutical Factories.  But how does that way of thinking apply to our everyday lives?  In this interview with Peter Bowes, Greg explains the significance of recent scientific breakthroughs and why he believes it is realistic for more of us to contemplate life as a centenarian in the coming decades. 

Connect with Greg Macpherson: | Website | Twitter | S | R | W – Science Research Wellness | Book: Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging

Listening options: Apple PodcastsAudibleStitcherTuneinSpotifyPandora PodcastsGoogle Podcasts

Recorded: Aug  31, 2021

Ultimately, it’s being around and experiencing what this wonderful planet has to offer. 

Greg Macpherson
  • This episode is brought to you in association with Clinique La Prairie, the award-winning spa-clinic – and pioneering health and wellness destination – nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland. Combining preventative medicine with bespoke lifestyle and nutrition plans, Clinique La Prairie offers a holistic approach to living fuller, healthier and longer lives.

Transcript & chapters

Transcribed using Sonix. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.

Greg Macpherson: [00:00:00] We are at the cusp of some significant breakthroughs, if that’s an obsession, then it gets humanity forward. Sign me up. I’m more than happy to do it because what we’re talking about is not having people live to 150, aged and infirm, it’s about being healthy for longer.

Peter Bowes: [00:00:21] Hello again. Welcome to LLAMA, the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. I’m Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity.

SPONSOR MESSAGE: [00:00:31] This episode is brought to you in association with Clinique La Prairie. The award winning spa clinic and pioneering health and wellness destination nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva in Montreux, Switzerland. Combining preventative medicine with bespoke lifestyle and nutrition plans, Clinique La Prairie offers a holistic approach to living fuller, healthier and longer lives.

Peter Bowes: [00:00:55] Today, we’re heading to New Zealand to meet one of the country’s leading voices in the field of wellbeing and aging. Greg MacPherson is a bio technologist, a pharmacist and the author of Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging Turning Ourselves Into Little Pharmaceutical Factories. Greg is also the founder of SRW Laboratories as SRW Science, Research and Wellness, a company that curates the latest biotechnology research to help us age better. Greg’s main focus as the title of his book implies, is the aging process at a cellular level and what we can do to nurture that process. Greg, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast.

Greg Macpherson: [00:01:41] Peter, thank you. Great to talk with you.

Pharmacy to longevity

Peter Bowes: [00:01:43] Yeah, very good to talk to you as well. So chemistry and pharmacology, they’re your main disciplines. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, your schooling, your training and what brought you to this area of research?

Greg Macpherson: [00:01:56] Yeah, absolutely, Peter. I graduated from School of Pharmacy in Dunedin, Otago, in Dunedin in New Zealand did that and just under 30 years ago. So I’ve been in the pharmacy game for some time, and I’ve really just always had an interest in understanding technology. And more recently, I’ve often, well, probably the last 20 years, really at the start of each year gone. You know what? How can I help more people with what I know now? And and through that I’ve developed an internet business. One of the first online pharmacies in New Zealand, I was part of a team that bought the first robotic dispensing laboratories into New Zealand and about ten years ago started to go down the rabbit hole of biotechnology and cellular health and ended up doing a little consulting and then leading a biotechnology company to did that up until two years ago, at which point I took a break and ventured out on the current journey as author and starting up SRW Laboratories.“

Peter Bowes: [00:03:02] I’m curious, is there a large community of biotechnology or longevity researchers in New Zealand?

Greg Macpherson: [00:03:09] They’re hidden, but there are. There are certain doctors that are focusing on it. But the majority of work is done around the world. It’s not so much New Zealand. It’s certainly not a biotechnology haven, although definitely working on it.

Peter Bowes: [00:03:23] Yeah, it’s interesting that increasingly it feels like we’re quite a small world in the way that we can actually share the knowledge from from this research and collaborations, of course, are so much easier with scientists in other countries.

Greg Macpherson: [00:03:35] Yeah, I’ve recently joined the Biotechnology New Zealand group, if you will. And you know, there are some very interesting pieces of work that are being done and done in New Zealand and a few companies that have actually started to commercialize and do it quite well.

Peter Bowes: [00:03:50] As your career has developed and as your understanding of these issues and aging in particular has developed, how have you firmed up your view as to what exactly aging is?

What is aging?

Greg Macpherson: [00:04:04] It’s a great question. Certainly, I think that aging is as is programed, I believe that we there’s a certain element of it. I think that aging is modifiable. I think that, you know, we have a our genome is responsible for what is at 20 per cent of actually our genetic destiny and the environment is responsible for the balance. And you know, how we how we interact with our environment. And obviously, there are some hard stops along the way. But I think that those hard stops are quietly being chipped away. And I think that, you know, is going to be a moving target that over the next few generations, we’re going to see that the definition of aging changing quite substantially.

Peter Bowes: [00:04:48] And I think for a long time, one opinion was that aging was at the center of aging was simply cellular damage, damage as we grow older and it is very clear that it’s much bigger and more complex than that.

Greg Macpherson: [00:05:01] Yeah, there are animals out there and organisms that are essentially immortal. So you know, that puts a big dent in that in that theory. So, you know, it’s it’s a it’s about how our body responds to that damage. And if we are set up to, I guess, to fix it to to not succumb to it, then I think, you know, potentially we can live substantially longer than we are now.

Peter Bowes: [00:05:26] And where do you stand? This is something I talk about constantly. The phrase age reversal or anti-aging? I was struck by the title of your book, Harnessing the Nine hallmarks of Aging. You start with a positive word harnessing. I like to see aging as something that we can embrace and move forward and make the best of, rather than trying to, in some ways, turn the clock back.

Greg Macpherson: [00:05:49] Yeah, I’m with you. I don’t like the term anti-aging at all. I use it because that’s just the vernacular. It’s what people understand. But you know, to me, aging is a positive thing that we embrace, and we enjoy it. It’s the knowledge of what it brings and the adventure that it brings in. The wisdom that it brings in. Harnessing is really just about actually going, okay, look what with what we know now, how do we actually improve the aging process? And there will come a time that we may be able to reverse age. We may be able to reprogram ourselves and, you know, to select the age that we want to to live at and sit it. But for now, that’s that’s beyond what we can achieve.

Hallmarks of aging

Peter Bowes: [00:06:32] So you write about the nine hallmarks of aging. Can you give me a definition of a hallmark of aging?

Greg Macpherson: [00:06:38] Yeah, it’s just a cause of aging, essentially. And in the scientific literature throughout, throughout the literature, there are hallmarks of cancer. There are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. A hallmark essentially is a, I guess, a scientifically agreed cause of of particular condition and that it is present with within all of those conditions. So in the instance of perhaps one of the hallmarks, as is something called mitochondrial dysfunction, and to determine that as a hallmark, it has to decline with age normally, which is what we see if you make mitochondria reverse mitochondrial dysfunction, what we see is some benefits in terms of slowing aging. And if you accelerate it, then you speed it up. So if you can tick those three boxes in all of your scientific peers agree with you, then you can register as a hallmark. And and that’s an exciting piece of work in its own right because once you identify a hallmark, then researchers can start to look at that hallmark and go, Okay, can we modify it? Can we play with it? What can we do to treat it and actually intervene and potentially slow the process down?

Peter Bowes: [00:07:51] Yeah, I think mitochondrial health is fascinating, and it’s something we’ve actually talked about quite a bit. And just to make it relevant as to why mitochondrial health matters, mitochondrial health has a correlation to your energy levels, to your muscular strength. And of course, if you don’t have strong muscular strength, what comes as you age? Well, frailty and frailty is often the beginning of the end for people, and it’s sometimes difficult to to kind of work backwards and figure out why you’ve suddenly become frail. And of course, mitochondria are at the center of that.

Greg Macpherson: [00:08:23] Yeah, absolutely. These are our cellular batteries, their incredible little, I guess, micro machines. If you think when you sort of open your brand-new phone and you charge it up and that phone will ask you for a couple of days and then over, over time, over perhaps two or three years, you’ve got to charge that phone a couple of times a day. And that’s what’s happening over our lifetimes with our mitochondria. They are literally batteries there. And then in their decline, they get damaged as we age and they could become less efficient and and ultimately they start to damage our cells as they throw off in excess of free radicals and sort of a bit of a snowball of. But, you know, if you care and nurture and look after you mitochondria, it’s a very reasonable strategy for aging

Peter Bowes: [00:09:10] And another sign of aging that again, you and I ordinary people wouldn’t be aware of, but is talked about a lot and that is telomere length telomeres being the little shoelaces at the end of chromosomes again, outwardly something we’re not aware of. But why is why are they important?

Greg Macpherson: [00:09:27] Yeah, they’re a part of they are one of the nine hallmarks of aging and there are there are three hallmarks of aging relating directly relating to our DNA. The first one is essentially just the telomere attrition, which is the shortening of these these laces and and that can happen through any any number of things. It can be a diet. It can be the fact that we’re not sleeping so well, it can be how we’re managing our stress. These typically these these things conspire to shorten these telomeres and in telomeres, if you have a shorter telomere, if you and I were twins and you had longer telomeres than I then have, you and I both had a heart attack on the same day, it’s quite possible that you would recover much better than I would just for the fact that I’ve got shorter telomeres. And so it’s really a measure almost of the of the stress and the challenges that you’ve had during your age, because that’s essentially what what shortens them. And then the other two hallmarks associated with your DNA is something called genomic instability. You know, your DNA breaks 50 to 100,000 times a day per cell, which is quite phenomenal, and it breaks because we’ve got oxidative stress and free radicals attacking it. We’ve got UV rays coming at it. We’ve got our diet and lack of exercise. And essentially life is what you know, can really mess up your DNA. And we’ve got amazing repair and maintenance mechanisms inside our cells that just constantly monitor and repair and fix your DNA. But over time, you know, you just can’t fix all the things all the time. So that actually has an impact. And then lastly, there’s something called epigenetic alteration, and if you think about your genes as being the core, then you’ve got these switches that sit on the outside of your DNA that are responsible for turning off and on your genes. And they can start to get a little fumbled and mumbled as we get older. And that just means that the cells are get a bit confused. And whereas you know you might be a skin cell and you’re in your teens, that’s 100 per cent skin. When you get to 90, it might start to think it’s a wee bit of brain and a wee bit of heart. And these are things that ultimately cause the cells to just not function the well they do, and they decline.

Peter Bowes: [00:11:39] You mentioned diet and exercise, which are probably the two easiest, the two most basic interventions that people can apply to themselves without any particular scientific knowledge. I think we understand a lot about the importance of exercise and especially vigorous exercise every day for individuals and also a good diet going to all the details of all the different diets that people can choose. But let’s say basic diet, perhaps with fewer calories than most people are inclined to eat. But on top of that, and this is really where your work comes in, you’re looking at other interventions. It could be nutraceuticals, it could be compounds that we take that are perhaps derived from plants that attack the very problems that you’ve just been talking about. So I’m curious, apart from diet and exercise, what would you focus in on as perhaps the most important line of research at the moment, the most important kind of intervention that people could possibly look at?

What is 2-HOBA

Greg Macpherson: [00:12:36] Yeah, the intervention I’m getting most excited about right now is a molecule called 2-HOBA or Hobamine and 2-HOBA is an extract from a Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat. And what it does is it’s like an Antioxidant 2.0 or even 3.0. What it does is, you know, if you have a free radical that bounces around your cell and damages a bit of your cell membrane or cellular component, what at a molecular level, what’s happening is that that free radical is snatching a molecule off your off your delicate cellular machinery. And so that free radical becomes stable, which makes it all happy and it wanders off. And that’s the end of that story. But the molecule that it’s stolen the piece of becomes radicalized in its own right. It becomes something called a reactive carbonyl species. It becomes a radicalized molecule, which then goes off and damages another piece of your cell. And so what 2-HOBA does essentially is it’s a circuit breaker, and it stops that secondary effect or secondary damage from the free radical damage. And what’s really exciting about that is that, you know, free radicals are actually used by the body. They’re actually healthy. You know, you talked about earlier the fact that when we get an unbalance of free radicals, then that’s really where the damage occurs. So this this particular molecule allows us to. To maintain healthy, free radicals signaling whilst mitigating the damage that we get when we have too many free radicals

Peter Bowes: [00:14:11] In terms of the research on that. What stage are we at?

Greg Macpherson: [00:14:14] Yeah, it’s been around now for, well, I guess a decade, but only accessible to you and I for the last year or so. The research is, you know, talking hundreds of millions of dollars of research that’s gone into this particular molecule. The American Heart Health Association is very interested in it because it looks like it can moderate certain heart conditions. And likewise, the American Alzheimer’s Association is very interested as well, because it’s just it’s essentially a new way to protect cells and a new way to potentially reverse some of the damage that that has caused these conditions like Alzheimer’s. So it’s a it’s a very much a watch this space, but quite exciting because it’s really the the first time that we’ve been able to prevent this particular type of damage across our body and across our cellular systems.

Which intervention is best for me?

Peter Bowes: [00:15:05] And ask that question really what you’re focusing on because I think a lot of people, if they’re interested in this area, interested their own personal health. There is an element of confusion as to which direction to go in because we’re frankly were bombarded with with ideas and suggestions and potential solutions to our everyday health. And I just interested in your thoughts on how to guide people through this very complex maze.

Greg Macpherson: [00:15:31] Yeah, it’s incredibly complex. And everywhere you read, you think, you know, we we will tell you that you’ve discovered the holy grail of anti-aging and that it’s so difficult to navigate. So it’s actually the purpose, Peter, of the book is to give people a like a healthy aging handbook, if you will, a guide. And it’s not just all about supplements. These things that you can do, which are accessible to everybody in terms of, like you say, exercise, how we eat, et cetera. And then we go into what’s what’s the next level of things that you can do? And it’s you’ve really got to look at, you know, the metaphor of taking your car into the garage right of, you know, it’s the mechanics got a 49 check that they do to give you the warrant of fitness for your car. That’s what we do in New Zealand, at least. So, you know, if you focus on just one thing, then you know, you may not be focusing on the other eight things that you need to slow the aging process down. And and so that’s yeah. So at the top level, you really wanting to say, let’s look after your DNA and a really good example of that as you put sunscreen on your face each day because that protects your son’s skin from the sun damage. So if we can do that to our cells, then that’s going to help slow the aging process down, then focus in on energetics of the cell so your mitochondria and support that. And then lastly, it’s about cellular housekeeping, and we get a wee bit sloppy and …as we get older so we can support those processes. So those are the three things that I think if you can, if you can now right now in them, you’re going to put yourself in a great a good position in terms of slowing the aging process down.

Peter Bowes: [00:17:11] So you’ve actually just, I think, answered my what was going to be my next question, the thought that came to my mind in terms of the single most important intervention that perhaps people don’t think about apart from the obvious diet and exercise. But is there something else that you mentioned sunscreen, which hopefully a lot of people do think about? But is there anything else that for everyday life will be really important for people to think about to nurture their health at a cellular level?

Greg Macpherson: [00:17:39] Yeah, these these relatively recent discovery around what’s not. Sorry, it’s not particularly recent, it’s the is something called senescent cells. And what’s recent about it is we’ve recently discovered how you can help the body remove them. But for your audience, senescent cells are like zombie cells. They’re the cells that are past their best use date, and they’re literally the living dead. You know, their cells that have got the handbrake put on because they’re not useful to us anymore. And that can happen for a number of reasons. It could be that perhaps the cells identified that it’s cancerous and so puts the handbrake on to to make sure that it doesn’t continue to develop. It could be that it’s just simply some scar tissue that has finished doing its job and it needs to stop. And so these cells, once they’ve done their job and they move to becoming senescent, secrete inflammatory molecules and those molecules are there to help the immune system identify that they know they need to be removed. And and that’s what happens when we’re young. But as we get a little bit older, the immune system starts to either ignore those cells or just perhaps doesn’t have quite the capacity to get rid of them that they used to. And so they build up, and you may be familiar with a term called Inflamm-Aging, where we seem to get an increased burden of inflammation as we age, which undermines our health. Well, this senescent cells are a big part of that because they sit there and pump out these unhealthy and unhelpful molecules. So what’s exciting now is that there are molecules that that researchers have discovered which help remove those cells. And this is an area of active research. And one of the most interesting conversations I had recently was with a researcher who was looking at COVID, and he gave some mice a molecule called fisetin, something that comes from strawberries prior to giving them COVID, essentially, and these are older mice. And the group that he gave the first fisetin to, they reacted to COVID like someone that’s slightly younger might. And so Mayo Clinic’s doing some research here just to see whether we might be able to perhaps lower the reaction that older adults have to COVID using this molecule.

Big lessons from Covid

Peter Bowes: [00:19:52] Well, let’s talk a bit more about COVID then that’s interesting. And there is so much to learn from what we’ve gone through over the last year or so, and the pandemic tragically is still really isn’t over. We’ve got a long way to go yet, but looking further ahead in terms of bigger lessons as a human race, perhaps that we can learn from how COVID took us all by surprise seemingly and how we dealt with it. And for me, it is just emphasizes the importance of everyday health of of having the strongest immune system possible during normal times to begin to deal with something like a virus like this.

Greg Macpherson: [00:20:30] Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think that the big lesson here is, you see, you know, to get through this, you need to be in a good a shape as possible all the time. And so that means being, you know, healthy, healthy weight, making sure that your immune system is looked after. But essentially, what we’re talking about is is coming right back to aging. It’s essentially keeping your cells in good working order. And through doing so, you’re giving yourself the very, very best opportunity to deal with these types of insults. And they’re not, you know, this is not unique. We’ve had pandemics for the, you know, throughout human history. We’ve had little outbreaks around the world in the last, you know, two decades. So this is this is, you know, business as usual, unfortunately. And it’s just that we’ve got one that’s become it got got out of hand. And but there are some, you know, silver linings and really good lessons from it.

Peter Bowes: [00:21:23] And do you think people are learning those lessons? Do you think people en masse take heed of the kind of things that you’re saying? And one thing that’s prompted me to to ask that question, perhaps more generally, the response of people to longevity research and longevity science. I was actually interviewed myself recently and introduced as someone who was obsessed with the subject of longevity. And to me, obsession can be a good obsession. But there’s just that little tinge of criticism there that perhaps you’re being overly obsessed with the subjective of longevity and long term health. And I’m wondering what kind of response you get from people.

Sharing the longevity message

Greg Macpherson: [00:22:01] Yeah, look, it’s a good question, Peter, because you know, you can sit there and I have spoken in front of people and I’m quite sure I’ve lost them early on because they can’t quite comprehend that we can actually modify the aging process and the sort of at the risk of sounding slightly nuts. I’m a firm believer that we can and you know, we’ve only just look back to this thing called the germ theory. And it’s like, we’re talking. Just a little over 120 years ago, the prevailing theory about infections was that it was caused by bad air and bad spirits, and it was through the work of scientists that they discovered that it wasn’t just bad air. That it was microorganisms and then maybe 50 years later, because scientists had a target to focus on these microorganisms, they worked out how to solve it and this is what brought antibiotics on board and that’s increased the longevity of the humanity considerably. So what we’re talking about here is exactly the same thing. We’ve got scientists who have starting to understand the pathways associated with aging. And with that new targets, you can then start to work out interventions that can start to actually modify the process. So we are at the cusp of some significant breakthroughs, and if that’s an obsession, then it gets humanity forward. Sign me up. I’m more than happy to do it because what we’re talking about is not having people live to 150 aged and infirm. It’s about being healthy for longer, and that’s ultimately what’s going to be achieved.

Peter Bowes: [00:23:31] And it’s a matter of, I guess, for you, for for me, for many in this space of longevity, I suppose, to share that positivity and to try to share that enthusiasm backed up by at least your understanding of the science.

Greg Macpherson: [00:23:45] Yeah, you know, the my favorite saying is, you know, the future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet. You know, what we’re talking about today will be commonplace because it’ll be integrated into society very quickly. Once we understand that, you know, the benefits of being healthy into 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, you know, there’s just societally there’s huge benefits. These, you know, people are going to be, you know, in their 90s and hundreds, you know, hugely, you know, contribute to society rather than being a burden. These things are going to take us forward and and and ultimately, it’ll it become common sense and accepted. 

Peter Bowes: [00:24:25] And just on the theme of positivity. Do you think people who are positive about their the health and the health prospects and their longevity? Are they more likely to grow to a great age and stay well?

Greg Macpherson: [00:24:37] Yeah, it’s an absolute documented and known fact that you approach aging positively then that has a material outcome on how you age. And so certainly by attacking it positively, by taking positive steps, then you certainly will change your outcome.

Peter Bowes: [00:24:55] And for you, what is a great age? We know that in the western world, the average lifespan is around 80 years old. 79 80 varies, according to countries. Actually, life expectancy here in the United States has just dropped in the last…the latest statistics or estimations dropped largely blamed on COVID. But that aside, we’re talking about 80 years old for you. What is a realistic, aspirational age?

What is a realistic, aspirational age?

Greg Macpherson: [00:25:21] Yes, these two aspects of that question, Peter one, is the lifespan. But there’s also healthspan. And just taking you back to healthspan, you know, the average healthspan, which is the time that we spend in good health on this planet is sixty three. Right. So that’s quite confronting for me. That’s eleven years away. And of course, it’s an average and I hope to do a bunch better than that. But you know, you expect, you know, when you’re a younger person that you are going to live to 80 and it’s all it’s all fantastic and you drop dead one day and that’s that’s all it is. But there’s actually an element of decline which is reasonably unpleasant to experience. And so what we’re looking to do there is to go, Okay, how do we push this healthspan out? And in terms of lifespan, like, you know, we know humans at the far outliers live in 100, 120, 100 and teens. I’d like to see that we can get to 100, at least with with, you know, a firm body in mind, so to speak. And that’s the first step towards the next leap, which could be considerably longer.

Peter Bowes: [00:26:30] You’ve just focused my mind by saying 63, I hadn’t actually heard in terms of health Spahn 63, three and a half years away for me. I am surprised at that. I’m surprised it’s so low.

Greg Macpherson: [00:26:41] Yeah, it was something that I conveniently just ignored until you sort of sit down and actually have to confront it. And you know, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you become instantly unwell. It just means that you start that decline and you’re more likely to get pick up various conditions associated with with aging. And you know, the further we can push that little window out and that number, the better from from where I’m sitting.

Peter Bowes: [00:27:07] And in terms of your own life, your own everyday regime, your morning routine, what you eat and your exercise based on everything that you’ve learned during your career with your healthspan in mind, how do you live your life?

Longevity traits and aspirations

Greg Macpherson: [00:27:20] Yeah. So I exercise each day and it’s and it’s not, you know, I essentially I go for a long walk and I do a little bit of work, which gets me, gets me out of breath each day. The biggest change I’ve made is fasting, so I two days a week I only eat one meal. And it’s really what there’s two reasons for that – one is I love food. So, you know, you need to start addressing the calories that go in, and this is one easy way to do it, Two – we know that fasting stimulates an awful lot of cellular housekeeping processes. It clears out junk cells and junk proteins. And when you eat again, then it gets the body gets a chance to refresh that with new shiny components, etc. So there’s some real benefits there. And I’ve also started meditating, which is not something I’ve done previously, but certainly just moderating stress. You know, we all deal with stress, but it’s actually it’s how you deal with it. It’s not the level of stress that’s actually what’s important. So those those are the key things, as well as taking a number of supplements like the Hobamine that we talked about. I boost NAD through a molecule called NMN, and I take a small concoction of molecules which stimulate autophagy, which is the removal of the cells that we don’t need. And in moderately flip, this switch called mTOR towards fasting so that the body’s just constantly, I guess, got the sense that it’s maybe foods not around the corner. And and so switching on certain longevity circuits.

Peter Bowes: [00:28:58] Interesting. Just going back to your one meal a day on you said two days a week, you do that. How do you plan that day? Is it an early in the day meal? Is it later in the day? And what kind of meal is it?

Greg Macpherson: [00:29:08] Yeah. So I’m a believer and I don’t know whether I’m trying to make the facts suit me. But it’s really when you eat, not what you eat. So I have my I eat regularly up until Sunday evening and then I don’t eat again until Monday evening and then not again until Tuesday evening. And then it’s back to usual. And you know, it’s it’s not difficult once you get used to it. It’s actually, I think, really important that we do to do this. And that’s, you know, that’s the process. And I don’t particularly restrict my calories at the end of the day on Monday or Tuesday.

Peter Bowes: [00:29:45] It’s interesting. I’ve experimented with lots of different fasting regimes, including a fasting mimicking diet where you’re eating some food, but you’re still restricting your calories for a five day spell, generally a five day spell. But more recently, I’ve just started doing time restricted eating and just restricting my eating. As you say, it’s not necessarily what, but when you eat the food and finding that purely because it’s easy to do. Concentrating my eating between approximately 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. and about 6pm and crucially again for me and it were all different, but not eating after 6pm makes a huge difference to my sleep that night.

Greg Macpherson: [00:30:22] Yeah. And the other thing too is just not snacking in between meals as well. You know, we’ve when we eat some something and it could be anything from just a small snack. The body still recognizes that as food and kicks off various pathways to assimilate that food. And those pathways can take, you know, a couple of hours to to sort of spin up and spin down again. So if we don’t give ourselves a bit of time between eating, then we’re essentially always on that mTOR switch was always on the assimilate the food mode. And so by turning it off, by not eating or taking a breaking from eating, it’s just it’s just very helpful. And I think as we learn more about this, it’s going to become more and more important. And really what we’re doing is we’re simulating our our biology from 100,000 years ago. You know, there were times when there wasn’t food around and there were times when there was. Our bodies are designed to move and exercise. And these, I think, are why these these interventions are actually anti-aging because it just suits our biology. You know, we’re modern human beings and a modern world, but ancient bodies. And so if we’re the closest we can get closer, we can get back to actually replicating and the our biology in the circumstances that biology operated in a way way back the bitter.

Peter Bowes: [00:31:50] And the point being, when you refer to many, many years ago that hunter gatherer kind of existence, the feasts and famine times the point being that we’ve evolved as as animals from those human beings at that time. Some critics might say, well, why look back many centuries ago, when we often didn’t live beyond 25 years old? That isn’t really a good example, but that is not the point. Is it that as animals, that’s what we’ve evolved from?

Greg Macpherson: [00:32:18] Yeah, that’s right. I’m sure that, you know, there were periods in our history where we were probably Homo sapiens in terms of being able to just reach over and pick up food. It would have just been so plentiful. But there were other times, absolutely. We are sort of mini ice ages or just environments where we didn’t have access to food and so we had to learn to adapt and that’s ultimately where we just see where we need to practice is to just try and mimic that as much as we can.

Peter Bowes: [00:32:48] And you mentioned daily exercise the importance of at least at some point during that exercise getting out of breath and pushing yourself. Presumably your heart rate goes up and maybe your blood pressure increases a little bit with exercise. Hopefully, your blood pressure comes down pretty quickly after the exercise. That’s the whole point. But again, something that I’ve learned fairly recently that that is crucially important, and I now religiously do it every morning and actually feel better for it.

Greg Macpherson: [00:33:14] Yeah, it’s just putting our body under a bit of stress and it responds so well. You know, our bodies are designed to adapt to our environment. You only have to look at if you know you’re working outside and you get calluses on your hands and your skin is essentially adapting to that, that stress. And and it’s and it’s adapting to the positive. So by putting your body under stress, doing that exercise, pushing yourself so that you’re a little bit uncomfortable and it doesn’t matter if that’s what that means, it’s different to you and to me, but it’s it’s stimulating your body and making it adapt to the environment and stimulating processes which are generally beneficial.

Peter Bowes: [00:33:53] And let me ask you this, and I ask a lot of people this same question what is the main reason for wanting to live to a great age and still be healthy. Now the answer seems very obvious to me, but I get lots of different answers to that. What is the main motivation to be a very healthy, vibrant 95 year old?

Greg Macpherson: [00:34:12] To me, it’s just spending time with the people that you love. It’s getting that opportunity to share that time with them. I think the opportunity to master something, to actually have time where you can actually become an expert on table tennis, reading, fishing, whatever it is. You know, just there is an element of joy to me in mastering a subject. But ultimately, it’s being around and experiencing what this wonderful planet has to offer. And that is often well, for me, the people around me. 

Peter Bowes: [00:34:45] And I hear that a lot, and it’s a great point. Just in closing, let me ask you in terms of your work and coming back to your writing, what is the aspect of your research and your work that at this stage you’re most proud of?

Greg Macpherson: [00:34:57] Yeah, I think the book is one I’m extremely proud of, simply because it’s a this is important information that’s going to be that people can just work with right now. It’s not something that’s far away. It’s within reach. And so, you know, this paper, whilst it’s rather complex, I wrote the book based on a paper called The Hallmarks of Aging, and I wrote it because such important information that people can use to actually make a difference in their life right now. So in terms of what drives me as an impact on how I help people, and I think that’s so, you know, this book is really where it’s at. And then I’ve gone on to develop a company called SRW Laboratories, and what we’re doing there is like it’s taking the guesswork out of having to work out which molecules to take. And so we’ve just made it very easy for people just to purchase products and essentially take the knowledge that’s distilled out of the book. And it’s a very simple one two three process to stay healthy.

Peter Bowes: [00:35:59] Greg, it’s a fascinating book. Fascinating interview. Thank you very much indeed.

Greg Macpherson: [00:36:03] Thank you, Peter.

Peter Bowes: [00:36:04] Really good to talk to you. And just to repeat, the book is called Harnessing the Nine Hallmarks of Aging. I’ll put the details into the show notes for this episode at the Live Long and Master Aging website. You’ll find us at The LLAMA Podcast is a HealthSpan Media production. In social media you’ll find us @LLAMA podcast. You can contact me a @PeterBowes. We’re on all of the major podcasting platforms now really spoiled for choice Apple Podcasts, where you can rate and review us; Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Audible, to name but a few. Wherever you find us, do take care and thank you for listening.

The Live Long and Master Aging podcast shares ideas but does not offer medical advice.  If you have health concerns of any kind you should consult your own doctor or professional health adviser. 

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