Biohacking to optimize healthspan
Nick Engerer: Longevity Blog
BY PETER BOWES | SEPTEMBER 27, 2022
Aspiring to live a long, healthy life is a universal goal of mankind. We are wired for survival and the latest longevity science is making it ever more realistic to reach a great age. Nick Engerer, founder of the Longevity Blog, is the ultimate healthy aging enthusiast. A triathlete and serial self-experimenter with the latest, science-based, lifestyle interventions, Nick recently joined me in Los Angeles to produce LLAMA’s first video episode.
On a mission to defy jet lag, during his visit to LA, Nick – who is based in Australia – set out to explore treatments offered by the wellness and immunity center, Next Health.
From cryotherapy and infrared sauna to intravenous therapy and hyperbaric oxygen, Nick dives into the biohacking world, with a keen eye on real-life results and long-term benefits. We discuss the wider world of wellness interventions and the potential for everyone to benefit from longevity technology.
This episode was sponsored by Vitality Pro Longevity Supplements, here to offer the latest products in longevity science focused on improving and supporting your health as you age. LLAMA podcast listeners can receive a 5% discount on its products. Use the code LLAMA at checkout – www.Vitality-Pro.com
- Nick’s journey from Sydney to LA, biohacking for longevity
- Defying jet lag, promoting immunity and traveling with good health
- Exploring lifestyle interventions – Nick’s pet passion – in a world of burgeoning longevity technology
- Building on a childhood curiosity about health
- What it takes to be a human guinea pig – overcoming the overwhelm of being a self-experimenter
- Small changes, healthy habits
- Optimizing wellness at Next Health, West Hollywood
- Body composition analysys
- Visia scan
- Infrared sauna
- IV therapy
- Hyperbaric oxygen
- Feeling “vital all the years you’re alive” – a conversation with Megan Retterath, Chief Medical Officer, Next Health
- Why the placebo effect is a “beautiful thing”
- The power of the mind to influence healthspan
- How anyone can be a biohacker
- How smart devices have helped revolutionize the longevity space
- Making longevity advances accessible to everyone
- Why aspiring to live another day, another year, is human nature. The value of always having something to look forward to.
Affiliation disclosure: This podcast receives a small commission when you use the code LLAMA for purchases at the following companies. It helps to cover production costs and ensures that our interviews remain free for all to listen. Thank you for your support.
▸ Time-line is offering LLAMA podcast listeners a 10% discount on its Mitopure products – Mitopure Powder, Softgels and Mitopure + Protein. Mitopure supports improvements in mitochondrial function and muscle strength. Use the code LLAMA at checkout. | Learn more about the science here
▸ Recharge Health: Scientific studies suggest light at specific red and near-infrared wavelengths can stimulate the body’s natural process of healing. Recharge Health is offering LLAMA podcast listeners an $80.00 discount on the purchase of FlexBeam, a wearable and targeted red light therapy device which targets key parts of the body needing healing and recovery. Scientific studies suggest light at specific red and near-infrared wavelengths can stimulate the body’s natural process of healing. Listen to our episode with FlexBeam co-founder Bjørn Ekeberg. Use the code LLAMA at checkout
This interview with Nick Engerer was recorded on June 19 & 20th, 2022 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.
Peter Bowes: [00:00:16] Nick Engerer is the founder of the Longevity Blog. He’s a human guinea pig, a self experimenter into the interventions that could help us live longer, healthier lives. Hello again and welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. I’m Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity.
Nick Engerer: [00:00:36] It’s a very invigorating feeling, particularly when you’re coming out of a jetlag scenario. It really helps to wake you up. But beyond that, there’s some evidence that shows us things like cold therapy can reduce inflammation in the body. They might help accelerate healing of injuries.
Peter Bowes: [00:00:51] This episode is a co-production with Nick. It’s also our first original video podcast, where we dive into the latest science and look at the biohacking ventures that show real promise in helping us optimize our healthspan. Nick recently joined me for a couple of days in Los Angeles. We spent a fair amount of time geeking out over the latest interventions like cryotherapy, red light therapy, infrared sauna, IV drips, hyperbaric oxygen. We visit the immunity and wellness center Next Health in West Hollywood, where Nick, fresh off the plane from Australia, tries out some of the latest treatments for himself. We made a film about it, which you can watch via YouTube on the Live Long and Master Aging website. Just head to LLAMApodcast.com. You can also check it out at Nick’s Longevity blog at NickEngerer.org. You’ll find the link in the show notes. In the meantime, here’s an audio flavor of what we’ve got up to. An intense couple of days that, for Nick, started with an Infraearly morning swim in Sydney.
Nick Engerer: [00:01:53] All right. It’s six in the morning now. It’s cool morning here in Sydney, Australia and just had to work out to get my body moving. Feeling good before I get to sit in the plane for 14 hours.
Peter Bowes: [00:02:03] And on to Los Angeles where Nick and I met in the hills to the north of Hollywood for a Sunday morning hike.
Peter Bowes: [00:02:10] Good to see you.
Nick Engerer: [00:02:11] You, too.
[00:02:11] Nick. Nick is the founder of the Longevity Blog. A past guest on the LLAMA podcast. And Nick, you really have made it a lifetime mission to experiment, to self experiment, looking at those lifestyle interventions that could help you live longer and better in pursuit of healthspan.
Nick Engerer: [00:02:30] Yeah, that’s right, Peter. It’s a very pet passion of mine that I’m increasingly sharing with others because I think there’s a lot of work we can do as a community to learn how to experiment, find what works, and explore this burgeoning longevity technology space where there’s ever more options for keeping us healthy.
Peter Bowes: [00:02:47] And Los Angeles being one of the, I think it’s fair to say, one of the global hotspots in terms of certainly biohacking, looking at those interventions and the facilities that this city offers to help you do that.
Nick Engerer: [00:02:59] Absolutely. It’s definitely a hot spot. It’s that in that way globally. And it’s a spot that I get to frequently visit as I travel from Australia and onwards into the rest of the United States. And so I like to experiment with new things while I’m here. Anything from IV drips to build back up my immune system after being on the plane through to cryotherapy to wake me back up, maybe a sauna in there or hyperbaric oxygen chamber, all those things you can do to recover after such a big adjustment. I mean, my body is trying to be asleep right now. Peter, how am I doing?
Peter Bowes: [00:03:31] You’re doing pretty well, amazingly well, considering what was it, a 14 hour flight?
Nick Engerer: [00:03:35] 14 hour flight, that’s right. Sydney to Los Angeles.
Peter Bowes: [00:03:37] So you’re going to pack a lot into a short space. And I guess for most people, biohacking, using cryotherapy, infrared saunas, whatever you do, you wouldn’t necessarily do it all within the space of 24 hours, or would you?
Nick Engerer: [00:03:50] I don’t think so, Peter. I think what you really want to do, particularly if you’re just trying out some new things in this space, is to try one thing at a time so you can tell what’s happening in your body and what it’s doing for you. I’ve done these things enough times to know which ones do tend to work for me. Like, for example, experimenting with immune IV and checking my white blood cell count before and after. But as long as you can get an idea of what works for you, usually stick with one or two things is better. But you know, I’m only in LA for around 24 hours, so we’re going to try it all.
Peter Bowes: [00:04:18] Let’s talk about your journey, because I mentioned this is almost a lifetime mission of yours. I mean, maybe you didn’t start as a kid, but I’m curious what got you into this whole longevity thing?
Nick Engerer: [00:04:31] This has been something that started for me as a curiosity around human health, probably when I was around 12 or 13 years old. Really interesting story that I have is I was actually homeschooled for one year by my mom for fifth grade, and I got to pick a subject. Any subject I wanted could have been anything. I could have gone out in the garage and built things. I could have gone down and done art classes, whatever I wanted. And I chose a health class because I was so interested in understanding how I can interact with my own body to improve my. And it was a really basic start, but it was my first indication. This is something I’m passionate about.
Peter Bowes: [00:05:04] Beginning to understand the science. Clearly there’s the passion and there’s the understanding that that health and good health over a long period of time is good. But digging into the science and being a self experimenter, that can sound quite overwhelming, I think, to some people. How do you really set about to prove anything as a one man band?
Nick Engerer: [00:05:24] Oh, well, I think that the most important thing is to try to overcome that fear, that overwhelm, because biohacking is something that should really be accessible to everyone, because it’s a pretty simple philosophical concept. It’s being able to look at your own biology and realize it’s something you can measure and have, have a play with, test, experiment with, and you can do that in very basic ways. Anyway, from us talking about measuring our sleep with the sleep tracker, for example, if you have something like that, you’re already measuring body data. You can run an experiment, you could try a different supplement, you could try blue light blockers before bed. You could try turning your social media off your phone completely off 2 hours before bed and seeing how your sleep changes. It’s actually immediately accessible for many different reasons. One of those being that we’re all wearing these wearables now that give us information about our bodies, for example. So I think one of the things that I’m most passionate about is making biohacking, particularly longevity biohacking, accessible to everyone. It’s actually fairly simple thing to do, even though it might sound overwhelming.
Peter Bowes: [00:06:21] And you’re obviously in great shape, it’s obviously working for you. You’re a swimmer, you’re a runner, you’re a triathlete. When did all of that start and what sort of heights have you managed to reach with those sports?
Nick Engerer: [00:06:32] Yeah, this is really, really a fun process for me because I’ve I’ve connected a lot with doing things like running and weightlifting since I was a teenager. And I’ve found that I had motivations mostly in that space of looking fit and maybe getting a girlfriend, you know, because I wanted to be a bit musclier here, but as I’ve gone on in my life, I’ve connected that with longevity more directly. And there’s, there’s a number I really, really like out there. Peter. And it’s the increase in healthy lifespan that endurance athletes get. And it’s around 5 to 6 years, 5 to 6 years for endurance athletes. That is a number you won’t get from anything else in the longevity and healthspan space. And so once I learned about that and did a deep dive on exercise and really begin to understand its connection with Healthspan and human longevity, I dove with a new level of passion into the sport of running and swimming and then started adding some cycling and thought, You know what? I’m going to give a triathlon a try and I’ve fallen in love with the sport.
Peter Bowes: [00:07:30] That’s really interesting. There’s one aspect of my sort of biometrics right now, and that is my low resting heart rate that I credit my days of endurance, triathlons, multiple marathons. I think it’s all stems from those days, and thankfully it hasn’t left me.
Nick Engerer: [00:07:46] It’s actually really interesting you mention that because people who do endurance sports when they’re younger, later in life tend to continue on with the benefits of a strong heart. And those endurance sports are more accessible to them because you’ve already forced the bodily adaptations it takes to be an endurance athlete. And your body remembers that your body has a system of epigenetics, which is the layer on top of your DNA that tells your cells how to express themselves and how to operate and how to use that DNA and research has shown that doing things like weight training, endurance, sports, your body remembers that. And in particular, when you’re younger, your body adapts more quickly to do those things. Now, for example, you can see teenagers or people in your twenties taking up sports and accelerating with them really quickly. For somebody like me who started triathlon in his mid-thirties, I’ve had to go a bit slower, not too much, a bit slower to get those same adaptations. But once you do that hard work, it does stay with you. Even if you set that sport down. It’s important to get that adaptation built in and you’re still benefiting from it.
Peter Bowes: [00:08:41] Exactly. And what’s I think really interesting is, let’s say for most people from ordinary people who maybe don’t want to go to the extremes that you do and that I do to some extent is that you can learn from all of these interventions, and you don’t have to go to the the nth degree to get a benefit. You can walk 30 minutes a day at a moderate pace and get a huge benefit in terms of your everyday health and your future healthspan.
Nick Engerer: [00:09:06] You’re not wrong about that, Peter. In fact, that’s probably the most important message is that these small changes, particularly ones that help us build healthy habits, are the most important. They’re the easiest starting point. They’re free, and they get you the most benefit you might get. Just to use an illustration, you might get 70, 75% of the longevity benefit we’re discussing just from a regular, vigorous walking habit. Particularly, we get on some trails like we’re on right now, get some hills in there, get your heart beating. You’re working on your VO2 max, you’re working in aerobic heart ranges, and you can get a lot of benefit just from something like that. But I’m one of those extremists that likes to go for the 99%, which is why I’m doing hard things like triathlon.
Peter Bowes: [00:09:42] So we’re on the trails now. We’re in beautiful North Los Angeles. These are the sort of wilderness areas that I think a lot of people outside of the city probably don’t appreciate that are here so close to Hollywood. Really, just over there, we’ve got downtown Los Angeles, which has a very different feel, of course, a very different image. But we’re going to leave the trails we’re going to head into West Hollywood and do that deep dive into the biohacking you’re talking about.
Nick Engerer: [00:10:05] Oh, we sure are, Peter. It’ll be a lot of fun because there’s so many things to play with. And while they’re not all something that might be accessible for everyone, there’s good longevity principles under there. Things we can apply at home that we’ll talk about.
Peter Bowes: [00:10:17] All right, let’s go.
Nick Engerer: [00:10:18] Let’s do it.
Peter Bowes: [00:10:19] Our next stop for that deep dive is Next Health as Nick’s biohacking journey continues after this.
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Peter Bowes: [00:11:25] This is the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. A reminder you can watch this episode at our website LLAMApodcast.com via YouTube. But let’s continue with this audio preview as Nick Engerer arrives at Next Health.
[00:11:39] I mean, good morning.
Nick Engerer: [00:11:40] Hi there. How’s it going?
Peter Bowes: [00:11:41] Yeah, I’m really excited to be back.
SPONSOR MESSAGE: [00:11:43] I’m so excited to have you in this space. All right. Let’s look at what we’re doing today so it looks like we’ve got you down for your VISIA scan first and we’re going to do your I.V. hyperbaric chamber.
Peter Bowes: [00:11:57] First up, having been here before, Nick wanted to check some stats body fat, lean, body mass and other data using a body composition analyzer. The In Body device.
Nick Engerer: [00:12:08] Bare feet. Sending an electric current through my body. Okay, stay still. Measure. Oh, I’m like right now. This is really interesting actually, because I have almost 90lbs of muscle mass and only 169lbs, which is the lightest I’ve been in a number of years, probably from my triathlon training. And we have interestingly the lean leg mass, which I’m really curious to compare to last time because I’ve been doing a lot more leg training, particularly strength training, riding the bike running since I was last year here in 2019. Here we go. What I love about this also is it breaks down your metrics by the different parts of your body. So you can actually kind of compare in detail how you measure left to right, which in my opinion, body symmetry is really important. We can see I’m actually really symmetrical. I’ve been working on that very deliberately, which is really interesting and usually it’ll give you a chart over time. If you can keep doing these scans and you can do things like add a new muscle building protocol, you might want to lean out whatever you want. You can come back and do the scan repeatedly, maybe every few months, like every 3 to 6 months, and track your progress over time, which is also, I think, important to try to do at the same time of day with a similar amount of food and hydration in your body. But that’s me being very particular. Let’s go see what we can do next.
Nick Engerer: [00:13:34] What is very interesting about the skin assessment we can do at Next Health is that it’s a VISIA scanning unit. Now, these are actually available all over the world. You can look for a clinic nearby that does skin assessments. They might have a VISIA and what is really cool about this unit, it’s built by Campbell Scientific. It’s actually a scientific sensors company. They’re really incredible technologists in terms of building things that can measure and bring in data. And what they’ve done is they built the unit that can scan your whole face at multiple wavelengths, including in the UV. And what this allows them to do is to see how much bacteria is on your face, how much UV damages in your face, how much redness is in your face, even vasculature that’s showing up at the surface from skin, from sun damage, and also see the wrinkles that are in your face as well. And it can give you a face age, which is another interesting way of looking at biological age. I call it the esthetic age. That term is yet to catch on, but that’s the one I like to use because it’s the it goes to the question of, well, how old are you? Well, how old do I look?
Nick Engerer: [00:14:38] This is sort of quantifying that in a way. Okay, amazing how it picks up all the spots on your face, which as your age and your skin are related to that. So look at this. My true skin age is 36, actual age of 36. That’s an improvement on the last time I did a skin like this, which my true skin age was 45. It was 45 the first time I ever came to Next Health. It was 30. I was 33 at the time. 33? Yeah, 33 years old at the time. And it went up to 45, which I attribute to the fact that I’ve been training a lot outside. I’ve been doing a lot of endurance sports for triathlon and outside a lot, getting a lot more sun in my face than I had been then. I’ve been using this product called One Skin, which is accelerates repair of UV damage in your face with a certain peptide. And just on the initial report, I have to look at this in more detail. It looks like it’s been helping me.
Peter Bowes: [00:15:36] Is this more about esthetics than health or other two intermingled?
Nick Engerer: [00:15:41] The I think that the really interesting thing about esthetics is that it gets a bit of a bad rap. Right. We we tend to think of things like movie stars getting plastic surgery and Botox and it only being for the rich. But increasingly, you’ll be very surprised who’s getting Botox. This is something that’s really hitting the mainstream Botox injections, lip fillers. I think, unfortunately.
Peter Bowes: [00:16:05] Nick we’re in Los Angeles. It’s going on all around us as we speak.
Nick Engerer: [00:16:09] It’s the same thing in the Gold Coast where I’m from. And it’s it’s an interesting intersection between what is, I think, a longevity technology and the masses. And clinics like Next Health are the place where these new things show up. And just like Botox was ten years ago, we have things like IVs and hyperbaric oxygen, maybe even doing things with infrared saunas all being a little bit expensive. But the more that these things become available to the larger number of people, the more the price comes down. Botox is a great example. So esthetics, they’re actually part of the longevity movement. They’re bringing the price point down on things that can help us look younger and feel younger. I think people who might have a fairly judgmental perspective on these things should think about the psychological benefits they might get from feeling that they look younger. What does that actually do, you think you look younger. Do you feel younger? Does that mean you are younger? I think there’s something more there than just simple vanity.
Nick Engerer: [00:17:08] It looks pretty sweet in there. I’m looking forward to try it now. All right. Let’s do it.
Peter Bowes: [00:17:12] Next, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. This compartment is filled with pressurized air, providing oxygen three times higher than present in normal air pressure, an intervention that could promote tissue repair and reduce inflammation.
Nick Engerer: [00:17:28] I can hear it creaking a little bit as the pressure’s climbing, pressure gauges going up, ears are probably going to start popping shortly. Yeah, there we go. I could start to feel that now. And as around the glass, I could see some really strong glass on the door with a nice seal around the outside, keeping that pressure building inside the chamber. Even the bolts around here have a bit of silicone sealant on them. I think we’ve even got an air conditioning unit. A lot of times when you increase the pressure, that actually means you increase the temperature as well. So things can get a bit warm inside hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Behind me, we’ve got oxygen purifiers which are increasing the amount of oxygen in the air, which is really quite fascinating from my perspective, that we can do two things. We can increase the amount of oxygen in the air and we can increase the pressure of the atmosphere that we’re experiencing. And this is what allows it to really travel through the body more and get the oxygen to get into parts of your body that it previously couldn’t get to. And in particular, doing this type of treatment many times on the order of 40 to 50 times will actually change the epigenetic activation in your body to be able to use oxygen in the depth of our capillary network that we wouldn’t have before, which means that we get some really, really interesting metabolic results in terms of improved, accelerated repair, particularly of the skin tissue. Once you’re inside the oxygen chamber, there’s not too much to do just to sit back and relax. I didn’t even bring my phone in. Nothing. I’m just going to lean back and do a little meditation because, well, you know, there’s been lots happening. It’s a quiet spot in the day. I’m going to go for that now.
Nick Engerer: [00:19:16] Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has actually been around for decades and hyperbaric oxygen as a concept actually came out of the ancient. Not ancient, but long term hundreds of years ago is ways of actually diving underwater where we’d have these big bells shaped units that can be put down the water and pump oxygen into them. And you’d actually have divers or people who are working on things underwater in these chambers. And they found some really interesting effects with these people. And in particular, the first thing that was really discovered with it is it’s a way to repair the body after it’s been exposed to the bends, which is the thing that happens when divers come up too quickly from underwater. But as we developed that as a treatment, there’s been many other applications for it that have come around, particularly in the last few decades. We’ve learned that it actually can accelerate healing in the body, particularly damage to the skin like severe burns or wounds. And what this means is in terms of hyperbaric oxygen, as a term. As that we’re actually increasing two things. One, the pressure of the actual air around us and generally also increasing the oxygen content of the air so we have more oxygen. What this does in your body is it actually allows the oxygen to get deeper into your tissues. And it’s something that when you do it once you might notice something maybe and again, it could be placebo effect. But when you look at doing something as a protocol with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, this would be 30, 40, 50 sessions where we start to get the real benefits. And this can be very effective for treating diseases, but it increasingly it’s used in the health and longevity space because it’s accelerating healing. It’s on fundamental principles that if you’re using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber regularly, you would have better ability to recover, to repair damage in your body and DNA and also grow out the capillaries and the vascular network in your body and get oxygen deeper into places where your metabolism needs it to do things like remove wastes and have a healthy blood flow and blood supply.
Nick Engerer: [00:21:19] So that’s hyperbaric oxygen. Still popping my ears a little bit.
Peter Bowes: [00:21:27] How do you feel Nick?
Nick Engerer: [00:21:29] Hey, you know, that one of the ones that’s really hard to know what to expect afterwards. That’s something that’s a treatment that you accrue benefits over a long period of time. So I don’t particularly find when I come out of hyperbaric oxygen, there’s anything that I noticed that I can say to you besides my ears popping. I feel better, you know. So I actually have one of these at home. It’s a soft sided unit. Doesn’t get us to a high pressure, as you have here. But as I’ve done my research on it, I’ve learned it’s all about the regular use if you want to get the therapeutic benefits.
Peter Bowes: [00:21:59] Cumulative effects?
Nick Engerer: [00:22:01] Correct?
Peter Bowes: [00:22:01] You’re looking pretty radiant on it.
Nick Engerer: [00:22:03] Yeah, I feeling aright. I’m not doing too bad for a jetlagged guy. I think next up, we’re doing an infrared sauna.
Peter Bowes: [00:22:14] This is the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. You can also watch this episode via YouTube at our website LLAMApodcast.com and NickEngerer.org, which is home to Nick’s Longevity blog.
Nick Engerer: [00:22:26] This guy’s really interesting. So we’ve got the normal hotness going on of the sauna inside, but we’re opening up and we’ve got infrared lights so you can see a bit of red in there for effect. But most of the light is in the infrared spectrum which penetrates deeper into your tissues to get more of that light therapy going on with the heat and penetrate the heat deeper into your body. I can’t wait to get in. Infrared sauna is a really interesting way to experiment with the other side of our biology. We talked a bit about cold exposure with cryotherapy and the sauna end of things. We’re moving up to exposing our body to heat, which brings out additional epigenetic or evolutionary adaptations that we have stored in our DNA. There’s some interesting science around heat shock proteins and the way that these can have protective effects in the body. But what’s very interesting about combining infrared light in a sauna is we’re starting to get into the scheme of photo bio modulation where we’re interacting with certain wavelengths of light energy in the body, infrared, meaning you can’t see it. We feel it as heat. While you can also add other things like LEDs, for example, or even increasingly lasers. Although we won’t have any lasers in our sauna at Next Health and that experience will have infrared light, which is actually going to be interacting with the cells in our body, even our mitochondria, to tell them to actually produce more energy and additionally increase the depth of that heat exposure in the body. Because the infrared light actually channels that energy deeper into the tissues in the body than you would get with just heat exposure on the skin alone.
Peter Bowes: [00:23:56] How does it feel?
Nick Engerer: [00:23:58] That’s really interesting because you actually I fit into this clamshell thing with just my head sticking out and your body gets really warm very, very quickly and it’s incredibly relaxing because you’re dilating all the capillaries in your body and your body is feeling that heat and it just wants to relax and you’re laying down, you know, in a normal sauna, you’re sitting up. I find it a little hard to relax. In this unit I like how I get to lay down, close my eyes and be in this chamber of infrared light pouring out of my body. It’s very relaxing and it feels – you get that same sort of invigorated, I’ve been exposed to the heat and sweat out a lot, feeling that you do when you come out of a normal sauna as well.
Nick Engerer: [00:24:34] That’s so relaxing. So relaxing. I wish I could stay in that thing for another hour. That’s so good.
Peter Bowes: [00:24:42] From the ultra relaxed state induced by an infrared sauna to IV therapy, intravenous therapy. Next Health offers a range of what it calls wellness IV drips to rehydrate and help support immunity. As Nick discovered with the help of nurse practitioner and Chief Medical Officer Megan Retterath.
Nick Engerer: [00:25:03] Now many of us have been to the hospital if we’ve had an IV drip before. It’s a similar sort of concept.
Megan Retterath: [00:25:10] Take a nice deep breath. Poke on three. One, two, three. You’re doing great. There you go.
Nick Engerer: [00:25:15] So we can put a saline based solution directly into the blood to rehydrate us.
Megan Retterath: [00:25:21] You doing okay?
Nick Engerer: [00:25:22] Yeah, it’s doing great. The basis of most IVs is something called a Myres Cocktail, which has not only the saline solution, but also a basic level of vitamins and B vitamins, etc., that we can put directly into the bloodstream. What’s interesting about where we’ve gone in the commercially available space for IVs is that you can now go into a clinic like Next Health and many other clinics around the world and sign up and say, Hey, ‘I’d like to get an IV and I’d like that IV to target a certain type of robustness in my body.’ It might be recovery. It might be something to help you boost your immunity, which is the one that I like to use when I travel. Or it could be something that you could use to boost, for example, glutathione levels in your body, help you recover from a hangover, so to speak. There’s an increasing number of options in this space. And what’s really interesting to me is that I’ve done the immune IV in an experimental way. One of the things about my personal biology is that my white blood cell count tends to be a little bit lower than the average person. It’s probably genetic, it’s just probably how I am. But what’s interesting is that that can sometimes mean when I travel that my immune system is a bit more exposed to being unwell. And the first couple of times I’ve done this big trip to LA, about half the time I went back, I felt pretty unwell afterwards, got a sick, some sort of virus, maybe a bit of a flu. And what I’ve realized now is I actually when I come and I do the immune IV and I go off to a conference, I’m shaking hands, doing all those things, exposing me to various viruses and bacteria. I’ve actually not been getting sick, and I’ve even measured my white blood cell count after doing an immune IV and seeing the levels of that go up by about 30%, which in a fairly controlled way could actually mean it is really boosting my immunity. So that’s one of the reasons I choose to do that, when I fly through Los Angeles. In terms of what I think of longevity technologies, I think of things that are becoming accessible to the individual. There may be health practitioners that help you along the way, but increasingly it’s patient choice. It’s individual choice. Can you talk about how the role of a clinic like Next Health fits into that picture of of making things available to people?
Megan Retterath: [00:27:28] I think that’s so important nowadays with the ease of people bringing out clinics similar to us. We have an extensive vetting process. We have a team of doctors, physicians, pharmacists on a research and development team. So it’s not like we’re just finding a treatment or identifying a treatment that’s really cool. We spend on average 6 to 12 months vetting a treatment or a process. We have, dare I say, a group of test patients that we see we utilize. We check their biomarkers, we understand what it is. How is this device or this treatment or this diagnostic test impacting the patient? And that’s really the mainstay about what we do is, one, we always do everything with with safety, the patient safety in mind. And after that, it’s about testing or doing the trial period of a minimum of six months. So when we when we do these treatments in these technologies and these hacks, I guess, or medical standards is… We are medical facility. So we are required to uphold all of the standards from medical boards and all of the licensing agencies. But that’s one of the big things, is you can go and and read something online and take very high doses of something and inject them into yourselves. But it’s really we’re doing the hard work, we’re doing the legwork, we’re doing the scientific evidence in response and really trialing it in people before we launch it to the public so that you can know with absolute certainty the moment you walk in the door and you see something new on our menu or you see something new on our television that we’ve done the legwork, we’ve done, you know, the investment at the time, the resources into identifying what is the most safe and effective manner to bring this to the consumer.
Nick Engerer: [00:29:12] Right. And so this process of vetting new technologies and them coming through to being available to people, this is a really important step, right? Because particularly in the space with longevity, there’s more technologies available all the time and then we need to be able to know which ones to choose. This is a really big thing that I’ve talked about before with with Peter, I’ve talked about in the blog. It’s one of the things I like to focus on is. How do we then choose which of these technologies to engage with based on our own personal biology, our own personal risk?
Megan Retterath: [00:29:45] That’s when we have practitioners that are not only just trained in identifying what’s happening internally, but how do we make changes? How do we create a personalized wellness plan specifically for you? And that’s the unique role of what we do. You come into Next health, you get your blood work done, you get a 45 minute consultation to say, you know, these other biomarkers that are off, I want to do more testing based on this abnormal finding. And so it’s not a one size fits all type of mentality or treatment plan because everyone is different. We know that sauna therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, cryotherapy is going to benefit anyone who does it, but it’s really about understanding. Does your liver need more support? If it does, then I’m going to recommend you do more sauna therapy because your detoxification pathways may be compromised. And so detoxification is number one on our priority list. Cryotherapy is great, but if we had to choose and really kind of create a sense of urgency of what we need to kind of focus on for the next three months, I’m going to say it’s going to be some therapy and I really can’t make those recommendations without bloodwork or at least proof to say, you know, people always come to me to say, what do I do? And it’s like, you’re going to tell me what to do. Your bloodwork is going to tell me exactly what it is that you need, exactly where the support and additional treatments are going to require support from both of us. You have to keep your power. You can’t give your power away and third party it out to a health care provider or a health coach or a nutritionist or whoever it is that you work with. I’m really a huge proponent of a team, but it really comes back to that patient understanding. You have full control of what your outcome is going to be. We’re just here to help guide you, and that’s really what I want to really empower people to say is you’re the one that’s going to make the daily choices of whether or not you even come in to start with the technology, to start with the blood work. And it’s about figuring out, do you want to do this consistently? Because it’s a huge time investment. It’s a financial investment, but it’s about getting the results. It’s about, are you just disposed or predisposed to chronic disease? Do you have something happening internally? Great. If you don’t, no problem. But it’s like, how can we set you up so that not only are we going to help you live longer, we want you to feel vital all the years that you’re alive. And it’s really, truly about understanding what it is your unique composition is requiring.
Peter Bowes: [00:32:16] So what’s it been just over 24 hours since you arrived in Los Angeles, biohacking your way from Australia with all the interventions that you’ve experienced so far here? How do you feel?
Nick Engerer: [00:32:27] I feel pretty great. I’m really honestly feeling very relaxed. Just did the infrared sauna really helped me feel just very zen, I would say, and relaxed in the body. I noticed the immediate impact from the IV, particularly the glutathione on at the end really woke me up, made my body feel pretty energized, but nothing will quite compete with that like the cryotherapy, let me tell you.
Peter Bowes: [00:32:47] Which is next.
Nick Engerer: [00:32:48] Which is next which we’re currently slowly walking toward, which is in this chamber here. And that’s the one that really, really wakes you up.
Nick Engerer: [00:32:58] I would say cryotherapy can be used to describe anything that is using cold exposure to interact with your biology. And in particular, this treatment is using a very cold room. It’s around -200 degrees Fahrenheit, if I remember correctly, and circulating that cold air around you really, really aggressively. So you create a really big temperature gradient between your body, which is around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the air around you and circulating that air very quickly. Now you’ve got to have some gloves on and a mask on to keep your extremities from getting frostbitten because it’s such an aggressive temperature change. But what that’s doing is it’s really effectively pulling the heat energy out of your body. I go in there, I put my arms up so that the heat really leaks out from under the arms. The core body temperature drops a little bit. And if you’ve done it right, you’ll come out with a little bit of a shiver, you’ll come out with your body having experienced it being quite cold. So back home in Byron Bay, I don’t have a chamber like the one they have here at Next Health in Los Angeles, but I do have a cold plunge where I can go into about four or five degrees centigrade ice water and sit there for around 5 minutes, same sort of dose. Come out a little bit of a shiver going on. It’s a very invigorating feeling, particularly when you’re coming out of a jet lag scenario. It really helps to wake you up. But beyond that, there’s some evidence that shows us things like cold therapy can reduce inflammation in the body. They might help accelerate healing of injuries. There’s a lot of claims that go to specific types of cryotherapy that aren’t really backed up by the science yet. But the general thinking is that doing things like putting an ice compress on an injury site reduces inflammation and accelerates healing. It’s the same sort of principle that we’re working with. There’s also some really good evidence around boosting immune function, and I think that probably relates back to parts of our evolutionary signaling in our DNA. When we get told that it’s cold by the environment, our body boosts our immunity because we’re in situations we’re more likely to transmit disease. So there’s some interesting space around immunity as well.
Peter Bowes: [00:34:53] But there’s still a lot of science to be understood relating to cryotherapy. There is the possibility that some of it is in your mind and that because you’re doing this procedure, you are going to feel better. Therefore you do feel better. And that happens in many different aspects of life. If you’re an optimistic person about longevity, the chances are that you may well live longer.
Nick Engerer: [00:35:14] You’re talking about placebo effect, right? And the placebo effect is a beautiful thing because what it tells us is that our mind is the most powerful thing we have to influence our healthspan. One way or the other. And so I think that the way I would respond to that is, yes, placebo effect could totally, totally be in play. This is why it’s important to create self experiments where we can control and get a before and after. It’s a little bit hard to do that with what we’re doing here while I’m in LA because we’re trying so many different things. But in a situation where you could use cryotherapy regularly, you might be able to perhaps measure inflammation in your body changing, or notice that a certain injury site or level of fatigue you’d get from exercising might change for you. Run your own self experiment and get away from that placebo effect a little bit.
Peter Bowes: [00:36:00] Let’s try to relate what you do and what I do to a large extent to real life, to ordinary people who may not be able to afford so many interventions or be even have the inclination to do this kind of thing. How can we translate the science behind longevity to everyday life? And everyday life is tough for a lot of people.
Nick Engerer: [00:36:24] It is.
Peter Bowes: [00:36:24] But but that pursuit of health and health span is universal.
Nick Engerer: [00:36:28] It is. And in the impacts when that’s taken away from you are also universal in terms of just establishing its importance. If you’re not well, you don’t really care about anything like anything other than getting well again. So yeah, I think to to peel it back all the layers of the beautiful Los Angeles clinic that we’re in and think about how this is practical at home. There’s a couple of things that jump out to me. I mean, one, anybody can do a cryotherapy if they have a bathtub and some ice bags. If they’ve got a local watering hole that gets cold in the winter anywhere, you can expose yourself to cold temperatures enough. Again, I think the marker is getting a bit of a shiver going feeling that that reaction in your body to the cold, we can do similar things with saunas. I mean, I was in a nice sauna bed with Jade Stones under me and infrared light. That’s not necessarily what you have to do to get the benefits of a sauna. Many people are members with a gym that have a sauna. When I was growing up, the local YMCA had a sauna. I just thought it was funny to go in from time to time. I didn’t realize the benefits were there. So I think reaching out to resources you have around you is one practical way to get some of the benefits we’re having here. But in our conversation with Megan earlier, one thing that was really important was the idea that you need to get some measurements. And while I gave some blood today and blood data is one type of measurements, there’s many sources of those. We’ve mentioned wearables before as one, as well as the body metrics of just of yourself. What is your body mass index? How much skeletal muscle versus fat do you think you have in your body? Can you measure that and track it over time? And even things as seemingly as banal as like tracking your bowel movements or measuring your blood pressure, just these things you’re doing every day to observe what your body is doing can teach you a lot in your own process, but you have to have ways to measure, to know what to do, and you have to use those measurements to establish where you need to improve and then start adding on those improvements that will help you with the parts that are most important for your individual biology and track it over time.
Peter Bowes: [00:38:24] And what I often come back to is the fact that this is science and this is science in progress, and science evolves and science changes. And perhaps we find something that, let’s say you can categorically agree that it becomes a proven fact in terms of its beneficial effects. And that’s the point that ultimately more people can benefit and hopefully the cost will go down.
Nick Engerer: [00:38:45] Yeah, that’s I mean, that’s the cool thing about coming to a clinic like this is you see the most cutting edge things start to show up and and it might feel like that’s not accessible to everybody. But this clinic is making things more accessible by existing, by having people vote with their dollar and show up and creating competition with other clinics like it and bringing those technologies to prices that are more affordable over time. That’s the same thing with any technology. We’re just on a different part of the cost curve for most longevity technologies than many people can afford. But increasingly these things are coming into the home. You know I just mentioned taking your blood pressure. That’s a really great example. You know, blood pressure used to be something you could only get at the doctor’s office. They had to have a stethoscope on your arm and do it all manually with cuff that they pump up by hand. You can buy a unit for 30, 40 bucks on Amazon. That’ll do that for you. Now, I mean, there’s evidence of this in many places and it’s simply learning to prioritize where you can put your investment.
Peter Bowes: [00:39:42] Well, biohacking is creeping into everyday life without some people realizing it. And we’re all, some of us, are wearing these devices, these smart watches that can do a lot of this investigative work that ten years ago you would have had to have gone to a facility like this to experience.
Nick Engerer: [00:39:59] Yeah. I mean, the most I think cutting edge, wide spread example in the smartwatch space is the ability to do an EKG on an Apple Watch, the fact that you can sit down at rest, turn on a program and it can watch the electrical signals of your heart from your wrist is another major advancement, and that’s in a watch that many people are wearing and is arguably at an affordable price point for many people. So biohacking is becoming mainstream in that sense.
Peter Bowes: [00:40:25] So what Nick is next for you? You’ve got your Longevity Blog and you go into a tremendous amount of detail in that blog. We’ve only managed it in this video to, I would say, scrape the surface in terms of the complexity, the data analysis, the kind that you do one man experiments. And I know you have this philosophy that you don’t do anything unless you yourself have seen the data to back up the benefits.
Nick Engerer: [00:40:52] That’s correct. And it’s something that I try to set out as an example to others, which is this concept of running a self experiment. How do we try something, measure before and after, and determine whether or not it is worth the continued investment? I mean, if you look at, for example, taking something like a supplement for boosting your NAD levels, it’s becoming very common in the biohacking longevity space at the moment. But you don’t know whether or not it actually is boosting your NAD levels. You don’t know if you’re spending that money wisely. So if there’s actually a technology now I work with the company, Do Not Age and we have a kit. You can test your blood NAD. And I’ve done this several times now and tested different NAD boosting supplements to figure out which one worked for me. I’m not even going to mention that right now because I don’t want people to just go do what I do. But it’s that process of testing and learning so that you target your investment intelligently. That’s the philosophy I bring to the Longevity Blog and try to help other people do. And I would say moving forward, what I’m always looking for are new technologies that people might not be aware of yet and that we can run self experiments with and particularly things that focus at longevity concepts that we really care about. So I’m just wrapping up one, doing a new facial product data from the Visia scan today has shed some insight on that appears that it’s working, for example. There’s another unit I’m looking at shortly where we use photobiomodulation. Turning on mitochondria in your joints the knee, the elbow, the shoulder to accelerate healing and rebuilding of cartilage. These things are all becoming things you can do in your home. Which ones are right for you? Which ones might work? That’s right where I like to situate myself.
Peter Bowes: [00:42:30] You mentioned do not age. The longevity economy is a huge issue. We at the LLAMA podcast also work with Do Not Age. And I think that is part of the bigger story of what we are doing, that there is this explosion in interest. It’s not just the science, but there’s a more across the board explosion in interest, which is reflected in the number of companies and organizations and yes, blogs and podcasts, video podcasts, audio podcasts like this, telling the same story. And I think that’s kind of symptomatic of the interest that there is here and the potential of what you and I try to talk about.
Nick Engerer: [00:43:10] It’s very great this accumulation of knowledge that’s available on the Internet and through people experimenting and sharing, but also the bigger movement in terms of where it’s going. What it is saying is that, yes, people will vote with their dollar to extend their healthspan to contribute to their healthspan. And that means that there’s an economy for it and it’s a growing economy, and that means more and more things are becoming available. Which again, brings us back to figuring out what works for you, which is why I think that’s so important. But it is worth getting excited about Peter and I do, and I know you do as well. And it’s it’s why we get to come to places like this, play around with things and see what it could mean for the everyday person and what they can take away from that.
Peter Bowes: [00:43:49] And a final thought, why is it worth getting excited about healthspan this phrase that we both use a lot, optimizing the number of years that we maintain maximum health, physical health, mental health, enjoy life. It might seem obvious, but why is that a virtuous goal?
Nick Engerer: [00:44:09] There’s two facts I like to remind people of. One is checkin with yourself. Do you want to be alive tomorrow? The answer is probably not going to change ever. It’s always nice to be able to have something to look forward to. Humans thrive on that and in general, if you have your health, you’re going to want to stick around. That’s point number one. And point number two is that where we’re adding those years of healthspan, science, psychological science confidently and resoundingly tells us these are some of the happiest years of your life when you’re talking about the difference between being healthy at 75 to 80 to 85: people having grandchildren, great grandchildren, they’re often retired. They’re just doing the things that they love. They’re with a great group of friends. They have good connections with their family that they’ve built up over many years. And this is the richest part of your life that we’re talking about adding years on to. And the third point I did say two, but I’ll add one thing to that at the very end, the longer you stick around, the more of this type of technology there is to keep you healthy and keep you living even longer. So there is a bit of a feedback cycle possible in there, which could mean that we’re talking what we’re talking about now, expanding healthspan by five years. If you start doing that now, it might be 15, 20 years in the future that you’re actually gaining by working on this and thinking about it and caring about it now.
Peter Bowes: [00:45:28] My thanks to Nick and to Next Health. If you’d like to find out more about what they do, there are full details in the show notes for this episode, along with video of Nick’s visit to their West Hollywood location. The LLAMA podcast is a Healthspan Media production in social media we’re at @LLAMApodcast and you can contact me via direct message @PeterBowes. I hope you’re able to check out the video and let us know what you think about the rapidly evolving world of health and longevity interventions. Thanks so much 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.