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Old friends, new health discoveries

Peter Allison | Geologist


Imagine reconnecting with an old school friend, reminiscing about the good old days, and discovering you share a deep interest in health and longevity? That’s exactly what happened when I caught up with Peter Allison, my classmate from the 1970s. We took a trip down memory lane, discussing our school days  – the good, the bad and the ugly – including our knack for avoiding physical education by playing chess. Beyond the nostalgia, Peter and I explored how to optimize our health as we age, and what we’ve learned so far. This is the first of a regular series of conversations, not so much turning back, but looking forward to the next chapter in our lives. Peter A. is a geology professor, well used to analyzing scientific papers, and together we will be casting our inquisitive but critical eyes over the latest longevity research.


Topics covered in this conversation include:

  • Peter Bowes and Peter Allison discuss their school days and memories of their time together, including their shared dislike of physical education and love of learning.
  • Peter A. recounts the encouragement he received to chase his dreams and how aging could impact his physical aspirations moving forward.
  • Peter A. shares his career journey as an academic and geologist, highlighting his passion for ecological research and diving.
  • Challenges with weight and muscle loss as we grow older,
  • The importance of finding a project to focus on during retirement and shared the lessons learned in pursuit of personal growth.
  • Experimenting with fasting methods
  • The importance of resistance training and weight lifting, and how it can help us maintain our health as we age.
  • New research: The potential benefits of taurine for extending life and improving health, noting the dosage of taurine required for potential benefits is much higher than would be practical for human consumption. Paper: Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging (Science)
  • New research: Napping and long life, plus the role genetics play in our sleep sensitivities. Paper: Is there an association between daytime napping, cognitive function, and brain volume? A Mendelian randomization study in the UK Biobank (Sleep Health)
  • Coffee habits and sensitivity to caffeine.
  • The importance of discussing and understanding scientific research to apply it to our own lives and promote healthy aging.
Read a transcript

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TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Peter Allison was recorded on June 22, 2023 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.

Peter Allison: In part, I just assumed that this was just aging and this is just the way it was going to be. And then I just was reading something and it was this thing, this is all correctable. You can correct this, you can do something about it.
Peter Bowes: Where does the time go? It’s a question that we often ask ourselves, and it’s something that I’ve been thinking about quite a lot recently since becoming reacquainted with an old school friend. And I use the word old in a very positive sense, and that’s something we can talk about. 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. 50 years ago, 1973, Peter A and Peter B That’s me. Peter A is Peter Allison. We went to the same school in North East England, Sedgefield Comprehensive in County Durham. We were there for seven years and then we went off in our separate ways and the big wide world. And for most of that time, for several decades we weren’t in touch. But now, I guess thanks to social media and digital technology, we are catching up and there’s a lot to catch up on. Peter, it’s good to talk to you again and.

Peter Allison: It’s great to speak to you too. And yes, where does the time go?

Peter Bowes: It is a question to ponder, isn’t it? And, you know, I am of the kind of mindset that I don’t like to think too much about the past, and I like to look ahead to the future. But when you have a conversation like this, it does focus the mind, doesn’t it?

Peter Allison: It does. I mean, I work at a university now and I go on LinkedIn and I look at some of the students I’ve taught and I find myself, maybe you do something, maybe you do the same thing in your line of business. But I suddenly see like a work anniversary will pop up on LinkedIn and I’ll go, Oh, look. And I’ll just think, Oh, it’s just a few years since I taught them. And then I’ll go and look at their page and I’ll think. It was ten years ago or it was 15 years ago. And so there are these really interesting memory things which I find very well. You observe them. You think that’s really interesting how my perception of time has changed. It just doesn’t seem very long ago. But then it’s a long time.

Peter Bowes: So I think it might be nice just to delve into a few of those memories. But as I say, it’s always good to look to the future. And what we’ve discovered is that we have this common interest in human longevity and trying to optimize our health as we move into our well, we’re already in our seventh decade. We’re both 61 years old now. We were 11 years old then back in 1973. So we’re going to have a few conversations talking about what we’re doing to optimize our health. Delving into the research, you’ve been a lifelong academic. You’re well used to analyzing data and looking at scientific papers. So it’s going to be interesting to get your take on some of the latest science in terms of of human longevity. But let’s just indulge a little bit and go back to. Well, yeah, the 1970s. 1973, we we went to Sedgefield together. We were quite similar in many ways. And the one memory that comes flooding back to me is that you and I used to hate playing football. We used to do everything possible to avoid physical education, and we spent a lot of time while the other kids were out playing football. We were playing chess in the school hall, if I remember correctly.

Peter Allison: Yes, I think we both hated PE with a passion. There are all sorts of reasons and I remember that I at one point I went and asked the PE teacher if he thought chess was a good idea and would it would it be okay if we played chess? And so we managed to escape those chess games and for I’m not quite sure how the where all of your listeners are are situated, but I recall some of those football matches because our PE teacher was had played for a local football team. Our school usually produced a first class football player about every year or two, and we used to do something called shirts versus skins. And that was and I remember. Can you remember that?

Peter Bowes: Oh, yes. Now that you mention it. Yes.

Peter Allison: And you’d be out there in your gym shorts and your top and then your skins and you might be playing a game of football in the sleet when it was in the middle of December or January and you’d be playing football and you’d just think, this is just this is a punishment.

Peter Bowes: That’s how it felt. And, you know, looking back, it probably wasn’t a great thing that we were allowed to to get away with not doing much physical education. I do remember that one of the options eventually was to go for a long distance, run to do some running as opposed to playing football, which actually quite used to enjoy and years later became a long distance runner. And actually during my life did quite a few marathons, which is something that I’ve always enjoyed. But yes, those school days were were tough days. And as you say, the other memory that comes flooding back is, yes, it was a north east of England. It was freezing cold during the winters. But did you enjoy school generally?

Peter Allison: I enjoyed parts of school. I enjoyed learning. I enjoyed discovering stuff. I loved that part of it. And I just took real delight in learning. I think bullying was a bit more prominent in schools at that time than it is now. I hope that there’s been I think there’s an improvement. And so there was quite a bit of bullying because you were the person who was interested in learning and that was made to some extent made school something to be, you know, you had to sort of suffer through it in a way, which was a pity. I think, I don’t think young people have that as bad nowadays. I hope.

Peter Bowes: I hope you’re right. And yeah, I remember that. Absolutely. And I think one of the reasons that you and I did some of the activities that we did was that we could be inside during play times, that we had an excuse to be inside a little safe room, if you like. Inside, you didn’t have to go outside and be exposed to the elements. And yes, you’re right, There was there was quite a bit of bullying at that time. But I see those days in the same way as you, that I enjoyed the learning process a lot. And there were some there were actually some great teachers at our school and that is always going to be a positive memory.

Peter Allison: I think some of those teachers were just fantastic. I mean, if you I mean I mean, I can think we had a teacher who, you know, we had teachers who would run hiking trips to the Lake District. I remember one hiking trip. I can’t remember if you were on this trip, but we went there and somebody wanted to introduce us to abseiling. So they we found some little cliff in the in the Lake district. Somebody chucked a rope down and then started showing us how to abseil. And that that would be probably a bit more difficult to arrange in schools today. And it’s a pity because it just exposed me to, you know, hiking and stuff. And I, you know, as a subsequently as a career, I became a geologist. And one of the things I’ve done as a geologist is I’ve traveled around to all sorts of parts of the world and I’ve hiked in places and I’ve really enjoyed that. And I love that just being out in the outdoors in a sort of a remote or semi remote place. And I think that was that was a real privilege. And, you know, we were at a state comprehensive school, but we had teachers organizing that. There was another teacher who used to run a had a one of these old fashioned cine projectors and he was getting 16mm films and showing trying to expose people to different sorts of film styles. I mean, you know, it was pretty good really. I mean, you used to play music and there was all sorts of music things, wasn’t there? And you did, you were you a musician?

Peter Bowes: Yes, exactly. I spent a lot of time with the school band. I played several instruments, played the cello, which I didn’t really enjoy, and transitioned to playing the clarinet. And that was, yeah, that was a big part of my life. At school. We we traveled. We went on a great trip. I remember to, to Germany to perform with the band and we had a lot of concerts. We had a great music teacher who actually I managed to to keep in touch with for a little while and it was a part of my life that I actually wish I’d continued with music in many respects. It’s something I didn’t keep up and it’s one of those things. I wonder if you’re like this as you get older and perhaps have a little bit more time, although time is always a key issue for me and I feel as if I don’t have enough time at the moment. But maybe when that day comes, that music is something that I’d like to actually return to. There are lots of things I’ve done during the years that you enjoy, but you you don’t pursue to the level that you feel as if you could and get some enjoyment from.

Peter Allison: Well, yes, I think that thinking again, as we get older, you think about the ways that we can challenge ourselves. And I think you know, about making sure that trying to ensure that we give ourselves the best opportunity to have active and healthy later years in life, having something which is a brain tester, either learning a foreign language or playing in music, which are brain tests really, which is exercise the brain. I think that’s just as important. And I think I’m currently focused on trying to improve my physical strength. But then equally, I was not very good at learning languages. So my wife and I have had discussions about I’d like to learn Spanish. Just again, just looking for something to do to stimulate the brain as we get older.

Peter Bowes: So you mentioned you became a geologist. You’ve traveled a lot with your work. You’re also a diver. Just give me a little potted history of what Peter Allison has done since the last time we had a conversation, or at least the last time that we met in person, which I think was and we’ve discussed this, we think we last met in about 1984 in London.

Peter Allison: Yeah, I think it was about then and I think so what at that. So at that point I was working as a journalist and I was writing market surveys for, for a trade, for a trade journal, for a trade magazine. I then decided that I wanted to do a PhD because that was my passion. And I guess I was thinking back to I remember having conversations with my dad and my dad was saying, You’ve got a job. It’s going to be a good steady job. You’re going to get you’re getting paid well, it’s only going to get better. Why are you going to put all of this at risk by going to do back to school, back to university to do a PhD? You’ve got three years and you’re getting married as well. You know, you’ve got all of these things going on. Why are you doing that? And I remember a conversation I had with one of the teachers at school who just said, you should just there’s a time when you’ve just got to follow your passion and this is your passion. Follow it and have a shot. And if I was thinking about the risks involved in getting a job at the end of the day at a university, which is where I really wanted to do, good sense would have been don’t do it. But I just kept having the dream and kept following the passion. And so I did a PhD. I then had a postdoc in the United States, which was fantastic. I went and worked at the University of Washington – lived in a small island called Friday Harbor, which is in the just south of Vancouver Island. And it was just a fantastic place, you know, and it was a great opportunity. And then. So one of the things that’s a little bit on my which is which is semi current is while I was there, I was organizing some talks. I got talking to one of the speakers. One of the speakers had just done some work and he’d been using a submersible to go to a site just off the coast of San Diego. And he was they were diving in a submersible to a site that was about 1200 meters deep. And I said, oh, I could I could put a spin on that and take take, you know, get the worker, get another publication out of that work with a slightly different spin on it. He said, Yeah, yeah, for sure. And so off we went and I went and managed to get a dive down to 1200 meters, which is for somebody, you know, I’ve always had this passion for ecology and just seeing wildlife and just suddenly to be looking out of a little window and just seeing all of these creatures on the seabed at 1200 meters was just a it was pretty unique. And not many people get to do that. So then I went and worked in Japan for a bit. so anyway, as I was saying to you briefly before, when I lived in America, I put on 14 pounds in weight. I then went and lived in Japan for nine months and I lost 14 pounds of weight. which was an interesting lesson. And I then came back with a permanent job and I worked at the University of Reading, for a, for a good while. And that was, that was my first permanent academic academic position. And then from there I left reading and although I still live in reading and then I left reading to go for a job at Imperial College. So that’s where I went and I’ve been there ever since. I’m now semi-retired. I think I’ve enjoyed some of the work I’ve done. I’ve enjoyed the fact I’ve I’ve got to see places I’ve done field work in. Rural parts of Mexico. Canadian Rockies. Utah. Jungles of Japan. You know, and you get to see places and just meet people. And it’s just really nice. And but I think over the years, I’ve one of the things I noticed was that when I was younger, I could have periods of inactivity, go away in a field trip, throw a backpack on my back, and I might my muscles might be a bit sore for a first day or two, but I’m fine. And I could do that when I was in my 20s. And then it got to the point where I just I just you can’t do that as you get older, as I realized as I got older, I just couldn’t do that. So I started to there’s this realization that my my body and I just didn’t even you don’t even think about that process happening. But then you suddenly get to a point. And I think in part I just assumed that this was just aging and this is just the way it was going to be. And then I just was reading something and it was this saying, this is all correctable. You can correct this, you can do something about it. And I found that that was great. It’s hard work to do something about it. But, you know, as you as I moved to being semi-retired, having something like a project which is hard, helps me move into retirement mode. So it helps my head as well as my body, right? Because it helps give me a focus and a challenge which, you know, we both people who want focuses and want challenges, right? So that’s sort of so you get a new challenge. And I the other thing I’ve always done is I’ve always had my weight at school, you know, I mean, there was the bullying at school was about my weight somehow or other. I recently was talking to somebody about or I saw an advert for a new dramatization of The Lord of the Flies. Can you remember doing Lord of the Flies at school?

Peter Allison: When I when we were doing Lord of the Flies at school, as I read it, I just thought I just as I was reading it, I just thought, oh, this is going to make my life hell. As because instantly I became the Piggy character. And, you know, as I was like anybody who’s interested in reading, you sort of like read the rest of the story and then you think you get to the end and you think, Well, I know what happens to Piggy in the story, right? So, oh, this is not this doesn’t end well. So I’ve always had this problem with weight and I guess I’ve yo yoed from I’ve never so my weight has been I’ve been in the overweight category so I’ve yo yoed from being just into the normal weight category to being into the overweight category. And so that’s something I’ve had as a challenge. And as I’ve got older, then you get sort of muscle weakness and muscle loss as well. So that’s a challenge to try and beat. But you know, these challenges, as I’ve said before, moving into retirement, having challenges is good.

Peter Bowes: This is the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. I’m talking to Professor Peter Allison, my old friend from school, about how a shared interest in human longevity.

Peter Bowes: What we are hoping to do is have lots of conversations based around those topics, but looking forward, looking at the science, especially, there’s a couple of recent papers today that we’re going to talk about in terms of interventions that could potentially help us live longer and better. And I prefer using that kind of phrase living longer and better. This isn’t about eternal life. This isn’t about living forever. Unrealistic dreams. Interesting, though, that is this is about living to 80, 90 or 100 and as being as healthy physically and mentally as we possibly can and able to do the things that we want to do now and maybe be able to do the things that we were doing 30 or 40 years ago. And so the question is, where on earth do we start with all of that? And I think a good place to start is is weight, which I’ve battled the same kind of things. My weight has yo yoed, not to an extreme level, not to an extremely high level. I don’t think I’ve ever gone. I live in America now. I just refer to weight in terms of pounds. I don’t talk about kilos and I don’t talk about stones, so bear with me. But roughly, maybe 195 to 200 pounds has been my maximum. I’m now actually a pretty good low, 170, I think 170 to 173, which I’m reasonably happy with. Being just under six foot tall, five foot 11 I think is pretty reasonable for me. But there has been that yo yo in my life that you’ve experienced as well. And one of the most interesting things that I’ve been dabbling with is fasting, intermittent fasting, periodic fasting, fasting, mimicking diets which are well documented on this podcast. What kind of interventions have you been looking at?

Peter Allison: So I view, I view these weight loss challenges that I’ve had. I view them as campaigns. My first campaign was just based upon exercise and calorie restriction, and that worked. And then over a period of years I put on about half of what I’ve lost. So it was two steps forward, one step back. So I was happy with that because I’m still one step ahead. So that was good. I then started playing around with the famine diets, and the first time I did it was fine. Second time it was okay. But I think that what I was doing is I tried to start doing I was doing I mean, I suspect I was doing lots of cardio exercise on my famine days. And so I fairly certain well, I lost a lot of muscle in my upper body. And whether that was because I was doing cardio at the same time as the famine or whether it was just natural muscle wastage, muscle wastage, I don’t know. But I realized I had lost a lot of muscle and it just suddenly and it’s one of those things that you suddenly discover when you just go to pick something up and you just think. 15 years ago, I would have done that without any problem. And now I’m now I’m straining and now I’m getting all these aches and pains. So that’s then what prompted me to go actually to start hitting the gym, really. I mean, it was a. I mean, in part I. During the Covid lockdowns, I was doing a lot of exercise on a on a on a cross trainer on an elliptical. And my machine broke. And I decided rather than buying a new machine, I would just go and get a gym membership because it was I get to use different machines. And then I decided to do the weights and I would have, you know, if you’d spoke to me 20 or 30 years ago and said, Will you be one of those blokes who goes to the gym and starts moving weights out of laughed at you at the mere prospect of such a thing. But, you know, I go there and I go to a gym and there are just all sorts of people with all sorts of body, body shapes who are all trying to do the same thing. And everyone is civil to each other. It’s not, you know. So if anybody’s thinking about going to the gym, I’m I certainly in the gym I go though there is no.

Peter Bowes: There’s no judgment.

Peter Allison: Judgment.

Peter Bowes: Exactly. And that’s the way it should be. And I think it’s interesting that you’ve come to this realization, which I and many other people do as they grow older, that resistance training and weight lifting is is so crucial that you can do as much jogging and running around the block and doing half marathons, marathons as you like, but it actually doesn’t do you as much good as consistently several times a week challenging yourself and lifting weights and increasing your muscle mass. In other words, increasing your strength and reducing the likelihood that you’re going to become frail in later life. And frailty is, as I think we all know, is one of the biggest killers that can be the beginning of the end. When you have a fall that reduces from being frail because you can’t balance yourself, you can’t you can’t stand up if you feel yourself wobbling. And that can be a really serious beginning of that downhill trend towards really ill health. Getting to a point where you can’t exercise, don’t want to exercise. And I think that’s when a lot of people just give up.

Peter Allison: Yeah, I mean. I mean, just speaking personally, I can say that I was starting to get aches and pains all over myself, all over my body, which I just thought were normal aging. And in hindsight it was muscle loss leading to my body moving in ways that I was probably causing ligaments damage, probably, and getting all sorts of little aches and pains that have just vanished. I just don’t have them anymore. And I know from the papers I’ve read, I know that they’re doing the resistance training it causes leads to an increase in bone mass. The positives are just just really huge, right? So, you know. Yeah. And I’m so and I’m amazed that even a man of my age is able to do this and is able to shift it. And so I’m doing, you know, I’m doing more press ups now than I could have done. Having said that, going back to the going back to it in the 1970s, I couldn’t do any. But I but I you know, I’m not doing as many as I’d like, but I’m doing more and I it’s and it’s fun. It is fun.

Peter Bowes: It is fun. And it’s invigorating when you begin to see results.

Peter Allison: You can it is invigorating to see results. And I think, you know, one of my hobbies, one of my passions is, is diving. And if I’m diving in the UK and depending on what I’m doing, my kit can be very heavy. So, you know, I may be under some under some circumstances all the kit I’ve got to put on is 80 kilos in weight. So I’ve got my body weight and I’ve got another 80 kilos. And then I’m walking across a boat, the deck of a boat with fins on and the boat might be tossing and turning and, you know, and potentially you worry about what happens if I fall. It might I hurt somebody else if I fall on them because I’ve got a lot of metal on my back, for example. So part of it is about being able to at least part of that was I have to find all sorts of tricks to make me do things. I have to build up this logical framework of saying, I’m doing this because. And one of it is, is I’d like to be doing a deep technical dive to 70m on my 70th birthday, which means the full 80 kilos of stuff. And if I’m going to be doing that, well, I have to make sure that my body can handle that. So this is this is my little trick. Whether I do that at age 70 or not, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just telling myself this is the target. So it is one of my little tricks. I’m sure we all have tricks. You have tricks as well to make yourself things.

Peter Bowes: All the time. And I look forward to our conversation the day after your 70th birthday when you can tell me how it all went. So you mentioned scientific papers just now and what we’re going to do in these conversations over the coming weeks and months, maybe even years, hopefully, Peter, is to talk about the latest research as we see it, as it is published. And there was one this week in the journal Science about Taurine, which is a nutrient that we find in meat in fish, especially interesting research that it extends life at least in the research involving animals but not humans. That research is still to be done.

Peter Allison: Okay, So it’s a really neat paper. And just to say that Science is one of the top two journals for any scientist to publish in this is a multi-authored paper with over 50 authors from all around the world. So going through the review process be very rigorous. So this is high quality work and they’ve connected a number of a number of points. And one of the points is it’s noted that taurine levels in young and younger people is much higher. And as we age, the amount of taurine in our bodies gradually falls away. It gets to be about 20% of what it is in younger people. In younger people by the time we were in our old age and this is associated with and this reduction in the amount of taurine in our bodies is associated with all sorts of the markers of age. Whether or not we’re looking at the way that our DNA is wrapped up or whatever. So it’s associated with a whole bunch of things. And so what they done is they did some experiments on mice and when they gave the mice some taurine, they found that the indicators of age, the health indicators improved and they found that some of the mice lived for up to 20% longer. So they lived, had longer lives. They didn’t just stop at mice, so they did some work on monkeys as well. They also did some work on worms. And when they treated the worms with taurine, there was also an improvement in the worms. They tried some very some more primitive organisms, some single celled critters. Doesn’t work on yeast, but it seems to work on a range of multicellular critters. But the the important thing to note here for anybody listening is the dosage of taurine that was being delivered. So the dosage. Was around about 1g/kg of body weight. So for somebody like me, that would mean 75g, which I can’t convert that to ounces. But you know, we’re talking about over the course of a week, maybe a pound of taurine. So that’s a huge amount to for a human to, to consume. And of course then the other side of things is there’s always the potential because our bodies are very, very complex, sort of a chemical engineering factories really, that’s where our bodies are. They’ve got all sorts of complex things going on. If we suddenly take in something that is perhaps not right, then something else might start going wrong. So that’s why human trials are required for and potentially ultimately gearing up to a larger group. But but it’s really, really exciting work.

Peter Bowes: It’s interesting. And of course, one of the reasons this caused a flurry of excitement is that taurine is a component of many energy drinks.

Peter Allison: Yes.

Peter Bowes: And I think there was an initial thinking by some people was, wow, all these energy drinks that actually thought that people think they’re great for me because it gives me an energy boost. But maybe at the back of their mind also know that energy drinks aren’t necessarily good for us, consumed in large quantities. But the point about dosage is the real cautionary tale here, isn’t it? Yes, it.

Peter Allison: Yes it is. I mean, I think dosage is the real issue, and I don’t so I mean, I think in terms of a concern. So, I mean, for example, I was eating some scallops. I ate quite a lot of scallops one day last week. And the scallops that I ate probably had scallops, I think as a as a foodstuff. They’ve got more taurine in than any other foodstuff that you can buy. They’re one of the richest sources of taurine that you can have in the human diet. And I probably consume 6 or 7g of taurine within these scallops. So I had a high dosage and one could argue that was naturally I was maybe being a bit of a pig eating so many being eating so many scallops. But it would be, you know, it would be difficult to think of what might. Well, the questions would be, is taking dosages that high in a really in a human being with a very complex biochemistry that we have what that might do. So that’s the next question to be answered really and and just what the right dosages would be.

Peter Bowes: The other study that caught my eye and the eyes of lots of people this week was to do with napping, sleeping during the day, getting 40 winks in the middle of the afternoon could also help us extend our lives. And this is all to do, isn’t it, with the size of our brains and really fascinating work.

Peter Allison: Oh, this is fascinating work. And it comes out of something called the Biobank study. And this is something that my wife and I are both we’re both part of the Biobank study some years back. And there is something like half a million people who’ve been submitting themselves to the Biobank study. They get various they contribute various data sources, which ultimately goes into this big data set that is then being mined for health information. So they’re really interesting things are is first of all, they’ve recognized a gene that makes people more likely or a set of genes that makes people more likely to nap. And if you’re if you have that gene set and if you do have a nap, then over the course of time, it suggests that your your brain may shrink less if you’re having these naps so you get less brain shrinkage. And the important thing about brain shrinkage is brain shrinkage is associated with some of the the deterioration of the brain that we normally expect with age. So you this may if you regularly nap, this could be the equivalent of 4 or 5 years or something like that or the equivalent of brain deterioration. So you might stave that off. However, what they did also note their experiments were also included things on measures, on various cognition measures and it didn’t improve the cognition, the cognition performance, it improved the size of the brain, but not the cognition performance, which is which is interesting. And the authors highlight this and they just say, this is not what we expected.  I mean, I must admit I’ve got some skin in the game here because I am the sort of person that I grew up in a family where everyone would have a nap after a meal. So napping for me and my family. I remember when my wife first came to came to stay with my mum and dad, she suddenly saw everyone had a we had a Sunday dinner and then washing up done and everybody just sits down and has asleep in the chairs. My wife is looking around going, Well, what? This is what’s going on here? You know, everyone just goes for a sleep for 20, 30 minutes. So I think this is great research because it shows that me having a nap is a really good idea, which means I can continue to have naps.

Peter Bowes: Well, that was the bit of the research that I focused in on our likelihood, our sort of genetic likelihood to want. To have enough because I’m one of those people who doesn’t nap. I’ve never napped. I’ve never felt I mean, I can feel tired, but I don’t take it to the point that the solution to that is to take a nap. In fact, if I do and very rare occasions when I’ve been when I’ve worked all night for some reason and I’m super tired and I do fall asleep during the day, it affects my sleep the next night and I just can’t get to sleep at 11:00 midnight that night. So I’d rather just go without the nap. But it isn’t within my psyche to want to take a nap and never has been. There are. I remember my dad often used to have a nap, as you describe after lunch, but other members of my family never do that. And that’s what’s interesting to me, how we are preprogramed to want to nap or not to nap.

Peter Allison: Isn’t it amazing? I mean, there’s just these, these the impact of all of these subtle genetic differences which predisposed us to certain sorts of behavior. I mean, in terms of thinking about sleep, for example, we’ve all we I’m sure we’ve all been to a dinner party where we’ve been sitting around and the host comes out and starts offering people, um, you know, espressos or whatever. And we know we all know somebody who can be happily drinking espresso at 8:00 at night and then have no difficulty going to bed at ten. Me if I have a cup of coffee after noon, you know, after 12:00 midday, then I’m probably not going to be sleeping that night. For me, my last cup of coffee is about 8:00 in the morning and then I stop. And so there is obviously different sensibilities and sensitivities to the to the to these to these external stimuli that we take. That’s amazing.

Peter Bowes: Yeah, it’s amazing. And it’s fascinating. And there’s another similarity then between me and you because I can’t drink coffee in the afternoon as well. And I guess as we continue these conversations, coffee might be something that will return to because caffeine as an issue is hugely fascinating to me. I recently gave up coffee for a few weeks and well, we’ll delve into this on another occasion, Peter, but I think it is a key part of growing old of how we expose ourselves to these external stimulants and and the knock on effect and how it affects our daily lives, how it affects the circadian rhythm, how it affects the our digestion, the microbiome. It’s all kind of linked and it’s all really interesting. Peter It’s been really good. Really, really good to to catch up with you and to have this conversation. And I would like to do it on a regular basis because I think one of the ways of all of us benefiting from this research at a lay level, I’m not talking about a scientific academic level. I mean, all the information is out there. But for I think people to benefit from science, it needs to be talked about and it needs to be understood and it needs to be digested. It needs to be torn apart. And the little caveats understood and the cautionary tales that we can learn from from this research needs to be discussed at a level that we can all get it and it can all be relevant in terms of information to our everyday lives. So I think this is really valuable, really good to catch up with you and we’ll talk soon, hopefully.

Peter Allison: And great to speak to you as well, Peter.

The Live Long and Master Aging podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice.  If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor. The information contained within this interview is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.
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