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At forty-four, acclaimed cardiologist John Day was overweight and suffered from insomnia, degenerative joint disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. On six medications and suffering constant aches, he needed to make a change.
Long Life Secrets:
While lecturing in China, he’d heard about a remote mountainous region known as Longevity Village, a wellness Shangri-La free of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, dementia, depression, and insomnia, and where living past one hundred—in good health—is not uncommon. Day, a Mandarin speaker, decided to spend some time living in Longevity Village. He learned everything he could about this place and its people, and met its centenarians. His research revealed seven principles that work in tandem to create health, happiness, and longevity—rules he applied to his own life. Six months later, he’d lost thirty pounds, dropped one hundred points off his cholesterol and twenty-five points off his blood pressure, and was even cured of his acid reflux and insomnia.
– Hey, welcome back to the Urban Monk, Dr. Pedram Shojai, back in California. I’ve just spent a fair amount of time in New York, traveling, and had a very interesting session over at the Kripalu Institute, got to hang out and stop time for three days, and then went into very accelerated time, doing a lot of PR, media stuff in New York, and so a lot of start stop, a lot of kind of different cadence in the day, and I gotta say, the one thing that has really helped me deal with some of the bumps on that road is how I’ve been eating and just avoiding the grains and trying to go down at least as close as I can to my own time zone, with all the travel and stuff, and it’s made a big difference, I gotta say, when I first started doing business travel, it would take a big bite outta my ass, like I would be pretty tired after all this. And then I realized that you don’t put your longevity on hold while you go do your business travel, because you’re gonna come back four pounds heavier and sore and all this stuff. So now I’m the geek wearing the posture shirt, I got the DVT portable pumps on my calves, and got my heart pumping through some artificial pumps, kinda keeping things flowing to my brain, all of it, right, geek out but don’t crash. Don’t allow for the circumstance to dictate your reality. And so I gotta say, it’s a great thing, maybe next time I do it, I’ll do a Facebook Live or something and we’ll go cruisin’ and show it. I’m happy to be back in studio. Actually, we’ve slowed our roll, in case you haven’t noticed, because there’s so much going on with our movie, that I’ve really just kind of been cherry picking the real important concepts out there and the topics that I really wanna talk about. Very excited about today’s guest, Dr. John Day, cardiologist, who started looking at longevity pockets and found one, in particular, it’s called the Iles, so he was at the Island of Exidence which is the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, so as he started looking at this, he happened to be a Mandarin speaker, he went to this, he read about this place called Longevity Village in China, he decided it was time to pay a visit, and he took a number of trips over there, hanging out with the residents and really starting to study the commonalities of why there’s so many centenarians living in this one area. What is it about this, is it the water, is it the air, is it what, that’s leading to this, and as a cardiologist, you wanna know, because all you’re seeing is life-threatening disease, and so there’s some amazing stuff that came out of it, without further ado, Dr. John Day, welcome to the show.
– Oh, thank you so much for having me on. I’ve been a great admirer of your work, and it’s an honor to be on.
– Thank you, it’s an honor to have you on, and I have to say, I’m a big, big fan of the type of work, this is like sociology meets anthropology meets medicine and cardiology and then all then kind of played out in the workshop of your own body before you go giving other people advice. So what I’m–
– Right, all at once.
– All at once. So, since the initial visit, you personally have shaved 35 pounds and nearly 100 points off your cholesterol. Yes?
– Right, blood pressure, huge drops in blood pressure, and this is all naturally, and I think the biggest thing is, and that’s really what led to a lot of this, is like so many others, I was, I took part in the standard American diet, but I was exercise, and as long as I was exercising I figured I was healthy. Until about age 44 when I learned that you can’t out-train a bad diet, and it all caught up to me, and almost overnight, auto-immune disease, eosinophilic esophagitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, overweight, and something had to change. You can’t keep living like that.
– Yeah, that’s it, that’s it. And you know, the fascinating part, the cardiology, I remember when I was really kind of young in my career, sitting in the room with some cardiologists and I was kinda preaching my thing, and they’re like yeah, we can talk about diet and exercise, and all that, but we know they’re not gonna do it, so here’s the pills that we give ’em, ha ha ha. Right, and it was kinda the mentality was like, they’re gonna cry for their cartoons and their sugar cereal, so eventually we just let the kids have ’em, although it’s not good for ’em, what are we gonna do, right? And that narrative is starting to collapse, as the cardiologists are having problems with their own blood pressure and their cholesterol.
– And exactly, I mean, we are not immune, and in fact, if you look at physicians, they suffer from many of the same things. And like I said, in my mid 40s, I was on five prescription medications and felt awful. And you know I just kept thinking, add 20, 30 years to my life, what’s it gonna be like? Something, something had to change.
– Yeah, and when you have that kind of inertia, that kind of wind drag on your system, it eventually makes it hard to brush your teeth. It makes it laborious to get up and go to the bathroom. I mean, the things we take for granted when we still have health, as they start to get taken away, one thing at a time, we could either feel sorry for ourselves or really, radically look at things differently and say what do I need to do to change my stars here? And that’s what you ended up doing.
– Absolutely, I had to make the change. And that’s really the whole genesis of The Longevity Plan, is I have faced these health challenges in my own life, and then working with patients and so often seeing their same cardiac condition come back and just getting frustrated that we weren’t making any progress that something had to give, and that’s really what led to the whole book.
– So you start reading about this place in China, it’s called Longevity Village, that sounds really nice and poetic, but what, so what were the stats like, what percentage of the demographic were over a certain age, what got you to say holy crap, what is this, I gotta go?
– So for me, I am a, as you mentioned, I am a Mandarin speaker, and so I’m regularly in China, lecturing at their big cardiac meetings, doing live cases, teaching physicians, and as I was going through my own struggles and meeting with colleagues, they shared with me this village, which is part of a whole longevity pocket there in China where they live these remarkably long lives, free of all these chronic diseases we have in the West, now this village is small, there are only about 550 people there, and at any time, the number of centenarians vary, it’s as we would visit it each year over a number of years, it may range anywhere from five to seven at any given time, but in general, roughly there was about one centenarian for every hundred people in this village, which is one of the highest known concentrations that I’m aware of anywhere in the world.
– Yeah, no kidding. What is it, like, say in standard American kind of demographic, how many centenarians do we have?
– So in the US, we’ve got about one centenarian for roughly every 4400 people, the famed Okinawa Islands in Japan it’s about once centenarian for every 1600 people, so clearly, this is a much higher concentration, now–
– [Pedram] Wow.
– Granted, it is a little bit skewed in the sense that anyone that knows anything about modern China knows that so many of the younger generation have left these rural farm areas of China and gone into the big cities to work in the sweatshops to make our iPhones, our Gucci handbags or whatever these luxury items that we enjoy here in the West, and so it’s skewed it a little bit, by pulling away from the denominator.
– Yeah, so they’ve evaporated off the youth, and so their numbers are looking a little better.
– [John] Exactly.
– Yeah, yeah.
– That makes sense. But nonetheless, something that has allowed someone to live a hundred plus years on this planet is very interesting, so you fly there, where is this place, I mean, I don’t want to destroy paradise, here, but what part of China is this?
– So this is southwest China, it’s in the Guangxi Province, it’s probably about 50 miles from the Vietnam border. So it’s in a very lush, dense, mountainous area. And that was really one of the secret aspects of this area, is that because they were geographically cut off from the rest of China, cut off from the rest of the world, they didn’t have access to added sugars, all these industrial, processed oils, tobacco and all these other longevity killers. And so they basically have only the food that they could grow themselves.
– Interesting, so high, mountainous area, clean air, so there’s no coal power plants, there’s no factories, there’s nothing around there that’s polluting the air.
– This is about as rural in China as you can get.
– [Pedram] Yeah, yeah, okay, so clean air, clean water, grow your own food, hoof up and down mountains all day to get around, as transportation.
– Exactly, no TVs, no electricity till recently.
– Got it, got it.
– But that’s all changed. It’s all changed, but at least until the last 10 years, they lived a very primitive lifestyle.
– Sure. And so what were you seeing in terms of disease processes? You were talking just like infectious agents, like what gets these guys?
– So the fascinating thing is that looking at this demographic group is if you could survive to age 18, then odds are, you’re gonna go on to live 90 plus years. It was just getting to age 18, due to infectious diseases. Now that’s all changed. Public health measures now have become very advanced, there in China, so they’re not experiencing all this childhood killers. Now they’re starting to deal with some of the chronic disease issues. But this group was right there at the cusp, and by making it through the infectious disease periods, these people then didn’t get sick for the rest of their lives. And they were out working in the fields, hand farming till they’re 90, some even into their hundreds, and then they would just die peacefully at home. They weren’t on medications, they weren’t going to the doctors, they didn’t have any hospitals.
– Amazing, amazing. And so when you are out there and you’re interviewing them, I’m assuming, is your Mandarin working in this village or are they in some sort of weird Cantonese dialect?
– So the younger generation, there’s not a problem at all communicating is, and that is one of the benefits of the Chairman Mao era, when he took over in 1949, establishing Mandarin as the official dialect. But these centenarians grew up long before Chairman Mao took over, and in fact, most of them were illiterate, and so they spoke their local dialect and so a lot of it was I would speak with the younger generation in Mandarin, they would translate into the local dialect for the elders, and we would go back and forth in that manner.
– Got it. So you found seven simple steps that you’ve kind of distilled this entire experience into, and you’ve been there five times, you’ve been going there for years, you spent a lot of time on the beat down there, working to figure out what these answers are. Let’s go over these seven and really unpack what it is.
– Sure, sure. We started out the book with basically real food. Because it all starts with food. If you’re, it’s the same thing with the analogy of a nice sports car that, if you put in the wrong fuel, you don’t take care of it, it’s gonna break down. You would never think of doing that to your automobile, but yet we do that with our food. But there, what they ate was real food. They ate vegetables were a part of breakfast, part of lunch, part of dinner. They ate fish a couple times a week. They have these small oily fish that they would pull out of this river that runs through the village. They’d eat the whole thing, the bones, the everything, get the calcium that way. A lot of wild fruits, wild vegetables, a lot of what looked almost like weeds. Lot of nuts, lot of seeds, they eat very natural. Around periods of holidays, festivals, marriages, then they would eat a pig and they would eat the whole thing, nose to tail eating. Nothing went uneaten.
– Hm, interesting. And did they have livestock up there of their own, were they farming traditional plots, were they foraging?
– These people, they would have loved to have done that, but given the times they went through, the 20 plus years of the Chinese Revolution. And then with the Chairman Mao era, the failed policies, any livestock they had was quickly confiscated by marauding armies or communist officials, and so the only food that couldn’t be taken from them was the food that either came out of the ground or out of the river.
– Huh. So they adapted and actually probably did better than most.
– [John] Exactly.
– So it sounds like they’re predominately vegetarian with some pescetarian influence, and whatever came out of the river was it, that’s it.
– [John] That’s about it.
– Interesting, okay. And so at this point, are there processed foods coming in from the big cities? Are there trucks filled with crap showing up?
– Unfortunately, just like everywhere else in China and most places in the world, that is all changing. It’s interesting, when we were first there in 2012, for example, we couldn’t find any Coca-Cola products. Within a year, that’s changed. Now, Coca-Cola is everywhere. You can get Red Bull there. You can get the Chinese version of processed foods and even a lot of US processed foods have even been able to make their way even to these most remote corners of China.
– Yeah, and because we’re so wise, we’ll just wait another hundred years until they all die off to say, oh, let’s look back and see how well we were doing when we weren’t stupid.
– Yeah, right. You know, it’s China, China’s a fascinating place. Whatever they do, they do it in a big way, and they do it fast.
– And you know, they’re 20, 30 years behind us, but you’re starting now, is cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity are just wrecking havoc on the Chinese people, which just a generation ago, no one was obese, no one had these conditions. They’re starting to become a wake up call, and I think it’s just a matter of time before they learn. Sadly, they couldn’t learn from our experience.
– Yeah, and the weird thing, though, is because of, like, so we have a very different type of medical system, where the incentives really aren’t aligned, and the money’s in sick care and there’s all sorts of issues that are being debated up and down Washington, but they’re talking about health care finance, right, they’re not talking about actually getting people healthy. So if the government has to foot the bill for this health care, I’m curious as to how an authoritative government like China could maybe sweep in and make some sweeping reforms and just kind of start banning things across the board, or are they already too far gone, due to market interests?
– They could.
– They could, but I’m sure that the local and the higher communist officials also suffer from some of the same things.
– Yeah, could China is the one place where you could outlaw tobacco overnight and it could almost all go away.
– But there hasn’t really been that political will yet, they just started to get health insurance, now that the government is helping them with their sick care, hopefully at some point, they’ll wake up to what’s really happening.
– Yeah, I mean, look, here, you could get yourself an army of lobbyists, there, you just bribe a magistrate, I mean, politics are politics, right?
– Exactly, just the style, the way you get about it.
– Yep, yep, yep. Okay, so the first one is eat good food, and it’s obviously core, that’s why it’s number one, it’s probably the most important thing that one can do. Where do we go from there?
– Next one is a positive mindset. And there’ve been a lot about that, a lot written, that to become a centenarian takes a special type of personality. Centenarians, regardless of which study you look at, whether you’re looking at these group of people here in China or other centenarians around the world, they have a positive mindset. They tend to be optimistic, studies show optimistic people on average live about seven years longer. They embrace stress, and the interesting thing is, every centenarian we met in this village would tell us, even at hundred plus years old, that they were living the best years of their life. They were looking forward to each new day, which really stands in sharp contrast to so many of the older people here in the US.
– What were they doing? Look, here, you get to the age of 80, you go to some retirement place, you play golf until your shoulder or your knee gives out, and then you kinda sit around and wait to die. Right, like that’s kinda the narrative around retirement here, is like you are no longer, there’s no productive capacity,
– so you could just, just be there. What are these people doing? Are they cruising around town, are they picking vegetables?
– They are, they have their local gardens. They’re taking walks, multiple times during the day. And as you know from Asia, age is revered. And as people get older, they’re honored, and so it’s an honor to grow older, Nobody is put to pasture. Everybody contributes, and every one of these centenarians would tell us that they still had this strong sense of purpose that they feel like, if they were to leave, that their families would suffer, they’re all working full time. They’re no longer in the field, since things have changed, there’s developed a little bit of a health tourism economy here, where people from throughout China are trying to learn the secret to health and longevity, so they’re meeting with these busloads of people, seven days a week, 365 days a year, they get donations, but they are still the major breadwinners in their family, and they don’t take a single day off.
– Wow, and when you’re saying mastery mindset, like so for me, I go, I’m a tai chi guy, like I’ve been in the kung fu and the martial arts and you envision all these guys sitting on some mountain peak doing their thing, and doing some pretty exercise that’s life-affirming. How much of that did you see, and how much is just like, the attitude of feeling like they belong and have a place in society?
– That’s a great point. Now there’ve been a lot of people from all throughout China now, and the big cities with all their pollution, chronic diseases, they’re now moving to these health areas of China to try to get healthy themselves, and so you will see them out by the river doing tai chi every morning, but as far as the natives, they were too busy trying to survive, but for them it was almost kind of being at one with the land, the plants, the river, the fish, and then also within their community, there was a strong sense of community of caring for one another that really superseded anything else. And so it was really something quite beautiful to behold.
– Yeah, and I mean, an argument there would be with 500 people, you’ve got yourself a village still, and you could do that. With five million people, you’re honking at people and throwing up the bird, right?
– Oh, yeah, exactly, it’s completely different.
– Yeah, but, you know what, that’s what we come from. Our roots come from small, insular, tribal subsets of groups that then started to co-mingle and all that, and that that was much more in our kind of genetic history than this is.
– Right, and even at the local level, of the centenarians, the studies that have been done, 74% of the centenarian living in this county, not just the village, but the county around it, 74% lived in either a four or five generational home. So you know, when you’re no longer able to work out in the fields, you’re helping with child care, other things, and so everybody contributed, everybody had a job, everybody had a role.
– Yeah, you know, it’s funny you say that, because I’m in a four generation family. My grandpa is going on 102, my daughter isn’t quite two yet, and so we have that span, right?
– [John] Yeah, yeah.
– And you know, Grandpa, he just lights up when he’s around those great grandchildren, and it’s something that really gives him energy and it really powers him, and I think back and I’m like, wow, this is how it used to be. Like I could go to the store for a minute, ’cause my hundred year old grandpa can still watch a kid,
– It’s not that complicated, yeah.
– Absolutely, absolutely. And it goes both ways. Just as it’s good for your grandfather, it’s great for your child in that experience to, and to learn the wisdom that comes from the age, through the ages.
– Amen, amen. So that’s your third point, actually, is community. So what did you find in terms of how these guys built and maintained their community?
– It was, it was a very fascinating, as you mentioned, everybody knew everything about everyone. No one was anonymous, and they were highly connected. Even though they weren’t on Facebook, or the Chinese version of it, WeChat, these people were connected in a way that so often is missing in today’s world, and in fact, studies have shown that when you look at longevity, that social connectivity may be even more important than smoking status or obesity, there’s something about it, we’re social creatures, that somehow we have to have it. It’s almost like air or oxygen.
– And so when we talk about that, and I’ve looked at some mixed studies where people say, oh, you know, cortisol levels drop down when you’re doing Facebook versus email and all this kinda stuff that’s coming out of these communications schools, but we’re not talking about that type of interaction, we’re talking about walking through the village square or whatever it is, like actually waving hi and patting people on the back, like people are actually in touch with each other every day, right?
– Exactly. It’s having that connection where people care about you and you can have those types of relationships, for example, on social media, those can still exist, but by and large, most of the time they tend to be more superficial. And so really having that connectivity, the glue that really holds us together as human beings.
– Yeah, yeah, and you know, that’s something that I think a lot of people in the West are longing for, this small town community vibe is really missing, a lot of people move to the cities, as these Chinese kids are, you gotta follow the money, you gotta get a job, and then when you get there, you don’t know your neighbors.
– Exactly, exactly, then your health suffers and things start going downhill, you lose connection with your family and your roots.
– Yeah, yeah, your fourth point is, has to do with being in motion. Where did you see that?
– Exactly. What we saw there is being physically active, and I think here in the West, we think being active means going to the gym and killing it for an hour or two each day. And I’m not gonna knock it. That’s great, I encourage all of my patients to do that. I’ve been an exercise junkie my whole life. But what I’m talking about here is being in motion, being physically active throughout the day. As you know, studies show that even going to the gym and hitting it hard for an hour or two can’t undo the damage of sitting all day long. We need to be in motion. And it’s something that we can re-engineer. Whether it’s that standing desk, a treadmill desk, or just that smart watch to remind you to get up and stand every 30 minutes, but to keep our muscles active and keep in motion.
– Yeah, yeah, love it. I couldn’t advocate strongly enough for that in what I’ve seen with patients and people in our universes, still water breeds poison.
– And when you live, I remember I was up in, I was doing a bunch of barefoot medicine up in Nepal and I ran out of acupuncture needles maybe three, four weeks prior, I ran out of everything.
– Right, right.
– I don’t have anything. Right, and so these people come up and there’s kids that run, they’re hey, a doctor’s coming, a doctor’s coming, so when I walk into a new village, there’s a swarm of people waiting to meet me, with putting their kids with malaria in my face, and I’m like, I have no medicine, I have no nothing, and they’re not hearing it, right, they’re like, but you’re a doctor. So then I had to sit down and talk to these guys and be like, well, what do you guys use for this and what are your herbs for that and whatever, and then I’d be like, okay, go get me this and this, and these kids would go 15, 16 miles to another village to either run a message or go get something and it was nothing, they were covering mileage that we would be proud of ourselves for doing in like a marathon,
– Right, daily. It was obnoxious. I was like, wow, I’m wearing my gear and all this crap, these kids are running around barefoot. Doing better miles than I am.
– It is, it’s cr– It’s a completely different concept, and in fact, if you asked any of these people what do you do for exercise, they’d look at you like you were crazy, you know the idea of getting in your car and driving to the gym and changing your clothes and doing your workout, it just seems so foreign to them. You know, there, you see these little small Chinese women hand farming throughout the day, carrying these 50, 60, 70 pound vegetable loads up and down these mountain sites. It’s amazing and it’s something beautiful to behold.
– So how does one take that into our, like okay, so we’re talking about standing desks, we’re talking about a treadmill desks, what else do you recommend to your patients to keep them in motion?
– A lot has been said about pedometers, but there’s something there. Studies show, for example, that just the act of wearing a pedometer subconsciously allows people to walk 2500 more steps each day, that’s more than a mile. I mean, that’s freebie, that’s a mile of walking without having to even think about that. And so a lot of times these tracking devices well, for some people it might draw against a mindfulness based approach, for other people, they just need that reminder.
– [Pedram] Yeah.
– To get up and keep moving, because our society is engineered, such that it’s too easy to just go from chair to chair to chair to chair the whole day long.
– Yeah, yeah, and talk about your back pain and not be able to exercise ’cause your back hurts, right?
– [John] Right, and then you can’t sleep at night ’cause you can’t process your stress, because you’ve been sitting all day long.
– Yep, sounds like everyone I know, actually. It’s pretty much it. So, okay, so your fifth one has to do with finding a rhythm, finding your rhythm.
– Right, living in rhythm. So this is something that really resonates well with me. As a cardiologist I specialize in rhythms. So for example, atrial fibrillation, which is the most common heart rhythm abnormality is a big portion of my practice. And it’s almost a metaphor for life. As your heart’s out of rhythm, if you’re living out of rhythm with your genome, with your DNA, you will suffer the consequences. So it’s everything from rising with the sun, getting a lot of real light during the day, minimizing the artificial light at night, meal timing, not eating these late, big meals right before you go to bed, it’s getting your Vitamin D, it’s being in tune with the natural rhythms of your body.
– Love it, love it, and it’s something that is not even questioned when you live out in nature, because when the sun is up, you work, when it’s down, you don’t, and burning fuel’s expensive, especially if you gotta go chop wood to do it, right?
– It’s just part of life and here, those rhythms have been so, so disrupted. You know, Lorenzo’s telling me that we actually have a clip to show of your visit down there. You did a little trailer of the work that you did down there with the book. And I’d love to just take a quick pause and show that real quick,
– as we’re talking about these rhythms, just so we could just sort of see the rhythm of life out there. Lorenzo, let’s see this thing.
– What we’ve witnessed here in China is really a moment in time. This village only has a population of 550 people, yet there are six centenarians. None of the centenarians are on any medications. None of ’em have had any surgeries. There are no cases of heart disease in this village, diabetes, obesity, they live these remarkably long, healthy, and happy lives.
– All of them have such a sense of peace about them. They say this is the best time of their life, and they’re 108. We don’t always hear that from people as they grow old. Something we hear how hard it is to grow old.
– [John] I really ha–
– Yeah, so you know, it’s one thing to go there, it’s another thing to go there with cameras and share part of that experience, which is really cool, it’s groovy.
– Oh, we had to capture, just the beauty and the experience, the culture is really something quite terrific.
– Yeah, and it’s hard to capture any of those things, even with camera. ‘Cause when you’re there, there’s a je ne sais quoi, you know, speaking of rhythms, there’s just a vibratory frequency that feels different than what we know, we come out of that pressure cooker and you’re just like, whenever everyone’s relaxed around you, you kinda relax.
– Exactly, and something, you bring up a great point, this, for example, time urgency, there was no time urgency there. People weren’t trying to multi-task, check off all their boxes on their to do items, shuttle their kids from one activity to another, life was just a slower pace, and so you’re more in tune, more mindful, more connected.
– Love it. Well, you know, what they can start doing is eating junk food and developing disease processes so then they could have medical bills that they have to go work to pay for, to justify living like we do.
– Exactly. That’s, it’s a great option, guys, you should try it.
– Yeah, it’s actually insane how full circle we go, just to feel all right.
– It was really just a minimalist lifestyle. They have what they needed and nothing more.
– Yeah, yeah, and the kids were happy, too, one would presume.
– Kids were happy, yes.
– It’s funny, we just went on this ranch trip with some families that are friendly with us, and literally, it was nothing bougie, nothing fancy, any of this, the kids were just running around, playing in the creeks all day, and I can’t recall a time that my kids were happier, right, there was nothing, they never asked for a toy,
– They never fought over a toy, it was just pure paradise, right, and you look at that,
– They can make their own games.
– They make their own games. You let their imagination run wild. It was just, it was perfect. And again, there’s no money involved, it was just chilling the hell out, right?
– Absolutely, couldn’t agree more.
– So your sixth one, make the most of your environment.
– Right, now when we think of environment, of course, everyone’s going to think you’ve gotta have clean food, clean air, clean water, to make it to 100. And yes, that’s all important, but there was also something beyond that that we go into in the book. We talked about noise pollution. Noise pollution is something we don’t usually think about, but yet contributes to cardiovascular disease. Other things, having a healthy environment around them as far as clutter, they didn’t have all this clutter, they didn’t have garages full of stuff that they had to manage. Their microbiome, what nourished them, but probably more important than anything is that they didn’t have people tempting them. There wasn’t all the shoulds, coulds, woulds, guilt, shame around food. People just ate real food, they ate as much as they wanted to, no one was tracking their calories and it was something to enjoy. And if nobody’s around you, tempting you, with doughnuts or leftover Halloween candy, then there’s no inner turmoil. Will power is not needed.
– Yeah, yeah, what’s this, this whole concept of negative calories and eating a bunch of fibrous vegetables that take a lot of energy to metabolize and to break down. If you’re not taking on things that are calorically dense and they’re nutrient-rich, then basically you’re getting the payload without all the calories, and you don’t have any of that issue, do you?
– It’s a, exactly. It’s amazing how much you can eat without gaining weight, in fact, losing weight if you just clean up your diet. These people would have big feasts with, and they would eat as much as they wanted to. I mean, they would prepare huge bushelfuls of vegetables they would stir fry and they’d just eat as long as they wanted to. They might eat for a couple of hours, and it was relaxing and it was part of their culture.
– So was their staple grain rice?
– Yes, I mean throughout Asia, that’s what you’re going to see. Now, their rice was a little bit different than what you see today, because they didn’t have any modern processing equipment, so the only processing you could do is really what you could do with some very crude, rudimentary tools. So they got a lot of the bran and the fiber from it, so it was more akin to toward, somewhere between a white rice and a brown rice, more of a wild rice. But yes, being Chinese, that’s something that they readily partook of every day.
– Yeah, and they presumably grew most of it locally, regionally, right there.
– It was all local, naturally, organic, what they could create right there.
– Yep. Your last one’s really interesting to me, and I, you know, this must’ve come through several iterations of conversations that you had with these people, but you’re saying proceed with purpose. How did you decipher that,
– How’d you distill that from what they were saying?
– So in talking with these people, and we kind of touched on it at the beginning of this interview, where, too often, as you get older, you kinda lose that sense of purpose, and I know in my own practice, and I don’t know about yours, is probably the most dangerous day in a man’s life is the day he retires. It’s almost, he loses that sense of purpose, that reason to get out of bed. Women do a lot better, they’re more socially connected, they’re more in tune with family and friends and neighbors, but for men, it can really be a struggle. The beautiful thing is, these centenarians felt needed. They felt like if they were to pass away, that their family might struggle. So it was that sense of belonging, of contributing, that their family depended on them, that they were providing for their family that kept them going, that gave ’em that sense of purpose. And when you look at longevity studies, having that sense of purpose is a big predictor of who’s going to experience healthy aging or slow down the aging process.
– It almost seems like the community and the purpose are connected, they’re inextricably linked, right,
– because your purpose is connected to your role in the tribe and kind of the village and the extension of who you are to your family.
– [John] Right, right, exactly, I couldn’t agree more.
– Yeah, it’s fascinating, you know, the breakdown of the Western family is really a big part of this, in terms of, here kids, they can’t wait till they’re 18 to get the hell outta there, and go wait tables and work three jobs to have their freedom, right,
– and they’re missing, they’re missing all of the value that comes from having an extended family to care and support for them.
– And that’s, it’s a really big mark of the disease of our culture, too, right, we’re so, you know, you have this Asian interdependence, which, you know, is also kind of riddled with codependency and all sorts of intriguing drama,
– Right, exactly.
– and then this western independence, which you know, has none of that connectivity, and maybe somewhere in between is an interesting conversation, right?
– Right, and that’s really a lot of what we talk about here in this book, is we don’t have to move to this rural hand farming community in China to experience health, because they’re quickly going down our pathway, they’re catching up fast. Really, we can have the best of both worlds. East meets West, we can take the good from both. I personally don’t wanna give up my job as a cardiologist. I love what I do. I love fixing hearts and working with patients, and I’m not gonna pick up a hand tool and farm six or seven days a week, that’s not what I enjoy doing, but I can take the wisdom, I can take the principles and I can adapt them to a western life.
– Yeah, that’s it. I mean, listen, these remote mountain villages, they’re few and far between, there’s a lot of us living down in town. Everyone thinks they gotta like run off to nostalgia and escape from their lives.
– And that’s just not a practical play, right?
– The play is to bring that mountain down to the town and eat organic and clean up your footprint and all these types of things that can make this paradise again, right?
– You don’t need to run from your life, and so no, I really appreciate that. I know we got one more clip I wanna show, I know we’re running out of time, but I’m gonna have Lorenzo play this other clip here and we’ll come right back and talk about the book, go ahead, Lorenzo.
– without surgeries, I felt that this was a place that I had to visit. This is our second trip now. This time we’ve come with a team to do more intensive research, to dig deeper. We’ve lived with them, we’ve talked with them.
– This village was discovered, maybe 15 or so years ago as tourists started to come in to try to learn their secrets.
– The things that these people have done here for millennia to allow them to live these incredibly long and healthy lives are all things that we can do today to help our own lives. Whether you’re thirty–
– Yeah, you know, there’s just, there’s so much, right, it’s like, not everyone can go and do what you did,
– Aside from becoming a cardiologist from Stanford, and all the work that you’ve done, but they could learn from the lessons that you’ve brought back and you know, you don’t need to have a heart attack to start taking care of your heart. It’s probably better to do it
– No, no.
– before, right?
– Start now.
– Right? Right, right, so the book is called The Longevity Plan, Dr. John Day, and Jane Ann Day, also cowritten with Matthew LaPlante, and a very, very interesting concept and it’s a throwback to the wisdom of the elders, also tied with the new knowledge that we have about cardiology and all this kinda stuff that’s coming out that shows us that listen, this isn’t just a throwback, right? It’s a modern way of living that could be clean and can be done in a way that’s not, that’s still approachable.
– Exactly, exactly. It’s all doable, and that’s something that we found as I work with so many of my patients. I found that 92% of them could adapt the principles that are found in this book into their own western lives, and they achieved amazing things. Getting off of multiple medications, reversing cardiovascular disease, it’s all there. And it’s just, it’s adapting the best of our elders with the, what we’ve learned today with the best of western knowledge and science.
– That’s it, that’s it, lifestyle is medicine, right. It’s about–
– the operating system of who we decide to be and how we decide to roll, and really stacking our priorities differently, right, like you know what, Grandpa is, what’s the old saying, right, with the loss of every elder, it’s like a library burned down. Right?
– And so Grandpa’s got wisdom and Grandpa’s wisdom needs to be imparted, and as long as you have ’em, you get in there and you have those conversations, and you spend the time, because–
– That’s, that’s, that’s the real stuff right there, right?
– I couldn’t agree more.
– Yep, yep. Well, the book is wonderful, I wish you the best with all of it, keep up the good work and I encourage my viewers to go out there and read this and implement this in their lives. Look, again, we always consider that because we’re so complicated that we need to find complicated solutions to our complicated problems, but what if the solution to our complexity was actually simplicity? Right, going back to things we are seeing working and kind of laid out working for people that are, that have many more years than us and being like why don’t we learn from them, and what is the simplicity in their life teaching us, right, and so learn from the wisdom of the elders, take the best of modern science, be an urban monk, I will see you next time. Thank you.