I just finished reading “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever" by Ray Kurzweil and Terry Grossman. It’s an ambitious book that tries to distill the latest scientific research on health into a practical set of recommendations that most of us can follow.
The premise of the book is that we should utilize all tools at our disposal right now to maximize our healthy life span, so that when more radical technology inspired life extending therapies arrive (and they will), we will be around to take advantage of them. Thus, the authors focus heavily on what is within our power to do for our health today. While chock full of recommendations regarding various topics such as testing oneself, exercising and de-stressing, I found the chapters on nutrition to be, well, mind blowing.
It’s easy to throw together a few diet recommendations and mention some case studies or testimonials supporting the theory. What I particularly enjoyed about Fantastic Voyage however is how the authors tried to explain in detail how the body works and reacts to foods, vitmins etc in a highly understandable manner. Finally, I feel like I have a reasonable grasp of my internal biochemistry, and how my diet choices affect it! On a more sombre note, I found the relationship between the food that people eat and their rates of heart disease and cancer downright scary.
I think that the authors did an excellent job of packing a lot of information into a highly readable book (albeit for the more scientifically inclined audience), without the usual baseless proselytizing that comes with so many “diet” books.
Here are a 10 of their powerful nutritional recommendations that stood out for me:
- Cut down on carbs dramatically. Eliminate all simple sugars and most starches from your diet, and instead opt for low glycemic load carbs such as legumes (lentils, beans etc).
- Focus heavily on eating green, or generally “above ground” vegetables. Try juicing them too.
- Restrict fruit intake. Include nuts, but don’t overdo it.
- Choose fish (especially salmon) and chicken over red meat, most of the time.
- Buy organic produce and meat as much as possible.
- Get a tap water filter for your home.
- Stop drinking soft drinks and coffee. Drink lots of green tea instead.
- Drink a couple glasses of red wine every week.
- Supplement aggressively with essential vitamins and minerals, fish oil, and also add “super nutrient” supplements to your diet such as: grape seed extract, alpha lipoic acid and resveratrol.
- Maintain your ideal weight for your height and frame.
This is the tip of the iceberg, but the above points come up again and again.
Personally I have followed most of these tips over the last six weeks and have successfully lost a lot of weight and measurably increased my sense of health and wellbeing.
I think it’s no coincidence that the best entrepreneurs I know are very aware of their health, and take effort to maintain it. The popular myth of startup teams surviving on pizza and coffee for weeks or months on end is exactly that (and when it happens, it doesn’t last very long).
If it’s quality of life that we are after, nutrition matters. A lot. As they like to say in Star Trek, “Live long and prosper!”