Ask HN: Longevity for your parents, what to do?

Hacker News - Sat Aug 6 09:45

Ask HN: Longevity for your parents, what to do?
25 points by MichaelRazum 2 hours ago | hide | past | favorite | 31 comments
Longevity was discussed a lot here. So, for the hackers and experts here:), how do you help your parents? Was thinking to give them or suggest to take

Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN): 1g per day (available but only from small firms in Europe)

Resveratrol: 1g per day (available)

Metformin: 800 mg (need a prescription)

Omega3 fat oil

Do you have better ideas?

PS: Got it from David Sinclar. Doctors don't seem to care much about that topic. Actually, started to think about it since, noticed a bit of mental decline and started asking myself what might help against it and in general. Also, might take that stuff for myself as well.

My personal experience only; my grandpa lived to his mid-nineties:

Don’t bother too much with the medicines and pills. What really matters are daily social interactions (with friends and family members, not random people or nurses/doctors) and a regular schedule of “purposeful” activities to look forward to every week. Bingo every Tuesday, fish dinners on Friday, etc.

In all likelihood, diet, exercise, and sleep. Aside from managing chronic conditions through doctor’s visits this seems to be the only thing that can actually improve quality of life. High levels of physical activity seem particularly key.

If there was a magic pill, that would be great, but don’t think there is any high quality evidence.

The NMN research didn't pan out in the end, just throwing that out here.

There is something involved in NMN, but taking it (or any of the precursors or metabolites) alone doesn't actually seem to reliably cause what they were looking for.

Most likely, it's something like the curcumin vs ground turmeric issue (curcumin doesn't work alone, it combines with another chemical found in turmeric to produce the active chemical, and none of the curcumin supplements work), or with glucoraphanin and myrosinase to produce sulforaphane (popularized by Dr Rhonda Patrick; sulforaphane is short lived, and you need to package them correctly to not self-react in a supplement while it's sitting there on a shelf, so the delivery mechanism is the hard part), or with the flavor of garlic, allicin, another short lived chemical produced by alliin and alliinase (which is why crushing garlic is important instead of slicing, and ground garlic and factory produced minced garlic will never have that magical flavor).

Also, as for Omega 3, watch Dr Rhonda Patrick interviews Dr Bill Harris; the main take away from this isn't that it works (we all know that already), it's what the dose range is: we're all underdosing.

I’m interested to know more about how NMN/Metformin/Resveritrol didn’t pan out in humans as all the mice studies seemed quite promising.

Metformin did pan out, but the research seems to indicate One Meal A Day would have to be employed with it, as Metformin seems to interfere with autophagy. Lack of autophagy seems to be the biggest cause of the effects of old age, as the Western Diet pounds 3 meals a day, which means our insulin levels never drop to the autophagy activation level.

If you want that "one weird trick that doctors hate", OMAD alone is almost magical. I've been suggesting it to everyone I know just so they can do something easy and simple to get a few free years out of their fleshy meat body. Also, because of OMAD, I now spend less time prepping food, eating food, and other food-related tasks. Even if OMAD had no health effects (positive or negative), I'd keep doing it as it has freed up a surprisingly large amount of time.

No chance to convince my parents to do OMAD. But would like to try it myself. How big are your meals if I may ask? Actually would like to start going to gym again and gain weight/muscle mass, so would be really interesting to hear if that could work with OMAD.

I think you'd be best off looking at family history - what caused early deaths among older generations? My shortest-lived grandparent lived well into their 80s, so my main concern is them having enough money to maintain a decent standard of living in their dotage.

I think you better ask a food expert or at your local pharmacy :) I mean if there is serious concern they are low on certain nutrients, they should make a blood test. Then it's possible to change the diet if needed or add food supplements.

I think David Sinclair's track record of actually producing meaningful improvements in human longevity is zero. The whole sirtuin thing got big funding from pharma and then totally failed. I would remain very sceptical of what he says, as he definitely talks up his own work as high as it can go and beyond.

Personally, I doubt these supplements make any difference. I also doubt that metformin makes a big difference (as well as being poorly tolerated in many people).

This is what comes to mind:

There is one universally beneficial thing and that is exercise. What exercise? Anything is better than nothing. But doing 150 minutes per week of Zone 2 is probably optimal. Also resistance training. Don't over do it.

Second thing: screening for things that kill you. Manage modifiable cardiovascular risk factors:

- check lipid profile including Lp(a) and ApoB, manage appropriately

- inflammation, although can be hard to improve, maybe dietary changes.

- hypertension

Also do all the screening for cancer: mammogram, faecal occult blood, pap smears.

Take a thorough family history, what did people die of and at what age. There can be clues from that about what needs attention. In the extreme case, there may be a strong family history of cancer indicating need for germline testing.

Other things: Pneumococcal vaccine, shingles vaccine, flu vaccine.

If the option exists, move closer to the equator (mortality is higher further from the equator, as is cancer incidence).

Other comments mention social activities, also very important.

Not sure about the evidence, can't judge on that. But he looks really good for his age. Of course depends if it is due of his lifestyle or not.

My mother (59 years old, so not so old yet) frequents the gym (at least 2 times a week). Typically for some active stretching, body-pump and body-combat group exercises. Diet helps too.

She has a moderate heart\vessels condition so she intakes some pills prescribed.

D3 is the only addition to this I thing.

Thank you for bringing this topic up. I would add that an active life and a social circle would come before anything else.

Also on the natural foods side would like to add

1. Dates 2. Prunes

Lots of antioxidant rich foods based on your location - omega 3 is also a good choice as you mentioned.

I am sure you have read the article about the people who "forgot to die"

That was the first thing I tried. Gave them a copy of Michael Greger's book "how not to die". Talked about some bad habits, like fast food, for a month and more. Didn't worked :) Kind of gave up this topic.

Social circle is in the same category, really hard to influence, especially from outside. So looking for magic pill..

One more suggestion

Keep them engaged

I had my father manage the household expenses and few other tasks

I feel mortality rate is impacted by relevance. When you feel you are irrelevant, it won't matter give up and move on.

Social circle is difficult thing for me, not because I don't like it, but because I don't have much people outside my family to meet or hangout.

There's still an open question as to whether NMN accelerates the growth of pre-existing tumours. I would be weary of recommending it to older family members unless they have a really good handle on their health and are getting regular checkups.

I don't think there really is anything one can do. We don't have the medical technology yet to significantly improve someone's health to a consistent degree beyond the average limit. Sure, some centenarians in Japan might live quite a while (given their birth records are correct, yet there is a growing suspicion that they may not be [0]), but I'm not sure if we can reliably, and to a statistically significant degree, make people live beyond such an age.


Unless you're a doctor who is familiar with all the medications that your parents are currently taking, it's probably not a good idea to recommend that they take specific supplements. For example, omega 3 fatty acids can act as a mild anticoagulant, and if your parents have been prescribed blood thinners, the additive effect of the two could lead to problems.[1]

[1] [under the heading "What else do I need to know?"]

Have good genes, eat well, sleep well, exercise and have a good social circle. Just have a healthy lifestyle basically.

For exercise I think it is more important to do weight training than cardio, to increase or retain bone strength as this diminishes with age.

Move to the Mediterranean. Eat olive oil based diet. Exercise every single day (nordic walking)

Consistent exercise and quality food (meats and veggies). And lots of thoughts and prayers.

I wanna second tarun's comment. Being physically active and having social baseline helps a lot on their general well being.

Omega3s are big. Try the algae based ones, since the fish are a few steps removed from that. And you don't want more than 4x omega6s vs omega3s. Most people in US need to boost omega3s and reduce omega6s.

Can your parents get up off the floor with ease? Do they shuffle their feet? Age appropriate exercise will help them not break bones / fall, etc. Bob and Brad on youtube have some things to look at.

Do your parents have inflammation? That is, do they have joint pain? Are their faces or hands puffy? Try a gluten free diet if reducing foods with omega6s does not help. A gluten free diet can only be achieved by avoiding all foods that are not certified gluten free. Even foods that should not have gluten such as oats likely have gluten cross contamination.

For any diet change, try to limit the change and pursue it for a minimum of 2 weeks to see the impact.

In short, aging gracefully is more about keeping an eye on deficits and managing them before they become big problems.

How much they buy into the idea - or not - is going to impact effectiveness.

p.s. Moi? There's also the issue of quantity v quality. In short, keep them away from the TV, social media, etc. Aging has an emotional / psychological impact. Given the current state of high profile happenings (e.g., pandemic, war, mass shootings, climate change) it's easy to get worn down and the willingness to persist goes with it.


My parents weren’t cheap. But they were responsible with their money both had pensions and retired when they were 55 and 57 respectively.

They have gone on two cross country 4-6 month road trips. They are now 78 and 80 and are still mostly healthy. They only stopped traveling because of Covid. They are slowly getting out of their bubble.

They both said that they have had a long enjoyable life and will have lived a life without regrets.

While I won’t be retiring at 55, my wife and I are planning a 2-3* year adventure where we will be traveling across the US in a method that’s comfortable for us - flying everywhere and staying in mid tier extended hotels.

We are starting this near the end of the year. We just sold our newer car to save money and we are selling our old car before we leave. We are renting out our house.

Am I worried about a long life? No. I’m more concerned with an enjoyable life with no regrets.

Yes, I see my doctor(s) regularly. We chose hotels partially because they all have gyms and most will have pools for working out

Do I eat overly healthy? Mostly no. I enjoy food. But we mostly keep our weight under control.

The most immediately effective thing parents (or anyone) could do for longevity is begin to see the ground of being itself as divine, and then join a religious community of other people who see the divine life in a similar sort of way. People who belong to these kind of transcendentally oriented communities enjoy longer lives....according to SCIENCE itself.