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Scientist reviews Grow Younger, Live Longer
on October 5, 2001
Deepak Chopra's new book entitled Grow Younger, Live Longer is the latest in his line of frequently churned out pop culture manuscripts devoted to encouraging the public to adopt healthier lifestyles. The premise is not far different from his previous publication entitled Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, but in this case the central focus revolves around the notion that aging itself is reversible through lifestyle modification. The book is organized such that each chapter is devoted to revealing the various ways in which the author believes you may choose to reduce your biological age. These include Changing Your Perception, Deep Rest, Healthy Food, Nutritional Complements (e.g., vitamin supplements), Mind/Body Integration, Exercise, Eliminating Toxins, Cultivating Flexibility and Creativity in Consciousness, Love, and Maintaining a Youthful Mind. Fifty-one pages of the book are devoted to recipes designed to make their consumers grow younger and live longer. The idea combines together in one book the nearly identical idea presented by Michael Roizen in his books RealAge: Are You As Young As You Can Be? and The RealAge Diet: Make Yourself Younger With What You Eat in which he too claims you can reduce your biological age and grow younger. However, the difference is that in Chopra's book there is not just bad science, as is the case with anyone claiming we can reduce our biological age, there is no science at all.
The basis for Chopra's argument is his claim that your biological age can be measured by such things as blood pressure, body fat, cholesterol, blood sugar tolerance, bone density, and a host of other measures. Unfortunately, scientists who study aging in humans and other animals have already concluded that at present there are no reliable biomarkers of aging. In other words, it is not currently possible to measure biological age, nor is there any scientific evidence to suggest that growing younger is possible. Reducing your risk of age-associated diseases is certainly a benefit of regular exercise and a diet based on moderation, but aging itself cannot be stopped or reversed. Anyone telling you that you can reduce your biological age or grow younger is selling a modern form of anti-aging medicine that has been sold successfully to the public for more than 3,500 years - it didn't work in the past, and it doesn't work now.
Chopra leads the reader to believe that you can reset your BIOSTAT for your biological age by convincing yourself that you're younger than your chronological age. This is done by encouraging readers to repeat the following mantra: "Every day in every way, I am increasing my mental and physical capacity, my BIOSTAT is set at a healthy __ years old. I look and feel a healthy __ years old. I am reversing my biological age"...by doing whatever is suggested in each chapter. The idea then is that if you BELIEVE you're younger, your BIOSTAT will orchestrate your biochemistry to MAKE you younger. Suggesting that you can grow younger by willing it to be so is an anti-aging strategy that has been around for thousands of years, which is considerably longer that the duration of the lives of its proponents. It never ceases to amaze me how such nonsense can make its way into books. Perhaps it is not so surprising once one realizes that those making such ridiculous claims are not scientists in any one of the various fields that inform the study of aging - they are entrepreneurs. I used to look upon Chopra's books with great amusement, because in a way he wasn't really selling anything except a suite of pop culture ideas that are unsupported by basic science. But now even he has crossed over the line to becoming an anti-aging entrepreneur, and this is what prompted my review. In Chapter 5 of this book he claims that nutritional supplements can activate your body's rejuvenating chemicals, and not surprisingly, he is now selling these supplements through the Chopra Center Essentials line of nutrients. Amazing! Scientists are now cautioning against the indiscriminate use of single dose supplements because of possible adverse side effects (such as with beta-carotene). While antioxidant supplements may have some health benefits for some people, so far there is no scientific evidence to justify the claim that they have any effect on human aging.
The pseudo science of anti-aging medicine has now permeated every aspect of our modern world. Although most books on the market are written by people who have no background in any of the scientific fields associated with aging, there are a handful of books written by scientists for the general public that explain the true story about human aging. Take your pick - I've listed them in alphabetical order by first author. In the meantime, don't waste your money on this book by Chopra.
Steven Austad's Why We Age; Leonard Hayflick's How and Why We Age; Tom Kirkwood's Time of Our Lives; John Medina's The Clock of Ages; and Olshansky and Carnes' The Quest for Immortality.