Our Doctor Reacts To The Man Who Spends Millions To Stay Young

Forty-six-year-old Bryan Johnson from Utah became a tech millionaire when he sold his payment processing firm Braintree to eBay for $800 million. 

For the past few years, however, Johnson has been on a mission to biohack his body's aging process with Project Blueprint. His goal? To get his middle-aged organs to act like an 18-year-old's (via TIME). 

By disciplining what he calls his "rascal brain" — the mind that prompts you to do things that aren't necessarily healthy for you — he follows a strict daily routine that includes waking up at 5 a.m. and going to bed at 8:30 p.m. Johnson says he works with a team of health professionals who monitor what he does. This involves sleeping on a temperature-controlled mattress with a device attached to his penis that measures nighttime erections, doing monthly blood tests including MRIs and ultrasounds to assess his physical health, following a carefully planned skincare routine, engaging in high-intensity workouts three days a week and exercising for an hour daily, and eating a strictly vegan diet of 1,977 calories a day, per New York Post. It also includes things like red light therapy and lots of supplements. 

Johnson spends about $2 million a year on his quest to live decades longer. While, to the general onlooker, all of this might seem a tad bit extreme, the Head of Nutrition for Nucific, Dr. Amy Lee, told Health Digest, "Personally, I think the fact that he is surrounded by medical professionals in helping him carry out his mission makes total sense. Of course, it all comes with a price but if he can afford it, why not?" 

Can veganism, calorie restriction help you to stay young?

People embrace veganism for many reasons — such as concern for the environment or ethical or cultural reasons — but there are those who opt to cut out meat, dairy, fish, and eggs for health reasons too, like Johnson. 

"Veganism is a very sustainable habit as many people have done it for many years," shared Dr. Lee, adding, however, that supplementing to make sure you're getting all the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids your body needs is also important with veganism, as it can be restrictive. "I have a feeling Bryan Johnson has a line of nutritionist/chefs that cater to his needs. Also, don't forget the blue zones that have the higher prevalence of people who live over 100. That is a perfect example of veganism working well," explained the board-certified doctor of internal medicine.

Johnson, who founded Kernel — a company that creates brain–machine interfaces — in 2016, eats a strictly vegan diet, except for the collagen peptides he takes by choice, and follows a schedule of a 6- to 8-hour eating window, per Colin Keeley. He has three meals and restricts his calories to 1,977 every day. "There is data on restrictive caloric intake and even intermittent fasting that have very convincing data on prolongation of life," shared Lee. "Studies that showed the level of longevity can be at a cellular level." 

As for Johnson's strict tracking methods, Dr. Lee thinks that this could help with compliance. "Data is a great tool and it becomes a positive reinforcement for those who appreciate data for tracking and goal setting."

What can non-millionaires take away from his routine?

Johnson may have brought down his inflammation markers to 85% below an average 18-year-old and optimized his cardiovascular capacity to reach the top 1.5% of 18-year-olds, but his extreme lifestyle choice does involve millions of dollars. 

When asked if the average general public can take a leaf from his book and practice healthy habits to slow down aging, Johnson told Health News, "I spent millions of dollars on this endeavor, and I've made it all available for free. The average American can do the entire Blueprint for between $1,000 and $1,500 a month." Referring to habits like prioritizing quality sleep, eating healthy, letting go of bad habits that don't serve your body, and getting sufficient exercise, Johnson shared that "it comes back to the basics that we all know and don't do."

Dr. Lee agrees. Everyone who wants to stay young can start somewhere and your eating habits are a good place to begin. "Simply eating better foods and ingredients can be a great start and oversaturate the body with fresh ingredients, minerals, and vitamins," she shared. You can follow this up with "getting good consistent sleep." 

"Money doesn't buy happiness but it buys time for longevity and perhaps time to experience more in life. If you are not like Bryan Johnson, understand that there are other more economical things you can do to prolong your life," added Lee.