How can artificial intelligence drive longevity gains? Tina Woods is a social entrepreneur who is has helped set an audacious goal of increasing the average lifespan by 5 years for an entire country by 2035. Please join us for her take on improving health and longevity through policy and artificial intelligence. Tina Woods is co-founder and CEO of https://www.longevityinternational.org/. Tina has a degree in genetics from Cornell University (USA) and MBA from Cass Business School (London).
Take away points:
-Health inequality is a major challenge
-The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Longevity was set up in March 2019 to address the scientific, technological and socio-economic issues relating to our aging demographic and promote living younger, healthier and longer lives.
– The UK Industrial Strategy is focussing on the Aging Society as one of its Four Grand Challenges, intersecting with the other three in Artificial Intelligence, Clean Growth and Mobility.
-“This is a very important group looking at the most important single issue for society in the next 30 years” -Professor John Bell, Oxford University
-Her book, ‘Live Longer with AI: How artificial intelligence is helping us extend our healthspans and live better too’ was published in September 2020.
Author of Live Longer with AI: How artificial intelligence is helping us extend our healthspan and live better too by Tina Woods
#longevity #wellness #Ketones #lifestylemedicine #younger #ketosis #biohacking #acetone #RobertLufkinMD #readouthealth #tinawoods #longevityinternational
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Robert Lufkin 0:01
Welcome back to the health longevity secrets show with Dr. Robert Lufkin. Today I’m delighted to be joined by a connected social entrepreneur who is looking at how artificial intelligence can drive longevity chain gains. Tina Woods is co founder and CEO of longevity International, and has helped set an audacious goal of increasing the average lifespan by five years for an entire country. By 2035. Tina has a degree in genetics from Cornell University, and an MBA from Cass business school in London. She is also the author of the book live longer with AI. Before we begin, I would like to mention that this show is separate from my teaching and research roles at the medical school with which I am currently associated. It is part of my ongoing effort to bring quality evidence based information about health and longevity to the general public. Now, please enjoy this interview with Tina woods. Hi, Tina woods, welcome to the show.
Tina Woods 1:11
Thank you, thank you for having me. Before we
Robert Lufkin 1:13
dive into all the fascinating work that you’re doing with AI and longevity, perhaps we could start by you telling us how you came to be interested in this area?
Tina Woods 1:25
Oh, well, like a lot of us, it starts from a very, very young age, I’ve always been fascinated with biology and the mechanism of life and, and, and death, I guess I mean, you know, looking at, you know, what it is that makes us who we are. And so, as a child, I remember being fascinated with childbirth and and I studied, you know, obstetrics textbooks, and I thought I’d be a doctor one day, and was also intrigued by the whole kind of spiritual side, you know, sort of religion and what it meant, you know, to die and your immortality and all these sorts of things. So I guess, you know, in the end, it started from an early age, like, like a lot of us. And of course, fast forward a little bit, I studied sciences and was pre med at university, and majored in well studied genetics and developmental biology. And that obviously opened my eyes to the whole world of genetics. And this was before the Human Genome Project just started. So that was a long time ago. But you know, since since then, I’ve always had a real fascination with with just generally anything to do that, that kind of spell the history of our lives right back from the early days of, you know, where we came from.
Robert Lufkin 2:37
Yeah, that’s fascinating. And then from there, you, your current work with, with government is, is, is really very significant. And I think our audience would love to hear about the initiatives that you’re working on, and how you, you’ve managed to bring longevity to the attention of a large group like that.
Tina Woods 3:05
So yeah, so I, so after, I mean, I spent a large part of my professional life actually working in the area of biotech and pharma. So so the whole kind of life science industry, I, I got to know pretty well, and but was also just struck by how was very, very focused obviously, on, you know, treating us when we’re ill, I mean, except for vaccines and that sort of thing. But, but pretty much that whole industry is very much focused on that and going through a lot of change now. But when I set up collider health, about the lower four years ago, now, I was really, really interested in the system change that I felt was really neat and being driven by some of the disruptive forces that we see around us. And the technology is obviously a big force, we have the aging demographic as another forest. Little did we know that the COVID pandemic would probably be one of the biggest disruptors that we’ve seen so far in our lifetimes. And so I realized, actually, to really drive the systemic changes that we needed to see, to move, I guess, or our illness model for, you know, we’re really sort of focused on treating diseases, certainly in the Western world, to move it back to a more preventative health model was going to require some pretty significant sort of system change, which, you know, is actually been really spurred on by the by what we’re seeing post COVID Now, which I’ll come on to in a second. But I realized that actually, to really drive those sort of changes, you had to really work with all the key stakeholders need to be part of that solution, asking the bigger questions. So for me, it was like, Well, how do we we’ve got a society which, you know, when you think about and, you know, we we’ve obviously, our lifespans have extended, we’ve obviously seen huge strides in public health and, you know, things like sanitation and antibiotics. And obviously, these have had a huge impact on us having a longer life. But what we’ve seen more recently then, of course, is you know, we’ve got this whole focus in our sort of, sort of treating the sort of the treating disease model we’re very, very focused on, you know, and of course, a lot of our resources are focused on extending really pretty much the end bit of our life, when we’re actually really with the ill. There’s a huge amount of certainly in the UK context as I’m doing. I mean, I live and work in the UK, obviously, I was born in Canada, and did a lot of my studies in the States. So I guess I have an international perspective and work for many years in the states actually. But you know, pretty much you know, so much of our, our resources are spent on what happens when we’re ill. And of course, even at the end stage of life, and we have all the multi morbidities, etc, many of which are driven by our lifestyles, and unfortunately, and we’re really starting to realize that now, you know, it seemed that, you know, it’s a crazy scenario, we’ve got all those resources. And really what we needed to do was to focus more on keeping healthy and well. So. So in order to do that, you have to engage with a multitude of stakeholders. So yes, you need to work with the health care system. And obviously, the US has a different system than us in the UK and Canada, which has more social, social, social medicine, and, you know, funded by the taxpayer, they’ve got a different model in the US and all have its strengths and weaknesses. But what we’ve seen, which sort of struck me is, and then of course, we’ve got a private sector, we’ve got obviously, our third step, we’ve got us as citizens. And you know, so So really, you know, to really drive that system change, it has to be all of us to kind of be part of that solution, asking this bigger question, you know, how do we actually move this paradigm from a sickness model to a more preventative health model. And what we’ve seen over the last few years actually, and made worse by COVID, is that actually, our, our life span actually has been decreasing. Certainly in us, we’ve seen a drop in health in lifespan. And actually, we’ve seen a decent and this is obviously before COVID, now accelerated because of COVID. And then the UK context, we’ve seen a decelerating rate of increases that we had previously have seen in life lifespan. But actually what was really concerning for us in at a government level in the UK, was the widening gap in healthy life expectancy. So we see a 20 year difference between the poorest and the richest citizens in our society. So really, what what so this is actually quite a shocking statistic. And it’s also mirrored by experience in the US. And what we’ve seen through the COVID pandemic is that has actually been really sort of pretty, it’s been pretty
shockingly exposed, really how our health is so linked with our either inequalities or social and income inequality. So it is a massive thing that needs to be tackled. And so one of the things I mean, I’ll spit, I mean, I can spend a few, I guess, moments just detailing kind of how I got set up and work with the all party parliamentary group for for longevity, that was very much triggered by a recognition, working with UK Research and Innovation, which is a big government, sort of agency which support this, the startup community and innovation, you know, and one of the grand challenges that the UK Government had said in 2017, one of the four was how do we tackle what they call the challenge of the aging society? What I like to turn that on the head and see there’s an opportunity of us living longer, and actually what we can do, as we are living longer, how do we make that more of an opportunity rather than a problem? You know, because I think that mindset is something that actually is such a big issue that all of us need to really kind of wrestle with, how do we change it into an opportunity that we’ve got all the science and technology and all the developments that we’re seeing into an opportunity for us to live a healthier, longer life. And really, the focus needs to be on health span. Now, if you talk to longevity scientists and people like Aubrey de Grey and advise ally and all the amazing people who are very much at the cutting edge of longevity medicine, what they’ll say is that let’s really focus on all the developments in terms of tackling the root of the aging process. And make sure that our period of morbidity at the end of our lives is shortened as much as possible so that we live as much of our lifespan and good health. So what they want to see is almost the healthspan and lifespan kind of converging. And of course, if you speak to the real sort of immortality, I mean, you know, they’re saying, because of the pace of change, you know, it’s happening so quickly now that actually, we’ll be able to be immortal very, very soon, because the science is going to tell us how to stop aging that strikes now, I think it’s probably a little bit far off, if ever, I mean, some people are talking about, you know, the longevity escape velocity being hit by 2045, and maybe a 50% chance, reducing that, you know, to achieve that in 2036, for example, that’s that’s pretty soon I remain to be convinced about that. But what I think it tells you is that there is an incredible acceleration of just understanding on the biology of how we age, and concepts like the like biological age are really interesting because that’s really shining a spotlight on what we can do to keep ourselves I guess, healthy and young on the inside. You know what an amazing biological level. But what I would question in all of this, and this is the debate that I have with the scientists and I coming from a policy perspective, who, of course, are looking at how do we make sure that the benefits of all this technology are able to reach as many people as possible and really tackle, you know, the real inequities that we have as, as as as a society and as a population. So, and that’s where the wider determinants of health are so important, and this is where the broader issues around, you know, inequalities are very much part of the solution, which, you know, may not be the focus of a lot of the longevity science, but I’m actually think it is an area that needs a lot more understanding. And it’s very much the focus of a lot of work that I’m doing at the moment.
Robert Lufkin 10:44
Yeah, the inequalities issue is is really tragic. The idea that one could determine the the likelihood of a given disease based on your zip code, or you know, what neighborhood you happen to be born into, is really tragic. But, but the idea of shifting policy, getting government involved with longevity research, and aging research is wonderful, we have a long ways to go in the US, you know, the FDA doesn’t even consider aging and disease, although a lot of people are working on that. Now that you’ve gotten government buy in on this, which is, which is wonderful. Do you think that how do you how do you see using that power? Now is is the do you think the the role now is? Do we still need answers to our basic questions? In other words, do we need to empower research and continue development there? Or do you think the enough answers are in that it’s, it’s more about implementing policy and lifestyle changes, social changes, that sort of thing? Where where are we with longevity, in your, in your mind about that?
Tina Woods 11:58
So So I think there’s, I think there’s an increasing recognition, certainly, with the work that the other party parliamentary group for longevity has been doing, I think we are seeing an appreciation that you have to tackle, you have to really attack, attack it right from day one, and I’m even talking before conception, now it is a life course approach that you have to see this thing. So everything that you do, as a young person, as a child has such huge implications for your, for your healthy, you know, life trajectory, you know, further on. So I think there’s definitely a growing understanding of that. And I think there is an interesting link also with the whole science of aging, because I think, you know, you start to age from what you start to age, actually, even before you’re born, because even how the lifestyle that your parents need has, it has an epigenetic kind of legacy, even when you’re born. So I think there’s some really interesting research that’s coming out that that speaks to that. But I think, you know, you have to see you start to age from day one. So it really isn’t all of our interests, you know, whether as a person for yourself, but also for all the different stakeholders around you, you know, as you’re growing up, you know, to look after yourself, now, you may be at a disadvantage, you know, in the sense that you might have been born in the wrong postcode, or you may not have, you know, the educational levels of your more sort of your of the populations who have higher education levels have tend to live longer, because they have access to to better quality of work and lives. And, and even that point about work. I mean, what we’re really seeing this is coming out of the COVID experience to the quality of work has a huge bearing on the quality of your health. And if you have your health, you’re able to be productive for longer. And of course, that then has an impact on economic prosperity. So it’s also interconnected. So I think so from so the discussion back to the goal of the party parliamentary group for longevity, our goal was, as you pointed out in the introduction is how do we achieve five extra years of healthy life expectancy while minimizing health inequalities. So that goal was set in 2017, as a focus for one of the grants for the Grand Challenge Program, which I spoke to earlier. So I think that was a great focus, because it was kind of like our North Star. So I think that’s where some of your colleagues and my colleagues in the US have been looking to how we kind of went about getting government to focus on this because you do need that kind of goal setting, which is almost like your your mission statement, and how you can then align all the different stakeholders around that mission, which is really how we have been able to do so much because really, what we’ve been doing is bringing all the stakeholders some of whom might be threatened. In some ways. I mean, you know, business models are, you know, for example, you know, in the food industry and in the pharma industry, you know, they’re all being threatened by this focus on prevention, because, for example, just taking food so the whole food industry is under the spotlight from one of the initiatives that I’m involved in that came out of the all party parliamentary good work, which is the business for Health Initiative. And that’s very much about how do you how do you get business to kind of contribute more to To the nation’s health, we know there’s a huge role that business has an employee health, you know, employee health and well being programs, for example, but then they also have a massive role in terms of producing products and services that that deliver on our health, but also reduce harm. And then of course, there’s a wider sort of societal impact of businesses role in communities and wider society. So they’re, so the three, they’re the three course of elements where business has a huge role to play, and certainly in the UK, with the UK Government and coming out of COVID, they’re very interested, you know, in looking at this partly as a part of the solution, going back to the system change element, we know that our our national health care system, which is under a strain, and obviously our government, in our economic recovery is, is so focused on how do we get out of this, this this mess that we bought ourselves into in COVID? Because we suffered hugely as indeed the US has, because we were very unhealthy. I mean, we were very worse in Europe. So poor health, we have to tackle so how do you tackle the poor health element, so business is part of that solution, working with public sector working with government, so, so it, so that’s a big focus of some of the work that I’m working on at the moment, and also involving, you know, all the different businesses across different industries of the food system is one area farm, of course, housing, for example, you know, if you’re talking about the determinants of health, poor housing is has a huge role to play in poor health, air pollution, quality of air in the act of transport, you know, there are so there are all these different sectors that have a huge role to play in delivering on health of the population and public health. So so these are big areas that we’re looking at, which are going to drive some of that change that we need to be seen, to really deliver on this goal of healthy life expectancy while minimizing health inequalities. But you know, it’s tough, because we’re talking about systemic inequalities in society. And so you know, it’s a massive undertaking, but it needs to be done. So, so this is what we’re trying to do.
Robert Lufkin 17:04
It’s great that you’re, you’re tackling these on such a such a massive, broad level. And, I mean, in addition to the the, like, infrastructure changes, with housing, and all on that, what do you think are the most the most cost effective, or the most powerful changes in in lifestyle or food that you can implement across the society that will have the most impact on longevity?
Tina Woods 17:30
Well, so I’m just so we, the priority punch can be published a follow on report from the one that I mentioned, that we published last year. So this is a report called leveling of house, so we’re very, very focused on coming out of COVID, how we can address the the huge health inequalities and link it back into the recovery program. So you know, really sort of making the point that health and wealth are completely linked, you cannot separate them, you cannot have a prosperous nation without a healthier nation. So that’s our sort of thesis. And, and the areas that we’re looking at, which have come out of a lot of the evidence that we have in the UK, and probably quite similar in the US as well, because we’re, we’re similar in the sense of in terms of our lifestyle, sort of habits, etc. But we’re focused on five key priorities in the short to medium term in terms of delivering on what we call Italy, plus five, a healthy life expectancy while minimizing health inequalities goal. So those areas are healthy children, going back to the life course approach to healthy longevity, clean food,
tackling obesity, which is absolutely a massive issue. And we’re very, very focused on that clean air. So dealing with air pollution, etc. And then smoking, we know smoking, you know, we just need to wipe out smoking. But of course, we realize that smoking tends to be much higher in, in sort of lower socioeconomic groups. In fact, we would have the healthy life expectancy gap by reducing by getting rid of smoking. So that’s a massive policy objective. And already, there’s been a lot of work done. Of course, we’ve had a lot of disinvestment in tobacco, and all those sorts of things, and in the big in the big funds that are that have tended to invest in tobacco that’s starting to change now. So going back to one of the objectives for business for health, we want to get companies to disinvest in industries that are causing harm to health, and invest in those industries that are producing, you know, healthier outcomes for for the population. And again, trying to incentivize, you know, and this is through the business index work that we’re developing as part of bringing health into ESG mandates. But just going back to the priorities in terms of what society but also us individually, I think, I think us individually we of course, have a huge role to play, but it’s but we have to see ourselves in the context of a wider environments and I think that’s where the longevity science perhaps is not understanding that as much as they should because we all behave in contexts of our environments. Of course, there’s so much we can do in terms of living a healthier life, if you’re incentivized motivated, if you’ve got the resources, and if you’ve got a great life, you want to live longer, and you will do what it takes to probably increase your chances of having a healthier, longer life. And I think that’s sometimes missed from some of the sort of the hard edge science and discussion on on longevity, you know, who wants to live forever at work, indeed, for a long time if you’ve got basically a crap life? And I think that’s, that has to be said. So I think so I think you know, so there has to be a focus on the environment in which we live. And that’s where government and have the wider roles of all the different stakeholders have got to come into play and societal ways of structuring our systems and incentivizing assistance, because at the moment, we often were driven by this focus on GDP growth. Well, look at countries like New Zealand, which have said, Hang on a second, actually, we’re going to measure the success of our country on in terms of health and well being so how, you know, and and all the government budget setting is all focused on how do we maximize health and well being of our nation so that GDP is not the prime way of measuring success of a society. So I think this is the direction of travel that we’re going in with a lot of the discussions that are taking place at the moment is we’ve got to measure because we are seeing how come we’re so interconnected. us as individuals, of course, we can do that so much to lead a healthier life, and it has to start from day one, we have to eat better. So we have to, we have to cut out our addiction to ultra high processed food. Now, of course, the commercial determines of health are such that we are barraged by advertising barrage by marketing barrage by the you know, we are we are at we are at the mercy of very, very slick and very well financed lobbying activities of the big food companies. So it is not a surprise that we’re eating a lot of unhealthy food, which tends to also be cheap, which is why unfortunately, the lower socioeconomic groups are eating far, far too much junk food, then as then it’s good for them. So and indeed, you know, so that, obviously, is an area that needs massive attention. And this is something that the UK Government are really looking at, we just had a national food strategy published a couple of weeks ago, this is for health are going to be looking at the food and the food system shaping because that is an that has a huge massive implication in terms of healthy children, reducing the obesity epidemic that we’re seeing in children and adolescents, which is just shocking. And of course, is at the heart of all the chronic diseases that we’re seeing later in life. And if you are following the signs of aging, when you know that Alzheimers, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, they’re all interconnected. And you have to tackle it at the root of what is causing this multi morbidity, there’s sort of the metal obesity epidemic, is what some people in the states are referring to and in our colleagues in the US are referring to it is this clustering of chronic diseases that have everything to do with our which, which yes, of course, there’s a genetic component, but the lifestyle is, has a massive, massive impact on that. So we do have, and we need the knowledge and we need the education. And we need the we need the motivation to be able to reduce, you know, eat more healthfully reduce our alcohol consumption consumption. microbiome is obviously another big area, we know that our garden, the bacteria in our gut has a massive role to play in terms of how our bodies respond to food. So that of course, there’s a lot of research now spelling out and try and identify at an individual level, what the unique recipe will be for us as individuals, but either at a at a at a global, at a sort of population health level, we need that data coming through. And this is where the AI piece comes in, we need to have the data and access to the data which we’re starting to be able to get through all the the wearables and all the technologies that are surrounding us now. So we need to really understand what that data is telling us about how we respond uniquely at an individual level, going back to our genetic, genetic, sort of inheritance from our parents, how we live our lives, how it how that expresses itself, epigenetically, how we can influence our biological age, going back to that concept in our innate measure of our health status. So these are all really important. Of course, Fitness is important. And these, you know, so if you if you get it right, and I you know, one thing I can talk about actually the one lesson from my book, which I wrote and was published almost a year ago now, I interviewed about 30 sort of experts in the field of longevity, and that’s, you know, scientists and entrepreneurs, innovators a real kind of cutting edge of people at this in this field. I asked them, you know, what do you do to keep healthier for longer? And it really was interesting, because despite all the focus on all the sort of technological solutions, and of course, you know, the sort of, you know, drugs and interventions that can attack the root of aging and new buyers life, of course, is you know, hitting the FDA saying, you know, we just, you know, need to be seen aging as a disease and focus our research around that and try And, you know, cheap drugs like Metformin, which has shown an anti aging effect, these are all, you know, cutting edge stuff. But,
you know, I just lost my train of thought there. But we need to sort of look at all these sorts of things to really understand the simple, that’s where we’re going with this, the simple solutions, if you look at the blue zone countries, what they will tell you that the cut the areas around, or the blue, the blue zone, the areas around the world. So I’ve got a plane overhead, the areas around the zones around the world where people tend to live a long, healthy life, they tend to live in areas where physical activity is part of the day to day, so they will walk to the shops, they will walk everywhere, you know, as part of their day to day, they will, they will eat a healthy diet. So the Mediterranean diet is quite healthy in terms of, you know, not sent an olive oil and you know, not processed food, etc, a little bit of red wine, you know, which is, which is pretty good. And then of course, that sense of purpose and sense of belonging and a sense of family is very, very strong social connections, these are all very much at the heart of why people tend to live longer. And actually, when I was asking all these experts in my book, how they what they do, it pretty much mirror that it’s what your grandmother tells you each have beans, see your friends get sleep, fresh air, it’s all these all these very, very simple ways of keeping you going. So if you speak to some of our longevity scientists, they will say yes, those mechanisms and of course, we have a certain amount of control over that. And if you’re lucky, if you’ve got good income, you can live in a nice house and lots of green spaces and fresh air, you know, that will get you to like 80. Plus, if you want to live to 120 plus, because I think it was the French lady, I always forget her name, who lived 254 That’s the maximum lifespan that seems to be the maximum limit at the moment anyway, until we hit the longevity escape velocity and started going and many people are talking about in 250, Alec, Alexander on cough who’s a dear friend of mine doing amazing work in AI longevity, the 150 doesn’t seem to be too out of reach now, because of all the science that’s taking place. But I mean, but we need to really, to be able to get past 120 in getting past what we caught, you know, the blue zone territory, we do have to tackle at the root of aging, and this is going right at the heart of the mechanisms that are genetic, you know, at a at a cellular level, what is really at the root of the decay that our bodies go through. So so that’s the interesting, that’s the the point that we are reaching now is what will it take? What will science deliver what we can make exactly accessible to wider populations. And, you know, and, and but I still, there’s still an element of mes, you know, that says, you know, there’s so much that we need to do this wider piece, the wider social peace, the wider social determinants of health peace, that is so important to tackle, you know, getting to the 150 there’s so much work that we need to do first, to really deliver on these very, very basic considerations to deliver a healthier, happier life roll for all of us as much as we can. Yeah,
Robert Lufkin 28:19
I want to get to your book. Next. But before I did, I have one one more thought one more challenge we have in the US, we certainly don’t have the buy in that you you have created in in your country for longevity and all. And I and I wonder our attempts at national recommendations for health have been mixed. You know, we come up with a food pyramid that, you know many people disagree with. But that’s the the recommendations at some of our leading institutions. So how do you how do you reach consensus? In other words, everybody agrees they want to lose weight, but some people that obesity is bad. But some people say well just exercise more, eat less other people say certain diets or certain things. How do you? How do you get everybody on the same page with recommendations?
Tina Woods 29:12
Well, so So that’s the tough bit because it’s not the science of the technology. We’ve got all that we’ve got it we’ve got more and more evidence that is shedding light on really what is the heart of our ill health and how we can do more to live healthier. I think that the tricky bit is dealing with best interest. It’s dealing with organizational silos and and cultural mindsets. I mean, those are the biggest, biggest barriers to change. And so I think, you know, I made reference to the culture piece. So in the UK, for example, I mean, one of the biggest mindset problems that we’ve got is that we think our public health system will cure everything they will, you know, we don’t need to worry about our health because we’ve got this wonderful, you know, public public, publicly funded, you know, health care system. Well, that’s just not It is plainly not the case, it is completely unsustainable, and we need to change that. But then we have to change our addiction and our obsession with thinking that this is the solution to all of our ills, we have to take more responsibility and see. And also it’s incumbent on all the different stakeholders to really look at the problem differently. And I’m afraid it doesn’t mean we have to tackle vested interests. So it means tackling the food industry, it means tackling all the vested in the States, you know, it’s it’s, it’s, you know, the, you know, the, the fact is, is that, you know, the whole medical system, the way that it’s incentivized is just perverse because it’s incentivizing the wrong thing. It’s about, you know, paying for services. And, you know, to certain extent, we have that problem with our hospitals, you know, in the UK, I mean, you know, they rely on sick people coming to their doors, and that’s how they, you know, get more money from the government to fund their hospitals. So, you know, the whole model, it just, it’s, we have to just think differently, I mean, what do we want as a society? Do we want to do better at treating ill people and not worry, you know, and have this increasing demand of ill people coming through the doors? Or do we need to tackle it at its roots, and just try and keep healthy and well, but then that means getting, getting different stakeholders into one room breaking down all the different barriers, the cultural piece, that vested interests, you know, all the barriers to change? You know, and also legacy systems? I mean, that’s another big issue. You know, we’ve got legacy systems in the UK healthcare system in terms of data, you know, it’s really hard to share data, I mean, half of our data isn’t even digitized, yet, you know, we’ve got all these massive issues to deal with. And there are some parallels also in the US context, we’ve got to, you know, be honest and say, Listen, there’s a lot of reasons why we’re propping up the status quo, how do we change the status quo, we have to ask very, very different questions. And we have to be really bold, and visionary. And I’m afraid it comes down to the leadership from the from, you know, from our government, and our business leaders. But in the end, I hope that some of it will come through just consumer pressure. And I think, you know, we’ve got our younger generations, we need to educate people, we need to, you know, educate people better in schools about why they should be cooking their own food, rather than, you know, eating, you know, fried chicken all the time. You know, it’s, it’s, it will come from different places, but I’m afraid a lot of it is about following the money. And, you know, if we look at what has made big changes in the climate change space, and really what we’re trying to do in the UK, the same health is as important actually, we’ve come coming out of COVID as climate change, and actually, they’re completely interconnected anyway, living greener, living longer. It’s all completely interconnected. We’ve got to reduce our reliance on meat, eat more plant based protein, we’ve got to have cleaner air, you know, green spaces, you know, it’s all we need. It’s all interconnected anyway. But what we need to do is say, Listen, we’ve got to grow up and just wake wake up to the coffee here, and bring people in the room. And it takes leadership, it takes us as consumers and citizens to say, this is no longer good enough. And this is unacceptable, that we’re seeing actually a growing problem in health inequalities, it’s not shrinking, it’s growing, coming out of COVID. So we’ve got some there’s some serious stuff to be done.
Robert Lufkin 33:19
Yeah. Well, switching gears here, I love your book live longer with AI, I really enjoyed reading it. It’s it the subtitle is how artificial intelligence is helping us extend our health span, and live better to and it’s not only just about AI, but like you say, you interview these these thought leaders in longevity and and some really have some beautiful, interesting conversations about them about their lifestyle choices that they that they’ve taken. So how is AI going to it’s going to impact longevity and and our science and understanding of that.
Tina Woods 33:57
Sure. So we already know AI is is really starting to make inroads in healthcare and people like Eric Topol, who of course, is a guru in the States. And publish has has published many books about how AI is going to really change the face of medicine. In fact, Eric Topol helped are helped us in the UK with workforce issues, you know, how to how to really understand the implications for you know, doctors and nurses, etc. In terms of AI coming into healthcare, there’s an enormous amount in terms of solutions for health that we’re already seen. imaging technology is one example. And of course, they speak to that, you know, imaging for example, you know, in terms of AI being better than now being better than radiologists, in fact, in terms in terms of spotting patterns in scans, etc, and back end support, making our systems more efficient and triage, all these sorts of things. And of course, we’ve seen through COVID, you know, the enormous strides that we’ve made in terms of virtual consultations and things like that, which of course are increasingly using, you know, chatbots and things like that. So, already AI is is, is moving into the healthcare space. What I write a lot about in my book, going back to all the discussion, which really has fascinated fascinated me is how can we use all these technologies to shed insight into what can keep us healthy and well for longer? So what are the insights that we can get through data and harnessing AI across datasets, and of course, you know, the big tech, you know, Google, Amazon, Apple, they already get, they’re already collecting so much data in our lives, that are really shedding light into this whole arena, about our health. And of course, they’re already investing really, really heavily in this. What I am saying is, let’s use all the science that is that is coming out now and the longevity scientists and the technologists, to understand what is it that is keeping us healthy, and well. So this goes back to some of the really sharp end of research and people like Alexandria, Ron cough is doing a lot of work in AI driven drug discovery, for example. So you know, really understanding and being able to identify new targets for diseases, for example, at a lightning speed compared to the pharma sector, you know, research and development in the pharma sector takes takes years. So it’s profoundly disrupting the whole r&d sort of discovery process. But what what, but in silico, medicine, which is Alex Everon, cos business, and one of the leaders that I interviewed in my book, what he is also doing is really shedding light on the whole field of biological age and the use of aging biomarkers. And so we’ve got, and when I biomarkers, I mean, what is what are these sort of the markers, whether it’s through, you know, through our blood genomics, you know, digital fingerprints, for example, that are that can indicate, and be used to shed light on our biological age. And then from that, and there’s a lot of discussion around developing composite biomarkers, and, you know, how can we tell how young we are inside, and what are the interventions that can help us, help us with the best, you know, interventions, whether it be lifestyle, whether it’s pharmaceuticals, or food, whatever it might be, to help us lead a healthier, longer life. And then, of course, with that data and aggregated up and using, you know, all the technologies that are disposal and be able to connect datasets, you know, from individuals and across different different disciplines, how we can use that information to shed light at the population health level, and this can inform policy decisions, you know, all these sorts of things. But I think, for me, it’s about really getting getting very, very involved in that whole space of understanding at an individual level, what puts us at risk of diseases. So going back to the multi morbidities, that I talked about earlier, we know that if we were able to attack far earlier upstream, I mean, if we can understand, and we’re starting, in fact, to this in the press, and this week, you know, there’s some new emerging technologies that identify the warning signs of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, through scans, years and years before you know a person be able to, you know, see the symptoms themselves, we need to understand all that data and work out how we can spot those signs, how we can use the technologies to, to, to identify those and give us the tools to intervene, we tend to be encouraged and motivated to do those from from a lifestyle perspective. But also, we know how that will actually influence how we deliver health, what, what governments need to do in terms of policy decisions. So I think there’s a massive opportunity for the use of AI to really shed light. Now, I say this, but of course, with a caveat, because, you know, there’s a huge mountain to climb in terms of accessing that data. And of course, you know, there’s a whole issue that we’re dealing with in the UK Government and people, you know, they don’t want to share their data, you know, unless they’re very, very clear about how their data is going to be used. And there’s all sorts of data sort of discussions that were happening in terms of access to citizen data, private data, of course, we have GDPR, you know, from a European perspective, in terms of data protection, you know, there’s all that which are all around protecting our sort of privacy and our rights to citizens. But how can we create data models that, that give us the trust and the assurance from an individual perspective, that we can share our data for ethical use for research, because the course is a huge bonanza for all of us, if we do share data that collectively, from a population health level, we will start to develop the insights that we need to help us deliver better health, you know, for us, you know, citizens, but also in terms of health care services, etc, etc. And then you link it back into for example, you know, we’ve got UK Biobank and genomics England doing amazing work in terms of they’ve already shown what they’ve been doing in terms of identifying the sort of new variants for COVID based on genomic sort of analysis, you know, there’s so much more that we could be doing to to, to spur on research in the space. So I think that’s where the real, real excitement is you In terms of using AI to help us in the preventative health space, and, and opening up that whole kind of and creating an environment where it becomes easier for us to share our data, we have the incentives and the trust to be able to set incentives to share our data, connect data sets, you know, and then spur on a vast the acceleration that we could be seen in the SME sector, the startup community, working with, you know, public sector and all sorts of things that we’re trying to do in the, in the collaboration front. In the UK, certainly,
Robert Lufkin 40:31
yeah, it just for our audience. To be clear by by AI, I think we’re meaning specifically machine learning, specifically deep learning within that, and sort of the convolutional neural networks, the generative adversarial networks that the current renaissance of AI following 2012, and the breakthroughs that that really experienced, and that that AI, as you say, is really data driven. And it’s key to getting access and data. And I mean, I can’t help it in the US, we have, of course, HIPAA, which is protect patient information. And I can’t help but think that, you know, the good that HIPAA does has done in protecting patient information is by far outweighed by the the damage or the lost opportunity it has created by making that data not available for analysis to these powerful AI programs that we can learn so much for so hopefully, you know, like you say the data is going to be a key piece in this. Great, so yeah, we can learn more in the book. It’s a great read, I highly recommend it. Well, now in our last last few minutes. Tina, I’d love to hear with all your knowledge about this. I’d be curious, what what personal choices do you make in your lifestyle that you’ve that you found to be effective? Or that you’re optimistic about as far as health and longevity?
Tina Woods 42:09
Sure. So that’s such a good question. So I have made some changes, definitely, I think so the things that, you know, as I’ve grown more aware, I mean, and I say this with a with a with, I guess a caveat in the sense that I also know that so much to the sharp end of things are still being done in animal models, and they’ve yet to, you know, you know, so So and I, you know, the evidence base isn’t there yet. And I know that there’s so much money being there, billions and trillions of dollars being spent on supplements, which caps, they have no evidence behind them whatsoever in terms of doing anything for your health. So you know, so I’m quite, I guess, quite not cynical, but you know, I sort of approaches with I guess, some some, some nuts, skepticism, but I like to have, you know, the evidence base behind you know, my choices. And I think that’s the real, the real holy grail in all of this is finding the evidence to show what actually what works, and this is where AI will have a huge role to play. But I would say the simple things that I try and do, every longevity scientists I know, are all all follow the intimate and fasting diet to a certain extent, I mean, it’s individual, depending on how you want to interpret it for yourself. So that so that is one thing that I do. So what that does, is I mean, you know, puts your body into a so called kind of quasi survival mode. So I think there are certain elements that should there. So there’s certain evidence to show that if you put so So, so high into the, into the high interval, sort of training, you know, intermittent fasting,
Unknown Speaker 43:42
these fasting, or you want to do a day, or you know, four days,
Tina Woods 43:46
four days a week, so four days a week, I will not, I will, I will eat in the evening, but then I won’t eat till the following evening. So it’s quite a long, so I’ll fast you know, pretty much for the whole day, but that’s four days a week, and then years a week, I’ve kind of gotten to be a little bit more sort of, you know, normal as it were, or not normal, but you know, I mean, sort of two to three meals a day. But I will do that sort of four days a week. And what that also does is it keeps my my weight in check, you know, because I’m, you know, my Well, I’m actually 57 now, so I can’t even say mid 50s anymore, but you know, and obviously, you know, postmenopausal, you know, you kind of are more likely to gain weight, all those sort of things. So it keeps the weight in check as well, obviously, through COVID I realize I would have to and fitness is obviously a massive element that I that I do focus on COVID made it difficult because of course, you know, we weren’t moving around as much we’re in lockdown. And so in the UK, we had three periods of lockdown. And I tend to do a lot of remote working anyway. But I realize actually I’m sitting down like I’m at my desk like 12 hours a day. I mean, I’ve been working very, very hard and sometimes I hate to say it, you know, seven days a week, you know, working very, very long hours. So I made I made absolutely a non negotiable that I go out for an hour and I run a history and so that was a new routine. Because at my gym had closed and so I run I didn’t really like running. But now I’ve actually quite like running because I’ve gotten used to it, I do rowing. And then I do yoga. So again, a new routine, but again, really important. So I do that everyday, religiously, non negotiable. And of course, the food I eat, I do not eat any high processed food, I just don’t I mean, I eat lots of fresh fruit vegetable seeds, you know, and that I think is so important. So I do that, I do try and get my sleep, sometimes I don’t get enough sleep. And that’s just through being too busy. And I worry too much. So that’s an area definitely I have to tackle, I probably drink too much wine because I also like my wine. But you know, I try and keep that in check as well. And I try and have, you know, four to five completely alcohol free days if I if I can manage it. But you know, I like to enjoy life. But also that’s really important. You have to enjoy life and you have to make time, which I do try and do more of spending time with your friends been, you know, spending time with your your dear family which and I’m very lucky, I’ve got a wonderful family and wonderful husband. And really sort of really cherishing that because I think all the evidence shows that if you’ve got this sort of social richness of family kind of, you know, those connections with your family and friends, you know, all that is so important. I do take a few supplements, I’ve been a guinea pig, which I write about in my book a little bit, you know, these DNA sort of lifestyle fitness companies and epigenetic profiling, all that sort of stuff. And I’ve had various sort of assessments, and I’ve taken some of them, you know, you know, I do take Omega three, I do take vitamin B 12, I’ve kind of I take vitamin D, actually. And I kind of, I kind of I flirt with different sort of supplements just because I’ve read something like mmm, and then never can pronounce them even wrote down my book, Resveratrol because for some reason I can never pronounce that word. I know if you drink humungous, very dangerous quantities of red wine, you’d probably get enough, but I wouldn’t recommend that. So you know. So those are simple, simple things that I do, which are pretty much the recipe that I mentioned earlier that kind of came out of my, with all these interviews, in my book, it comes down to really simple things. And I still haven’t worked out whether I want to live to 120, I’m not so sure, I think I would really be so grateful if I could live to like 90 or 100 are in good health, and just do the things that I’m passionate about. And the thing I will close on. The most important thing is that sense of curiosity and purpose in your life, that keeps you wanting to learn and do things that you enjoy. I think once you lose that you’ve lost the will to the will to survive. And that is the one thing I think even despite all the research that I’ve done, write a little bit about in this book, because there’s so much you can learn from animal models. I’m afraid as human beings are a bit different than animals. I think still, there’s something in us that quest that understanding what life is all about that deep sense of purpose and meaning. I think once you lose that you lose the will to live. So I think all this talk about immortality, I think you have to go with this other bigger question of why is it what keeps us going? And that is, you know, finding your passion in life. And that that curiosity that wants you to keep on going and learn, you know, that to me is such an important part of it. And I’ve kind of you know, I’ve kind of you know what I’m doing now that’s that’s keeping me going definitely I just have to make sure I don’t work too hard.
Robert Lufkin 48:33
That’s so important. That sense of purpose. One more thing on supplements or on additives after talking with neuro bars ally about Metformin? Do you take Metformin?
Tina Woods 48:46
So that’s a really good question. I haven’t yet but maybe I should I just know that. I hate to say it, but I’m kind of, I don’t like taking things unless they really have to. So that that’s my own personal thing. I like to be as you know. So that’s so yeah, so I might get there. I probably will wait for a bit more research data to come out. But I will be swayed probably, you know, eventually. It’s just, you know, I’m very cautious, shall I say I, I’m in some areas I died in. But in other areas, I’m a bit more cautious. But yes, I think it as far as I think Metformin? Absolutely, that seems to be a no brainer. I also think by the way, HRT for women, I think that’s the whole area, which I think is such an interesting question. Because we know that Alzheimers, for example is you know, the, the it can be triggered by the menopause. And I think there’s a lot in the hormones debate. I think there’s a lot of research that needs to kind of unpick that. But I been and I think if you speak there’s still a lot of research that shows the risks of of HRT, and I think there’s there’s a lot more research is going to come through that shows the benefits from a long healthy longevity perspective. So that’s another area that I think is one to watch out for. Like,
Robert Lufkin 50:00
yeah, that is really huge. So I guess if the answer for Metformin is No, I will assume that rapamycin is also on No, at this point.
Tina Woods 50:10
I haven’t. I know that’s the one. Yes. And I’m very, I’m keeping a close eye on that. So I think I know, I know Nero is a dear friend of mine, and I will eventually be swayed in the form an argument, but you know, but we’ll see.
Robert Lufkin 50:25
Well, thank you. Thank you so much, Tina, for taking the time and speaking with us and hearing hearing about all the exciting things in the in the good work you’re doing and sharing your own choices about lifestyle. We really appreciate having to be on the show.
Tina Woods 50:40
Well, thank you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. And thank you so much for the opportunity to be on your show.
Unknown Speaker 50:47
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