"Successful Aging" by Daniel J. Levitin

Review by Borodutch

I'll start this review by citing that this book has a review published on PubMed! You don't see this often — even for the most reputable MD. Overall, this is hands down the best longevity book on the market right now. Not only does the author cite all the research it references, but he also touches on so many crucial things and advancements in living longer. He discusses various existing techniques (some of them useless fads) and the most prominent researchers with their papers (including the unpublished ones).

Even though the author talks about longevity in terms that are more applicable to people who already faced old age, a lot of advice has to be implemented when you're still young. Here are a few things that I noted down:

  • Aging doesn't cause mental decline but changes how the brain is wired to adapt to old age (i.e., it doesn't deteriorate but refocuses).
  • The main thing that gets worse is neuroplasticity — but it doesn't vanish; it becomes slower. There are techniques to improve neuroplasticity that must be integrated into everyday life.
  • Early childhood memories (i.e., if you get cuddled enough) affect how people age. Cuddle your kids!
  • Behavior shapes neural connections, rewiring the physical structure of the brain. What you do gets cemented into the brain.
  • To age gracefully, use COACH: curiosity, openness, associations, conscientiousness, and healthy practices.
  • Eat food, not too much, mostly plants (I'd say only plants). The rest of the diet advice is fads.
  • Physical movement is imperative to longevity. Exercise enough to reap the rewards in old age.
  • Sleep is crucial. Sleep well and enough.

If you're trying to get into longevity, read this book immediately. It nicely sums up the existing research and provides practical advice on what to do to live longer.