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The Peter Attia Drive

Aug 9, 2021

Steve Austad is a distinguished professor of biology at the University of Alabama and director of one of the Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in aging biology. Steve's current research seeks to understand the underlying causes of aging, specifically with a long-term goal of developing medical interventions that slow the age-related decay of human health. In this episode, Steve tells Peter about his unusual childhood and stints as a cab driver and lion tamer. He goes on to describe what led to his focus on studying aging and some of the major challenges and limitations of working with laboratory animals. Steve and Peter talk about the relationship between caloric restriction and lifespan, including some of the most important studies exploring this question. Additionally, they hypothesize what might explain the sex-related differences in longevity between men and women, explain the importance of finding longevity biomarkers, and discuss the most promising molecules as potential longevity agents.

We discuss:

  • Steve’s background and unusual childhood [2:30];
  • Steve’s adventures driving a cab in New York City [9:00];
  • How Steve drove to LA and accidentally became a lion tamer [13:30];
  • How Steve’s early graduate school experiences led him to study longevity [23:00];
  • The challenges and limitations of working with lab mice [30:45];
  • The connection between caloric restriction and lifespan [43:00];
  • Mice vs. rats and rodent aging experiments [51:15];
  • The impact of dietary composition and the harm of sucrose: Comparing two caloric-restriction studies in monkeys [56:00];
  • Challenges of studying animals due to major differences in the lab animal vs. wild animals [1:10:00];
  • Human studies of calorie restriction [1:24:45];
  • Better dietary protocols for humans: Alternatives to long-term caloric restriction [1:33:45];
  • The protective effect of fasting [1:38:00];
  • Reflecting on the sex differences in human lifespan, and why women have more neurodegenerative diseases [1:45:45];
  • The importance of identifying longevity biomarkers and which ones show the potential to change the landscape of longevity research [2:03:30];
  • Molecules showing the most promise as longevity agents [2:14:00]; and
  • More.

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