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Season 4 Episode 10:

The Secrets of Longevity: How Biomarkers Can Predict and Improve Your Health with Dr. Gil Blander

Episode Summary

Have you ever wished testing existed that could give you insight on how to live a longer, healthier life?  Dr. Gil Blander, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Inside Tracker, joins Michelle to discuss the impact of genetics and lifestyle on longevity, and how we can optimize our health through targeted testing and interventions.

  •  How a personal loss at age twelve sparked Dr. Blander’s interest in studying the aging process and longevity [3:13]
  •  The importance of studying and focusing on healthspan over lifespan in order to improve the quality of life in later years [5:15]
  •  Why we need personalized nutrition plans over one-size-fits-all diets for optimal health [7:52]
  •  The critical role of blood biomarkers in creating personalized health strategies [9:36]
  •  The difference between functional and conventional lab ranges for better health insights [16:20]
  •  The common fear of abnormal lab results and why it is so important to look at the whole picture [18:41]
  •  Using LDL as a biomarker for cardiovascular health and what might actually be a better marker [23:11]
  •  The significance of early detection and prevention to increase your healthspan [26:25]
  •  The importance of insulin and ferritin as underutilized but essential biomarkers [31:48]
  •  How genetics and lifestyle choices work together in determining longevity [42:04]
  •  Practical steps to start using InsideTracker for personalized health monitoring [45:22]
  •  The critical role of muscle strength and balance in maintaining longevity and preventing falls [51:58]


Connect with Dr. Gil Blander:

Instagram: @gilblander

Website: https://www.insidetracker.com/

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The Secrets of Longevity: How Biomarkers Can Predict and Improve Your Health with Dr. Gil Blander


Michelle Shapiro [00:00:00]:

 Welcome to the pod. I can't wait to explore the magic of functional nutrition and medicine. Together. We have an extra special episode for you today, all about longevity, biomarker testing and really, how do we take control of our health? Our guest and our podcast sponsor today both come from the company Inside Tracker. Doctor Gil Blander our fabulous guest today is the founder and chief scientific officer at Inside Tracker and I want to tell you a little bit more about him.


About Dr. Gil Blander, Founder & Chief Scientific Officer at Inside Tracker

Michelle Shapiro [00:01:38]:

Doctor Gil Blander is internationally recognized for his research in the basic biology of aging and for translating his discoveries into new ways of detecting and preventing age related conditions. He received a PhD in biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at MIT. At inside tracker, Doctor Blander leads a team of experts in biology, computer science and nutrition and exercise physiology. He founded the company in 2009, which I feel was way ahead of its time. A longtime top scientist from acclaimed universities in the fields of aging, genetics and biometrics, Doctor Gil Blander has such an expertise in this area of optimizing our health in really understanding how what our blood chemistry tells us relates to our lifestyle habits. You will not want to miss this episode and I can't wait to share it with you. I am excitedly here with Doctor Gil Blander, who is the chief scientific officer and founder of Insidetracker, which I know a lot of my listeners may already be using. And if not, I'm so excited to introduce you to Doctor Blander and talk today about his amazing life's work and his amazing company that he's built.


Michelle Shapiro [00:02:56]:

So I'm so happy to have you here today.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:02:58]:

Thank you, Michelle. It's my pleasure.


What got you interested in longevity in biomarkers in the wellness space?

Michelle Shapiro [00:03:01]:

Wonderful. So really, just to kick us off, can you let us know more about what really got you interested in longevity in biomarkers and in this aspect of the wellness space? What was it for you?


Dr. Gil Blander [00:03:13]:

Yeah. From a very young age I was fascinated by the aging process. I lost a relative of mine at the age of twelve. And instead of being sad about her, I was sad about myself. And I realized that I won't live forever. I wanted to find and understand why do we die? How can we delay the onset of aging related diseases? How can we improve the quality of life? And so on? That's why I decided to study biology and then pursue a PhD in biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. After that, I moved to MIT and worked at the best lab that studied aging in the world and spent five years there studying some of the genes that have been shown to increase lifespan in model organism. And during that time I started to be exposed to the biotech high tech environment of Kendall Square, which is the area around MIT.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:04:13]:

And they realized that maybe I can contribute more to humanity for start my own company than being a professor in academia. So I left MIT, worked in a couple of companies and came with the idea of insert tracker. And the idea is pretty simple. Let's help human live better, longer life based on what happened inside the body and then provide to them a simple and natural intervention including food supplement, exercise and lifestyle changes.


When it comes to longevity, what are you focused on?

Michelle Shapiro [00:04:42]:

That's incredible. What I love about your story too is that you had this idea as a child from an experience that you had and you turned it into this lifelong mission where you, I feel like, are going to be impacting and already have of course, impacted. Since 2009 you've had insight tracker so many people's lives, so we just need so many more, you know, doctor Gil blanders for that reason. So that's, that's really incredible. And tell me also when you specifically speak of longevity, is your focus years on earth is your focus health span, is it a combination of both? Tell me about that.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:05:15]:

I think that it's a combination of both, but I think that the big opportunity is the health span and not the lifespan. So I can give you an example. Today, average american lives around 79 years, but actually the last 16 years are not in a good health. So basically some of us, some of the american lie on the bed connected to tubes and that's not exciting. So our mission is to narrow the gap between the 79, let's say the. To the 63, and take these 16 years and allow us to climb a mountain, to ride our bike, to spend time with our grandchild and have fun.


Michelle Shapiro [00:05:54]:

And that's the vision, especially because that's usually the time that people spend, the only time in their lives not working. Right. That's the only time that they're spending actually being able to enjoy their lives. So it's this very backwards idea that we have of working when we can and then not enjoying our lives, the rest of it, for sure. Are you still as hopeful and excited about the research you're seeing as when you started?


Are you still as hopeful and excited about the research you're seeing as when you started?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:06:16]:

I'm always excited, actually, and more hopeful. I think that if you want, we can discuss it later. But there are a lot of new discoveries, both on health span and lifespan, and there is a lot of exciting work about all of that. There is even an x prize that announced a few months ago that they are going to dedicate $101 million for a company that will be able to extend the perceived life of a couple of organs in the body by ten or 20 years. So that's amazing that we shot about it, I don't know, ten years ago. It is amazing.


Michelle Shapiro [00:07:02]:

Yeah, it is. Especially, again, the space that you've been focused on for a long time. Like you said, it's really exploding. And there's a lot of people who are now realizing, oh, my gosh, if there's anything I can do, I want to do everything I possibly can. In historical research, when, you know, people have kind of preferences for longevity and health span, like some people are saying, oh, the China study leads us to believe certain things. Blue zones believe us to kind of lead our understanding of diet in a certain way. Is there something that you, right off the bat, feel more inclined to be supportive of diet wise? I know there's a lot of tenants of diet, but anything that you've, in your research, you found.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:07:40]:

Yeah. So definitely you are an expert in diet. I will tell you my opinion, my viewpoint, and I'm not claiming to be an expert in diet, but I spent.


Michelle Shapiro [00:07:50]:

I want to know your viewpoint, but.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:07:52]:

I spent the last 15 years or so learning a lot. So I think that it's very tough to come and provide the cookie cutter diet for everyone and say, oh, the paleo diet is good for everyone, or a low fat diet or low sugar diet and so on. I think that the right way is to personalize it for the user or for the person based on what happening inside our body. Our body is really unique and in a way, it's a very complex machine, so it's not like it's the same thing about the car. You cannot come and say, I pump the same gasoline to all the cars. Some cars are built for that gasoline, or take electric car and feed it with gas. It won't work. So it's the same for us.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:08:38]:

We need to feed the right diet for the right person. And in my opinion, the right way to do it is personalization. So that's why we are looking at a lot of blood biomarkers. And based on that, assigning to the user a few key recommendation what food you should eat more or less, what exercise you should do more or less, and so on and so forth.


Michelle Shapiro [00:08:59]:

Absolutely. So I'm biased because I was looking for a specific answer and you gave the specific answer, it was a leading question and you really passed it. So thank you. Yes, I really, of course, agree with you that I have clients who do well on a higher carb diet and clients who do well on a higher fat diet. It really is. Every single thing we eat creates such a cascade in the body and not one food in isolation causes or creates disease on its own. It's really the combination of the environment plus the food. So your focus really at inside tracker, which we're of course going to talk much about in this conversation, is on how we can leverage biomarkers to make those recommendations.


So how did you start to make the determination that blood biomarkers was a way that you were going to really push the field of longevity forward?

Michelle Shapiro [00:09:36]:

So how did you start to make the determination that blood biomarkers was a way that you were going to really push the field of longevity forward? How did it become so important to you?


Dr. Gil Blander [00:09:46]:

Yeah, it's a good question. And because of my fascination in longevity, I was trying to find how can we mimic something called caloric restriction that I'm sure that you know, I'm not sure that your audience knows, but caloric restriction is the regime that was found in model organism to extend significantly the lifespan. So for example, in mice, if you cut the amount of calories by 40%, the mice can live 40% longer. And I was trying to find how can we use a caloric restriction mimetic, meaning let's fool our body and let him believe that we are under caloric restriction. Take a pill like a silver bullet, and then we live longer, better, without the suffering of caloric restriction, because that's very hard. It's like, it's very tough to do it. You are very cold. You also lose the sex drive, your hormones start tanking.


Michelle Shapiro [00:10:45]:

Your drive to want to live that long might go down as well during that time.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:10:49]:

Yeah, you might want to die, just not to.


Michelle Shapiro [00:10:51]:



Dr. Gil Blander [00:10:54]:

So I was trying to understand what is the mechanism of caloric restriction, what happening under the hood. And I was fortunate enough to use a very good technology in the company that I worked at at that time. It's called system biology. Today it's computational biology or maybe AI in the mail. And all the keywords, that buzzword that we are hearing today.


Michelle Shapiro [00:11:18]:

Yeah, of course.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:11:19]:

And I crunch a lot of data into that and basically realize that there are a lot of processes that happen under caloric restriction. I was under the sample. Maybe it's one process, but in biology, as always, everything is much more complex than we envision. So there were like 15 different processes that change in caloric restriction when you compare it to non caloric restriction restricted mice. But also I use a control. And at that time, resveratrol was considered to be the best caloric restriction mimetic. So I tried to see how, how similar it resveratrol. And only 10% were similar.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:11:57]:

The rest were different. So then I said, even the best caloric restriction memetic is covering 10% of caloric restriction. If you're thinking about more and more drugs, we might need 20 or 50 drugs to do that. And I said, why should we do that? Why can't we use food as a drug of choice and basically feed the right food for the right person and allow him or her to live better, longer? So then I said, okay, but how would we know what Michel should eat versus what gill should eat? We cannot look at you and say, michelle, you should eat more carb and less protein. So as a scientist, I said, okay, blood biomarkers is what we should go. Because if you think about it, it's a liquid gold. It's something that our clinician using in order to decide how to treat you. So I said, let's use it also for other things instead of only for treatment.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:12:53]:

Let's use it for prevention. And let's understand what are the issues that you have with your blood biomarkers. And based on that, let's try to find a food as a drug of choice. We have 6000, 8000 depend who you ask of food items. And if you look at the average American in average week, we only consume around 45 food items. So you have a universe like that, and we are maybe using that. And even that, I'm not sure that it's good for you. You eat it because it could be a hundred percent.


Michelle Shapiro [00:13:25]:

Yeah, exactly.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:13:27]:

So that was the aha moment. I think for instant tracker, let's find biomarkers based on that feed the best food for you and hopefully allow you to live better, longer.


How did you piece together that finding biomarkers based on the best food for the individual can hopefully allow them to live better and longer?

Michelle Shapiro [00:13:36]:

Yeah, that's really incredible. And I do like the concrete nature of labs, even though they are always a snapshot and they do move. I like the truth in labs and I've always found that very comforting when I'm working with clients too, to see that. How did you start to kind of piece together these labs might be indicative of this? How did that picture come together for you? Was that in actually doing research with people or just reading research and evaluating?


Dr. Gil Blander [00:14:02]:

Yeah, it's a good question. And it's actually a process that took us a few years. And it's not only me. We have a, at that time we had a small team. Now we have a much bigger team that helped doing it. But what we have done, I went to quest diagnostic website and have seen that they have like 10 00, 40, 00, 50 00 blood biomarkers. And I realized you cannot test all of them because you might not have enough blood in your veins, but also the cost will be. So we came with a few criteria to pinpoint what blood biomarker want to test.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:14:36]:

So first is biomarker of first not a disease. So I'm not looking at biomarker for cancer, but glucose is an interesting marker, inflammation is an interesting marker, some hormones, some vitamin minerals. So we started with that. The second rule was that those biomarkers should, at least 1% of the population should have those biomarkers out of the normal range. And the reason for that is I don't want to waste your money. And if something is less than 1%, it is important, but it's less important than something that is above 1%. And then, and I think that the most important rule was let's use a blood biomarker that you can modulate by food, supplement, exercise and life blood changes. So I don't want to use drug, I want you to use a natural intervention that will allow you to optimize it.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:15:26]:

And that was the criteria to select the blood biomarkers that we are using.


Michelle Shapiro [00:15:32]:

I think for many people there's a couple barriers to getting blood work done, which is what I really do appreciate about inside tracker is one of the biggest barriers is that medical doctors will not run labs that they are not qualified or understanding of how to interpret. So many doctors don't run vitamin and mineral labs because they don't feel that they can interpret them. And actually, in certain states, doctors are not allowed to run labs that they cannot themselves interpret. So it's just a place for clients and individuals to become their own health advocate. So I think that's just so important and something that I think is really missing for people. The other thing is that, which I know we're going to talk about, is that there's a difference between looking at labs kind of from this conventional range versus this functional range. Can you walk us through that a little bit as well?


What is the difference between looking at labs from this conventional range versus this functional range?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:16:20]:

Yeah, absolutely. So if you think about the lab range and what is normal and out of normal, it's pretty a simple and very cold way to do that. The lab is looking at 10,000 or so a patient that came in the lab, and then they're looking at a two standard deviation and saying, okay, above and below the mean. And that is saying that's too high and that's too low. So it's basically a statistical analysis. Now, more than that, in a lot of them, they are also including sick people. So basically, the normal range might be. And if you think about it, most people that come to the lab are sick people.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:16:59]:

So the normal range might be calculated based on sick people. So when we've seen it, we said, that's wrong. Let's find something better. So we developed something that we call optimal zone. And optimal zone is a zone that we believe not, we believe, the science literature believe, and a big database allow us to come to that. If you will be there, you have a better chance to be better today, tomorrow, in a short year. So basically live better longer. And we calculated those based on a peer review, scientific papers that show what is the best zone for someone for glucose, or what is the best zone for someone for a testosterone.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:17:46]:

And that's based on your age, gender, ethnicity, athletic activity and so on. So basically, on top of the normal zone that are pretty wide, we develop an optimal zone that are narrower. And if you will be there, you have a better chance to see the doctor later. That's the idea, absolutely.


Michelle Shapiro [00:18:04]:

And most people, again, don't want to be average of the sick people. They want to be optimal of the optimal people, for sure. I mean, we described that about close to 60% of this population, like the american population at least, is suffering from some sort of chronic illness. And again, if we're looking at the average of that, it's really the average of the unwell, unfortunately. So I do have a lot of clients who, when they also get their lab tests back, they feel extremely overwhelmed and really nervous when something appears abnormal. Can we talk about how important it is to see labs in context of other labs and in context of symptoms as well.


How important is it to see labs in context of other labs and in context of symptoms as well?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:18:41]:

Yeah. So you're talking about the freak out problem.


Michelle Shapiro [00:18:47]:



Dr. Gil Blander [00:18:47]:

So people are, and we some people, and I think that it's a matter of personality. If you see something bad, you immediately lost all of your conscience and trying to deny it. And basically, why have I done it? I have so many problems in my life now, I need to deal with that. But actually it's good to know, and especially if you are out of the optimal zone and not in the normal zone, you have a way to fight it. So it's not like, okay, my, let's say LDl cholesterol is high. That's it, I'm doomed. I'm going to die from cardiovascular disease in five years. Yeah.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:19:27]:

If you won't do a lot about it, you might. But if you do take some steps, you have a very good chance, I would say more than 90% chance, not to have the cardiovascular disease. Change your nutrition, change your exercise, change your lifestyle, maybe stop smoking if you're a smoker and lose some weight, if you are overweight and you should be okay. So I think that what is nice about it, that there is a lot for us to do. Unfortunately, our clinicians are too busy to tell us what to do. So if you come to your clinician and your LDLZ, the easiest way for them to say, okay, take statin. Now, I'm not against statin at all. You can take statin, but try before that to lose weight, to exercise, to eat more fiber and a lot of other things.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:20:19]:

And if it won't work, then go and take statin. That's absolutely okay. So I think that we are providing, if you think about it, in the prism of home, being very healthy to very sick, we are providing, we are trying to push our user to the left as much as possible, to be as healthy as possible, as long as possible. And I'm not against any drug. If you need to take drug, take drug. It's important. Absolutely. But there is a lot to do with nutrition and lifestyle and exercise, and.


Michelle Shapiro [00:20:51]:

People should know that 100%. Yeah. There's also, I think the vision we have of functional medicine is that it's anti allopathic medicine, and that's absolutely untrue. Functional medicine means we leverage every tool we possibly have. So in some cases that could mean a drug intervention, in some cases a food intervention, and really it's the cumulative nature of those interventions. That is what I think is at the heart of functional nutrition, is changing that environment of the body. Absolutely. And I love how you speak about that too.


What research have you done on heart disease and LDL cholesterol as an independent marker for longevity?

Michelle Shapiro [00:23:11]:

You know, there's actually a lot of debate about whether ldl cholesterol is a marker for heart disease at all in the functional medicine community. So can you speak a little bit more into. Yeah, I know I have to. I have the same grin. And even asking you the question, I want to hear what you've done research wise on heart disease and cholesterol and how ldl, even as an independent marker for longevity. Just curious what your take is on that.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:23:39]:

So, yeah, so there is a lot of data that show that those lipids, especially the LDL cholesterol, is a good marker for cardiovascular diseases. There are better markers. And for example, one of the most important, in my opinion, is ApoB.


Michelle Shapiro [00:23:57]:



Dr. Gil Blander [00:23:58]:

Yeah, and unfortunately, I can tell you I went to my clinician a few months ago and by the way, I'm using one medical, I don't know if you heard about that.


Michelle Shapiro [00:24:07]:



Dr. Gil Blander [00:24:08]:

So it's more like conservation, all of that. And I asked my clinician about APOB, I showed her all. She said, yeah, we are not testing it. It's too expensive and it's too, and it's not covered and so on.


Michelle Shapiro [00:24:19]:

It's kind of the gold standard right now, though, to understand how much of an issue the cholesterol you have is.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:24:25]:

So I think absolutely. But somehow, you know, the physician or clinician are very conservative and very slow to move. And also think about it, they have, I don't know, 2000, 5000 patients that they need to see. So basically they have a strip of 15 minutes that they can see and then they're going to the next patient and the next patient. They don't have time to read literature. They don't have the luxury, Michelle, that you adhere. I can sit an hour and read the paper.


Michelle Shapiro [00:24:53]:

We love it, by the way, is the joy of our lives to do so? Yes, absolutely.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:24:59]:

It's really sad. They don't have time to do that. So they don't have time to get an update. And they have the guideline of their association that, again, it's ten or 20 years behind something like APOB that in my opinion, every person in the world should be tested with that.


Michelle Shapiro [00:25:17]:

As much as your h and h or these other markers that are for many people not as usable, it should be used even more. Exactly. It tells you even more. 100%.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:25:26]:

So if I'm trying to summarize, there are a few very good blood biomarkers for your cardiovascular health. And I think that there are a lot of modifications that you can do that are lifestyle, that you can change it and try to catch it early, because again, if you think about the, let's go back to the western medicine for a second. The cutoff for LDL is 130. So even if you come to your clinician, your LDL will be 129. You say, what are you talking about? You're okay, go home. But they are not even looking at the trend. So let's assume that you test patterns most important. And that's something.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:26:08]:

Exactly. Very important. Let's assume that the age of 25, your LDl was 85, and then at age of 30, it was 100. At age of 35 is 120. There is a trend. You're trending up. You should do something. They won't do anything.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:26:25]:

They say, oh, you're okay. When you cut the threshold of 130, come and talk with. And that's really wrong. Why? Because the outward sclerosis accumulates with time, and the plaque is going and going and going. So if you are treating it early, you have a better chance not to have the cardiovascular disease. It's very hard to save you when you already have that. So that's why I'm saying the prevention and the aging process is not starting at the age of 65, when you're retiring, the aging process starts at the age of 18, when you stop developing and you're starting to decline. Unfortunately, I told it to my wife one time.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:27:07]:

She looked at the mirror and said, oh, I have some issue in my skin. I said, take a picture. That's the best that you will look in your.


Michelle Shapiro [00:27:14]:

Oh, my God. You're in huge trouble for that one. I'm sure.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:27:18]:

I went to the dog house. Yeah.


Michelle Shapiro [00:27:21]:

You're done after that. Exactly.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:27:22]:

Yeah, but that's the truth. You can delay it, you can stop it, but it's very hard for us to go back. There are some people that claiming that we can go back, maybe, but with the technology of today, every day that you wake up in the morning, most likely it's the best day of your life for the future.


Michelle Shapiro [00:27:41]:

Oh, I hate that idea, but I agree. But I hate it, too. Exactly. I don't think we've all had the easiest ride in the past, so if it's going to get harder, I'm not loving what you're saying, but I do agree with what you said.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:27:52]:

But it can be better. For example, I can give you an example of myself. We don't only do blood biomarker testing. We also do DNA testing, and we develop something that we'll release in a couple of weeks. Scores about health span related longevity scores. And one of them is grip strength. So the strengths of your grip is a good indication of longevity. I did the test, and I was in the bottom 2%, meaning my grip strength genetically is low.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:28:26]:

And I did it a year and a half ago. Now I'm lifting weight like five times a week, and I'm feeling the best that I've been. I'm stronger than I've been in all my life. Okay. But what is nice about it, it's, again, it's personalized. I need to do that. Someone else might have another test that we are doing that we're looking is the chance for you to have a late life dementia. Okay.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:28:49]:

And if you have a high risk, you can start playing sudoku and some. I don't need to do that, luckily. Sounds like I don't have a genetic predisposition for that. Another person might have a visceral fat issue, another person will have bone mineral density issue. So it's good for you to know the issues early, relatively work on them, and hopefully you will be able to increase your health span as much as you can.


Michelle Shapiro [00:29:16]:

I think also when it comes to this model of conventional medicine, what we've kind of done is, and like you're saying, I do feel really bad for conventional medicine doctors, by the way, because I'm very aware that they came into this career to help people. And like you said, they don't have time and in many cases, they don't have tools to help people with chronic conditions. You know, the model of modern medicine is really to help with acute conditions. That's really what it's for. There's no, there's no tools for them to help people with it other than medication intervention. So I do, I feel bad because I think they got a bad rap, but they literally have worked so hard to help other people, but just don't have those tools. So we need tools like this, and we need companies like yours who are willing to take more risks and not wait 20 years for the research and do the research yourselves to do that. So I think it's just really, really important too.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:30:05]:

Yeah. Just to add to that mission, if it's possible, if you think about a normal clinician, they spend maybe 20 hours in all of their training on nutrition. Think about it. I read one book on nutrition. I know more than a clinician. Exactly.


Michelle Shapiro [00:30:24]:

And you've read a lot more than that, but. Yes, exactly.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:30:26]:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's why dietitian like yourself are so important and people are. And I think that actually, when I started to work with dietitian, the reputation was, oh, it's not important and all of that. And I think that it's not only longevity, it's also a diet. And dietitian, I think that it's a. People understand that you have so much expertise. In my opinion, the nutrition domain is the most complex because, as I said at the beginning, you have like 8000 or maybe 80,000 building block. And then how are you building the building based on the building block? It's like a very tough task.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:31:08]:

And I think that people or experts like you with expertise in nutrition can help other people to. To find the right diet for them. And it's super important. The diet is very important and we are not spending enough time in that.


Michelle Shapiro [00:31:25]:

There's a lot of dietitians in hospitals right now who are listening to you and just smiling because they're so dismissed in the clinical setting and really need to hear you saying that. So thank you very much for that. I will say, in a. Not as excited, you know, I'm very excited about the world of functional dietetics. Tell me for yourself, what are some others that you think are grossly underused? That you have an inside tracker that are really important?


What other biomarkers do you believe are grossly underused, but are really important?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:31:48]:

Yeah. Another good example is insulin. In a way, it's similar to Apob, because if you think about it, you look at the lipid. So usually you test for hdl, ldl, total cholesterol, and triglyceride. Right? And then you have a jam that hidden. That is Apob here in, let's say, the sugar metabolism, as I call it. You have fasting glucose, or glucose, and then you have a one c. But actually, insulin is a very important early detection marker just for the audience that is not aware a lot about insulin.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:32:28]:

Insulin is an hormone that is secreted from the pancreas when we eat or when glucose is released from the liver to the end organs. And its job is to signal to the end organs to absorb the glucose into the cells. What happens is, if your glucose is very high all the time in the blood, your pancreas need to secrete more and more insulin, and the beta cells which secrete the insulin started to overwork. It's like you have a machine that works all the time, or your heating is working, or your air conditioner is working all the time. A few years later, they will stop. Their condition will stop walking. The same is here. And high insulin in the blood is early signs for much earlier than when you see the a one c going up or when you see the fasting glucose going up.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:33:32]:

So I think that that's another gem that we have that I don't know a lot of clinicians that they're testing.


Michelle Shapiro [00:33:39]:

Fast, they are not. And so I've had two experiences with Manhattan doctors who actually tested insulin not fasted, and the numbers was, like, 50. And they told the clients, you are diabetic because. And I said they weren't fasted. Both of these clients had eaten carbs directly before. You need to release insulin after you eat food. So this is a consideration for this lab and anyone who's getting inside tracker labs, they're fasted for the test anyway. But if your doctor's running in insulin and doctors are not comfortable in understanding the test, make sure it's fasted, because it's pretty much useless, in my opinion, if it's not fasted.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:34:13]:

Yeah, yeah. It's outrageous that they're testing and told.


Michelle Shapiro [00:34:16]:

Them they were both two different patients in the same practice. They said, I'm diagnosing you as diabetic. Their a one c was like a 4.9. And I'm like, that's not a criteria for diabetes. Like, you know, it's a. It's really letting you know. Like you said, what's that signaling system in your body around sugar?


Dr. Gil Blander [00:34:32]:

Yeah. So that's another example, another, I think, cool example, that it's more about the iron metabolism, and it's a Mario called ferritin.


Michelle Shapiro [00:34:45]:

Oh, let's talk about ferritin. Good conversation.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:34:48]:

It's very important, first, for athletic, active people, but mainly for, I would say for a female, because of the female used to lose their blood once a month. And a lot of them we've seen, we have maybe 20% of our pre menopausal women that their ferritin is low and they're at risk of being anemic and they don't know about it. And then the body says, oh, why, when I'm running, getting tired after half a mile or why I'm tired all the time and why I'm not performing at the board? And all of that is simple. You just need to know. So, ferritin is a marker. Basically, it's a part of the process of loading the iron on the hemoglobin and allowing you to carry oxygen from your lung to the target organ, especially, I would say, to the muscle. But that's another thing that somehow our healthcare system decided not to test. Maybe it's too expensive, maybe it's too complex, I don't know.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:35:57]:

And it's something that is very important for every person, especially reminiscent of women. It's a big problem for this subpopulation.


Michelle Shapiro [00:36:08]:

And I'm going to throw a curveball about ferritin at you, too. I use ferritin to kind of assess two things, one of them on the low end, being iron deficiency anemia on the high end. Are you looking at iron overload as being a potential risk factor for inflammation as well?


Are you looking at iron overload as being a potential risk factor for inflammation as well?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:36:22]:

Yeah, absolutely. So I don't want to go into the weeds, but what is nice about ferretin? No, no, it's okay. Ferritin low is meaning anemia high, meaning most likely, you have some issues with your inflammatory system, which is also just.


Michelle Shapiro [00:36:38]:

So important about inside tracker, too. Is that, again, you're not looking at things only from this model of, oh, it's too low, or it's, you know, or it's too high. It's really what is that in the bigger picture of things? And how do we interpret these labs to get as much juicy information as we can from them?


How do we get to the big picture and interpret the labs to get as much information as possible from them?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:36:54]:

Yeah. And I think, Michelle, you raise a very good point here. Some people think like, let's say vitamin B twelve, okay? Some people think the more the merrier. I will load myself with vitamin B twelve and I will be good. No, there are some harm from having too much. So most of the marker you have, like a Goldilocks zone, that it's not easy because it's too much is not good and too little is not good. And you need to find and adjust it in a way that it will be in the Goldilocks zone. And then you have again, a better chance to live better longer.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:37:30]:

It's not easy, but it is important.


Michelle Shapiro [00:37:32]:

To do that 100%. And when we think about something like b twelve, then our brains are going off, going, oh, are you not methylating it properly? Why is it so, so high in your blood? What's going on? Or if it's something like vitamin D, then I'm instantly thinking, oh, my gosh, are you getting enough vitamin K and a then if your vitamin D is so high, like those vitamins kind of like compete with each other in our body. So those balance levels, like you're saying are so important too. So I, and I think looking at apolipo B and ferritin to us seems like again, for even ten years, you're like, this is a no brainer. Of course we have to test this, but this could be life saving, life changing information for people whose doctors are not running this. And let's just be totally honest, most people's doctors are not running these tests offhand.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:38:13]:

Yeah, absolutely. I think that we looked at that actually a few weeks ago. And we have at instal tracker around 48 blood biomarker that we are looking at. And in the routine test of a clinician is around 17. So you may say, I would say Ramser, the blood biomarker that are in port of her. I'm not saying that you need to do them all the time, but I would say once a year or once a couple of years to do the 48 is like, I like the analogy of the car. So if it's okay with your provider.


Michelle Shapiro [00:38:45]:

Oh, I use that on almost every episode. Please use it. We love it here. Yes.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:38:49]:

Every 5000 miles, you take the car to the technician, the technician plug a computer and the computer telling the technician what to do and then the technician doing it. And then the car, good for another 5000 miles. When this routine maintenance was introduced in the eighties, the average lifespan of the car was around 100,000 miles. Now it's around 200,000 miles. So just routine maintenance allowed the car to, let's say, live twice longer. Now, if you look at the ass of the human, I'm seeing something like instant tracker or doing the blood test is like the 5000 miles test. You plug a needle into your vein, extract the liquid gold, the liquid gold showing to you what is good, what is bad, and what should you do about it, and then you do it, and then you can, you are good for another 5000 miles and do it again and again and again. What I'm trying to add here in the car, you have the 5000 miles, the 10,000, then the big 115 thousand, 30,000, 45,000.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:39:52]:

So in those one, do the ultimate with the 48 blood biomarkers. Between that you can focus on specific issues. So for example, we found an issue for you with lipids. So just test the lipid again between the big test, and then after that do that. And then maybe we find that you have something with the sugar metabolism, so do only the sugar metabolism, and later on do the big one. Then suddenly we find that you have an issue with iron, so do the iron metabolism. So what I'm saying, it's a, you need to build a plan, a smart plan that will allow you to monitor your body all over your lifespan. It's not like a silver bullet, it's not once in a lifetime, it's a process, it's a hard work.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:40:40]:

And the person that will work hard, they have a better chance to live better, longer.


Michelle Shapiro [00:40:44]:

And I think I love your message in that so much, because most of us still labor under the belief that genetics are the reason why we're unhealthy. And I feel so hopeful that people can turn around so many chronic conditions. I feel that they are not only symptom reduction, I believe many of them are reversible. Can you speak into that a little bit?


Is it possible to reduce symptoms or reverse chronic conditions, even if they are genetic?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:41:07]:

Yeah, that's a huge point. And I interviewed near Brazil. Near Brazil is a professor, Albert Einstein, leader in the aging research. He studies a long live human, so he calls it centenarian. People that cross the 100 years old, he has 750 of those. And we discuss what makes them different than us. And they really are lucky. They are the lucky one.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:41:36]:

It's one in 10,000 or 100,000 that have a very nice combination of genetics that allow them to live to 100. So he told me like 40% of them are smokers. Most of them are not exercisers, they are lucky. You know, there are some people, right, you know, the lucky one that they went with you to the university, studied for 1 minute and got 100 in.


Michelle Shapiro [00:42:01]:

That's luck. That's genetics, that's luck. Exactly.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:42:04]:

But most of us, I would say 99.9% of the population, including me, by the way, we need to be hard worker, and hard work will allow you to get what those centenarians are doing. So basically, if you look now on genetics, genetic or high level cover, maybe 20% of our lives. So 80% of that is lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and so on. So nobody can come to say, oh, I have a bad genetics, that's why I will die at 50. No, there is a lot of examples of people that their parents died from cardiovascular disease. They are not smoker now, they are eating well, and they are exercising well, and they don't have overweight, and they can live to Haiti or 90, and they can live in a good way. We have a department of insert that studies genetics specifically, and they're trying to assign what is the percentage of the phenotype. Basically what happened based on genetics.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:43:04]:

And in the best one, like APOB, is around 15%, but some of them is even less. Meaning the genetic is small. It is important, but it's small and much more important. How do you play with the car that you got with the genetic when you go to the casino in Vegas, the genetic of the car and how you play it is your lifestyle. So you have a lot to do.


Michelle Shapiro [00:43:27]:

Yeah, so I told the story in the podcast before. My aunt got diagnosed with glioblastoma this year and hated that, hate it still. But what? The moment that she got diagnosed, I went to a nutrition specialist team that will literally target supplementation based on the exact mutation she has, based on everything. So I just feel like there's not a, you know, the worst diagnosis you could ever receive in the world, in my opinion, is glioblastoma, like stage four brain cancer. That's like the one you don't want to hear. But in my opinion, and I mean this so truly, I always believe you can take an inch and there's, no matter what it is, there's something that lifestyle can help with in some capacity. So I just want people to hear this really hopefulness message from you, Doctor Blander, which is that, yes, genetics might make for those extreme people. Yes, there are those people who are going to be the one in a thousand.


Michelle Shapiro [00:44:13]:

They've got it lucky. But for the most of us, the vast majority of us, there's always something we can do and it's so important.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:44:21]:

And by the way, those lucky guys, if they think about the lady that smoke at the age of 105, nearly told me a joke and said, they ask her, why are you smoking? Your clinician haven't told you not to smoke? She said, yeah, the four of them that told me not to smoke, they're already died.


Michelle Shapiro [00:44:38]:

They died. Exactly right. Exactly.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:44:42]:

So think about this lady. If she wouldn't smoke and exercise and eat well, maybe she would live to 150.


Michelle Shapiro [00:44:48]:

Exactly. I think that's what's really important about this aspect of the conversation too is that maybe some of us start off at zero and you might have to put in and there is unfairness in the world. Like, it's not like we don't all get the same. We don't. Some of us grow up in moldy households and then we have autoimmune stuff and we don't know where it's from. You know, we have all these things that are stacked against us. But, and yes, you might have to work a little bit harder than someone else, but I am of the firmest belief, and as are you, that there's always something you can do to catch up and get yourself there.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:45:17]:

And the best day to start it is today. So.


How can people start their Inside Tracker journey?

Michelle Shapiro [00:45:22]:

That'S exactly right. Tell us about the process of working with inside tracker, which I, you know, you are also a sponsor for the podcast this up, this season and this episode especially, so people will have the opportunity need to get access to insidetracker right after this. Tell us how do we go through that process when people want to start their inside tracker journey?


Dr. Gil Blander [00:45:41]:

Yeah, it's easy. You can go to instatracker.com and select the plan that you would like to use and then if you are doing the blood test with us, we will supply to you a lab slip that you can go to quest diagnostic. There are around 2000 clinic around the US. If you don't like to go to a clinic because you're scared of catching a disease or something like that, we can send a phlebotomist to your home or office and this person, the clinician can take the blood at your home or office. If you already have data from your clinician or from life insurance or any other place, you can upload the result electronically via our website on top of the blood. As I said before, we also have integration with DNA, so you can upload DNA data. If you have done 23 andme or anxiously, you can upload it. If you haven't done it, you can do it with us.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:46:39]:

We have a DNA kit. You also can connect with activity tracker. We have o ring, Apple Watch, Garmin and Fitbit that we connected with. And that will allow you to receive much more value after you go tested. You will receive the value that I assume that we'll discuss in the next question.


Michelle Shapiro [00:47:02]:

Absolutely. Yeah, 100%. So, and again, I just want to say, first of all, I did inside tracker and got very valuable information. My first round of labs, and they came right to my house and took the. It was the easiest thing that ever happened. It took five minutes. The phlebotomist was fantastic. The company you partner with for phlebotomy is incredible.


Michelle Shapiro [00:47:23]:

So that is absolutely an option. And the labs came back quickly. And the fact that, again, I have my own labs, when people go to Labcorp or they go through their doctor's offices, oftentimes doctors won't release the labs to them. The fact that you are putting the patient in the power seat, I love so much. And then additionally, you have a team of incredible nutritionists, clinicians who help to interpret those labs and make those recommendations. So, yes, I would love to hear about that.


Tell us about your team who interprets the labs and provides recommendations?

Dr. Gil Blander [00:47:51]:

So when you receive the result, as Michelle said, you can see it on our website or on our mobile app, and you can see basically each test. And if you have a few historical tests, you can see the trend. You can also see, as we discussed before, whether you are normal or optimal. So we'll show you, are you yellow or green or red? Yellow mean normal but not optimal. Green mean optimal and red mean out of the normal. We are then allowing you to develop an action plan, basically, what can you do with that? So we are looking holistically on all the 48 blood biomarkers, the data from your DNA, the data from your fitness tracker, and you can choose what is your focus? You can focus on longevity, you can focus on endurance, you can focus on sleep. You can focus on building muscle or losing fat or de stress. So we have around twelve different focus areas that you can select.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:48:50]:

Based on that, we will provide you a recommendation of five to 15 different intervention that including some food supplement, exercise and lifestyle changes. And then you can follow it. You can check in, we will send you a poor tip once a day about some important information that's important for you to know. Some of them are also based on the physiology. So, for example, if your resting heart rate or vo two marks or your sleep is not optimal, we'll provide you some recommendation about that. And that's changing daily. We also will provide to you post exercise for tips. So let's assume that you finish your exercise will tell you exactly when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat or drink in order to replenish to your next activity or to optimize your body.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:49:45]:

So we are providing a lot of value to the user to allow him to optimize and live better, longer.


Michelle Shapiro [00:49:51]:

Absolutely. And again, with my clients, I'm usually really a strong advocate for my clients, too. Whether it comes to their doctor's offices when people are feeling ill or they already are feeling off, it's really hard for people to push in those doctor's appointments to get these labs. The fact that you have spent so many years researching what labs are helpful to people and making it so seamless, I just want you to know, is so important to people. So for people listening, they're like, I don't even know where to start. I can't make my doctor run these labs. I don't know what labs to even get. I learned from all these different people, these labs.


Michelle Shapiro [00:50:27]:

I think the ease of it is one of the most important components, honestly. And you've worked really hard to make it easy for people, so I commend you for that as well.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:50:34]:

Yeah, I agree. It's not easy. And the operational process, it's not easy either. And so, absolutely, it's we are trying to make, because if you think about it, there are a few barriers. One is the cost and the other is also getting tested. And then when you're getting tested, then you have the, oh, I did all of that. I spent so much time and then I don't know about x, Y and Z. So having all of that and having the peace of mind that you have the information and a company that interpret hundreds of thousands of users doing it, it's ease of mind for sure.


Michelle Shapiro [00:51:14]:

Absolutely. And again, thank you for that. Because I have this saying, in health, if it's like, if I don't do something, who else is going to do it? If you didn't do it, who knows who else is going to do it? So thank you for just doing it, I guess is the way I would say it. Is there anything else you kind of want to impart people with around longevity? Oh, actually, I have one more question before I ask that question. So my dear friend is also a pioneer of longevity, Doctor Gabrielle Lyon. And she always says muscle is the organ of longevity. I know you mentioned grip strength before. Have you been doing research into muscle and how important that is as well? Is that something that's been coming up in your research.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:51:50]:

Yeah, absolutely. First, I know Gabrielle and she's a huge inside tracker.


Michelle Shapiro [00:51:55]:

You guys do a lot of work together too. Yeah, she's my best friend.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:51:58]:

And yeah, muscle is very, very important for longevity, for sure. So if you ask me, what are the two most important recommendations that I can take generally to the general population is basically to lift muscle and improve their endurance. And for the example of the endurance, we just added the Vo two max, which is a marker of your endurance capacity. And it's something that's very important for users to test it. Even Apple Watch providing you this Vo two mark so you can look at it there and try to push it and improve it, because if you have a better endurance capacity, it will be easier for you to walk, to breathe and to function at the age of 80, 91 hundred. And building the muscle, like lifting weight and doing all the exercise will allow you to preserve yourself as a one piece, especially at the old age. The most prevalent cause of death is a fall. You fall, you break your hip and then on average, seven months later you die.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:53:13]:

That's a degree statistic. But actually what happened is most of the people that fall and break their hip, they don't have enough muscle to protect the hip. Also, they're not in balance. So that's why you fall. So if you walk on balance and building the muscle, you have a less chance to fall. Then even if you fall and you break your hip, if you have enough muscle, you have a better and enough strength, you have a better chance to recover from that. So definitely muscle is important for our longevity and I couldn't agree with them.


Michelle Shapiro [00:53:52]:

Absolutely. And I've worked in nursing homes for years and what you would see is people, and I know Gabrielle talks about this too, but you would see, I would see patients falling and then it almost seemed like out of nowhere all these other things would start going on with their health. And it's really also because muscles and endocrine organs, so it's also interacting with the rest of your body in this way. So when it comes to longevity, we couldn't not bring up muscle as a huge component of that as well as being really, really important. So thank you so much. That was a good last tip. Anyway, so thank you so much, Doctor Blander, for being here today. And honestly, just thank you for insight tracker, honestly, and I really can't recommend enough to people listening.


Michelle Shapiro [00:54:28]:

If you are looking for labs, if you don't want to go through the fight of going through a doctor's office and you want the support of people who actually know how to interpret these labs really well and give you really strategic recommendations, but based on them, I cannot recommend you more. And thank you so much for being here.


Dr. Gil Blander [00:54:43]:

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure. Absolutely.

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