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Jeffrey R. Gladden

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Jeffrey R. Gladden

Jeffrey R. Gladden

on Cracking the Code of Longevity

by Sandra Yeyati

Jeffrey R. Gladden is the founder and medical director of Gladden Longevity, in Dallas, Texas, a clinic that helps people “live young for a lifetime”. He is the author of 100 Is the New 30, which provides an easy-to-understand blueprint, identifying four target areas to be optimized: life energy; longevity, which includes the hallmarks of aging; health; and performance.

A board-certified cardiologist, Gladden earned his medical degree with multiple honors from Temple University and practiced for 25 years as an interventional cardiologist. He co-founded the Baylor Scott & White Heart Hospital, in Plano, as well as several cardiac catheterization programs around Dallas. 

What is longevity medicine? 

The best way to understand longevity medicine is to put it in context with what we currently are familiar with. Traditional medicine is called health care, but it’s actually reactionary, sick care that focuses on relieving symptoms with a sprinkle of preventive advice but offers no real health optimization. Functional medicine and integrative medicine look at the root cause of an issue to create a more complete and durable answer.

Longevity medicine, however, goes after the drivers of aging. So far, we’ve identified 16 hallmarks of aging that contribute to and accelerate the aging process. This is how we’re going to enable people to live young for a lifetime, thereby creating the most durable, most comprehensive answer to the symptoms they are experiencing and the aging process itself.

Is longevity medicine out of reach for people with limited resources?

When people first come to us to make them young again, we do extensive genetic testing and measure many biological ages for them. By knowing what cards they’re holding and where they are in the game, we know where to start. And then, many of the reversal-type interventions like stem cells, young plasma, peptides or custom-made medications may be important but require a financial investment.

The flip side is that there are many things people can do that are not costly. If you’re smoking, drinking or eating excessive amounts of processed foods, stop doing that. If you’re not exercising, start exercising every day. The other thing that’s massively important and doesn’t cost much, if anything at all, is working on your mindset. 

People stop asking the questions that drive progress, and they get married to their current answers. They think: I’m going to get older, retire at 65, take Social Security, play golf, visit my grandkids, travel and then wind down. This picture of the future is make-believe, quite honestly, even though society reinforces it. The beauty of being human is that you can create your own reality. What if you paint a different picture by asking, “What does it take to make my life better?” or “How can we make 100 the new 30?”

What is the mental health impact on longevity?

So many of us have been plagued with anxiety and depression, and all of us have had traumatic experiences. Because of the way our brains are wired, we live in reaction to that trauma, either consciously or unconsciously. The problem is that if we are confronted with something again, it triggers a stress response or maybe a post-traumatic response that we’re carrying with us from the trauma that we incurred, and now our nervous system is on high alert. Our stress levels are on high alert. Our cortisol, insulin, adrenaline and dopamine and the whole sympathetic nervous system is activated in a way that is accelerating disease, aging and decline. 

You can never live young for a lifetime if you’re carrying all that burden. When you solve the mental health piece, you crack the code of anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction and all the self-sabotaging behaviors.

What is your personal goal in your longevity quest? 

The target I’ve settled on right now is when I’m 100, I want to have a 30-year-old body and a 300-year-old mind, where I’ve solved, healed and transcended all of the mental health issues and past trauma, enabling me to have more wisdom and empathy, and freeing me to bring all of my gifts forward—my enthusiasm, artistry, intellect, compassion and my ability to help others and make the world a better place. If you have a clear target like that, all of a sudden you have a longevity mindset. You can never crack the code on aging if you don’t have a longevity mindset. 

How do we stay the course and avoid falling back to old, unheal-thy habits?

I think you have to be motivated by joy. If you’re motivated by fear you will definitely tap out. It has to come from this understanding that for me to bring all of my gifts to bear for the planet or for me to have my best life, I need to step into this concept of having a young body and a very mature, expanded, spiritual, intellectual, emotionally replete mind. That’s my target, and there’s so much joy in doing that, so every day I’m motivated by joy, not by obligation, and I think that’s what makes it sustainable.

Sandra Yeyati is national editor ofNatural Awakenings

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey R. Gladden

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