A former British navy submarine hunter has science-backed advice to live a longer and more vibrant life.
Entertain me, educate me
I believe the best education should be engaging and at best, entertaining. Titled Specific exercise to avoid disease and live longer, this The Proof podcast interview with Irishman Dr Paul Taylor is a vibrant exploration of how we can live with increased vitality and enjoy longer healthspan.
I’ve listened to the hour-long conversation hosted by Simon Hill four times, and the last has been as inspiring as the first. Paul’s academic training is impressive. He is a Neuroscientist, qualified Nutritionist, has a Masters degree in Exercise Science, and is currently a PhD student in Psychology. But his experience goes far beyond the academic – he lives and breathes his passion for living life to the max.
Military intelligence detected at last
If you’ve had anything to do with the military or are curious about the training they undergo, his stories will be eye-opening. After his Exercise Science degree, Paul spent eight years in the British navy, flying in helicopters and doing anti-submarine warfare training.
One of the courses he did was resistance to interrogation training, held over what he calls “10 days of pretty hardcore stuff”. In this time, his team walked 250-300km during the British winter, getting one meal, and were seriously sleep deprived.
But it was the mental challenge that was hardest. Just when they thought they were done, they were ‘bagged and tagged’, undergoing intense interrogation known as stress-inoculation therapy.
Foods that will hurt you
With this background, it isn’t surprising that now as a scientist he doesn’t mince his words, including the deleterious effects of ultra-processed foods: “Forget about fat, carbohydrate, protein… stop eating sh1t that has not been alive!”
“There’s a big study that came out of France, that people who have four serves or more of ultra-processed foods (daily – Ed), have a 62% increase of all-cause mortality. That’s crazy! If you smoke 40 cigarettes a day, that does not increase your risk of all-cause mortality by 62%!”
Exercise versus nutrition in a boxing match?
But what if you eat well and also train hard? Paul says that exercise has a slight edge. He cites this example: research shows that someone with heart disease or diabetes has a 40% increased chance of death. But that pales in comparison to someone who’s not active.
“If you were low fitness, low cardiovascular fitness, you had a 500% increased death rate versus those who were elite levels of fitness. At every increase level of fitness there was a step change in improved lifespan. The single biggest impact on your lifespan is having high cardiovascular fitness (measured by VO2 max).”
Paul explains that VO2 max is the maximal amount of oxygen you can take into your system and utilise.
Other topics covered in the podcast include myokines and longevity, biological evolution, age and gender training, multi-modal exercise plans, and his book Death By Comfort: How modern life is killing us and what we can do about it.