An App That Can Help You Live Longer? My Journey Into The World Of Longevity
Andrew Ahachinsky, founder of Eterly, the first health and fitness app built by longevity experts, explains how he persuaded first himself, and then others, that aging can be treated, and maybe even cured
When you are young, people; your parents, teachers, first boss; tell you, “you have the rest of your life ahead of you”. And you know what? It’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?
But as we age that sense we have as teenagers or young adults that our lives will simply go on forever, that we have plenty of time left to achieve all of the goals that we have set ourselves, starts to fade. We start to look more nervously towards the future and wonder what it might have in store for us.
It happened to me, it must be 5 years or so ago now. I have always taken good care of my health; eating right, exercising regularly; but I started to become concerned about my rising cholesterol levels, levels of blood sugar and how the aging process might be affecting me.
The first solution I tried was an extreme one. The “fasting mimicking diet”, FMD for short, a 5 day process rooted in the principles of the life sciences, by Professor Valter Longo, of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California – where else?
The idea is to give the body just enough natural and plant based nutrients to sustain it over the 5 day period, whilst fooling it into believing that you are not eating at all. This results in our bodies entering a fasting state, the survival instinct kicks in, and we lose weight in an accelerated, yet healthy fashion. Our visceral fat levels decline, our blood pressure returns to a healthier level, and we feel better too.
This is a diet that scientists insist can extend the length of our lives, and yet when I was taking the decision whether to go through it all again, I hesitated. Like many startup founders before me, I thought: there has to be a better way.
Around the same time my mother was suffering with hypertension, which occurs when the blood pressure in our arteries reaches unnatural levels. It occurred to me that, all too often, we wait until we are ill, and then we go to a doctor, and say “fix me”.
That won’t work and it’s time we realise we can’t just outsource our health to a doctor, or a fitness coach, or a TV personality. Real change comes from within.
How did I make the leap from this realisation, to launching Eterly? It has been a long road, but it began with conversations I had with friends and colleagues. Before I moved to Vancouver, I was good friends with a specialist health doctor in Russia, and I learned that there is a scientific, evidence based approach, using biomarkers, for example, to the process of attempting to defy the aging process.
I began to have brainstorming sessions with friends, who soon became team members, and together we hit upon the idea that what we needed was a monitoring device, capable of keeping us informed of what was occuring inside our bodies at any given time. And I am not just talking about a Fitbit or an Apple watch. These are great devices, and a key part of Eterly’s offering; but we wanted to take things a stage further.
A few years back we had arranged a meeting at the Nike headquarters, in Portland, and we travelled there with high hopes. We explained our idea. An app that monitors our bodily functions constantly, that prompts us for more information, and punctuates our day with advice and encouragement, all with the ultimate goal of helping us keeping us in the healthiest state possible, defying the aging process, and extending our natural lifespans. Giving us that feeling again, that we “had our whole lives ahead of us”.
There were a few surprised expressions in that meeting, if I am honest, as we outlined our idea, but before long the mood began to change. Calorie restriction, aging biomarkers that were timely and accurate, the right blend of nutrients, optimal sleep; paying attention to every new scientific development and discovery. Constantly keeping our eyes on the prize, as it were, of living for longer, in a better condition. Aiming to “die young, as late as possible”. They began to understand that we were taking this project very seriously, and that it wasn’t just us. The longevity industry finds its support in the highest echelons of society – backed by the likes of Peter Thiel, Bill Gates, and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
I am always on the lookout for like-minded people to discuss life-extension with. A large part of the rationale for launching Eterly, is so that we can bring more scientists, longevity influencers and medical research institutes to the platform. That is why my co-founder, Nikita Kholmogorov, is building Eterly’s back end using the blockchain. It is a perfect system for storing data, anonymising it, and merging it with scientific research data to produce personalised, actionable recommendations.
The ICO we are currently undertaking will help us to incentivise all of these people, as well as major pharma companies, such as IBM health, and great startups, like 23andMe, and get everybody pulling in the same direction, from what we hope will be a decentralised hub used by millions, maybe even billions, of people. That, and the front facing app, is Eterly in a nutshell.
Probably the person who has had the most influence over our project has been Dmitry Kaminsky. Dmitry is an entrepreneur and investor who has made huge sacrifices to become one of the world’s most recognisable longevity evangelists.
Dmitry made headlines around the world when he promised a million dollar reward to the next person to break the world record for long life, which is currently held by Jeanne de Calment; 122.5 years. But much of the work that he does goes unsung. At the same time as being Managing Partner at Deep Knowledge Ventures, Dmitry finds time to attend conferences all over the world dedicated to the study of longevity. He is the Managing Trustee of the Biogerontology Research Foundation UK, and his ambition is to launch a Longevity Index Hedge Fund that fuses the cryptoeconomy, novel financial strategies, precision medicine and longevity. Without Dmitry’s help, Eterly could not have progressed as far as it has.
Dmitry and I have just returned from the Buck Institute of Aging, in Novato, California, where we spent 4 hours touring the centre, looking at the facilities, and meeting the team there. It was a fascinating and inspiring experience, and, as well as reminding the team how far we have come, it has given us all the motivation we could ever need to keep pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved by using AI and science to fight the world’s problems.
After all, problems don’t come much bigger than the aging process, and what inevitably comes at the end of that process.
The world’s population is getting older. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, there will be an incredible 2.1 billion people aged over 60 in the world. So Eterly is not all about cheating death, it’s about how we as a species deal with an aging population.
Eterly, the health and fitness app for life extension, will begin its Initial Coin Offering in March 2018. For further information please visit www.longevitytoken.com.
Disclaimer: Edmund Ingham, Editor and lead writer of Haggerston Times, acts for Eterly as a PR and strategy consultant.