Interview: Gil Blander of InsideTracker

InsiderTracker releases new service InnerAge that claims to optimize longevity and reduce the impact of age related medical conditions

Gil Blander

What is InnerAge?

Gil Blander: InnerAge is a groundbreaking service that helps people take steps to look and feel younger while prolonging life. Unlike anything that has gone before, InnerAge helps people understand, manage and optimize the unique factors within their own body that are impacting the way they age. It uses specific biomarkers to help people optimize longevity and manage and reduce the impact of age related medical conditions.

Developed over the past two years by some of the world’s leading authorities on aging, nutrition and exercise physiology, InnerAge analyzes the blood biomarkers most scientifically proven to impact longevity to assess a person’s biological/physiological age versus their chronological age. Its sophisticated algorithm then goes on to suggest five personalized “Focus Foods” with the largest potential to optimize these biomarkers, thereby lowering a person’s InnerAge and helping them slow the effects of aging from the inside out.

InnerAge is not an anti-aging solution offering quick fixes or cosmetic shortcuts but instead helps people make sense of the most reliable science on aging to make lasting changes that can be tracked over time. Following a simple blood test, the InnerAge intuitive dashboard provides a wealth of information on the results as well as nutrition advice to improve outcomes.

By following its recommendations, people can optimize their InnerAge to be up to 15 years younger than their actual age and also catch early warning signs that could negatively impact their longevity.

How did the idea for InnerAge come about?

GB: My scientific journey started at the age of 12, when one of my close relatives passed away, triggering my thirst and quest for knowledge of how our body ages. While I knew I couldn’t stop the clock, I wanted to at least slow it down and give people the knowledge required to delay the aging process and improve their health and quality of life as a result. I decided to commit my life to science, and aging research in particular. I graduated from the Weizmann Institute of Science with a PhD in the biology of aging, and later became a postdoctoral scholar at MIT in Lenny Guarente’s Laboratory, for the Science of Aging. I wanted to do more than study methods on how to slow the aging process; I wanted to decisively apply scientific knowledge and help everyone live life to its full potential. In 2009, InsideTracker was born. Our talented team of scientists decided to develop a new, one-of-a-kind science-based platform that could make the future of personalized health analytics happen now. Objective, rich, scientific data at the service of the individual to support truly tailored decision making.

After studying the science of aging for the last 20 years, I concluded that people can not only live longer but also have a higher quality of life using simple, natural and tangible interventions. InnerAge is much more than a cold calculation: it’s the universal score that has meaning to everyone looking to achieve his or her individualized health and fitness goals. If you think about it, we are told by society and healthcare professionals to act “our age”. Instead, we really should be defying it.

Professional football player Tom Brady is widely recognized now for his accomplishments on the field. However, it may be what he is doing off the field with his nutrition and lifestyle that may allow him play well into his 40s. Similarly, every day we make decisions that impact our health and those choices determine if we feel like an old man waking up because we didn’t sleep like a baby the night before or whether or not we feel fresh, bright-eyed, and bushy tailed.

InsideTracker is not providing just an objective score of where you stand from the inside with InnerAge: it’s the GPS provides you with an individualized roadmap to your optimal wellness. Thus, InnerAge is much more than a simple number: it’s an intricate wellness program that anyone can follow and benefit from

What are the key markers that determine our inner age?

GB: Our team of scientists, researchers, and statisticians, spent 18 months investigating biomarkers to identify those connected to aging that can be influenced by nutrition and lifestyle.

InnerAge Biomarker Dashboard
InnerAge Biomarker Results via InsideTracker

The five InnerAge™ biomarkers include:

  • Glucose
  • Vitamin D
  • Testosterone*
  • hsCRP (an inflammation indicator)
  • ALT (a liver damage indicator)

I’ve highlighted a few of these findings below.

Why Glucose?
Glucose was chosen based on a number of studies. One of them looked at more than 5,000 people and showed lower glucose levels correlated with longer lifespan.

Why Vitamin D?
Vitamin D was chosen based on a study of data from 10 different populations, where higher Vitamin D levels were associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality. As Vitamin D levels increased, so did longevity.

Why Testosterone?
Testosterone was chosen based on a study of men dating back to 1992, where blood samples were taken over extended periods of time. The data showed clear decreases in testosterone with age.

Why hsCRP?
hsCRP, which is a marker of inflammation, was chosen based on a study of routine health exams of over 90,000 people. The findings indicate that lower CRP levels are associated with higher longevity.

Why ALT?
ALT, which is a marker of liver damage, was chosen based on a review of an eleven-year study collecting biochemical data. Researchers found that lower ALT levels at the beginning of the study led to decreased relative risk of death by the end of the study.

What is the general trend for results? Are people generally older biologically than they actually are?

• 70% of InnerAge users are older than their chronological age
• The average difference is 2.3 years

What are the key methods for people to improve (or decrease) their inner age?

Regardless of age, everyone has the potential to optimize their longevity, by taking simple steps to manage the biomarkers that have the greatest impact on aging. Glucose, found to have the strongest correlation to longevity, should be given special consideration.

InnerAge Focus Foods
InnerAge Focus Foods via InsideTracker

Focus Foods are a new way of looking at what we eat. Instead of eating foods based on general health benefits, Focus Foods are handpicked for you to improve your InnerAge. They represent the most effective way to immediately raise your quality of life and improve longevity.

InsideTracker uses your biomarker results to choose specific foods that will help you improve your InnerAge. We take into account each biomarker related to aging to identify the five most impactful foods for you. While Focus Foods aren’t the only foods you should eat, eating more of them as part of a balanced diet will have you well on your way to a more optimal InnerAge. Focus Foods are not based on fads or trends; they are based on high-quality research studies and an extensive database of global food options. Nothing influences our recommendations other than pure science and intelligent analytics. In selecting your Focus Foods, InsideTracker scientists carefully evaluate and weigh every food item in the InsideTracker database to ensure that the nutritional impact of your Focus Foods will be to improve your InnerAge.

In summary, Focus Foods are five potent food options that deliver the most bang for your buck nutrition-wise. Scientifically chosen based on your unique biomarkers, Focus Foods added into your daily diet serve as an effective way to lower your InnerAge. Think of Focus Foods as InsideTracker’s way of keeping you focused on the right foods for you.

Any plans to tie in an individual’s genetic make up with their biomarker data?

We may look at this in the future but don’t believe the time is right to tie to genetic information right now or include it into the InnerAge platform. There are a few reasons for this:

  • Very little scientific support. There is great variability in testing and analysis. As the first full genome was sequenced in year 2000, there are a limited number of peer-reviewed scientific publications about the relationship between SNPs and specific conditions. There are few validated genetic biomarkers (SNP), but there is great potential with an increasing number of scientific publications on genetic markers. Most are related to disease state.
  • Actionability Genetic testing: Not actionable; if you have a 50% higher risk of developing dementia in the next 50 years, you may not be able to do anything to prevent it.
  • Viewing your progress blood biomarkers change over time, responding to food, stress, and other factors, so you can view your progress. For example, if in the baseline blood test you had low vitamin B12 and then started taking a Vitamin B12 supplement, you can evaluate the supplement effect over time via follow-up blood tests. Genetic testing is static, typically with one test in a lifetime. Your genome is stable, that is, it does not change, and it does not respond to your daily status, but rather influences it. So you cannot view progress using this technology.

What’s next for InsideTracker? Anything you can share?

The InsideTracker science team has tripled in size over the past few weeks, with talent in nutrition, exercise physiology, women’s health, data science, and analytics. Extreme personalization of lifestyle recommendations based on reliable and objective data inputs is where the company is going to continue to innovate. Expect a women’s health and fitness product, more refined inputs for the InnerAge algorithm, and other exciting developments. The company is also getting ready for the Apple Watch, and developing its third generation recommendation engine.

Thank you, Gil. 

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