A tech millionaire and biohacker, Bryan Johnson, whose ultimate goal is not to die, takes up to 100 pills of supplements and prescription medications daily. We asked two experts about its possible benefits and risks.
Johnson, age 46, spends about $2 million a year to reverse aging. Based on his Project Blueprint, his daily routine includes eating dinner before 11 a.m., taking dozens of pills, regularly testing each of his body organs, and going to bed at 8:30.
In the past, his anti-aging efforts were even more eyebrow-raising, as he was using shockwave therapy to improve erections and receiving blood transfusions from his 18-year-old son.
Johnson, who calls himself the most measured man in the world, claims his massive self-experiment is already showing results. A biotech CEO has slowed the pace of aging by an equivalent of 31 years and now has the heart of a 37-year-old, while his lungs and inflammation levels in the body are better than most young adults.
What supplements does Bryan Johnson take?
Johnson starts his day by taking ashwagandha and garlic supplements, , and vitamins C, D-3, and E, among many others.
His routine also includes off-label use of prescription medications that are currently examined for their potential anti-aging benefits, such as type 2 diabetes drugs acarbose and metformin and rapamycin, an immunosuppressant for organ transplant patients.
Bill Willis, Ph.D., a researcher at Examine.com, an online encyclopedia covering health, nutrition, and supplementation, says there are risks associated with taking multiple medications, as it is not always possible to predict how they will interact with each other.
"There could be unhealthy, unexpected, even toxic interactions that nobody could anticipate," he tells Healthnews.
Rohit Moghe, PharmD, ambulatory care and population health clinical pharmacist, says Johnson's use of rapamycin may stem from the concept that the drug may help longevity through the mTOR pathway, which has been associated with rejuvenation. In animal studies, rapamycin extended life and delayed the onset of aging-related diseases.
At the age of 21, Johnson was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't make enough thyroid hormones to meet the body's needs. As a result, he takes Levothyroxine and Armour Thyroid, medications for the disease.
"Prescription medication for hypothyroid is an appropriate medicine. But if he's doing all of these things and his thyroid levels are healthy, the question is, does he even need some of these medicines, let alone the supplements?" Moghe says.
'One of the best eating patterns'
According to Moghe, Johnson may not need as many supplements because his diet — largely plant-based but including some animal protein — is one of the best eating patterns.
Studies show that adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables positively affects mortality and disease biomarkers, such as cardiovascular disease, Willis says. Meanwhile, supplements play only a minor role in maintaining health, but they could be useful when it is difficult to get nutrients from a whole diet.
Johnson takes supplements of turmeric, which, in Indian culture, is a part of the cooking process, Moghe points out. Instead of using so many pills, he could possibly change his diet to include turmeric.
"The problem with supplements is that they are not regulated like medicines. You don't know what you are getting, and you don't know if they benefit you unless you use them for a long time."Rohit Moghe, PharmD
He also doubts that California-based Johnson needs additional vitamin D because usually only those who are not spending time outside or not being active experience deficiency of this nutrient.
Is the Blueprint protocol effective?
Moghe says that from a lifestyle medicine perspective, there are six pillars of health: food, physical activity, stress levels, sleep quality, social connections, and removing risky substances.
While Johnson is working along these lines, the Project Blueprint may be unavailable and likely unnecessary for most people. Although its dietary patterns are impeccable, such a diet is inaccessible to many Americans due to high costs. For instance, food for those following the protocol costs $44.91 daily, while Americans spend $109.00 on groceries per week on average.
However, there are good things that can be taken away from the protocol, Moghe says, such as his exercise routine.
In the Healthnews interview, Johnson argued that the average American can do the entire Blueprint for about $1,500 a month.
"Sleep is at no cost; just prioritize good sleep. Stopping bad things is also free, then eat healthy foods and get exercise."Bryan Johnson
Willis also emphasizes the importance of consistent bedtime, not eating too late at night, and consuming lots of fruits and vegetables.
"Those three things are accessible to all of us, which makes you wonder how much of the additional things and supplements Bryan is doing actually work for him," he adds.
Nevertheless, experts agree that the experiment Johnson is running is interesting, even if it is not controlled, meaning that there are no other participants to compare the results with. And although such a lifestyle is unavailable for most, there are things to praise Johnson for.
Moghe says: "He is raising the consciousness of what goes into our body is a direct reflection of your health."
- Attest. The squeezed consumer 2023.