The team includes pilot Owens, who helms the submarine
Proteus (now blood cell–size); Duvall, a brilliant neurosurgeon
in charge of the medical mission; Peterson, the beautiful surgical
assistant (played by Raquel Welch in the highly successful movie version);
Michaels, a human-circulatory expert; and Grant, the mission leader
from central intelligence. In the course of the drama, readers and
moviegoers are treated to a genuinely fantastic voyage through the
human body as the intrepid crew battles enormous white blood cells,
insidious antibodies, annoying platelets, and a myriad of other threats
as they struggle to achieve their goal before the miniaturization
catastrophically wears off.
The metaphor of Fantastic Voyage fits our book on
several levels. First, we hope to treat you, our readers, to a fantastic
voyage through the human body. Our understanding of the complex processes
underlying life, disease, and aging has progressed enormously since
1966. We now have an unprecedented ability to comprehend our biology
at the level of the tiniest molecular structures. We also have the
opportunity to vastly extend our longevity, improve our well-being,
and expand our ability to experience the world around us.
Asimov’s fascination with miniaturization
was prophetic. We are now in the early stages of a profound revolution
in which we are indeed shrinking our technology down to the molecular
level. We actually are developing blood cell–size submarines
called nanobots (robots whose key features are measured in nanometers,
or billionths of a meter) to be sent into the human body on vital
health missions. Although we won’t literally be shrinking ourselves
to ride inside these nanobots, as in Asimov’s imagined tale
(at least not in the next several decades), we will be able to place
ourselves in virtual-reality environments and see out of the eyes
of these tiny robots. We will be able to control their movements as
if we were inside, just as soldiers today remotely control intelligent
Immortality Is within Our Grasp
Do we have the knowledge and the tools today to
live forever? If all science and technology development suddenly stopped,
the answer would have to be no. We do have the means to dramatically
slow disease and the aging process far more than most people realize,
but we do not yet have all the techniques we need to indefinitely
extend human life. However, it is clear that far from halting, the
pace of scientific and technological discovery is accelerating.
According to models that Ray has created, our paradigm-shift
rate—the rate of technical progress—is doubling every
decade, and the capability (price performance, capacity, and speed)
of specific information technologies is doubling every year.4 So the
answer to our question is actually a definitive yes—the knowledge
exists, if aggressively applied, for you to slow aging and disease
processes to such a degree that you can be in good health and good
spirits when the more radical life-extending and life-enhancing technologies
become available over the next couple of decades.
Longevity expert and gerontologist Aubrey de Grey
uses the metaphor of maintaining a house to explain this key concept.
How long does a house last? The answer obviously depends on how well
you take care of it. If you do nothing, the roof will spring a leak
before long, water and the elements will invade, and eventually the
house will disintegrate. But if you proactively take care of the structure,
repair all damage, confront all dangers, and rebuild or renovate parts
from time to time using new materials and technologies, the life of
the house can essentially be extended without limit.
The same holds true for our bodies and brains. The
only difference is that while we fully understand the methods underlying
the maintenance of a house, we do not yet fully understand all of
the biological principles of life. But with our rapidly increasing
comprehension of the human genome, the proteins expressed by the genome
(proteome), and the biochemical processes and pathways of our metabolism,
we are quickly gaining that knowledge. We are beginning to understand
aging, not as a single inexorable progression but as a group of related
Strategies for reversing each of these aging progressions
using different combinations of biotechnology techniques are emerging.
Many scientists, including the authors of this book, believe that
we will have the means to stop and even reverse aging within the next
two decades. In the meantime, we can slow each aging process to a
crawl using the methods outlined in this book.
In this way, the goal of extending longevity can
be taken in three steps, or Bridges. This book is intended to serve
as a guide to living long enough in good health and spirits—Bridge
One—to take advantage of the full development of the biotechnology
revolution—Bridge Two. This, in turn, will lead to the nanotechnology-AI
(artificial intelligence) revolution—Bridge Three—which
has the potential to allow us to live indefinitely.
This, then, is the premise of our book and the case
we will make throughout: the knowledge of how to maintain our biological
“house” and extend its longevity and vitality without
limit is close at hand. We will tell you how to use the extensive
knowledge that we do have today to remain healthy as the reverse engineering
(decoding and understanding the principal methods) of our biology
The 21st Century Is Worth Living to Experience
Most of our conceptions of human life in the 21st
century will be turned on their head. Not the least of these is the
expectation expressed in the adage about the inevitability of death
and taxes. We’ll leave the issue of the future of taxes to another
book,5 but belief in the inevitability of death and how this perspective
will soon change is very much the primary theme of this book. As we
succeed in understanding the genome and the proteome, many dramatic
advances in treating disease and even reversing aging will emerge.
The first two decades of the 21st century will be a golden era of
Many experts believe that within a decade we will
be adding more than a year to human life expectancy every year. At
that point, with each passing year, your remaining life expectancy
will move further into the future. (Aubrey de Grey believes that we
will successfully stop aging in mice—who share 99 percent of
our genetic code—within 10 years, and that human therapies to
halt and reverse aging will follow 5 to 10 years after that.) A small
minority of older boomers will make it past this impending critical
threshold. You can be among them. The authors of this book are of
this generation and are intent on living through this threshold era
in good health and spirits. Unfortunately, most of our fellow baby
boomers remain oblivious to the hidden degenerative processes inside
their bodies and will die unnecessarily young.
As interesting as the first two decades of this
century are likely to be, subsequent decades should lead to even more
dramatic changes. Ray has spent several decades studying and modeling
technology trends and their impact on society. Perhaps his most profound
observation is that the rate of change is itself accelerating. This
means that the past is not a reliable guide to the future. The 20th
century was not 100 years of progress at today’s rate but, rather,
was equivalent to about 20 years, because we’ve been speeding
up to current rates of change. And we’ll make another 20 years
of progress at today’s rate, equivalent to that of the entire
20th century, in the next 14 years. And then we’ll do it again
in just 7 years. Because of this exponential growth, the 21st century
will equal 20,000 years of progress at today’s rate of progress—1,000
times greater than what we witnessed in the 20th century, which itself
was no slouch for change.
The result will be profound changes in every facet
of our lives, from our health and longevity to our economy and society,
even our concepts of who we are and what it means to be human. Within
a couple of decades we will have the knowledge to revitalize our health,
expand our experiences—such as full-immersion virtual reality
incorporating all of the senses, augmented reality, and enhanced human
intelligence and capability—and expand our horizons.
As we peer even further into the 21st century,
nanotechnology will enable us to rebuild and extend our bodies and
brains and create virtually any product from mere information, resulting
in remarkable gains in prosperity. We will develop means to vastly
expand our physical and mental capabilities by directly interfacing
our biological systems with human-created technology.
Although human ability to take command of the course
of life and death is controversial, we believe that the ability to
broaden our horizons is a unique and desirable attribute of our species.
And we certainly believe that it is worth the effort to remain healthy
and vital today to experience this remarkable century ahead.
A Decades-Long March to Health—or Disease
The leading causes of death—heart disease,
cancer, stroke, respiratory disease, kidney disease, liver disease,
and diabetes6—do not appear out of the blue. They are the end
result of processes that are decades in the making. To help you understand
how long-standing imbalances in the metabolic processes underlying
life functions can lead to disease, we have developed Ray & Terry’s
Longevity Program, which is laid out over the course of this book.
(Our program is Bridge One, as mentioned above; Bridges Two and Three
are detailed in chapter 2.) The advice we offer on how to keep your
body optimally healthy—from what to put into it (“Food
and Water,” chapter 4) to how to fine-tune it (“Stress
and Balance,” chapter 23)—will enable you to determine
your own specific health status and teach you how to take effective
corrective action when necessary. Our program does require time and
commitment to implement, but the rewards are considerable:
• Significant gains in how you feel, including
the alleviation of various discomforts, improved gastrointestinal
functioning, reversal of fatigue, improvements in sleep, enhanced
mood, and attaining your optimal weight
• A greatly improved sense of well-being and
increased levels of energy
• The comfort of knowing that you’re
on a path toward long-term health while significantly reducing the
risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes,
Conventional medical care is geared toward dealing
with long-term degenerative processes only after they erupt into advanced
clinical disease, but by this time it is often too late. It’s
like approaching a cliff but walking backward. You need to recognize
that you’re getting closer to the edge and stop. Once you fall
off, it’s difficult to do anything about it. This is what Fantastic
Voyage is all about: to provide the knowledge and the specific steps
to take, sooner rather than later, to extend your life, your vitality,
and your well-being.
Who Is the Enemy?
It is wise to consider the process of reversing
and overcoming the dangerous progression of disease as a war. As in
any war, if the enemy is at the gates—or worse, inside the gates—it’s
important to mobilize all the means of intelligence and weaponry that
can be harnessed. That’s why we’ll advocate that key dangers
be attacked on multiple fronts. For example, we’ll discuss 10
approaches that should be practiced concurrently for preventing heart
disease, particularly for people with elevated risk factors.
But if fighting disease and extending longevity
and vitality is a war, who is the enemy? At the top of the list we
should put ourselves. Of course, health issues get our attention the
moment clinical disease strikes, but most people fail to focus on
prevention and health enhancement in a timely manner before the onset
of overt symptoms. Unfortunately, the medical profession is oriented
toward detecting and treating these conditions only after they reach
the point of crisis (symptom-control medicine), so most people receive
limited guidance on disease prevention from their health professionals.
You should not wait for others to show you the path to healing; the
only person who can take responsibility for your health is you.
Our second enemy is the disease process itself.
Our bodies evolved when it was not beneficial to the survival of the
species for people to live beyond their child-rearing years and compete
for the tribe’s or community’s limited food and other
resources. Only a century and a half ago, life expectancy was 37 years.7
If we want to remain vital for as long as possible, we cannot simply
rely on the natural order that biological evolution has given us.
The third enemy is an increasingly vocal body of
opinion that opposes extending human longevity on the basis that it
supposedly violates the essence of human nature. Author Francis Fukuyama,
for example, considers research that might extend human longevity
beyond its current fourscore years to be immoral.8 Opposition to certain
biological technologies such as stem cell research is delaying vital
therapies for a wide range of diseases. We should note that we don’t
consider these thinkers themselves to be our adversaries but, rather,
their regressive ideas. The essence of the human species is to extend
and expand our boundaries. Ultimately, such opposition will end up
being mere stones in a torrent of innovation, with the continued flow
of progress passing around these barriers. But even minor delays will
result in the suffering and death of millions of people.
Public Health Recommendations Are Compromised at
Many people believe that public health recommendations,
such as the Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid, represent
our best collective wisdom.9 People typically then go on to compromise
(weaken) these recommendations further to meet their own priorities
and circumstances without realizing that the recommendations come
already pre-compromised. The result is ineffectual guidelines and
a double compromising of health.
The recommendations for vitamins, for example, continue
to be dominated by the RDA (recommended dietary allowance) system.
But these address only minimal levels to avoid specific vitamin deficiencies
and do not begin to reflect the levels required for optimal health.12
Dietary recommendations in general are severely watered down. For
example, the nutrition guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes
fail to recommend sharp reductions in carbohydrates,13 and the recommendations
on fat consumption are the same as for the general public.14 The guidelines
from the American Diabetes Association are completely ineffective,
despite the fact that the condition, particularly in its early stages,
can be largely controlled through nutrition. The same observations
can be made regarding dietary recommendations for avoiding heart disease,
the nation’s number one killer.15
When we discuss the ineffectual nature of public
nutrition guidelines with some health professionals, they counter
that their patients won’t even follow these weak recommendations,
let alone stricter ones. Our counter to that is that people don’t
follow the weak guidelines precisely because they don’t work.
Actually, following stricter recommendations is easier in many ways.
Take, for example, carbohydrate consumption. Eating
carbohydrates, particularly those with a high glycemic index (those
that convert rapidly into sugar in the bloodstream), causes cravings
for more carbohydrates. Attempting to “moderately” reduce
consumption of carbohydrates turns out to be very difficult because
a moderate reduction does nothing to fend off cravings. It’s
like suggesting that smokers simply reduce the number of cigarettes
they smoke each day. But sharply reducing carbohydrates, particularly
high-glycemic-index ones, effectively eliminates cravings, like quitting
smoking altogether. It is far more motivating to follow a program
that has the potential to make a dramatic difference in your immediate
and long-term well-being.
As another example of compromised recommendations,
the public health guideline for folic acid supplementation is 400
micrograms (mcg) per day, which may be a reasonable general recommendation.
However, for someone with elevated homocysteine levels—a major
cause of cardiovascular disease—the recommendation remains 400
mcg per day, which is inadequate to reduce dangerous homocysteine
levels. Folic acid supplementation of 2,500 mcg or more per day, however,
is safe and effective in reducing homocysteine (as are other recommendations,
which we will discuss).
16 The same situation holds for recommendations
on “optimal” blood lipid (fat) levels. Public health guidelines
state that total cholesterol should be below 200 milligrams per deciliter
and that the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol should
be under 4.6. But even people who achieve such “optimal”
levels suffer heart attacks.
How often does a person who consistently maintains
a truly desirable lipid profile suffer a heart attack? The answer
is almost never. But are such levels really achievable by most people?
The answer is yes, they are. So why not set these as the targets?
Our philosophy is to provide optimal recommendations
based on the latest research. A great deal is known about ways to
modify the long-term destructive health trends that result in the
vast majority of deaths and chronic diseases. We’ll offer our
best knowledge of effective measures, and you can decide for yourself
what changes you are willing to make.
Dynamic versus Static Testing
Another unique aspect of our program is the extensive
use of dynamic rather than static testing for early detection of abnormalities
whenever possible. Dynamic tests measure the body’s response
to changing, or “stressful,” physiologic conditions, while
static tests simply provide measurements under baseline (resting)
conditions. The exercise stress test, typically done on a treadmill
to evaluate cardiac function, is an example of a common dynamic test.
In an exercise test, the electrocardiogram (ECG) tracing is monitored
both at rest and under conditions of increased workload. Many more
patients with early cardiac disease can be detected by an exercise
test than by a resting (static) ECG alone.
Another common dynamic test performed by conventional
physicians is the glucose tolerance test for the diagnosis of diabetes,
which is more sensitive than the static fasting blood sugar test.
Yet, as we will see in chapter 9, “The Problem with Sugar (and
Insulin),” the standard glucose tolerance test measures only
blood sugar levels in response to a dietary sugar challenge (ingestion),
so it still misses many early cases of diabetes. By also measuring
insulin levels, using the glucose-insulin tolerance test we recommend,
many additional cases of diabetes and sugar intolerance can be diagnosed.
If we go a step further and add a simple insulin challenge test—a
test performed by only a handful of physicians around the country—it
is possible to detect numerous cases of insulin resistance, one of
the most dangerous risk factors for a host of chronic diseases suffered
by a significant segment of the population.
In chapter 13, “Methylation—Critically
Important to Your Health,” we discuss abnormal homocysteine
metabolism, a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s
disease that is carried by more than one-third of the adult population.
Yet many cardiologists still don’t perform even the static test
on their patients to determine risk levels, and most large U.S. cities
don’t have a single cardiologist outside of a teaching hospital
who performs the dynamic and far more accurate, yet inexpensive, homocysteine
stress test that we recommend.
Early detection of risk factors is a hallmark of
our program. By performing dynamic stress tests when appropriate,
you can substantially increase the effectiveness of your screening
The Pillars of Our Longevity Program
We’ve organized Ray & Terry’s Longevity
Program around the activities and primary physical and metabolic processes
that lead to either disease or sustained health. Our program combines
the best of both conventional and alternative medicine. Many people
have the view that conventional medicine is scientific, whereas alternative
medicine reflects unverified folk traditions. The reality is that
there are many conventional medicine practices that have not been
scientifically verified, while there are many “alternative”
practices supported by impressive research and verification.
Alternative medicine is not a single integrated
methodology. Rather, it consists of a broad array of ideas that fall
outside of conventional medical practice. Indeed, many of these ideas
are not well grounded in science or in practical results. We’ve
drawn our ideas from the best of conventional medicine, alternative
medicine practices with convincing research on safety and efficacy,
and cutting-edge developments in biotechnology and nanotechnology.
Partnering with Your Health Professional
It would be difficult to follow a program of this
comprehensive nature without a personal guide. Our philosophy has
been to draw upon the best from both conventional medicine and alternative
schools of thought in an unbiased fashion. So to follow the ideas
in our program, you will need access to both worlds.
Your personal physician is trained to deal with
diagnosing and treating catastrophic illness, but most physicians
are not well prepared to provide guidance in the type of aggressive
illness prevention that we address in this book. Unfortunately, disease
prevention is not a major focus of mainstream medicine. Moreover,
the critical issue of nutrition receives almost no attention in our
nation’s medical schools. An ideal approach is to find a physician
who combines the best of multiple traditions.
More and more physicians have seen the limitations
of practicing orthodox conventional medicine. They have begun to transcend
the deep conditioning from their years of medical training, and they
(and even more so their patients) have started to experience the joy
that comes from thinking outside the box. Many such physicians have
joined professional associations that serve as resources to train
physicians in cutting-edge nutritionally based medical therapies,
offering formal education and examinations to ensure competency. (For
a list of certified practitioners and physicians in your area, see
Fantastic-Voyage.net.) Even within the field of nutrition, we are
dismayed by how many dietitians—people in the field of nutrition—rigidly
follow the highly compromised public health recommendations.
The Most Important Principle: Continual Exploration
The knowledge represented here is inherently dynamic.
This is not a fixed program that one simply adopts. The most important
principle of the program is continual active exploration of new knowledge
from multiple sources:
• Newly available diagnosis and treatment
options resulting from the emerging biotechnology revolution
• New insights into natural therapies
• Your own growing personal knowledge of available
• New personal knowledge about your own condition
• We plan to update the information in this
book on our Web site (see Fantastic-Voyage.net) and through future
editions of this book. A list of resources also appears on the site.
Most health books offer just one or two new ideas.
Ours is different in that it provides dozens that are incorporated
into a single integrated program. Based on our research, we believe
that the recommendations in Fantastic Voyage will enable you to dramatically
reduce your risk of disease in the future while quickly boosting your
well-being in the present. Our core idea is that we now have the knowledge
to determine where each of us is located in the progression of these
decades-long degenerative processes and reverse them.
The support for this concept is rooted in decades
of investigation and years of collaboration. Many of the simpler ideas
presented in other contemporary health books are valid, but there
is no single silver bullet that can address all of the key issues,
given the complexity of our bodies and brains. Typically, other health
books present one or two ideas combined with a lot of preaching. Instead,
we provide a high density of ideas on how to harness contemporary
longevity knowledge to transform your health.
Ideas have immense power to transform reality, but
only if they are put into practice. There are two ways to use this
• Select ideas you find
appealing and add them to your personal health program. We expect
this is how many readers will benefit from this book.
• Follow all of the recommendations of Ray
& Terry’s Longevity Program, which we designed as an integrated
and comprehensive approach to nutrition, lifestyle changes, and cutting-edge
Health is not simply the absence of diagnosed disease;
it’s a path toward ever-greater physical, emotional, and spiritual
well-being. There is always the potential to improve your personal
Go to Chapter 2