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IG#19: What were to happen if we live longer, & what you can do today to increase your odds

In some scientific circles, Aging is considered a disease. Diseases can be cured. Here's what you can do today to "heal" aging, and a few implications if this is actually true. (+ a new mental model)

Dominik Nitsch
6 min read

If you cut the first paragraph of any post draft, it instantly gets better”.

OK. No intro today then. Let’s get straight to it.

Photo by Sangharsh Lohakare on Unsplash

[1] New mental model: replicate, then iterate.

As a first-time founder, I didn’t have any role models to look towards. No mentors, no managers, no investors. We had to figure out everything ourselves.

Doing so, I tried to get cute, identify new ways of working, put processes into practice that I had cooked up myself.

They didn’t work. If they did, they were cumbersome, inefficient, and difficult to understand.

At some point, I got so frustrated that I started reading management literature (most notably, High Output Management), got mentors who showed me the ropes, and watched others manage their direct reports.

Then, I simply replicated what they were doing and implemented what I had read. My management skills improved instantly.

When learning a new skill, it might be tempting to get cute and reinvent the wheel.


Instead, replicate what the good performers are doing. Once you can replicate them so well that you outperform them, you can start iterating and trying new things.

Until then, be a student of the craft.

Just like in sports, before you start doing tricks, nail the basics first. Having a good bicycle kick in soccer or a fantastic behind-the-back in Lacrosse isn’t worth anything if you can’t make a proper pass 100 times in a row.

Replicate, then iterate.

[2] Things you can do today to live longer tomorrow

One of my favourite recent reads was the book “Lifespan” by Dr. David Sinclair.

He argues that aging is a disease, and like any other disease, it can be cured. It’s wild how far science has advanced in that field, and I won’t do it justice in this newsletter. For deep insights, I encourage you to read the whole book.

I will, however, share a few takeaways that I’ve already put into practice that are scientifically proven to extend your life, according to the author.

[2.1] Caloric Restriction

The biggest impact across all studies was achieved through caloric restriction. Think: eating less than you normally would.

This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Fasting for an extended period regularly (eg. fasting for one day every month)
  • Intermittent fasting (only ingesting calories in an 8-hour time window per day)
  • Constant caloric restriction (eating about 20% calories less than you normally would, always being slightly hungry)

I’ve started intermittent fasting again. It feels good, my body fat is going down, and my focus is up.

I do, however, also notice a slight loss in muscle mass, so it remains to be seen whether I can do both intermittent fasting and sports at a high level.

[2.2] Daily Exercise

Exercise is equally effective. In fact, it’s so important, that if you smoke and exercise regularly, your lifespan is longer than if you didn’t smoke and exercise.

15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (think: brisk walking) is the bare minimum; more is better. Get your ass off your chair and move. It’s basic. It’s simple. It’s proven over and over. Just do it.

Good ways to implement this in your life if you don’t already are to go on a morning walk and use your bicycle to commute. Or, of course, actually working out.

[2.3] Less red meat (😢)

I hate to write this, but consuming less red meat and processed meats is linked to an extended lifespan. Less brutal, but noticeable effects, have also been shown for eggs and other meats.

This will be a difficult change to make for some people like myself (or a conscious decision to not extend lifespan), but I have started to replace the processed meats with legumes as source of protein.

[2.4] Cold therapy

You know that perfect weather where you don’t sweat, but also don’t need more than shorts and a t-shirt? This is the “thermoneutral zone”, where your body doesn’t have to exert any effort to heat or cool itself.

Apparently, staying in the thermoneutral zone isn’t good for extending your life - leaving it is, especially by doing cold therapy. Ice baths and cold showers have been all the rage recently, and there seems to be something to it.

I started taking cold showers every morning in January, and it’s become a key habit for me to get going in the morning. Good to know that I’ve also accidentally started extending my life.

(Sauna also seems to be life-extending, although less effective than Cold Therapy.)

These 4 things are free and possible for anyone. And they certainly don’t hurt.

This newsletter is brought to you by Dandelus.

Why do we get games like Assassin’s Creed on PC and consoles, and games with the UX of Tetris on our web browser? Sophisticated web apps are all around us, but where are all the web games?

My good friend Patrick is launching a company to remedy the lack of web-based gaming. Read this article to learn why the state of gaming is the way it is, and what he plans to do to change that.

PS: Dandelus is also hiring.

[3] 2 counter-intuitive insights of humans living longer

What would happen if we all become 20 years older? There would be a ton of consequences. Here are two of them that I found particularly striking:

1/ Knowledge compounds, and leaders and scientists tend to become more effective as they age. Therefore, by adding healthy years onto their lives, we might experience outsized returns in science, politics, and business.

2/ On the other hand, it also slows down exchange of thinking. There’s a reasons professors have to retire in Germany; to make space for a new generation of scientists that grew up with a new set of ideas. The longer we live and work, the longer “old” ideas will stay prevalent - thus potentially slowing down change.

So while we might experience outsized returns from compounding knowledge in one field, we’d also be looking at a slower pace of idea iterations. Unless, of course, we find a way to open our minds and seek truth, instead of our ego being tied to our ideas.

Action Items:

  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Replicate the high performers until you outperform them. Only then, start iterating.

  2. Choose at least one of the following to implement today:

    1. Intermittent Fasting

    2. Exercising Daily (and more)

    3. Cutting one piece of red or processed meat from your diet

    4. Taking a cold shower once in a while (the more, the better)

  3. Challenge your assumptions about how old you’ll get. You might get a lot older than you think. Adjust your thinking accordingly.

  4. Consider reading the Lifespan book. Order here.

One ask from my side

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback that some of you really enjoy what I’m writing - which makes me feel giddy, warm, and fuzzy. Please keep that coming.

My friend Lea mentioned recently: “a few friends and myself love the newsletter - we don’t always agree with what you write, but it encourages discussions among us, and that’s awesome”.

I love hearing that. If everybody agreed all the time on the things that I write, this stuff would be boring as hell.

So if you feel anything like Lea, please tell a friend about this newsletter, and maybe even forward them this email. It’s the best thing you can do to help this newsletter grow.

The more people subscribe, the more time I’m forced to spend on writing the best possible newsletter. Again, everybody wins.

Thank you.

That’s it for this edition of International Generalist. Thanks for tuning in and reading!

Who’s behind International Generalist?

I’m Dominik, and every day, I try to figure out how to become a tiny bit more effective. Then, I share some of the lessons learned here.

When I’m not writing, I build the international business for Sdui - the Leading European SchoolOS -, play Lacrosse, lift weights and enjoy draft beers.

Here’s how else I can help you:

See you in two weeks!

Much love



Dominik Nitsch

Proud generalist: Entrepreneur, Athlete, & Writer.

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