Dr. Alan Safdi may have an answer to the question that’s eluded humanity forever: Is there a way to extend our life here on Earth?
In a series of Live Longer Retreats at The Peaks Resort & Spa this summer, Safdi will disclose “medically-based ways” to prolong one’s life, along with a team of wellness and nutrition experts, according to promotional materials.
Now, this isn’t some mysterious, Fountain of Youth-type theory. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon already went stomping around what we now call Florida (or Bimini, depending on the historical account you believe) sometime in the 16th century and found nothing of note. No liquid of any kind promising life eternal, curing mortality and reversing the natural aging process has been discovered in the history of man.
However, there is a Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida, where Ponce de Leon supposedly landed, but the well water there is just that, according to countless studies over the years. Lapping up some Fountain of Youth suds is a romantic vision — a 1546 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder shows jovial nudists swimming in the magical waters, while the aging and old are brought to the fountain’s edge in wheel barrels and wagons — but Safdi, a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist, has a simpler, more logical explanation for preventing age-related ailments and possibly living longer: a healthier lifestyle.
“What we try to do is educate,” he said. “Lifestyle is killing a lot of people.”
He claimed approximately 70 percent of people die from lifestyle-related diseases, whether it be smoking, alcohol or obesity.
He explained he’s traveled around the world to volunteer in places like Africa, Cuba and India, and noticed locals had a very different perspective on well-being than we do in America, which led to a revelation.
“My training was focusing on diseases once people got them; not preventing them from getting sick,” he said.
Safdi then began to study Blue Zone populations, which entail certain areas or groups of people that have a longer life expectancy. For example, Sardinia has the highest rate of centenarians in the world (22 centenarians per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the latest numbers). That type of longevity isn’t just luck and good genes, Safdi said.
“They don’t go to gyms. They don’t go to health-food stores. They don’t take vitamins. But they live 10-12 years longer than we do,” he said. “Why is that? Because their entire lifestyle is really healthy. They exercise all day, but they don’t see it as exercise. They walk up and down the hills in Sardinia.” (The average American lifespan is 76.1 years for men and 81.1 for women.)
Similarly, Colorado is the only state with an obesity rate below 20 percent, Safdi added, because “your gym is your environment.”
During the retreats, which are limited to 10-15 people, personal chefs and trainers will outline individualized eating and exercise programs, as Safdi will spend up to 10 hours each day with participants. Hiking, biking, swimming and other activities will occur daily. It’s no surprise that Safdi, a Telluride resident, keeps up with the most recent age-related studies. Citing a Copenhagen paper about exercise and all-cause mortality rates, he said the researchers found 22 minutes of exercise a day can decrease the chances of death by cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, among other ailments, by 31 percent.
“Basically, all the things we’re dying from in our country,” Safdi said of the study’s results.
Safdi also will look at genetics and family health history in determining the best way to “revolutionize your lifestyle.”
The weeklong retreats will be held Sept. 23-29. The price is $4,500 per person; $3,000 without accommodations. For more information, visit thepeaksresort.com/longevity. Interested parties can enter a sweepstakes (thepeaksresort.com/meetings/longevity-sweepstakes/). The winner will be announced the week of June 10 via The Peaks and Telski’s Facebook accounts. The winner will be able to choose the retreat they’d like to attend, free of charge. The winner will still be responsible for transportation costs. For planning assistance, contact Patrick Latcham at 970-728-7388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.