In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty introduces his guest, Peter Attia, founder of a cutting-edge medical practice focused on extending lifespan and improving health span.

Moreover, he hosts a health and medicine podcast. He has written a bestselling book, Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity. The conversation touches on his health challenges and how surprising it can be for individuals who think they are leading a healthy life to learn they might face severe health issues.

Fear of Premature Death

Peter Attia opens up to Jay Shetty about confronting the realities of his health and the fear of premature death. As an ex-athlete who spent considerable time as an ultra-distance swimmer, he was shocked to discover that he was insulin resistant, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. More alarming, the men in his family had a history of dying young from heart disease.

These revelations, coinciding with the birth of Attia's first child, served as an eye-opener. The fear was no longer about him but about not being present for the significant moments in his daughter's life.

People often need a significant push or a "fear factor" to value and invest in their health. While for some, it's a health scare, for others, it might be witnessing the health challenges of close family members. So, while fear can be an initial motivator, understanding the trajectory of one's health becomes essential.

Attia explains to Jay Shetty that certain aspects of our health are already declining from the moment we're born. For instance, the damage to arteries that leads to heart disease begins at birth, even though the symptoms might appear much later in life. On the other hand, aspects like cognitive capacity improve until they peak and then gradually decline.

Starting a life-extending program is an option to live a more enriched, healthy life. However, it depends on its value to the end user. To a person on the verge of death, any extension is invaluable. In contrast, telling a first-year high school student about the benefits of a life-extending program might meet with disinterest. The challenge is finding that sweet spot when one realizes their vulnerabilities but still has enough time to change their health trajectory.

The Importance of Family History

Peter Attia highlights to Jay Shetty the paramount importance of family history. In his practice, they rigorously seek detailed medical history from patients, asking ten questions of each family member, covering a broad spectrum from high blood pressure to osteoporosis. Surprisingly, even the most sophisticated genetic test doesn't provide the insights a comprehensive family history can. This is primarily because individual genes are not deterministic; many require an environmental trigger. As Attia explains to Jay Shetty, significant health concerns like cancer, heart disease, and dementia don't usually link to a single gene. While genes are essential, family history provides a clearer picture of potential health risks.

Attia admits that collecting family history can be challenging, especially if older generations have passed away. Personal experiences, such as having a more prominent family, can aid in gathering substantial information. For instance, Attia's vast family helped him pinpoint a heart disease condition on his father's side.

Additionally, Attia introduces his "Early" program, a digital product on picking family history. This program is structured into 12 modules, each lasting a month. It begins by setting goals, then focuses on extracting family history and understanding its implications on one's health.

Regular Check-ups

Jay Shetty discussed with Peter Attia the evolving attitudes toward regular health check-ups and scans. Younger generations are showing a diminishing culture of routine doctor visits, likely due to a lack of trust, transparency, or simple complacency.

Peter Attia highlighted that while some scans can be crucial for assessing heart disease risk, others, like whole-body scans, must be cautiously approached. He stressed the advantages of MRI as it doesn't involve radiation, unlike CT or PET scans. However, Attia pointed out that not all MRIs are alike.

Two essential concepts to consider when discussing screening tests are sensitivity and specificity. Sensitivity gauges a test's ability to detect an issue if it exists. MRIs, particularly high-quality ones, are sensitive. But MRIs have blind spots, such as potentially missing small calcified breast cancers. On the other hand, specificity measures the likelihood of a test providing a negative result if the condition is absent. Unfortunately, whole-body scanners often have low specificity, leading to numerous false positives.

Modern Nutrition Insights

Attia stressed the importance of protein, especially for those over 50, to maintain muscle mass and quality of life. Yet he presented three strategies to combat overnutrition: calorie restriction (CR), dietary restriction (DR), and fasting or time-restricted eating (TR). It is essential to note that each approach has its merits and drawbacks, requiring individuals to determine what works best. The essence is to avoid getting entangled in the latest diet trend but to understand their fundamental principles.

Jay Shetty observed the evolution of plate and cup sizes, noting their gradual enlargement. Such shifts in design influence consumption behaviors, leading people to eat more significant portions under the perception of it being the "new normal." Drawing a comparison, Attia highlighted the stark contrast in portion sizes when comparing countries like Italy to the U.S.


Peter Attia shared with Jay Shetty his regimen while warning against generalization. He consumes Athletic Greens (AG), a vegetable supplement that ensures he gets his required daily vegetable intake, even when he can't drink enough through meals. Another supplement in his arsenal is a specific probiotic that aids glucose control, which he finds crucial even for non-diabetic individuals. A regulated blood glucose level reduces risks related to various diseases, making its management vital.

Moreover, Attia listed specific vitamins and minerals that he finds helpful, such as B vitamins, particularly in their methylated form, and vitamin D. He cautioned about ensuring genuine sources of vitamin D, as many clinical trials offer conflicting evidence. Magnesium is another favorite in its slow and fast-absorbing forms, given its varied benefits, including aiding sleep and improving brain health. Ashwagandha and glycine are his go-to supplements for sleep enhancement.

Lastly, Attia recommended fish oil. Given its rich content of EPA and DHA – omega-3 fatty acids – he believes most people would benefit from its consumption, considering the typical lack of marine fat in everyday diets.

While modern diets and nutrition habits have evolved, understanding core principles and individual needs are paramount.

Regenerative Agriculture

Attia discusses with Jay Shetty the decreasing nutrient density of our food, tracing it back to the health of our soil. It has degraded over time due to intensive farming methods such as over-tillage, heavy fertilizer use, and lack of crop rotation. As the soil health deteriorates, so does the nutrient content of the plants and, subsequently, the animals that feed on these plants, ultimately affecting human health.

As Attia points out to Jay Shetty, regenerative agriculture offers a solution to this problem. Not only does it promise better nutrient-dense food, but it also presents a potential solution to combat climate change. Regenerative farming practices sequester carbon in the soil, which can lead to a dual benefit: improving soil health and reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. In Attia's opinion, regenerative agriculture's rule in reducing carbon in the atmosphere could be more significant than the benefits of electrifying the entire transportation system.

Yet, Jay Shetty points out that scaling regenerative farming remains a challenge. The current agricultural industry would need a considerable overhaul. The reliance on automation, fertilizers, and pesticides would have to give way to more traditional, manual farming methods prioritizing soil health.

Jay Shetty and Peter Attia also discuss the trend of home gardens. They both appreciate the flavor and quality of homegrown produce. Understanding and nurturing the soil is crucial, whether on a small scale at home or a larger scale on a farm. However, transitioning to such methods would need a significant shift in policies, incentives, and a change in mindset about agriculture's role in our lives and our planet's health.

Balancing Physical and Emotional Health

Jay Shetty emphasized the importance of connection to the environment, mentioning personal challenges with a gopher problem affecting his lawn. He briefly discussed the content of Attia's book, which touches upon cancer, Alzheimer's, exercise, and dietary habits.

Balancing physical health and emotional well-being is a challenge for many. Jay Shetty shared a personal experience wherein despite being in optimal physical condition, a deficiency in vitamin D had a profound impact on his emotional health. He noted that certain environmental conditions, like noise and disruptions, adversely affected his sleep, further influencing his emotional state.

Peter Attia emphasized the intrinsic link between physical and emotional health. He shared how physical issues can exacerbate emotional vulnerabilities. While physical health can significantly impact emotional wellness, one could be physically fit yet neglect their emotional well-being.

While mental health focuses on medically recognized conditions, emotional health encompasses broader human experiences, including relationships, a sense of purpose, joy, and fulfillment. In Attia's view, maintaining physical fitness is essential. Yet one must prioritize their mental health for overall well-being.

Addressing the Root Cause

Jay Shetty spoke with Peter Attia about confronting one's past, the roots of trauma, and the journey of self-improvement. The latter recounted a profoundly personal moment when he almost lost his family due to selfish and destructive behaviors. His realization of the harm he was causing prompted him to seek help and address his internal struggles.

Attia recognized that his coping mechanisms stemmed from childhood traumas. Children adapt to traumas, forming protective behaviors. However, while some adaptations can be practical in childhood, they can become detrimental in adulthood. For Attia, attributes like control, drive, perfectionism, and anger had become damaging, especially in his roles as a husband and father.

Jay Shetty pondered why many people delay confronting the root causes of their issues. However, Attia believes people often delay confronting the root causes of their problems because facing past pain can be more daunting than the current pain experienced. We are driven to examine our past and act toward change only when we face immense pain.

Living in the Present

The joy of living doesn't necessarily come from grand moments like sailing on a yacht but from simpler, spontaneous moments. Yet, the challenge of living presently gets compounded in our modern age. With an overload of pleasures and dopamine-driven activities, we often feel numb, leading to a never-ending chase for heightened experiences.

Attia shares with Jay Shetty the need for structure to enjoy spontaneity. He has set blocks of time for work, family, hobbies, and self-care, ensuring he's present for every activity. While grand experiences are great, cherishing simple moments and staying grounded can lead to a fulfilling life. Embrace the present, whether it's appreciating a leaf or basking in the vastness of a forest. The key is to be truly there.

Navigating Cancer

Attia shared with Jay Shetty the importance of self-care. He believes that individuals often neglect their needs, prioritizing others without realizing they are compromising their own health. People often fall into patterns, inadvertently ignoring their desires and needs.

Detecting early symptoms of conditions such as cancer is often difficult. Smoking and poor metabolic health are significant cancer drivers. Yet, for many, the root cause remains a mystery; it might be genetic, environmental, or simply bad luck.

However, detecting cancer early increases your survival chances. Despite the mainstream perspective, Attia recommends aggressive cancer screening, such as earlier and more frequent colonoscopies. New methods like liquid biopsies can detect minuscule DNA fragments indicating cancer.

Attia stressed to Jay Shetty that true success would come when treatments effectively address the most lethal cancers, including lung, colon, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. He remains optimistic about the direction of cancer research and treatment.

Make the First Step

Jay Shetty brings up the anxiety people often feel about daily health activities, such as exercising or taking supplements. These worries can deter individuals from pursuing healthy habits. Peter Attia explains that every person is unique, and some people tend to self-sabotage, leading to physical or emotional harm.

Attia believes that addressing the root cause of such behaviors is essential, suggesting that some might benefit from trauma-based therapy. He emphasizes the importance of starting small when adopting healthy habits. Instead of pursuing perfection, one should aim for small victories. For instance, a simple 20-minute walk can be a significant achievement if someone doesn’t have an active lifestyle already.

Attia's approach isn't one-size-fits-all. Treating everyone individually and being prepared to pivot strategies when necessary are crucial to daily health.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Peter Attia ON Scientific Ways to Slow Down Aging & How Your Emotional Health Is Impacting Your Physical Health” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

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