Introducing our Longevity & Biohacker doctor: Ryan Ware. Age-hacking to live younger.

Our Chief Medical Officer and co-founder shares his take on the field of longevity medicine and how Mito is leading this space. Learn about how he started this journey and key insights on health and longevity that he picked up along the way.

Today we sat down with Dr. Ryan Ware - our Chief Medical Officer and a co-founder at Mito Health, to get his take on the field of longevity medicine and how Mito is leading this space.

After graduating from the National University of Singapore, he trained as a surgical resident under the National Healthcare Group, and later obtained membership with the Royal College of Surgeons and a Masters of Medicine. Read on to learn how he started his journey with Longevity Medicine:

Tell us about yourself! How did you get started in the longevity and healthspan journey?

I’ve spent a lot of time working with patients with all types of chronic diseases, ranging from “simple” nagging pains to cancer. And as many doctors with a few years of experience under their belt will tell you, there’s so much more that can be done to prevent such diseases from happening in the first place. You don’t need a medical degree to know that prevention is better than cure.

And yet not enough is being done to achieve it. I believe there’s a better, more scalable way to address these issues with today’s technology and generative AI, which led me to co-found Mito Health.

At the same time, I’ve always been a little bit of a fitness and nutrition science junkie. I’ve spent way more time than I’d care to admit reading papers on exercise physiology and nutritional biochemistry, instead of actually exercising or preparing high-quality food. That led me down the path of fitness, then health optimization and self-experimentation, which eventually led me to explore the science of longevity.

There isn’t any formal training program or medical residency program that teaches this now, though I hope there will be soon.

About Mito Health

Could you sum up Mito in 1 sentence?

Mito Health is a digital longevity and preventative health platform that helps users optimize their health and stay healthy for longer.

What is so special about our biomarkers? How did you decide on them?

Dr. Ryan on the panel of Mito Health's launch event.

I chose these biomarkers based on my research of the current best evidence available. Not everyone needs the same tests though and often over-testing causes more harm than good.

I put this panel together to help individuals who truly want to optimize health and longevity - exceeding what is "average". The additional biomarkers we selected aren’t brand new or revolutionary, but they help to predict future risk with more accuracy and granularity than what most basic panels provide. And that accuracy is crucial to guide our own health choices on how to spend our precious time, money, and effort.

For example, we can estimate insulin resistance by measuring insulin and glucose levels in the blood, which can give us clues about the risk of not just diabetes but pre-diabetes. If we can help identify at-risk people at even earlier stages, it could potentially stave off future problems way earlier. If it makes financial sense for an individual to know their risk with that much more clarity, I believe that they should have that option.

Our goal at Mito is to offer these tests at prices that are as affordable as possible and to help individuals understand what these relatively newer biomarkers mean, which many clinicians may not yet be familiar with yet.

How does Mito help people achieve their longevity goals in ways where they can’t get elsewhere?

Dr. Ryan presenting the must-knows of biohacking at a Longevity Meetup, Trapeze Rec Club.

If we want to achieve longevity and quality of life outcomes that exceed those that have come before us, we need to achieve levels of health today that exceed those that have come before us. Without objective measurements and accurate predictors of risk, there’s no way that we can know whether we’re on track. 

Mito Health provides accessibly priced diagnostics and in-depth analyses presented in an understandable way, to help clients take control of their own health and longevity journeys. We help clients to identify what their likely weakest links are in their health whether they’re 25 or 75, and provide recommendations that suit their needs, preferences and ability. 

We want to move away from over-simplified recommendations like “eat brown rice” and “exercise moderately for 150 minutes a week”, to a much more personalized, actionable plan.

We all know that we need to exercise, just telling you to do it is like telling someone who smokes to “just stop”. Mito aims to provide detailed advice that makes sense for you, whether you’re a working parent with 2 young children and only 15 minutes to yourself each day whose kids refuse to eat brown rice, or a retiree who can dedicate 2 hours a day to health. 

These biomarkers also help clients prioritize what they want to improve on to maximize longevity. For one person, their focus might be reducing cardiovascular disease. For another, it might be staving off bone loss, osteoporosis and fragility. Let’s face it, health and longevity interventions aren’t always cheap. They cost money, time and willpower to implement. Knowing where our strong and weak aspects help us to rationalize how we spend our precious resources.

Lastly, everyone responds differently to interventions - what works for and is sustainable for one person could be very different from another. Ultimately, having objective, quantifiable measurements gives us the feedback we need to see if what we do works, how well, and if not, when to change our tactics.

What is the top takeaway that clients gain after a Mito screening?

A greater sense of control over their short- and long-term health goals. Our clients leave with a much clearer understanding of their own health, and knowledge is power. 

By identifying what they’re at risk of and what their “weakest links” are that are holding them back, we help clients rationalize what should be their priority and what can be done to get started in the right direction. And these recommendations cover a holistic range of strategies - diet, exercise, sleep, mental well-being and supplementation or medications.

How does AI help to support personalized healthcare at Mito?

AI provides a powerful tool to ingest and make sense of large amounts of data. Applied to personalized healthcare, it creates an opportunity to learn from huge population data sets as well as deep personal health data to generate much more personalized insights and recommendations. 

It also creates opportunities to reimagine the way we interact with the healthcare system. Now, most only see their doctor or relevant therapist when they are unwell. This isn’t just because of the cost and challenges (like queues) of accessing their provider, but also because it often makes little financial sense for clinics to spend a lot of time working with clients who are well (healthcare is still a business after all). I’m not sure that I want generative AI to replace my job, but there’s a great opportunity to help people receive ongoing, scientifically-accurate guidance with a provider that truly knows you better than a regular family doctor could.

At Mito we currently use AI as a co-pilot with myself to sieve through and interpret our client’s data in order to generate insights and recommendations, though every output is vetted by myself.

We’ve also built MitoMD, a chatbot that is trained entirely on Mito’s internal research database and each client’s individual data. MitoMD allows users to ask questions about their own health and to dive deeper into health strategies without the fear of hallucination or inaccurate information pulled from the web or thin air.

On Health and Longevity

Why do you think the standard healthcare system isn’t doing enough for preventative care?

Singapore has actually made some impressive strides in promoting public health, with initiatives like Healthier SG and the Nutri-Grade system. But when it comes to the healthcare system itself, there's been a bit of a historical tilt towards reactive care.

For the longest time, the norm was to wait until something went wrong before seeking out specialists or medical intervention. It's only been in the past decade or so that we've started to see a real shift towards a more preventive approach.

The core tenets of preventative medicine are a great lifestyle prioritizing a healthy diet, exercise, sleep and emotional health. Unfortunately, these aren’t areas that are particularly well covered in doctors’ medical education nor in clinical practice.

The vast majority of textbooks and publications focus on sick care, rather than healthcare, and consequently lifestyle medicine tends to be deprioritised, through no fault of the medical practitioners.

Additionally, when it comes to health screenings, even if these screenings do flag potential issues, there's often a lack of guidance on actionable steps to address them. It's like being handed a report card without any instructions on how to improve your grades.

Without clear guidance on what steps to take next, individuals may struggle to translate those screening results into meaningful changes in their lifestyle or healthcare routines.

Another significant issue is accessibility. While some higher-quality longevity optimization services may exist in the private sector, they're often priced out of reach for many people. This creates a glaring disparity in access to preventive care, where those who can afford it have access to personalized, proactive health interventions, while others are left to navigate a system that may not prioritize their long-term health needs.

We're committed at Mito to bridging this divide by offering comprehensive screenings, personalized guidance, and actionable steps at a price point that is more accessible

Is aging a natural process? To what extent can we halt and even reverse aging?

Aging is indeed a natural process that remains inevitable for now. That’s not to say that we can’t modulate our rate of decline. While I don’t yet see any interventions that are likely to halt aging altogether and extend human lifespan beyond its biological limit, there is still a lot we can do to age well and live longer, within these limits.

When it comes to determining how we age, it's not just about genetics versus lifestyle—it's a complex interplay between the two.

Sure, our genetic makeup plays a significant role in setting the stage for aging, dictating our susceptibility to certain diseases and how our bodies respond to environmental stressors. But we know that lifestyle factors can also influence how our genes express themselves—a field known as epigenetics.

Research into other biological processes involved in aging, such as mitochondrial function, inflammation, and DNA repair mechanisms, also points to the profound influence of lifestyle factors. For instance, regular exercise has been shown to improve mitochondrial function and reduce inflammation — both key drivers of aging.

So, while aging is indeed a natural process, our genetics and lifestyle choices intersect in fascinating ways that can profoundly influence how we age. At Mito Health, we're all about empowering individuals to take control of their aging journey through personalized interventions that leverage the latest in science and technology.

For people who haven’t made the best lifestyle decisions - can they still reverse their biological age?

While our lifestyle choices undoubtedly play a significant role in shaping how we age, it's not necessarily a one-way street.

One area of interest is the concept of "biological age," which refers to how old our bodies are at the cellular level, as opposed to our chronological age. Research has shown that biological age can be influenced by a range of factors, including lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep quality.

But it's not just about what we do; it's also about how we do it. Research suggests that the consistency and intensity of lifestyle changes may play a crucial role in their effectiveness. In other words, it's never too late to start making healthier choices, but the sooner and more consistently we do so, the greater the potential benefits for our biological age.

It's important to approach this with a dose of realism. Aging is a complex process influenced by a multitude of factors, and no magic bullet can reverse it entirely. However, by embracing a holistic approach to health and wellness, individuals can certainly take proactive steps to improve their biological age and enhance their overall quality of life, regardless of past lifestyle decisions.

If someone could only do one thing to increase their healthspan, what would it be?

Dr. Ryan with the Mito Team at a Mandala talk; a series on longevity at Mandala club.

Treat your health like many of us treat our wealth. No one would advise you to leave your financial situation and retirement egg to chance. Plan for your health, invest in it early and its effects will compound over time, keep track of your health like a budget, don’t put all your eggs in one basket (eg. just hope supplements and medications will be enough). There are so many parallels, but the key thing is to start early and not leave things to chance.

And get moving. Move frequently and vigorously.

What do you think is the most common misconception about longevity that people have?

People might see someone reach a very old age and assume they were brimming with health their entire lives. But the reality is living a long life doesn't automatically translate to living a healthy life.

Think of it like this: lifespan is the total number of years you tick off, the raw mileage on the car. Healthspan, on the other hand, reflects how well you use those years. It's about how long you can maintain vitality, function, and independence. You could potentially live to be 100, but if the last 20 years are riddled with chronic health issues and a decline in both body and mind, is that truly living a long life?

The good news is that we have a significant influence over our healthspan. By prioritizing evidence-based practices like proper nutrition, exercise, and mental wellbeing, we can potentially compress morbidity – the period of illness or disability at the end of life – and extend our years of healthy living.

Focus on health, don't get hung up on chronological age. By optimizing health through great lifestyle choices, we can achieve a great quality of life today and in the future, we can stave off disease to prevent early truncations of our vitality, and we can remain fit and independent for longer such that we can live robust, fulfilling lives in our later years.

It's about quality, not just quantity. That's the true essence of longevity.

In closing

Everything we do at Mito Health is geared towards this mission - helping you optimize your health in order to experience the highest quality of life, for as long as possible. Our flagship panel of advanced biomarkers allow us to fully understand the current state of your health, and your potential for longevity. From there, Dr. Ryan works with you to craft a bespoke health plan to help you reach your health, and by extension - life aspirations.

Sign up for our flagship package today to take control of your health and your future.

References
Written By
Mito Team
December 4, 2024
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