Aging as an evolutionary program

Interview with Josh Mitteldorf

As Functional Medicine docs, we’re committed to working with the body’s own capacity for health. Dr. Josh Mitteldorf offers a contrarian strategy, one which he says is grounded in a new breed of evolutionary medicine.

He tells us that diseases of old age are qualitatively different from the diseases we get when we’re younger, different because in old age, our bodies are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Aging, says Josh, is the body deliberately destroying itself (for the sake of the population), via inflammation and apoptosis and autoimmune diseases. In this interview, Josh and I find common ground talking about hormesis. In Josh’s theory, the fact that the body lives longer when stressed (e.g. caloric restriction) is proof that the body isn’t trying its hardest to stay young when it’s not stressed.

It may sound like philosophy, but there are real consequences for the future of medicine.



Josh Mitteldorf

Caloric restriction

“If there is very little food … the last thing you need is to add to the death rate with aging and the weakening that comes with age. The best thing you can do is to live a long time, don’t have your children yet, but you wait for the famine to be over. When the famine is over, then you have your children and you can ensure the continuation of the population. I see the caloric restriction effect as a population stabilization adaptation. And then the whole thing makes sense.”