46-year-old millionaire Bryan Johnson believes he can reduce his biological age and even evade death with Blueprint—a complex life-extension system he invested $4 million to develop.
Death is an inevitable part of life, and perhaps one of the world’s most unstoppable forces. It’s the equalizer of all, an end that everyone is destined to meet one way or another. Of course, the lifespan of a person can vary. Some individuals may live longer than others, and some may leave the world earlier than desired. It goes without saying that money does play a role in better health: having sufficient financial resources can pay for necessities like regular doctor’s appointments, life-saving treatments, and medication. However, American tech millionaire Bryan Johnson isn’t just using his immense wealth to increase his quality of life—he also intends to defy death itself by reducing his biological age.
In a recent September feature for Time, senior correspondent Charlotte Alter gave readers an inside look into the unconventional daily life of the mogul, who founded payment-processing company Braintree in 2007 and eventually sold it to PayPal for around $800 million in 2013.
Attempting to Stop Death in Its Tracks
Johnson has invested $4 million to develop a life-extension system called Blueprint, which essentially controls the inner workings of his entire lifestyle. With the help of a team of 30 doctors—led by physician Oliver Zolman, as per Business Insider—Johnson created an algorithmic routine unlike any other.
This system “includes downing 111 pills every day, wearing a baseball cap that shoots red light into his scalp, [and] collecting his own stool samples,” wrote Alter in her Time feature, among other unusual practices.
“Johnson thinks of any act that accelerates aging—like eating a cookie, or getting less than eight hours of sleep—as an ‘act of violence,’” continued Alter.
The wealthy tycoon’s ultimate goal is “re-framing what it means to be human.” It’s not just about slowing down his aging process; it’s also about skipping death altogether. He wants to get his 46-year-old organs to function and look like those of an 18-year-old.
The question is, has it been working? Well, according to the reports from Johnson’s doctors, the system seems to be yielding results. At present, Blueprint has reportedly given him the bones of a 30-year-old and the heart of a 37-year-old. His VO2 Max—which is the maximum rate of oxygen he consumes during physical activity—is at the top 1.5% of 18-year-olds.
Following the Blueprint
So what does Johnson’s $4 million system and routine look like? On a normal day, the tech mogul wakes up at 4:53 am. His bedroom is sparsely furnished, practically desolate. It contains nothing but a bed, a laser face-shield he wears to stimulate collagen growth and reduce wrinkles, and another peculiar device he uses to monitor his cardiovascular health during sleep.
Johnson starts his days with a series of diagnostic tests, such as weighing himself on an electrical impedance scale to record his weight, body-mass index (BMI), body fat, hydration level, and pulse wave velocity. He uses a light-therapy lamp to reset his circadian rhythm, then washes his face, applies skin cream, and wears his laser face-shield for five minutes.
Medicine, Exercise, and Treatments
At 6:00 am, Johnson takes his barrage of pills which consist of certain supplements containing compounds like garlic and ginger root. However, they also consist of off-label medication like metformin (which is used to treat diabetes) and lithium (which is used in mental health treatments), as per Business Insider. In total, Johnson takes a little over a hundred pills a day.
Besides his medication, the millionaire also downs a juice blend that he calls the “Green Giant.” The drink contains a mixture of chlorella powder, spermidine, creatine, collagen peptides, and cocoa flavanols, among other ingredients.
When all that is finished, Johnson proceeds to do his special exercises for grip strength before hitting his home gym for a one-hour routine. This consists of fairly regular workouts like weights, planks, and stretches. The tech mogul dedicates three days a week to high-intensity workouts, during which he wears a plastic mask to measure his oxygen consumption.
Aside from these practices, Johnson also takes part in a variety of other treatments.These include skin care therapies, treatments for lung rejuvenation, and even those meant to improve his hearing and vision.
A Strict Diet
As for his meals, Johnson doesn’t categorize them into “breakfast,” “lunch,” and “dinner.” Instead, he labels them by order and number, like “first meal,” “second meal,” “third meal,” and so on.
One of his staple meals is the “super veggie” —a mushy blend consisting of black lentils, cauliflower, mushrooms, hemp seeds, and broccoli. Another consistent meal is the “nutty pudding,” a blend of macadamia nut milk, ground nuts, and other fruits. Other meal options may include dishes like a veggie lettuce wrap and chickpea curry over greens, according to Business Insider.
One might wonder if Johnson misses the taste of food beyond those recommended by his highly-curated regime; but his answer to this is a resounding no.
“I no longer have arousal from eating junk food,” shared Johnson in an interview with Insider. “People think that a cheat day for me, like the reward would be eating pizza and donuts. It makes me nauseous to even think about.”
An Automated Future
Johnson’s focus isn’t a particularly sentimental one. Alter’s article for Time grappled with the inherent conflict between Blueprint and certain aspects of what it means to be human. To Johnson, outsourcing the management of the human body to an algorithm is the ultimate form of human-AI collaboration. He explained that the AI-dominated future is something people must embrace in order to reach the next stage of evolution.
However, Alter wrote that there’s more to life than constantly monitoring one’s vitals and trying to beat a timeless force of nature. She mulled over the innately human joys of enjoying some sweet treats or staying up to talk to a loved one, and how someone must ultimately give up these things for a system like Blueprint. She also pondered on the sadness that comes with outliving friends and family.
However, Johnson’s chief marketing officer, Kate Tolo, thinks otherwise. She’s the first woman to follow the Blueprint regime. While she admitted she gave up all the things she cherished “in small ways” about her life, she believes the physical benefits outweigh the sacrifices. She also hopes everyone will gain access to the system that would help them live forever.
Stopping the Unstoppable
Many medical professionals are wary of Johnson’s entire system and what it implies. Death is, at least right now, an inevitability that not even immense wealth can stop. Of course, it’s more than possible to extend the average lifespan with continued scientific advancements. However, to skip death is an entirely different situation altogether.
“Death is not optional; it’s written into our genes,” explained Dr. Pinchas Cohen, dean of the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California, to Time.
“If you expect to live significantly longer than, say, 115 — which is more or less the maximum lifespan of our species — then there is currently zero evidence this can be accomplished,” shared Jan Vijg, a genetics professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, with Business Insider.
The Risks of Searching For Immortality
What’s more, experts are not entirely sure if Johnson’s regime is a healthy one. Adding to that, while the tech mogul hopes to make Blueprint accessible to the general public, health professionals warn that what works for him may not work for other people. Johnson’s practice of taking a hundred pills each day, for example, could pose a risk.
“What he’s doing hasn’t proven to be safe, because some of the treatments he’s taking are actually antagonizing to each other,” shared Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine with Time.
Barzilai also recalled a time he and other MDs had seen Johnson during an annual retreat for the Academy for Health & Lifespan Research. They all agreed that the tech mogul seemed rather pale and didn’t “look so great” all in all. His routine caused him to lose a lot of body fat—something that’s necessary for proper body function. Barzilai concluded that Blueprint is not an experiment he and his colleagues can accept as scientists or doctors.
Whether or not Johnson escapes death remains to be seen. However, such discussions bring the question of quality vs. quantity back to the forefront. While many people want more time on this earth, a long life isn’t always the same as a meaningful and fulfilling one.
Banner photo from the Blueprint website.