The quest to live FOREVER: It sounds mad, narcissistic and utterly unrealistic, but tech tycoon Bryan Johnson hopes his 80 pills a day and a diet of mushed veg will be a blueprint that’ll save mankind from being taken over by robots
- Bryan Johnson, 45, claims to have the fitness of an 18-year-old due to regime
- Read more: Tech billionaire who spends $2million a year to reverse his ageing
There is something otherworldly about Bryan Johnson. His skin is luminous and taut, his eyes unnaturally bright as he stares intently at me.
Transfixed, I search for a wrinkle, blemish or flaw – but there are none. Unbelievably, this eerie perfection is not down to Botox, fillers or the skill of a surgeon’s scalpel.
At 45, Bryan, a tech mogul who sold his business Braintree Venmo to PayPal for $800 million (then £492 million) almost ten years ago, is spending an astonishing $2 million (£1.6 million) a year in his quest for eternal youth, dubbed ‘Project Blueprint’.
He has a team of more than 30 doctors who routinely measure his blood, heart, liver, kidneys, brain, blood vessels and sexual health.
He gobbles down 80 vitamins and minerals a day, eats 70lb of pureed vegetables a month and goes to bed at precisely 8.30pm every night. He has taken more than 33,000 images of the inside of his bowels.
At 45, Bryan, a tech mogul who sold his business, is spending an astonishing $2 million (£1.6 million) a year in his quest for eternal youth
Bryan Johnson, 45, has a team of more than 30 doctors who routinely measure his blood, heart, liver, kidneys, brain, blood vessels and sexual health (pictured with father and son)
Bryan’s goal is to biologically become 18 again. He eats a strict 1,977 calories – including almond milk, walnuts, flaxseed and berries – exercises at least an hour a day and, two years into his anti-ageing experiment, claims he now has the heart of a 37-year-old, the skin of a 28-year-old and the fitness of an 18-year-old.
Does he think he will live for ever?
‘I currently have no plans to die,’ he tells me.
While some say he looks creepy – critics have compared him to Patrick Bateman, the self-obsessed serial killer in Bret Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho, a vampire and even an elf – the eccentric man opposite me radiates health and happiness.
Bryan, who calls himself ‘a professional rejuvenation athlete’, laughs when I ask him if he gets upset when people brand him a ‘narcissist’ or suggest he should add a shrink to his long list of doctors.
Bryan, who calls himself ‘a professional rejuvenation athlete’, laughs when I ask him if he gets upset when people brand him a ‘narcissist’
His idea was prompted by tests in rodents that showed older rats were rejuvenated when infused with blood from younger rats
‘I honestly have never felt happier or more stable,’ he says, sitting cross-legged on the sofa in his pristine, modernist £9 million mansion in Venice Beach, California.
‘Haters are always going to hate, but to me the mark of genius is hitting a target no one else can see.’
Bryan made global headlines last month in the world’s first ‘multi-generational blood plasma exchange’ when his 17-year-old son Talmage donated his youthful blood to Bryan, who in turn donated plasma to his 70-year-old father Richard.
His idea was prompted by tests in rodents that showed older rats were rejuvenated when infused with blood from younger rats. But it has never been scientifically tested in humans.
Bryan (centre) made global headlines last month in the world’s first ‘multi-generational blood plasma exchange’ with his father and son
In the exchange, his 17-year-old son Talmage (left) donated his youthful blood to Bryan (right), who in turn donated plasma to his 70-year-old father Richard
Bryan’s goal is to biologically become 18 again. He exercises for at least an hour every day and has the heart of a 37-year-old
I ask Bryan if he feels younger now that he’s infused with a litre of blood from his son, a star high-school athlete (pictured together)
I ask Bryan if he feels younger now that he’s infused with a litre of blood from his son, a star high-school athlete. ‘It’s too early to tell,’ he says.
He whips out his phone and shows me a photograph taken two days earlier of him having 24 vials of blood drawn for his latest battery of tests.
Does all that poking and pricking with a needle hurt?
Read more: Tech billionaire, 45, who spends $2million a year trying to reverse his ageing reveals latest gadget he uses that puts his body through the equivalent of 20,000 sit ups in 30 minutes
Bryan Johnson, founder and chief executive officer of Kernel Holding SA, pictured in 2021
He rolls up his sleeves to show me his weirdly hairless arms, which are bulging with ‘perfect’ veins thanks to his less than six per cent body fat – making blood-drawing easier.
‘We have perfected blood-drawing,’ he says. ‘Yes, it hurts. What I am doing can be incredibly painful. But I believe it will be worth it in the end.’
He might seem like an oddball, but then the desire of rich men to seek immortality is nothing new.
In the days of the industrial revolution, robber barons such as Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt and JP Morgan spent millions building libraries and universities to ensure their names endured through the ages.
Today, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Google’s Larry Page, PayPal’s Peter Thiel and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg are all investing in biomedical research and new technologies which they hope will help them to live for ever. But none have dedicated themselves to turning back the hands of time with the rigorous vigour – and personal sacrifice – of the man sitting opposite me.
Bryan started his anti-ageing research when, after selling his company and going through a messy divorce from the mother of his three children, he found himself 60lb (27kg) overweight, depressed to the point of having suicidal thoughts and suffering from violent mood swings.
He becomes animated: ‘There was this other Bryan, who I call ‘Evening Bryan’, and he would show up at 7pm on the dot. He would say, ‘Hey, you’ve had a great day… why don’t you celebrate tonight and have pizza and cookies and tomorrow we’ll work out really hard?’
‘Then I would wake up fat, having not slept properly, depressed.
‘It took me years to remove that internal demon. I learned how to recognise him and I would say, ‘Thank you Evening Bryan, but it’s not going to happen. We know what happens when we eat too much and we don’t feel good… so no.’
‘That is what everyone on this planet is going through. We are quite literally mad as a species. We are addicted to junk food, to alcohol, drugs, cigarettes.
‘All these things which make us feel bad. We are at war with ourselves. How can we hope to save the planet, to survive as a species, if we can’t make peace with our own bodies?’
Bryan set out to remove his ‘mad brain’ from the equation.
Bryan started his anti-ageing research when, after selling his company and going through a messy divorce from the mother of his three children, he found himself 60lb (27kg) overweight
His regime produced the ‘unexpected bonus’ of returning his libido to that of an 18-year-old (he wears another device that monitors nocturnal erections)
When his body fat level fell to just 3 per cent – dangerous for his heart – the team increased his daily calorific intake
He whips out his phone and shows me a photograph taken two days earlier of him having 24 vials of blood drawn for his latest battery of tests
At breakfast he takes more than 50 vitamin and supplement pills, downed with a ‘Green Giant’, a vile-looking concoction that includes vegetable juice, collagen and peptides
‘I had done a lousy job of looking after myself so I thought, what if I let my body decide how it wants to live? What if data, not emotions, managed how I eat and sleep?’
He began obsessively reading scientific literature on ageing and longevity and offered himself up as a human guinea pig while putting together a team of doctors headed by Cambridge-based anti-ageing expert Dr Oliver Zolman.
Bryan’s unorthodox lifestyle includes wearing glasses to block blue light, using lasers to get rid of sun damage on his face and body, wearing a device he pins to his left ear that ‘placates’ the vagus nerve (to control stress) and using a electromagnetic machine that zaps his pelvic floor muscles.
The latter produced the ‘unexpected bonus’ of returning his libido to that of an 18-year-old (he wears another device that monitors nocturnal erections).
Project Blueprint includes trying to rejuvenate Johnson’s skin from previous sun damage
Johnson exercises for an hour a day with more intensive workout sessions three times a week
His company Kernel makes helmet sensors which attach to the head to take recordings of brain activity
Not that it matters much to Bryan, who seems subdued as he confesses he is single and yet to find a woman who will tolerate his extreme lifestyle, even with the added sweetener of $800 million in the bank.
His medical team is led by Oliver Zolman, a 29-year-old doctor researching ageing therapies in Cambridge
Bryan takes small doses of the male hormone testosterone, because his restrictive diet has reduced his natural level, human growth hormones (‘they rejuvenate the thymus, which is the gland responsible for keeping your immune system healthy’) and a daily dose of lithium to improve his mood.
Each morning at 5am he jumps on a scale that measures his weight (it rarely fluctuates from 164 lb (74kg), body mass index and body fat and then monitors his temperature, blood glucose level and oxygen level.
His results are fed into a computer with data from whole-body MRI scans and ultrasound, blood, urine and stool tests. The computer then produces a daily ‘blueprint’ to ensure optimal health.
At breakfast he takes more than 50 vitamin and supplement pills, downed with a ‘Green Giant’, a vile-looking concoction that includes vegetable juice, collagen and peptides, before cleaning his teeth and rinsing with anti-inflammatory tea-tree oil.
‘Dinner’ is a mush of mashed-up vegetables, eaten around 11am. He takes another 30-plus pills before bed. On top of this there is the daily exercise regime – at least an hour a day – plus the constant testing, prodding and probing.
His regime is constantly being ‘tweaked’ by his doctors. For example, when his body fat level fell to just 3 per cent – dangerous for his heart – the team increased his daily calorific intake.
Johnson claims to take in an exact 1,977 calories a day through a strictly vegan diet, ensuring his body fat levels remain between 5 and 6 percent
Johnson claims to take in 1,977 calories a day, ensuring his body fat body fat hovers between 5 and 6 percent
Johnson’s home in Venice, California, was modified to include a full medical suite
Now Bryan has found a female guinea pig who has agreed to follow his exhausting regimen and act as ‘ground zero’ for a modified women’s Blueprint. She will be revealed with great fanfare in the next two weeks, he told the MoS.
‘Thousands of women put themselves forward but we quickly narrowed down the list of potential candidates,’ he says.
READ MORE: Could a drug made for lung patients help older women have babies? The most promising new treatments to help budding mothers conceive?
‘This isn’t an easy programme. You can’t have a ‘cheat’ day, you cannot deviate from the programme the algorithm comes up with. This isn’t something most people can do.’
Surely, I say, there must be times when he craves a juicy burger or even a cheeky glass of wine?
‘No. The thought of that makes me feel sick. I have never felt so happy, so balanced, so human.’
Looking around his unnaturally clean house, I ask whether, with so much in the bank, he doesn’t want to go out and just live.
‘I have lots of fun. Talmage and I did three days motorcycling in Baja, Mexico. I fly planes. I go out. I’m actively participating in life with a vibrancy that far exceeds any joy I have had before.’
He and Talmage recently took a two-week trip to New Zealand that was marred only by the fact that overzealous guards at Los Angeles airport confiscated his ‘stash’ of vitamins, lotions and potions.
Perhaps the appeal of his ultra-strict lifestyle can be explained by his upbringing.
He was raised a Mormon, a church that bans the consumption of alcohol and even coffee, but left several years ago. Talmage and Bryan’s father Richard have also turned their backs on the religion.
Bryan says he has a great relationship with his two other children, including a 13-year-old daughter, but declines to discuss them or his ex-wife because they prefer to remain out of the spotlight.
But what does 17-year-old Talmage, who follows the Blueprint regimen, think about this lifestyle?
‘A year ago he was sensitive to the criticism he read on social media, now he laughs it off. He doesn’t feel like he is missing out. This is his choice,’ says Bryan.
The tycoon in 2019 with his ex girlfriend, the director Taryn Southern
Bryan Johnson, 45, spends $2million a year to engineer his body into that of an 18-year-old
The anti-ageing fiend has posted a video on social media using a machine he claims can replicate the benefits of performing 20,000 sit-ups
Meanwhile, Richard has reported a noticeable improvement in memory since starting his version of Blueprint.
It sounds bonkers, but it is hard not to feel Bryan’s heart is in the right place. He posts all of his data online for free and when he recommends a supplement or skin lotion it instantly sells out. He has vowed never to capitalise on any of his findings. He does it because he genuinely believes the human race is in danger of self-destructing.
‘People are sick and tired. They are addicted to their phones and social media. Flying by the seat of our pants in this violent, addictive way is not increasing our probability of survival.’
He says the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) poses ‘an existential threat the likes of which we have never faced in history’, adding: ‘What I am doing is ultimately all about AI alignment. It’s not because I want to live for eternity. It’s not because I’m some rich guy seeking immortality. This is about the survival of the human race with AI.’
Many medical professionals, including leading British scientist Lord Robert Winston, have dismissed Bryan as a ‘snake-oil salesman’ and say taking scores of vitamins is pointless if a person follows a balanced diet.
Meanwhile others, including oncologist Kristin Dittmar, praise Bryan for investing his millions in ‘breaking new ground’. She says: ‘What he does is essentially a full-time job. It’s impressive.’
Could it be that the efforts of wealthy health zealots such as Bryan could, ultimately, end up benefiting mankind?
A prominent LA cancer doctor who preferred not to be named because Bryan is so controversial, said: ‘These billionaires are spending their own money to test things which are theories. Sure, a lot of it will be bunkum. But Bryan isn’t hurting anyone. People like him could end up finding cures for diseases – real solutions to real medical problems. If we had $800 million, we’d want to live for ever too.’
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