Dr. Sanjay Gupta Has Pretty Much Figured Out How to Live ForeverDr. Sanjay Gupta
In Japan, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is shirtless again. CNN’s strong-jawed trauma neurosurgeon is searching for the secrets to a long life on his new show, Chasing Life, and this includes several hot baths. His second bath, called jikan-yu, happens to be a whopping 115 degrees (F), an illegal temperature in the U.S. (anything above 104, FYI.) He’ll descend into the onsen (hot springs) for three minutes and hope for a rejuvenated bod by the end of it. The doctor looks at the steaming bath with dread and excitement.
Chasing Life explores areas known as “blue zones,” where people have lived longer than the average lifespan. In Japan, which has the world’s highest average life expectancy, Sanjay Gupta is treated by a blind acupuncturist; in India he gets an Ayurvedic oil massage administered by a guy’s feet; and in Bolivia, he undergoes a grueling stress test at high altitude.
By the end of just a few screeners, I wanted to get back into yoga and eat more bitter melon. I’ve been off my game. What else could I do to live until I’m 97 with a heart that’s 20 years old, like the flirtatious dancer he meets in Okinawa? I had a quick chat with Dr. Gupta—who was in between press interviews and reporting on the opioid epidemic for CNN—to find out.
I had a green smoothie, and I’m feeling pretty on top of things so far today, but something tells me you’ve done better.
What changed in your eating and exercise routine after filming?
The other thing is, I’ve always been sort of focused on fitness and trying to exercise every day. But whether it’s losing weight or feeling more energized, I do think that the vast majority of that comes from diet as opposed to exercise.
So there’s lots of hummus and…
What are some things you’d tell people to help them live longer, healthier, happier lives?
Then we were in Japan, and the mainland of Japan is considered one of the most stressed places in the world now. [On the show, he takes a “forest bath,” called shirin yuko, a hike through the forest.] It’s one of these things where we know it feels good to be outside, in nature. We’ve been hearing that our whole lives. But there are chemicals, called phytoncides, that basically protect nature against harmful attacks and stresses, and those phytoncides are released into the air and we have receptors for these phytoncides in our own bodies—I found that intriguing. The aroma of the forest could potentially be very stress-relieving and work as an antidepressant.
When you signed on to do this show, did the CNN producers and executives mention how often you were going to be shirtless?