Q+A: Dr. Jeffry Life Talks Testosterone Replacement and Aging Athletes
Jeffry Life, a physician, author of two successful books and a crusader against old-age, has worked hard to dispel the notion that it’s normal for our bodies to break down. At 59, overweight and in declining health—facing a situation in which most people give up hope—Life began an intensive workout regimen with a former Navy Seal.
After 15 years of exercise and dieting, he has become a pioneer in age management and is leading an active personal life. Life, 75, talked with Edge about his detractors, the pros and cons of controversial Testosterone Replacement Therapy [TRT] and his current clientele at his rejuvenation center in Beverly Hills, which includes former professional athletes.
Edge: What is your response to criticism regarding your ideas and philosophy?
Dr. Jeffry Life: When I started this whole HRT [Hormone Replacement Therapy] for myself eleven years ago, my urologist told me I was crazy and that I’m setting myself up for prostate cancer and heart disease. We were really criticized by traditional physicians, state and federal governments. Testosterone has become more mainstream [and] advertised on TV, but done poorly. HRT, if done correctly by doctors [who] treat people truly deficient, can change lives.
Edge: What are the benefits of using HRT?
Dr. Life: The benefits are enormous. It improves men’s energy levels. Most come in [between ages] 40 and 50 and they don’t have the same energy they used to have. I can predict that these guys will have low testosterone levels. By correcting this, it improves their energy levels in about a week or two. When men and women age, they lose muscle mass and strength. This is considered to be a normal part of aging. It turns out that this is the number-one reason people end up in nursing homes. It’s completely avoidable by maintaining healthy testosterone levels and going to the gym, doing resistance training. People can gain muscle mass as they age with healthy hormone levels. Another huge benefit is that it actually reduces men’s risk for prostate cancer.
Edge: What are the drawbacks?
Dr. Life: The drawbacks are if men are taking testosterone from a physician, [via] the creams or patches, it’s not a good delivery system. As it moves through men and women’s skin, it creates DHT [dihydrotesterone]. High levels are [known] to cause prostate issues and hair loss. The best way to take it is injectable, one or two a week. Needs to be injected into muscle. The other very important part is to manage it properly by getting blood levels checked every three months and that were not seeing any adverse bi-products. Some male bodies might make more red blood cells [which] needs to be watched. I watch very carefully for these changes. If done properly and monitored carefully, it’s completely safe.
Edge: Have any active or former professional athletes reached out to work with you?
Dr. Life: I have several celebrities that I take care of. One is Rick Barry. He has been outspoken about how this has benefited him. [Rick] leads a very active lifestyle, fishes and plays basketball. [I’ve] had a thousand patients, plus over the last 11 or 12 years, several very prominent.
Edge: What's the hardest obstacle to overcome when a person ages?
Dr. Life: I would say there are two objects. Eating properly, making sure what they put in mouth isn’t killing them. Getting enough exercise, moving around. Those are the deal breakers for most aging people. They buy into the retirement notion; when they hit 65 they quit doing and moving. That’s the worst thing anyone can do. They really need to continue with any good exercise program with cardio and resistance training. This isn’t just aging people, [it’s] a problem for the whole country: the obesity epidemic and a type two diabetes problem. This is the first generation expected to have a shorter life span than their parents.
Edge: For an athlete like Ray Allen or Derek Jeter who are trying to preserve their careers and come back from injury, what kind of advice would you give?
Dr. Life: Train intelligently so they don’t get injured. Make sure they eat really clean so they can maintain low blood sugars and insulin levels, low body fat. If they do that, they can continue their career. By training in cardio and resistance training, most people can maintain healthy hormone levels. We can’t stop the aging process but we can definitely do things to not get old.
Edge: For someone who has ventured into the next phase of life, like a Charles Barkley or Shaquille O’Neal, what can they do to stay healthy and full of energy?
Dr. Life: They need to make sure their hormone levels are not declining just like any other guy their age. Careful about how they eat and what exercises they do. Make sure hormones are at a healthy level. If they eat like they did when they were younger, they end up becoming obese. These guys need to keep on training but not at the same level and eating clean. A lot of [retired players] have the attitude that once they retire they completely stop doing everything and end up in very poor health. Every adult should know what his or her hormone levels are.
Edge: How has your life changed since the release of your two books?
Dr. Life: [It has] changed enormously. The more I’ve written about what I do and believe in, the more thoughts and ideas come into my head. I’m recognized almost everywhere I go. It’s also really helped me stay on track in my own life. I need to be an example of what I write about. I think this whole journey I’ve been on for sixteen years has saved my life. I had heart disease fifteen years ago. If I hadn’t started on this journey, and continued on this path of healthy living, eating right and training right. People get fired up about an exercise program but then something that happens in their life that gets them off track. It’s a typical story I hear from patients. I talk in my book about strategies of how you can immediately get on track. For me, every day is a challenge because I like most American’s like to eat and drink things I shouldn’t.
For more info on Dr. Life, you can follow him on Twitter @drjlife or check out his new book, The Life Plan Diet.