Small, but consistent lifestyle changes: Instead of overwhelming yourself by trying to change everything all at once (because this will make you stressed, and stress is one of the causes of aging!) focus on making small, consistent changes that contribute to your overall health and lifespan. For instance, if you enjoy drinking two glasses of wine every night but want to maintain the habit, consider reducing it to just one glass and having it with food rather than on its own. Everything in moderation, and in the Blue Zones they do consume a small amount of alcohol with meals.

The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Leslie Kenny, Longevity Expert, Co-Founder of Oxford Longevity Project & Founder of Longevity Supplement Brand Oxford Healthspan.

Leslie Kenny is an Oxford-based, Southern Californian entrepreneur and Berkeley and Harvard Business School graduate. After being diagnosed with several, “incurable” autoimmune conditions in her 30s, she took her health into her own hands and went back to school at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She not only healed herself, but went on to share her knowledge as a Bulletproof health coach seeing clients globally, founding the longevity supplement brand, Oxford Healthspan, and co-founding the non-profit organization Oxford Longevity Project alongside University of Oxford scientists and doctors to educate the public on the latest research in longevity.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Many of my life experiences led me to becoming a patient advocate and starting a supplement brand. At the age of 11 I was put in charge of taking care of my father who suffered from alcohol addiction. As a child becoming head of household for someone who’s addicted to a substance, I of course started to wonder what was going on systematically — why are they drawn to this repeatedly? It’s obviously bad for them. But they do it anyway. When I was 19, my father’s mother developed a cancerous brain tumour, so I left college for a year and took care of her together with my uncle. We didn’t want her to be in a nursing home, but comfortable and happy in the home she had lived in for the previous 40 years and surrounded by her loved ones. Unfortunately, feeding someone you love through a tube and watching them decline it makes you wonder what on earth is going on here? And why don’t the doctors have answers? Fast forward a few more years, and I was confronted with my own health crises: autoimmunity and infertility. Having already experienced decades of health crises, it’s impossible not to wonder what is going on. And it became clear to me that doctors didn’t have the answers. They had some of the answers, and I am grateful to medicine, but I do think that we patients need to meet our doctors halfway. And that in some cases, we can go even more than halfway by changing the environment around us, by changing our lifestyle. That’s when I began to do experiments on myself — changing my diet, changing my exercise routine, changing my sleep habits, and all of those things together have combined to put my body back into homeostasis.I think the body is always meant to be in equilibrium. But when we have external stressors, and environmental or even emotional toxins, all of these things combined together to disrupt that equilibrium. And it’s always up to us, and not just a pill, to try and bring us back to balance.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I had my online matchmaking company (I’ve worn many hats!) we had a hard time getting a payment provider to work with us because everyone thought we were a pornography company. It took us about 9 months to find a payment provider, which was WorldPay, who were just starting out at the time. We all know now that online matchmaking services are very popular and that we would have been a good bet as an industry, but it’s just an example of how established financial services firms are reluctant to take on start ups no matter how big their potential.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My current company (Oxford Healthspan) has a very scientific orientation, but I am not a trained scientist. And Oxford is well known for being skeptical of those who don’t have a particular academic background, so I was very fortunate to become acquainted with Oxford University Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology, Denis Noble, who mentored me on some of the concepts of basic biology. This has effectively allowed me to do the job I am doing now. If he had not seen some promise in my ability to grasp biology concepts as a patient, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Positive mindset/perseverance — Not giving up on my health and having children despite being told by doctors I wouldn’t be cured, had a limited lifespan and should forget about having kids.
  • Self-education — I’m not against traditional medicine at all, but I think as patients we need to take responsbility for our health as we know our bodies best and therefore, can’t rely solely on the opinions of others. I also come from a Taiwanese background where medicine is practiced very differently; it’s less about suppression and more about supporting your body’s innate ability to heal and come back into balance using natural tools. That’s why I decided to go back to school to study nutrition and became a health coach — to empower others to take control of their health.
  • Putting relationships before transactions. A number of people close to me when I started out told me that unless what I was doing led to a direct sale, there was no point doing it. They suggested I not attend conferences, not spend time networking and focus on buying sales through online ads and discounting. But I’m a people person and went against the grain, establishing myself within the longevity community and taking the time to get to know others on a non-transactional basis, on a personal level as a patient who wants to empower others to reach their optimal health by harmonizing their biology. In the end, some of our early competitors have disappeared because their sales were simply transactions. Others are in a race to the bottom because they are using cheap ingredients and are in a price war. I have always personally stood by our product being of the highest quality possible, taking extra steps that other companies don’t take to ensure the best product because I really do care about our customers. Our customer service reviews attest to this attention to the long term relationship with the customer as well.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

Having turned my own health around against, frankly, quite terrible odds, I feel I can offer hope and tools to those feeling lost regarding their health, especially if they are in their mid life and beyond. I think a lot of what we can do is actually quite simple — things like changing your mindset, exercising, maintaining a sense of community and purpose, eating a healthy, balanced diet. These are also typical traits of the Blue Zone lifestyle. But it’s also about using the right tools to help bring your body back into balance. Research has moved forward significantly, particularly in longevity as it’s such a hot topic right now; we now know it’s possible to reverse gray hair and keep it at bay — at 58, I am living proof of that, as are many of my clients at Oxford Healthspan. So for me, I want to spread awareness that it is possible to slow aging and increase your healthspan by bringing your body back into a state of equilibrium.

We’re also becoming much more aware of molecules that can make an impact on aging. My favorite compound, namely because it is the only known natural molecule to inhibit 9 of the 12 root causes of aging and induce autophagy, your body’s vital cellular renewal and “clean up” process, is spermidine. We naturally produce it in our gut biomes and tissues, and get the rest from our diet, but as we age our ability to produce it decreases and thus, our dietary need for it increases. A recent study, which was just published in Nature Ageing, showed it to promote fertility in older mice. This is ground-breaking stuff, especially as women (like I did) are having children later and later. I want to spread awareness of spermidine and the mechanism of autophagy to help people live longer, healthier lives. Spermidine is found in all plants, but it is most abundant in concentrated wheatgerm, the long fermented Japanese soybean dish, natto, and shiitake mushrooms.

Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.

While spermidine is relatively new in the Western world, it seems that ancient Japanese medics intuitively knew about its longevity-enhancing properties thousands of years ago. Spermidine was first discovered in sperm — hence the name! — and is present in it, as well as in breast milk. So what do you think is indicated as a longevity practice in 2000-year-old ancient Japanese medical scrolls? Male arousal without ejaculation. Thankfully, we don’t need to practice seminal retention to preserve our spermidine levels, but they were on the right track! We need to maintain good spermidine levels to age healthily and continue to trigger autophagy.

Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”?

  1. Small, but consistent lifestyle changes: Instead of overwhelming yourself by trying to change everything all at once (because this will make you stressed, and stress is one of the causes of aging!) focus on making small, consistent changes that contribute to your overall health and lifespan. For instance, if you enjoy drinking two glasses of wine every night but want to maintain the habit, consider reducing it to just one glass and having it with food rather than on its own. Everything in moderation, and in the Blue Zones they do consume a small amount of alcohol with meals.
  2. Prioritize quality sleep: To reduce inflammaging (inflammation associated with aging-related conditions), it’s essential to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Align your sleep patterns with the natural rhythms of the day by going to bed earlier and waking up at roughly the same time each day. Kill two birds with one stone (see next point!) and go for an early morning brisk walk to reset your circadian rhythm with the sun.
  3. Incorporate physical activity, especially in natural settings: Engaging in movement, especially in outdoor environments like forests, offers numerous benefits. Nature can have a calming effect on the nervous system, positively impacting mental health and fostering social connections with neighbors.
  4. Adopt a healthy diet: Look to Okinawa in Japan, one of the Blue Zones known for its long-lived population, for dietary inspiration. While younger generations in Okinawa are adopting Western diets and sedentary lifestyles, the elderly remain in excellent shape by avoiding processed foods and sugar, which can lead to inflammation. Emphasize plant-based, nutrient-dense foods, such as purple sweet potatoes and seaweed, spermidine-rich foods like the fermented soybean dish, natto, and shiitake mushrooms,, and fermented foods to improve the diversity of your gut biome. Incorporating spices and herbs, like cinnamon and parsley, can also mitigate inflammation and offer various health benefits.
  5. Find your sense of purpose: The Japanese concept of “ikigai” is essentially your reason to get out of bed in the morning. That could be your job, your hobbies, or your family and friends.

Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?

We know that genetics only account for around 20% of the longevity outcomes, while epigenetics, influenced by our lifestyle practices, accounts for a whopping 80%. We only have to look at the healthy centenarians in Loma Linda, California, outside of Los Angeles, to see this borne out. The town is filled with Golden Arches, and other fast food restaurants, it’s not particularly different from other American towns where 40% of the overall population is obese (yes, obese, not overweight!). But because of the religious beliefs of the Seventh Day Adventists — to eat healthily and vegetarian, not smoke or drink, meet as a community weekly and to spend one day of the week outside exercising — they constitute the only longevity Blue Zone in the US.

Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?

Getting up and doing something I love every morning helps — “ikigai”/ a sense of purpose is one of the key principles of longevity and healthspan seen in the Blue Zones. Even as people age in these regions, they continue to teach their youngers, do manual jobs, be social, engage in hobbies, etc. They continue to pursue their passions and maintain a sense of purpose.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito — Dalai Lama. I’ve been a pretty small voice talking about how we can slow and even reverse aging as a way to avoid the diseases of aging. It’s taken time but I think I’ve managed to get some traction. I keep channeling that mosquito — in a friendly way!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The idea above!

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

Follow me on social media (Instagram and YouTube) at @lesliesnewprime. You can also keep up with @oxfordhealthspan and @oxfordlongevityproject on social media and at and too.

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.