Life Extension Magazine®

Jim Piccola Jr.

One man's lifestyle turnaround: A model for us all.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in August 2023. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

A brief scare motivated Jim Piccola to take his health into his own hands

Jim Piccola Seventeen years ago, things were looking up for Jim Piccola Jr. Having just purchased a construction company and staying actively involved in the business, Piccola was in good health and in good spirits. He had always stayed in shape, partaking in bodybuilding workouts as well as various recreational activities. Then he had a turn in his health.

One evening, Jim awoke in the middle of the night with a sharp pain across his chest and shoulders. The following day he began experiencing throat soreness and discomfort, and sought medical help. His doctor prescribed test after test after test, but the results continued to come back normal. Finally, an exam of the throat revealed that Jim's problem was merely gastritis, or esophageal reflux, which causes stomach acid to flow into the esophagus, creating the symptoms Jim was experiencing. Despite the benign nature of the problem, Jim decided to do more for his health.

"I couldn't believe all those tests were ordered and, in the end, such a simple one was identified as my problem," says Jim. "I knew then it was time to take my health into my own hands."

Jim began to research what he could do to stay well. His legwork led him to the book, Life Extension: A Practical Approach, by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, which introduced him to the Life Extension Foundation. In sifting through the book, Jim came across an interesting take on health. "Pearson and Shaw's approaches impressed me," says Jim. "Shortly after joining the Foundation as a member in 1983, I adopted the 'extensionist' lifestyle, and patterned my nutrition and antioxidant program around the Foundation's recommendations."

Jim believes it is necessary to stay abreast of recent discoveries that can help thwart disease and extend life, but the amount of time he spends on his business leaves him little opportunity to do other things, much less gather research findings. As a result, Jim turns to the Foundation as a source of education and learning.

With so many studies leading to new treatments, says Jim, it's important to fine-tune one's supplement program. Over the years he has incorporated the Foundation's therapies, recommended as a result of newly developing research and medical studies. An example, says Jim, is coenzyme Q10.

"The Foundation has come up with new and improved methods of obtaining and maintaining optimal health and longevity. Its recommendations on CoQ10 comes to mind as just one instance where it is evident that numerous breakthroughs continue. It's exciting." (For more on coenzyme Q10, see January 1999 Report)

In addition to incorporating new therapies, Jim has adjusted his supplement regimen to better adapt to his body's changes. For the future, he plans to add memory-enhancing therapies to keep his mind as sharp as it is now. "I continually add nutrients to keep up my stamina and to maintain my active lifestyle," says Jim. "For me, it's a way of life."

The program Jim follows includes the basics: Nutrients and antioxidants for overall health and energy, and to slow the aging of the human clock. He also takes saw palmetto to maintain a healthy prostate, plus immune-enhancing supplements as well as cancer-preventing therapies.

Jim begins with two Life Extension Mix tablets, one Cranex (cranberry extract) capsule and one pygeum-saw palmetto capsule early in the morning. Before lunch time, he takes another Life Extension Mix tablet, one garlic capsule and one 2-mg copper capsule. The afternoon regimen brings with it three more Life Extension Mix tablets, one Thymic Immune Factors capsule, 500 mg of vitamin C, and 30 mg of CoQ10. In the evening, Jim adds another two Life Extension Mix tablets, and a CoQ10 capsule, some vitamin C, Mega Soy and green tea extracts, Norwegian shark liver oil, thymic protein, and trace colloidal minerals from plant sources. Jim finishes off the day with a final Life Extension Mix tablet, another Cranex capsule, one pygeum-saw palmetto capsule, and some melatonin as a sleep aid just before bedtime. Jim's testimonial is striking, not for having avoided a life-threatening disease (esophageal reflux is far from that), but rather for what it says about life changes. "When I began my supplemental regimen, I was in pretty good health. But now, some 17 years later at the age of 52, I am in much better health and feel like I'm in my 20's. Any minor health problems I had then are long gone now. Even the back problems I once had have disappeared."

Today, Jim remains involved in his business, high-security fences. A telling example of his health and youthful appearance stems from his very role at work. "I am still very active in my construction business, physically that is. My son, aged 28, works alongside me on a daily basis. Because we look alike I have been asked whether we are brothers. I love to see their faces of disbelief when I tell them my age and when they hear I'm his father. Their facial expressions tell me I am living the right lifestyle, that of an extensionist."

Jim's older brother frequently asks, "How come I never see you sick?" Jim says only, "My story confirms that health is truly based on one's lifestyle."

Although he does credit mainstream medicine with greater acceptance of vitamins as a viable means to better health, he says there still exists among many physicians a reluctance to incorporate an all-encompassing supplement regimen. Jim doesn't shy away from traditional medicine; rather, he puts it in perspective by using it as a "second checkup" on health. Jim goes through his annual physical with flying colors.

Having experienced an enlarged prostate in his 30's, Jim also sees a specialist. When he does so, says Jim, "My doctor is the one asking me for advice and I am the one paying him!" According to Jim, his doctor marvels at how well he's doing. "He tells me, 'I don't know what you're doing but whatever it is, you're doing something right!' "

Jim credits his pygeum-saw palmetto regimen with keeping his prostate in check, in addition to the combination of life-enhancing supplements that have restored his youth and vitality. He also eats right, consumes a low-to-no fat diet, and avoids red meats. He believes his diet-in combination with the supplement program-keeps his metabolism in check, slows the aging process and helps him burn calories. Due to Jim's line of work, he also maintains a daily exercise regimen, and frequently engages in outside sports such as baseball.

Jim's wife has jumped on the health bandwagon by following a supplement program herself, and Jim now wants to get the story out to everyone, not just his immediate family. "My hope is that the people around me and everywhere get the message: There is something you can do for your health, you can help slow that aging clock. But you must get started.

"People are foolish not to change their lifestyles. I keep myself in shape with what I do for myself."

-Rocio Paola Yaffar