Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 11/88
Newsletter for December 2008
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11 Ways to Live to 100
Our modern day version of the search for a fountain of youth takes place in Big Pharma's research and development labs, as they vie to make the pill or potion that will stave off the ravages of age. Is there a better, more natural way? I've been seeing lots of great research focusing on secrets to longer life. Here are some of the best that I've found. These very simple and low-tech steps can make enormous impact on your health and longevity.
1. Run for Your Life
People who run in midlife and beyond live longer, report researchers in the August 11, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The authors concluded that vigorous exercise such as running at middle and older ages was associated with reduced disability in later life and a higher survival rate. Older runners (50 years and over) remained more fit than older people who did not run, and were about twice as likely to be alive after 20 years. Especially as we grow older, exercise is essential to keeping the body strong and supple, boosting blood supply to the brain, maintaining bone density and controlling stress and anxiety. Of course, any physical activity is better than none -- and the more, the better. Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise -- brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, dancing -- most days of the week.
2. Daily Brain Training
It's not just physical exercise that pays dividends over time -- successful aging requires a commitment to brain fitness as well. To stay sharp and stave off cognitive decline, challenge your mind as well as your muscles, urges Robert N. Butler, MD, president and CEO of the International Longevity Center and author of The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life. His suggestions for good brain workouts include learning a new language or playing a musical instrument. Other ideas include doing daily puzzles, such as crossword or Sudoku, and joining discussion groups on books, current events, religion or other topics you find stimulating. Also useful -- a growing number of electronic programs, ranging from a Nintendo game system called Brain Age (www.brainage.com) to a computer program by Posit Science called Brain Fitness Program Classic ( www.positscience.com).
3. Food for Thought
Specific substances shown to help fight aging include resveratrol (in grapes, grape juice) and other similar polyphenols (in blueberries, raspberries and cranberries). These help discourage inflammation, which is believed to lie at the root of cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and more. Other youth-enhancing foods and beverages include walnuts, strawberries, pomegranate juice, green tea, sweet potatoes and spinach. These will fortify wellness and longevity.
4. Flaxseed, Fish and Other Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids support heart, brain, joint and skin health and more. One of them -- docosahexaenoic acid or DHA - may help prevent cognitive decline, and in animal studies shows promise in limiting development of the amyloid plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Good food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish (salmon, tuna, herring, etc.), flaxseeds and walnuts. Supplements are another way to go -- best bet is either Nordic Naturals or the fish oil line from Pharmax.
5. Turn to Turmeric
Like omega-3 fatty acids, turmeric confers cognitive benefits -- its main biologically active phytochemical component is antioxidant-rich curcumin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage and improve learning and memory. Interestingly, Alzheimer's disease is rarer in India, where curry is frequently consumed, than in other cultures.
6. Cut Calories
Research indicates staying slim may add years of healthy living to your life. Excess weight has been shown time and time again to lead to all sorts of life-threatening diseases. In contrast, calorie restriction has been
known to slow aging in animals, and a new study in the June 2008 issue of Rejuvenation Research suggests that it may have the same impact on humans. According to researchers at Washington University, reducing your intake by just 300 to 500 calories a day (skip the extra slice of pepperoni pizza for lunch or forego the chocolate cake for dessert) may slow the aging process by lowering levels of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine. Learn more about this approach at the Web site of the Calorie Restriction Society ( www.calorierestriction.org).
7. Let the Sunshine Vitamin In
Vitamin D plays an ever more important role in our health as we age -- yet an increasing number of Americans are deficient in it, says Daily Health News contributing medical editor Andrew L. Rubman, ND. It's a phenomenon he blames on the sun avoidance urged by dermatologists and sunscreen marketers, which has the unintended result of blocking our ability to synthesize vitamin D from the sun. Lack of the sunshine vitamin may not only harm the bones, it may influence your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. One study in the June 9, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine linked low levels of vitamin D to increased heart attack risk, and another in the June 23 edition found that a vitamin D deficiency more than doubled the risk of death from any cause. For protection against vitamin D deficiency, Dr. Rubman suggests 15 minutes of sunshine daily (hold the sunscreen). Dietary sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and enriched dairy products. If your doctor orders a vitamin D test and your levels are still low, he/she may also prescribe up to 2,000 IU/ daily.
8. Attack Anxiety
Anxiety is the enemy of longevity. In one study, conducted in part at Purdue University, and which included more than 1,600 men aged 43 to 91, researchers used personality tests to identify "neurotic" individuals --
those who worried too much and reacted to stress negatively. After 12 years, only half the men who measured "high" or "increasing" (meaning their anxiety levels were going up, not down, as they aged) on the neuroticism scale were still alive, as compared with about 80% of the others. These results were published in the May 2008 edition of Psychological Science.
9. Work for Living
Purpose and passion are essential. Older people need to define goals, keep busy and continue to give themselves a good reason to get out of bed each morning, Dr. Butler emphasizes. In his view, people who like their work would most likely enjoy happier and healthier lives if they postponed retirement, or perhaps just cut back to part-time. Alternatively, there are ways to keep your hand in, even after retirement. For example, retired journalists can teach classes at city colleges and bankers may volunteer to help people with their finances at public libraries.
10. Friends for Life
Socializing, including staying in touch with your friends and family, as well as being part of some kind of community, grows more important as you age. In fact, social isolation in seniors is a risk factor for stress,
health problems and even early death. The stress hormone cortisol contributes to damage of the hippocampus (the part of the brain essential to the formation of memories, and the region most impacted by cognitive decline).
11. Take Time to Play
While work is important, so is play. There's truth in that old saying: It's important to stop and smell the roses. Throughout life, make time to take vacations, enjoy lazy weekends, laugh with friends, play with grandchildren and continue to build the memories that go into making a long life a good one.
Robert N. Butler, MD, president and CEO of the International Longevity Center and author of The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life (Public Affairs). Dr. Butler was the founding director of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, which he directed from 1976 to 1982.
Andrew L. Rubman, ND, director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut.
Mohsin Jaffer M.D.Weston, Fl, USA.
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