Living Longer and Better
People today are living longer than ever
before in history. True or False?
Actually it's both true and false. At
the start of the 20th century, the average American had a life
span of roughly 47 years. Today, at the start of the
21st century, it's approaching 80.
That may seem clear-cut but it isn't.
One hundred plus years ago, babies were born into a messy world
with germs and hazards at every turn. Something like 50% of them
didn't survive beyond the first few years of life. A woman
having half a dozen children might see half of them succumbing
to infection and disease prior to age five. This is what brought
the average down. Of those who survived the rigors of daily
existence, they might expect to live to the Biblical three score
and ten. Just check the ages of the founding fathers.
What made all the difference were simple
things that included covered sewers, personal hygiene, clean
water, adequate nutrition, etc. That said, is there anything
that you can do today to live longer and better?
Yale University studied a group of
almost 5,000, 70-year-olds who carried a gene variant linked to
dementia. Those with nothing more than a positive attitude
turned out to be 50% less likely to develop the disorder. And
this was not a unique finding. More and more, it seems that
little changes can make big differences.
Take exercise. An hour at the gym 3
times a week is nice but a daily walk for 15 minutes can reduce
the risk of early death by 22%. In other words, just getting out
and moving around can (according to researchers at McMaster
University) result in improved fitness, health and balance which
will significantly reduce the risk of a fatal fall.
When it comes to diet, don't believe all
the hype. There is no Fountain of Youth miracle food. Fruits and
vegetables are healthful but the bottom line seems to be
variety. And don't skip breakfast. Studies at Iowa State
University found that centenarians rarely missed their first
meal of the day. Interestingly enough, the regular routine
associated with it seems to be just as important as the meal
itself. Just keep it to a reasonable size as you emphasize
moderation in all things.
Speaking of moderation, a daily drink
(red wine especially) seems to contribute to a longer, happier
life by reducing stress. But remember moderation. It's an
alcoholic drink not an alcoholic orgy.
And speaking of orgies, the British
Medical Journal reported that men between the ages of 45 and 59
who had twice as much sex as a control group, were half as
likely to die prematurely.
Look At It This Way
An anti-aging pill is on the horizon.
True or False?
The answer is true but the question is
The journal SCIENCE recently reported on
promising research at the Harvard Medical School while NATURE
did a feature on another group that already has a supplement. A
director of the Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at
MIT said they're closing in on “healthier for longer.”
So while healthier for longer may be possible, living better
is still up to you.