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HOW TO LIVE TO BE 100 May 5, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health.
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I just celebrated my “ I’m 26—- again! “ birthday. In my reflections on my life, I keep asking myself if I would want to live to be 100 . I suppose that would be quite an achievement if I could live to be that age and be in good mental and physical health. It is not an impossible achievement.

A study conducted by the Government Actuary’s Department in Britain, following the trends in mortality rates, found that a typical professional woman in her 20s will likely live into her mid-90s. Women born 20 years from now, are in line to hit triple digits if current trends continue. Although the projected life expectancy of men is less, the rates are on the rise. Dr. Robert Butler, founder and president of the International Longevity Centre says that there are a number of reasons why people are living for longer periods . He says that “ infectious and respiratory diseases that affect babies in the womb are on a steady decline; more babies are born healthy, and that increases their longevity. “ Advances in medicine and improvements in hygiene have increased our life expectancy. Centenarians are the fastest growing age group in America. There are currently about 54,000 centenarians in the United States, and there may be as many as 840,000 by 2050. 85 percent of that country’s centenarians are women. The fastest growing age group among the elderly population in Jamaica is that of those over the age of 60 years. Keisha Shakespeare-Blackmore , in an article published in the Gleaner January 15, 2008, referred to a community of centenarians living in the hills of Bellfield , Manchester.

The following are some steps you can take to improve your health and longevity.

1. Food for Thought

There are two basic theories of aging – Oxidation Reactions and Sub-optimal Hormone Levels. An oxidation reaction occurs when oxygen, which is essential for life, combusts and produces by-products referred to as free radicals. When an oxidation reaction occurs in metals such as iron, rusting occurs. When this process occurs in people, it is called aging.

Regardless of age, fill your body with an abundance of antioxidants, while doing your best to avoid oxidant poisons. This is done by eating a balanced, healthy diet and taking supplements . In addition, there are specific substances that have been shown to have anti- aging benefits. They include resveratrol (in grapes, grape juice and red wine) ; polyphenols found in blueberries, raspberries and cranberries ; walnuts ; pomegranate and green tea. Supplementing with and eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, flaxseed, olive oil) may help prevent cognitive decline. (Cognition is the mental process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment) Turmeric a major ingredient in curry also confers cognitive benefits. Its main component is anti-oxidant rich curcumin, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve learning and memory. Turmeric is also being studied for its ability to help treat Alzheimer’s disease. The prevalence of Alzheimer’s among adults in India aged 70 to 79 is among the world’s lowest.

2. Eat less Food

Caloric restriction—the practice of restricting calorie intake while maintaining good nutritional status—improves many aspects of age-related decline. According to researchers at Washington University, reducing your intake by just 300 to 500 calories a day (cut out the sugary snacks at coffee break and the soda for lunch ) may slow the aging process .

3. Keep fit

People age 50 and older who engage in moderate or high levels of physical activity live longer and have less heart disease , according to a study that followed a group of men and women for more than 40 years. As we age , exercise keeps the body strong and flexible , increasing blood supply to the brain , maintaining bone density and controlling stress and anxiety. Any physical activity is better than none . Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise three to five times each week.

4. Use it or lose it

Our brains need exercise . To stay sharp and stave off cognitive decline challenge your mind. Learn a new language, play a musical instrument, do daily puzzles.

5. Balance your hormones

As we grow older, some of our hormones begin a steep decline that strongly parallels the beginning of many visible aging signs and symptoms. These hormones include human growth hormone, melatonin, DHEA, testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. On the other hand , insulin levels tend to rise, causing adult-onset diabetes in many aging people. Hormone balancing can be helpful in an anti-aging programme.

6. Do not be afraid of the sun

Vitamin D plays a very important role in our health as we age . However an increasing number of persons worldwide are deficient in it. Our bodies make Vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight . Low vitamin D levels have been linked to poor bone health , heart disease , cancer , diabetes and hypertension. For protection against vitamin D deficiency, expose yourself to 15 minutes of sunshine daily (without sunscreen). Dietary sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna, eggs and enriched dairy products.

7. Take a chill pill

Anxiety is the enemy of longevity.

8. Passion for living

Purpose and passion for living are essential. Older people need to keep busy and continue to give themselves a good reason to get out of bed each morning. While work is important, so is play. So stop and smell the roses.

9. Friends

Socializing, including staying in touch with your friends and family, as well as being part of some kind of community, becomes more important as you age. Social isolation in older persons is a risk factor for stress, health problems and early death.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.

http://www.6westmedical.com