Reversing the Downward Spiral:
Aging Myths & Age-Defying Secrets
By Dr. Leslie Van Romer and Dr. Narinder Duggal
in a youth-oriented culture where not only looking younger, but
acting and feeling younger is of the utmost importance. Even in the
workplace, youthfulness is seen as a positive and desirable trait.
Age might equal valuable experience, but youth is appreciated for
its energy, motivation and creativity.
can you do to slow down the aging process and get back the youthful
energy that you used to have? How can you reverse the downward
spiral and defy your age? Here are five myths about aging, and
twelve age-defying secrets that will help you boost your energy,
youthfulness and vitality.
Myth: We are living much longer than we used to: Hardly a day
goes by when someone doesn’t remind us of how much longer we are
living than we used to. Shockingly, according to Dan Georgakas,
author of “The Methuselah Factor,” the life span of a human being
hasn’t changed much since recorded time.
event of good sanitation practices, septic systems, and, later,
antibiotics, the collective average life span of a given population
has increased. In the 1700s, the average person lived for 20 to 40
years in Europe. Today, we live, on the average, to our
mid-seventies, and even longer for women. For the most part, this
increase did not occur because individuals are living longer, but
because there are significantly fewer deaths caused by childbirth,
infant deaths, and infectious diseases spread by the lack of
Georgakas says that once someone reaches the age of 60, someone in
today’s world lives no longer than the people did at the signing of
the Declaration of Independence. We no longer die of infectious
diseases as a rule. We die prematurely of often preventable, chronic
diseases such as heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and strokes.
Myth: Americans age normally: In this country, we “oooh” and
“ahhh” when someone reaches 80 years old, even if that person can
barely get himself up out of a chair or get around a nursing home.
The gerentologists, or old age specialists, tell us our national bar
for aging is way too low.
bodies are supposed to last about one hundred years. More
importantly, we are designed to feel, look and move well at that
century mark. If you look around at the people in our modern world,
seeing a fit and energetic hundred-year-old rarely happens.
we typically decline early in the U.S., the logical perception is
that Americans age normally. The fact is most Americans age at an
accelerated rate and the shame of it is we don’t even know it.
Therefore, we do nothing for ourselves to consciously slow down the
ticking clock. The result is premature wrinkles, sagging and
bagging, along with premature diseases, disabilities, and
Myth: Longevity is beyond your control: Most of us believe that
genetics or “Lady Luck” determines how long we will live. Simple
formula: good genes, lucky you, long life; bad genes, your fate is
sealed, short life.
true. With the exception of rare genetic conditions and being
female, genetics may play a 5% to 10% role in longevity, but no more
and perhaps far less. The number of your years is mostly determined
by the choices you make every day, especially when it comes to food,
exercise and lifestyle choices.
Myth: Longevity equals pain, disability and disease: How often
do we hear the phrase: I don’t want to live a long time? Why would
anyone want to grow old when, in this country, old age brings pain,
suffering and the loss of bodily functions, mobility, independence
and even dignity?
doesn’t have to be like that. Look at the over ninety-year-old Jack
LaLanne who has spent his entire life exercising, eating lots of
fruits and vegetables, and not eating junk.
Abkasians, who lived in the Georgia Republic in the former USSR,
boosted their large percentage of long-lived people reaching their
over 100-year mark with well-working bodies and minds. Are their
bodies made better than ours or do they own the secret to the
“Fountain of Youth?” Following their 12 youthful secrets would
serve us all well:
Lean body mass and the cultural disapproval of
overeating and excess body fat
Diet of mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and
plant foods with no coffee, sugar, and very little meat, butter
No processed, refined foods or fried foods
Caloric intake of between 1,500 and 2,000
calories (Americans commonly intake 2,500 to 4,000 calories)
Lifelong exercise, especially walking
Lifelong work, steady but not stressful or to
Lifelong play: purely fun, pleasurable
Plenty of rest and sleep
Elders held in high esteem with purposeful
positions in the family and community
“Health is normal; sickness is abnormal”
attitude – even in the elderly
Lifelong connective relationships/friendships:
sharing and caring for others and being cared for by others
observing other cultures and a few unique individuals in our own
country and applying these principles in our own lives, we could
dramatically increase our chances of adding years to our lives and
life to our years.
Myth: You can’t teach old dogs new tricks: Who says you can’t
teach an old dog new tricks? Of course you can. Let’s think about
this for a moment. We are not talking about learning complicated
mathematical equations or even the latest computer technology. We
are talking about putting on a pair of sneakers and walking—every
day. How hard is that? How hard is it to wash an apple, open mouth,
and chew? Or cut up vegetables and throw them in a large salad for
lunch and dinner?
new tricks, aging-friendly eating, exercise and lifestyle habits, is
simple. The tricky part is practicing the new tricks. Shifting daily
choices and creating new habits may be a challenge, but it is
certainly easier than facing early debilitation of mind and body.
Just take a stroll around a nursing home if you want to know what
picture yourself old and decrepit, or aging with comfort, mobility,
grace, and purpose? As John Leonard says, “Aging is not simply
decay; it is an accumulation of choices and consequences.”
your choices now and what will be your consequences later? If you
are willing to make a few changes to your diet, nutrition, exercise
and lifestyle, you may find yourself with the energy and enthusiasm
of those who are years younger.
Read other articles and learn more about
Dr. Leslie Van
Narinder Duggal, M.D.
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