protect your health


I recently heard a man complain about some of his friends who had taken up jogging. They were constantly bugging him to jog with them. He finally gave in and said he would jog with them, but only for 1/4 mile. He would later exclaim, “It was the worst three hours of my life.”

I thought it was a funny line. On the serious side of getting in shape, perhaps you have heard about the Frenchman Robert Marchand. Mr. Marchand recently set a record riding a bike for 15 miles on an indoor track in one hour. Robert is 100 years old.

A new report estimates that more than one-third of babies born this year will live to be over 100 years old. Good for them, but what about us old timers? Well, the current average life expectancy in the U. S. for both men and women is between 78 and 79 years. Overall, women usually live two to four years longer, but men are catching up quickly. 

So what are the factors that allow someone to live to be 100 or more? A recent study, The New England Longevity Study, concludes there are four major factors that would allow a person to live to 100. Not surprisingly they are: genetics, environment, lifestyle, and luck. Most of us would probably guess genetics would be the most significant factor. That’s correct. But the study also found genetics is only a 25-30% factor, much less than previously thought. The good news is, if we are somewhat lucky (i.e., don’t get clobbered by a bus or suffer some other accidental disaster) can control our environment and live an appropriate lifestyle, our chances of living to be 100 aren’t that bad.

In their recently published book, The Longevity Project, authors Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, determined six personality traits of people who live to be 100. They are:

Conscientiousness

A conscientious person is someone who tends to all matters including their own personal health.

Healthy Habits

Simply put, the research tells us there are very few smokers who live to be 100, and no obese people.

Working Long and Hard

Mental stimulation is the key. Even stressful work provides the mental stimulation found in those who live to be 100. Remember our Frenchman friend Robert Marchand? He worked until he was 89.

Active Life

As my wife Trisha and I pointed out in our book, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired Life, it’s not as much aging as it is inactivity that causes a person to lose strength and stamina. In addition, there are now numerous studies that indicate maintaining muscle strength plays a role in staving off cognitive decline and possibly Alzheimer’s.

Stong Social Network

In their book, Friedman and Martin conclude a strong social network is the “strongest predictor of long life,” and the New England study describes this predictor as “extraversion,” calling it the key trait.

Good Health

While this is an obvious predictor of a long life, the New England study found a high percentage of people who have already lived to be 100 had encountered a serious health problem at some point in their lives. These “survivors” were able to overcome their health problem and live on to their ripe old age.

My reading and research on this subject concures with all of the above. I would, however, make a couple of additions or distinctions. A positive attitude, probably an aspect of every one of the previously stated factors cannot be denied as having a strong influence on longevity. The other longevity factor that more and more research has discovered is adequate sleep. Both stroke and heart disease have recently been correlated to inadequate sleep.

As I look over all of these factors and traits, I can’t help but think of my wife Trisha. She personifies almost everyone of them. She doesn’t drink, smoke, is incredibly concientious, hard-working, has healthy habits, and is so active one would get dizzy following her on a daily basis. She is also extraordinarily extraverted and sleeps very soundly. She is 63, but I’m not sure anyone would ever guess her that old. I’d better start working out more because she is probably going to be around for a very long time. I hope so.

 

Until next time . . . . . . .

TheBestofOurLives.com

 

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The Spices of Life

This week’s blog, The Spices of Life, was inspired by Dr. Herbert Schub. In addition to his vast medical experience and expertise, he’s a close personal friend, frequent travel companion, and an international man of mystery. He is also one of the healthiest persons on the planet. 

Herb is a fitness fanatic and follows a strict nutritional program. When the occasional slice of pizza finds its way into that program, it is followed shortly thereafter by an extra hour on the eliptical machine. In addition to his healthy diet, Herb takes a number of supplements to make sure he’s getting sufficient vitamins and antioxidants. While this is not uncommon among many of us seniors, are you also getting the health benefits from selected herbs and spices? Herb does.

I want to stress I’m not a doctor, well not a medical one anyway, and anyone considering adding these items to their diet would be well advised to consult with their personal physician. While researchers are now looking more closely at this health phenomenon, current research now suggest these seven herbs and spices have valuable health benefits:

Rosemary – May help prevent damage to blood vessels and prevent heart attacks; it may also stop gene mutations which lead to cancer.

Garlic – May destroy cancer cells and/or disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells. After my father found out he had protate cancer, he began taking garlic each day. He lived nearly twenty more years and the cancer was not a factor.

Ginger – Seen as a remedy for motion sickness and a natural pain killer. Has also been shown to decrease swelling from arthritis and is a blood thinner.

Turmeric – Contains an ingredient called curcumin that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Paprika – Contains capsaicin that has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory and is also an anti-oxidant that can lower the risk of cancer. (Capsaicin can also be found in cayenne and red chile peppers)

Cinnamon – Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.

Oregano – The USDA reports that Oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.

MEDIA ALERT: Possible cure for prostate cancer. Fox News reported today the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology has announced preliminary findings that oregano, which contains the main component of carvacrol, “is an extremely potent anti-cancer agent – eliminating nearly all the prostate cancer cells it was tested against.”

 

www.TheBestOfOurLives.com  

 

Free Radicals

No, this isn’t a call to release a group of protesters, it’s about good health. In previous posts I’ve talked about various foods and beverages that are beneficial in maintaining our health during retired life. I thought it might be useful to explain why foods high in antioxidants are so vital.

While you may have heard or seen the term “antioxidants” before, do you know why it’s so important we get large quantities in our diet? It all has to do with the oxidation process. Have you ever cut open an apple and noticed how it starts to discolor in the open air. This is the oxidation process in which the cells become damaged and die. Cells within our bodies are constantly dying and being replaced. Sometimes due to things like toxins from cigarette smoke, air pollution, poor diet, etc., cells become damaged. At this point they have become free radicals and  begin to attack other cells in an attempt to repair themselves. Once this chain of free radicals has begun it becomes the seed for disease.   

It’s much the same as the oxidation process that takes place in our automobiles.  Oxidation can damage the fuel system and gum up the works. At that point there are additives we can put  into the fuel that will repair the system. Foods and beverages high in antioxidants are the additives for our body. They can actually repair the free radicals making them healthy cells again.

If anyone should doubt the power of antioxidants, let me share this brief story. On a recent trip a friend of mine accidentally hit his head and suffered a severe gash above his eye. An ambulance was called as the blood flowed. He insisted he would be fine and didn’t even get any stitches. He said his abundant antioxidant diet would heal his wound in short order. He was right. It was like something out of a science fiction movie. His severe gash quickly became a small cut and in just a few days had virtually disappeared. Antioxidants, along with exercise are the keys to good health at any stage of life. 

Here is a list of the top twenty antioxidant foods:

 You may have also heard that chocolate, tea, and red wine have antioxidants. They do, but be careful. Only dark chocolate with very little sugar is good for you. Tea is great but you need to be careful with wine. Recent studies have shown that large amounts of alcohol can trigger free radical production. Probably not a good trade-off.

Media Update

Yesterday, February 26, my wife Trisha and I were guest speakers for the Oakmont Sunday Symposium. It was lots of fun and we certainly enjoyed meeting all the good folks who live in that beautiful wine country paradise. Our presentation was streamed live on the internet and I’ve provided this link for anyone who might be interested in viewing it:      Trisha and John Parker

Photo Credit: Dick Green

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Personal Choice

Many seniors may believe their longevity is a matter of genetics or simple luck. The fact is, a study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry indicates the determining factor in one’s longevity is a person’s personal choice.

The study, which tracked mental and physical health, was conducted over a period of sixty years with nearly 1,000 subjects from various socio-economic backgrounds. Only the factor of clinical depression was deemed to be outside the control of subjects in regard to their longevity.

The study identified the following factors, all of which were considered to be personal choices, as being the most important in determining an individual’s longevity. They were:

Exercise – Experts recommend 30 minutes of regular exercise.

No Smoking – The list of smoking-related health problems is too long to list. If you smoke, quit.

Appropriate Weight – Obesity can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems.

Positive Coping Mechanisms – Learning how to deal with stress and control anger is essential.

Stable Marriage – Research shows happily married people have less illness and longer lives.

Moderate Alcohol Intake – The key term is moderate. Excessive alcohol intake can cause liver problems and possible harmful drug interactions.

Depressive Illness – While this is the one factor found to be outside an individual’s ability to make a choice, it is strongly recommended a person seek treatment when feeling depressed.

So, there you have it. It’s the personal choices we make with regard to these factors that are the most important in our longevity. Of course, there are many other factors such as acquired disease and accidents that can play a role. But, for the majority of individuals, it is the choices we make.

Happy Thanksgiving

Sometimes things just work out for the best. Having just returned from some travels recently, my wife and I had not made plans for Thanksgiving. Last week the phone started ringing and we now have at least a dozen or so family members spending much of the Thanksgiving holiday with us. We are very blessed. I wish all of you who read this blog a very happy holiday.  

 www.TheBestofOurLives.com

Lack of Sleep Can Kill You

In talking with several friends and relatives recently, I’m surprised by how many of them have problems getting a good nights sleep. Obviously, this has a negative impact on their energy levels, but it may also become a serious factor in their overall health.

While writing our book, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired LIfe, my wife Trisha and I were shocked by the information we discovered concerning the relationship between sleep and health. Interestingly, The National Institute on Aging found that many older adults wrongly consider poor sleep to be a normal part of aging. It is not. In fact, as seniors we need from 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, just like a young child.

The NIA also found that 36% of women and 13% of men over the age of 65 take thirty minutes or more to fall asleep. Numerous studies on this topic have concluded that seniors who fail to get enough sleep have been found more likely to suffer depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls. and use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. Simply stated, seniors who do not get sufficient sleep have a poorer quality of life.

Just this week the results of Norwegian sleep study that followed nearly 53,000 participants over 11.4 years was reported. It concluded that persons who struggle nightly with sleep are 45% more likely to suffer an acute heart attack, and those who have difficulty staying asleep had an elevated risk of 30%. The risk was correlated with the severity of the sleep deprivation. I should also mention it has long been demonstrated that poor sleep is associated with an elevated risk of stroke.

So, what do we seniors need to do? Obviously, if you have a serious problem sleeping, consult a physician. Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Movement Disorders are very real physical problems that need to be addressed. Often it turns out, we’ve just gotten into too many bad habits over the years. Examples are falling asleep in front of the television, leaving the radio on, having too much light and other distractions near our bedrooms, etc. Some feel a good old glass or two of wine will do the trick. Turns out alcohol may help you fall asleep, but will actually prevent you from a the full and restful night’s sleep you require. The best advice is to turn off the news, eliminate distractions, and try to put the stress of the day behind you. Put together and follow a relaxing nightly routine to help you wind down and sleep peacefully. Sweet dreams.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

  

Travel Suggestion

If you’re looking for an interesting place to visit right here in the good old U.S.A., I suggest you think about southern Arizona. Having made several visits to this part of the country in the last few years, my wife and I have come to love the area.

Southern Arizona has so many fascinating places to visit, I’m not sure any one person could visit them all. We try to take in one or two each time which gives us plenty of reasons to return. Here are just a few of the places we have recently enjoyed. For more information simply click on the links.

Kartchner Caverns State Park 

Arizona State Parks: Kartchner Caverns: Home

 This is one of the newest and most interesting attractions in the U. S. It was discovered in 1974 by two explorers. Only revealed in 1988, the state of Arizona spent millions of dollars and opened it to the public in 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Titan Missle Museum

Titan Missle Museum

My wife Trisha and I visited this location and took the guided tour a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. As seniors, we all remember the days of our nuclear standoff with Russia. The U. S. maintained many Titan Missle sites during those years and they were all manned 24/7 by the military. The sites were eventually destroyed, but this one was left in tact for historical purposes. It is the only publicly accessible site remaining from that era. There is a museum, gift shop, video room, and a guided tour for your enjoyment. I was surprised to see an actual Titan II Missle in the silo and our guide took us through a simulated launch. Quite breathtaking.!

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tubac

Tubac Arizona > Southern AZ Artist Colony & Travel Destination

Here is an all-in-one place to visit. This historic Spanish settlement has become a true resort. You can find art gallaries, gift stores, wonderful food, golf, spas, and much more. Most of all, the relaxed and peaceful environment is worth the visit by itself. We love the beautiful hand painted pots and other crafts. On our last visit we purchased three more for our outdoor area. Quite beautiful and unique. Whatever your pleasure, you will find it here. Below is Trisha with good friend Susan at the main entrance.

 

Vitamin Warning

This one is for the guys. We live in an era in which people take lots of vitamins. I admit to taking them myself. Unfortunately, we often think more is better. A new study warns that taking too much Vitamin E can increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. Because there are vitamin products out there with very high units of Vitamin E, men are being warned. The new research results were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The multi-million dollar study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  As with any medical information, check with your doctor.

Grandkids

A long time ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, October was my special month. It is the month of my birth. The fact is, birthdays were never a big deal in my family. I mean, everyone has one, so what’s the big deal. Well, so far this October, four of our grandkids have had birthdays. It is my greatest gift and a wonderful blessing. Happy Birthday each and every one. 

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

In tracing the history of the tomato, it was first found in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Later, in France it became known as pomme d’ amour or the “love apple” because it was believed to recover impotence and increase sperm count. In 1834, Dr. John Cook Bennett from Willoughby University, Ohio, was the first to study the tomato and found it beneficial in treating diarrhea, gall attack, indigestion and restoring liver function.

While it has long been suspected, a recent study conducted in Australia has found that tomatoes possess powerful health benefits. The study examined data from 14 other studies conducted over the last 55 years. While those studies theorized tomatoes had health benefits, it could not be proven. The Australian study simply increased the dose or amount of tomatoes given to subjects and the conclusion became clear. The reason behind these results is due to the fact that tomatoes have the highest concentration of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in other foods such as watermelon, red wine, papaya, and guava. Tomatoes also contain high concentrations of vitamin C and vitamin A, both beneficial in boosting the immune system. Even the pigment in red tomatoes contains high levels of lycopene.

Interestingly, different from other foods, cooked or processed tomatoes are best. It’s not recommended to buy sauces and pastes in the grocery store because they have too much preservative and other additives. One pint of tomato juice or sauce, or about 50 grams a day will provide protection against heart disease, says Dr. Karin Ried from The University of Adelaide and author of the study. Among the most amazing findings from the study was a drop in subject’s LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 10 percent. Systolic (the top reading) blood pressure dropped an average of 5.6. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, the study also indicates tomatoes may be effective in lowering the risks of many forms of cancer, slow the decline of eye function due to age, and promote healthy liver and kidney function. Some believe that adding a high level of cooked tomatoes to one’s diet could be as effective as taking statin drugs without the risks.

Caution: I’m not a medical doctor, and suggest you consult your provider before launching into any change in diet or medications. Additionally, some people do have allergic reactions to tomatoes, so be aware. 

For great tomato recipes, and lots of other great recipes, go to our website and click on Trisha’s Dishes.

www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

 

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