Slowing the Aging Process

As we reach retirement age and beyond, all we need to do is look in the mirror to be reminded of the many years we have lived. What I’ve always found interesting is that some people seem to look much older or younger than their actual age. Curious, I began to investigate the actual factors that  cause us to physically age. Based upon scientific research, these are the main factors I discovered:

1. Eating foods that cause chronic inflammation. Among these are foods that contain large amounts of vegetable oils, margarine, red meat, white bread, sugar, and other processed foods. The inflammation caused by these foods accelerates wrinkle formation in our skin.

To prevent this acceleration, eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid. Such foods would include those with flaxseed or flaxseed oil, avocados, salmon, and olive oil. Fresh fruits and veggies are also beneficial because they contain lots of zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and beta carotene. Red peppers and carrots are especially good. All of these help maintain healthy skin and retard the aging process. In addition, studies have shown that we need to have at least one helping of protein with each meal in order to maintain healthy skin. Insufficient protein causes tears, wrinkles, and cracks in our skin. This obviously ages us much more quickly.

2. Drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol is a natural diuretic and the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become. This dries up the natural moisture from your skin and exacerbates the fine lines and wrinkles that make us look older. Not drinking alcohol or drinking less also allows the liver to more easily flush toxins from our bodies that also benefits our skin. I’m sure we have all had the occasion of seeing a total stranger and can almost instantly determine that the person is a heavy drinker on the basis of their heavily wrinkled face.

3. Constant worry, anxiety, or stress.  Recent studies have shown that stress has a harmful effect on the DNA in our cells. This part of the DNA is called telomeres and when measured, those suffering stress had shorter telomeres in their cells causing the cells to become damaged or die. Stress also ages our brains, increases our blood pressure, and disrupts our sleep, all of which can make us look and feel older.

4. Lack of exercise. Exercising at 40 to 60 percent of your maximum heart rate is not only healthy for your weight, heart, and lungs, it provides a rejuvenating effect on the skin.

5. Smoking. If knowing that smoking causes heart disease, infertility, bladder cancer, high blood pressure, and lung cancer isn’t enough, it also is terrible for the skin and the aging process. Smoking deprives skin cells of oxygen and cause pale and uneven coloring. It also breaks down collagen and causes skin to sag. Puffing on cigarettes also creates deep wrinkles around a smoker’s mouth.

6. Too much sun. While being out in the sun can provide certain health benefits, too much sun certainly has a down side. In addition to the increased risk of skin cancer, UV rays weaken skin cells and blood vessels. This is what causes that tanned, leathery look. It can also make us more susceptible to bruising.

A recent four-year study in Australia determined that daily applications of sunscreen reduces the risk of skin cancer, fights wrinkles, and keeps skin smooth and resilient.

Highly Recommended

Since retiring, my wife Trisha and I have had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States and many countries around the world. In this new section of my blog called “Highly Recommended,” I will be sharing travel locations, hotels, cruises, and restaurants that we have found so compelling we want to share them with readers.

In this case, because my wife’s passion is cooking and my passion is eating, we want to share one of our favorite local places to eat in the bay area city of Brentwood. It’s a little hide-a-way place called Oodles of Noodles and More. They serve Asian-style cuisine in a very casual setting. The price is very modest and they use no MSG, no frozen meats, and all fresh vegetables. They have a variety of spicy sauces from mild to hot and spicy. Each customer gets a bowl and goes through a salad-bar style area to fill their bowl with their favorite veggies and other goodies. You then pick out your meat and sauce. My wife and I like to combine Pineapple Teriyaki and Spicy Mongolian. The chef then grills your food right in front of you, along with your choice of noodles or rice.

Family_eats

We have never been able to eat all of our serving and take the remainder home for a delicious lunch or dinner the next day.

Oodles of Noodles and More

6670 Lone Tree Way, Ste. 5, Brentwood, CA

Trisha Parker Oodles of Noodles

Trisha Parker
Oodles of Noodles

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 http://www.TheBestofOurLives.com

 

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

 

  

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  

 

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
There’s far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high
Through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round

 

It’s the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

 

These beautiful lyrics, if you’ve never heard or read them before, are from the Lion King song The Circle of Life. One of the greatest challenges retired life thrusts upon many of us is the caring for aging parents and other relatives. It’s a time of weighty responsibility. It often also turns into a time of gut-wrenching life and death decisions.

We live at a point in time in which modern medicine can keep someone technically and mechanically alive forever. When one has the responsibility for making such a difficult decision, it is frought with tension, second-guessing, and tremendous guilt. There are no easy answers. You do the best you can to fulfill the wishes of your loved one.

If you’ve experienced this particular challenge, you know the feelings involved. I’ve now been involved in such decision-making four times, most recently with my father and mother. If we can learn anything from this experience, it’s that we need to sit down with our children and/or other family members to make clear our own wishes. Be precise. Don’t put them in a situation in which they have to guess what you wanted. Put it in writing. Fill out your Advance Health Care Directive. The forms are available from your health care provider and will make it so much easier for your loved ones. If you’ve done this already, bravo. You are a responsible retiree.  

If you are wondering why I began this blog with The Circle of Life lyrics, it’s because two days before my mother’s funeral service, our youngest son and his wife presented us with another grandbaby. A cute little fellow (well, not too little, 8 lbs. 6 oz. and 21 inches long) that has given everyone in the family that uplifted feeling we all needed. It is truly the circle of life. My mother is smiling from above.

Here is my wife and proud grandmother Trisha with her new little fellow.