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Living Long...Doing What I Like to Do

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I’m an octogenarian and enjoying it. As I grew from childhood into adulthood I thought people were “old” who were 20 years older than I. That age kept advancing as I got older.
A few years ago I met Alan Alda, star of a number of movies and the hit TV series Mash. I asked Alan how long he wanted to live, and he answered, “Till I am 103 years old.” At the time he was in his 70s and still active in movies and TV. Some years later, on the event of his 90th birthday, I met and interviewed Norman Lear, creator of a number of TV comedies like All in the Family and Happy Days.  I asked Norman how long he wanted to live and he answered, “At least to 106”.  At 90 he was still creative and sparkling with personality and wit, and today he is still going strong.

I decided I want to live to 100, so I set out to find the secrets of long life. To give credit to whom credit is due, I turned to sources like the Mayo Clinic newsletters, Harvard School of Public Health, the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, the Department of Food Science at the University of California, Davis, and Ellen Troyer’s Biosyntrx Friday Pearls.

The following are a few secrets I’ve found to help achieve that goal:

Tea - I found that both green tea and black tea contain antioxidants (polyphenols, catechins and theaflavins) that help your body fight conditions like cancer and heart disease. Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis; the leaves are simply processed differently. Green tea leaves are not fermented; they are steamed. Black tea and oolong tea leaves undergo a crushing and fermenting process.

Oolong tea (low in caffeine and high in antioxidants) falls somewhere between green and black teas, as its leaves are only partially oxidized. It is a semi-green fermented tea, but the fermentation process is halted as soon as the leaves start to change their color.

Meat and Vegetables - Adequate intake of vitamins and antioxidants from fresh vegetables as well as following the recommendations of Health and Human Services on intake of meats, milk and grains is especially important as we get older.

More than 85 percent of the US public does not consistently consume even five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, much less the nine to 13 daily servings per day now recommended by HHS to reach the daily required intake (DRI) of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants necessary to prevent disease and maintain good health.

Eye Care - When I ask which of the five senses is the most important, most people choose vision over hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Many research studies have shown that proper nutrition is the most important factor in maintaining healthy eyes. A number of studies have shown that the American diet is actually deficient in vitamins and minerals. Because of this I recommend nutritional supplements in addition to what may be considered an “adequate diet”.  I’ve found that in most instances, what’s good for the eyes is good for the entire body. This is especially important with intake of multivitamins and minerals, meaning that nutritional supplements are necessary, especially in older individuals.

Routine Eye Exams - Don't neglect biennial eye exams by your eye-care professional to check for glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. It’s surprising how many diseases are detected on routine eye exams.

A Bright Outlook - Being an optimist can add up to twelve years to your life, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. Having a fun hobby helps, and becoming involved with “service” activities helps to keep one’s mind off the minor problems of life. In one study, optimistic individuals were found to be less prone to viral illnesses, whether they had flu shots or not.

Exercise - Your exercise doesn't have to be too vigorous; a walk around the block or longer will do. I enjoy walking around the lake near my home. You don't even have to run or carry weights or climb hills, just so you breathe deeply or get your heart pounding. If it gets to you, slow down. A casual walk outside in fresh air is OK.

Get Enough Rest - If you've ever been sleep deprived, you know how it makes you feel. It’s not just a feeling. Lack of sleep puts you at greater risk for depression and heart disease. Going to bed just one hour earlier can help lower your blood pressure, which in turn reduces your risk for having a stroke or heart attack.

In summary, in aiming at a longer life in good health, I want to remember three basics:

1. A healthy, sustainable diet.
2. Science-based, safe, and effective nutritional supplements.
3. Regular exercise and a good mental attitude.

Spencer Thornton, MD, and the Biosyntrx staff