By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
It’s that time again when people start thinking about new year resolutions. This time, instead of just vowing to lose X number of pounds, how about vowing as well to be healthier in 2014, and to slow down the aging process? It can be done. Here are some ideas…
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
− Sophia Loren
When I reached sixty-five in 2011 and chronologically became a senior citizen, it really wasn’t a big milestone. Not a big deal. I just kept doing what I had been doing for years: Following a lifestyle routine based on prevention and achieving optimum health.
The reality we all have is that we can’t do anything about getting older, and stopping Father Time, but we sure as heck can do something about staying healthy, applying the anti-aging brakes as much as possible, and realizing we can’t do many of the things we used to do when we were younger.
In my case, no more bone-jarring mogul skiing. My favorite get-away activity became bone fishing.
I consider myself pretty darn healthy for my years. I feel great, and I intend to stay that way for as long as I can. Whether I reach a hundred isn’t important. What’s important is the quality of life I experience along this adventure we call life, even in the homestretch, to use a racing term.
I don’t know how someone is supposed to feel at my age, but as a physician I’ve sat across the desk from many a patient years younger than me who looked and felt much older than their age. I resolved that I definitely didn’t want to end up appearing and feeling aged. One of my missions in medical practice was to get my patients to feel full of energy, love life, and constantly look for new ways to be healthier.
As a doctor, I have learned a lot about healthy and graceful aging, and the ingredients for it are truly basic. Years ago I was fascinated by the research of a Russian gerontologist who studied longevity. He examined twenty thousand healthy people aged eighty and above, and documented the key ingredients he discovered most of them had in common.
Here’s what he found:
- They worked outdoors, weather permitting, getting plenty of physical activity, sunlight, and fresh air.
- They ate a simple, healthy diet, including many fresh fruits, and vegetables.
- They enjoyed good relationships, rich in love, intimacy, and support. Physical connectedness to a partner meant anything from intercourse to cuddling and kissing. It was the holding and the intimacy that mattered the most to them.
- They had optimistic outlooks on life.
When I give talks to lay audiences on the subject of healthy aging, I go somewhat beyond the Russian perspective and throw my cardiologist’s “spin” on it with some lessons I’ve learned along the way as a doctor as well as in my personal life.
Here’s what I emphasize:
1. An anti-inflammatory, non-insulin provoking diet.
2. Adequate physical activity, sunlight, and fresh air.
3. Detoxification − keeping the body as toxin-free as possible.
4. Targeted supplements to enhance ATP production—ATP being the body’s basic energy source generated by all the cells.
5. Being happy and not letting stress get the better of you. Sure, tragedy and loss happen in all our lives that affect us, but so many times we make ourselves sick by reacting negatively to unimportant things in our lives. One of my mentors in life was the late Bob Eliot, a pioneering cardiologist and bestselling author who coined the phrase: “don’t sweat the small stuff….it’s all small stuff anyway.” A short fuse doesn’t make for a long life. There’s plenty of evidence showing that stress can generate a wide variety of illnesses, including cardiovascular disease.
6. Earthing. Reconnect yourself to the Earth’s natural energy. Modern life has detached us from many aspects of Nature, including the powerful healing, nurturing, and rejuvenating energy omnipresent on the surface of the Earth.
These ingredients make up my own recipe for healthy aging and for keeping me out of a nursing home later on. Whether you are a baby boomer like me, further ahead or a little behind me in your years, I think you’ll find them instructive reminders for improving your quality of life right now and in the future. And in the articles and videos on this website you’ll find the details on how to add these ingredients into an anti-aging recipe for a healthy life.
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