By Henrylito D. Tacio
The Bible recorded the oldest living man through these words: ‘When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 872 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died” (Genesis5:25-27).
Through the yeas, people are trying to figure out how to live longer, just like Methuselah. In fact, many people in different parts of the globe at different times in history made it their life’s obsession.
Ponce de Leon’s quest for the mysterious fountain of youth led him to discover Florida. With its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and palm trees, Florida in itself is a kind of fountain of youth. Many Americans today who retire to Florida do seem to recover their youthful energy and vigor.
In 1808, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote of a 14th century alchemist, Faust, who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for a youth-restoring potion. As expected, Faust came to an unpleasant end.
No one lives forever, for sure. But this fact doesn’t stop doctors and scientists to search for ways how to live longer. “Aging is the progressive accumulation of changes with time associated with or responsible for the ever-increasing likelihood of disease and death which accompanies advancing age.” That statement comes from Denham Harmon, one of the leading experts in the field of anti-aging research.
In recent years, people are living longer – thanks to science. But, on second thought, merely living longer isn’t good enough. What people want these days is not just living longer, but also living healthier lives. Who wants to live longer if it means just existing, unable to enjoy life?
“A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses,” wrote Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, centuries ago.
Dr. Steven G. Aldana, of Brigham Young University, recently revealed that a person may be able to add 20 years or more to his or her life by making several health changes. “People don’t have to completely turn their lives around to get significant benefits,” Dr. Aldana said. Example: Someone who exercises for 30 minutes six times a week can gain 2.4 years of life, even if that person doesn’t adequately control his blood pressure.
But not smoking is probably the most important change. “Men who smoke a pack a day lose an average of 13 years of life, while women lose 14 years,” he commented. Every year, there are about 20,000 smoking-related deaths in the Philippines, where about 60 percent of men smoke.
Excess weight greatly increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and hypertension. A person who is 20 pounds over his/her ideal weight is 50% more likely to develop heart disease — and the risk increases as weight increases.
In simpler terms, shed those extra pounds by doing regular exercise. People who engage in moderate exercise at least three to five times a week can reduce their blood pressure by an average of 10 points and dramatically lower their risk of diabetes. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas showed that men who ran, walked briskly, swam, jogged, or played tennis lowered their risks of dying early by 64 percent.
For lowering blood pressure, walking – and not running! — may be the better form of exercise. American president Harry S Truman took to walking briskly until the ripe old age of 88. Astronaut John Glenn credited his celebrated return to orbit at age 77 to his two-mile daily power walk.
But exercise is not enough. There are other things you must do: Eat most meals at home (restaurant food tends to be higher in calories). Drink water instead of soda (the sugar in soft drinks is a main contributor to weight gain — and artificial sweeteners have not been proven safe). Don’t eat in front of the television (studies show that people who engage in “mindless” eating take in far more calories).
Watch what you put into your mouth. Studies show that eating one-quarter cup of nuts five times a week can add 2.5 years to your life. Fruits and vegetables lengthen your life by 2-4 years. People who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables from two to five servings a day can reduce by half their risk of many cancers — including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancers.
For every 10 grams of fiber you consume per day, your risk of heart attack goes down by 14% and risk of death from heart disease drops by 27%. People who eat as little as two servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily can reduce their risk of stroke by 36%. Fiber-rich foods, which can also reduce colon cancer risk, lengthen life by 2-4 years.
Sleep well. William Shakespeare wrote a long, long time ago: “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath; balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourishes in life’s feast.”
Wrote the editors of Super Life, Super Health: “The secret of staying young could simply be a good night’s sleep. Sleep rejuvenates and revitalizes your body. Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced only during deep sleep. The amount of deep sleep you get, and the amount of growth hormone you make, decreases with age. If you could get more deep sleep and, therefore, produce more HGH, you might be able to slow down the aging process.”
As you grow older, don’t worry about it. The more you worry, the more you will likely to meet your Creator. In fact, be thankful that you are able to reach the age which most people have not attained. Perhaps, you can sing Paul Anka’s song: “My friends, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve traveled each and evr’y highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.”
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