Who wants to live to 100? Better than the alternative!

Posted by on 17 July, 2010

Zen life extenders

For many of us, the idea of lining up for a spot in a nursing home in our hundreds is staggeringly stupid. Until you get into ‘middle age’ when the alternative – carking it- don’t sound so good.  Then there’s a mad scramble to tidy up the health backyard and claw back an extra few years to watch those newly born grandkids hit school and even get married themselves. Suddenly the sheer fun of gaining a spare tyre and wrinkles doesn’t seem worth it.

For those wanting to turn back the clock, I have some tips;

  1. Chose your parents wisely. Your genes hold a key to your longevity. A recent US study found that 75% of centenarians hold one of a small number of gene patterns that certainly put you in front of the goal posts for a long life. But given that most of us don’t get much of a say in that area, and also that only 10% with the genetic golden ticket actually make a century, you can still add years with some special lifestyle changes;
  2. Eat less. I’m not advocating starving but countless studies have found that gluttony is the deadliest sin of all. Eat till you’re satisfied but not ‘FULL’ and you’ll add years to your life.
  3. Exercise. I’d go for 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week. The good news is that if you are a career couch potato, all is not lost! Recent research from Duke University found that the benefits of exercise kick in whenever you start. I guess that’s tomorrow then.
  4. Eat fish. Based on the fact that cultures where fish is the staple, especially Japan tend to yield long livers. Hardly conclusive because Japanese also love watching sumo wrestling and drinking sake and nobody’s advocating that. Given the price of fish to eat and the environmental costs of overfishing our waters, I reckon fish oil tablets could be a good alternative.
  5. Eat olive oil. Round the globe to the Mediterranean where a high olive oil diet is credited with countless health benefits. Readily available and reasonably priced, cooking in olive oil is a reasonable idea.
  6. Drink tea (and let’s add coffee as well). Packed with the plant based antioxidants, polyphenols, teas have lots of health benefits, longevity being one of them. Coffee has just as many polyphenols as tea and most studies on the stuff coming out now suggest it is as powerful as tea for fending off diseases.
  7. Don’t teetotal. Don’t nurse a bottle of whisky in your handbag, but a glass a day of red wine also gives you a powerful dose of polyphenols and studies have found that drinking a small amount regularly prevents heart disease and might extend your innings. Hint 1 glass of red a day is not the same as 7 beers on a Friday night.
  8. Go vego. My partner is devastated that his beloved steaks while delivering a great pack of iron do not do great things for your life expectancy. Vegetarians do much better!
  9. Destress. It seems that people who can’t handle stressful situations meet their maker slightly earlier than the more chilled among us. Yoga and meditation are good tools for people who need a little assistance to ride life’s rollercoaster.
So tomorrow; a coffee, a good walk, a few fish oil tablets and a salad with olive oil dressing for dinner with a glass of red followed by green tea and yoga. Sound alright? See ya in the nursing home!