We all know that death is a creepy topic, and we avoid serious discussion of it like the plague (oops, poor choice of cliche!). Well, Halloween is coming, and I highly recommend your listening to this half-hour interview on the subject of death. You will learn a lot, and be entertained as well. Then, to really get into the gory details (and learn a lot more), explore her website and watch some of her short videos.
Posts Tagged ‘Aging’
This is worth reading:
Diana Nyad and the wisdom of age
Usually, I don’t post about preliminary research findings, and this one only applies to rats, but I think it is interesting. Beyond that, no comment.
By Rob Waters
Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — A daily puff of a compound like marijuana, the plant blamed for ruining potheads’ recall, might help maintain memory in old age, researchers who tried it on rats reported today at a neuroscience meeting.
Here is the full story.
Author Dan Buettner (The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest), in partnership with National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging, traveled the world to find out who lives the longest and what we can learn from them.
From the NPR story:
Buettner says one such zone, the Italian island of Sardinia, has the highest number of male centenarians in the world, while another, Okinawa, Japan, has the longest disability-free life expectancy. In Loma Linda, Calif., a community of Seventh Day Adventists has a life expectancy that’s nine to 11 years greater than that of other Americans. And middle-age mortality is lowest on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula — where Buettner says middle-aged residents have about a four-fold greater chance of reaching age 90 than people in the United States do.
Some commonalities which seem to correlate with long, healthy lives:
“One of the idiosyncrasies we discovered is that people who eat nuts four to five times a week, 2 ounces at a time, tend to live two to three years longer than people who don’t eat nuts. That was a big surprise for us,” Buettner says.
Some may think the secret to longevity lies in strenuous physical activity, such as running marathons or triathlons or pumping iron. But Buettner says he has identified four things people can do that can potentially increase life expectancy: Create an environment that encourages physical activity, set up your kitchen in such a way that you’re not overeating, cultivate a sense of purpose and surround yourself with the right people.
“These are long-term fixes that have been shown over and over to add not only more years of life, but better years of life,” Buettner says.
The weakness of this kind of research is that it only shows correlations (does not prove cause and effect) and suffers from the “cohort effect” — all the people studied, by virtue of their similar age, grew up under unique socio-cultural-historical conditions which may never occur again.
It gives me great pleasure, and not a little anxiety, to launch this blog, which I am calling Happy-Well in honor of George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist/researcher who is the author of Aging Well.
In his book, Vaillant reports on the results of a long-term study where men and women were monitored for decades. Here is an exerpt from Weight Management for Your Life which further describes the study (p. 8):
Vaillant writes about factors that seem to predict which research subjects turn out to be Sad-Sick (including dead) and which Happy-Well. One description of the Happy-Well group highlights their “learning to live with neither too much desire and adventure nor too much caution and self-care. … Rather, successful aging means giving to others joyously whenever one is able, receiving from others gratefully whenever one needs it, and being greedy enough to develop one’s own self in between.” After reviewing the data on all 1406 subjects Dr. Vaillant was pleasantly surprised to learn that most of the significant predictors of positive outcome were things we have some measure of control over: “The protective factors … – a stable marriage, the ability to make lemonade from lemons, avoiding cigarettes, modest use of alcohol, regular exercise, high education, and maintaining normal weight – allow us to predict thirty years in the future.
As you will see by glancing at the categories list, I plan to comment on a variety of health and wellness related issues, particularly ones which we can affect by changing our behavior. I hope you read and benefit from my postings, and I look forward to hearing from you!