Generally, people traditionally associate aging with pains, loss, illness and a whole lot of negatives. Now the question needs be asked: Is aging (or should aging be) synonymous with the negatives people have come to associate with it? – horrors (??) of aging, sudden onset of pains, senior moments and the myths about aging.
Abraham Lincoln had this to say about aging: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that matters, but the life in your years”. Such a profound assertion that is eternally true and gives credence to the oft repeated cliché – Age is just a number!
Granted that human body will definitely submit to the necessity of change in body chemistry, anatomy and physiology in the course of a lifetime, is it possible for us to age gracefully? Are there things we do or fail to do that actually make aging translate to the negative pictures and perceptions we often see or have of aging? Do we have a role to play in aging gracefully or is it Que sera, Sera…whatever will be, will be?
Naturally, women are more concerned about aging than men, but just like the women, men will benefit from a conscious and deliberate attention to our bodies, so as to be graceful indeed in our later years. No matter where you are regarding this, it is not too late to make a decision to get on the road to aging gracefully. Fact is that with each passing day, aging sets in. You don’t have to be 60 years or more before you start thinking about aging.
The Psalmist in the Bible says Teach Us O Lord to number our days…..that we may apply our hearts to wisdom
People are living longer. From 70.8 Life expectancy in the USA in 1970, the average life expectancy will reach 79.5 years in 2020 in that country. According to a World Health Organization statistics, the average life expectancy globally stood at 71.4 years with Nigeria among the countries with the lowest life expectancy at 54.1 years, better only than Cote D’ Ivoire (53.3), Chad (53.1) Central African Republic (52.5) and Angola (52.4). Interestingly, in Nigeria, we still have people living from 80 years and above. Today, Nigeria lost an elder statesman and business icon, Michael Ibru who passed on at age 86. In one corner of Lagos
Sooner than later, we will hit those years when we are closer to, than from our last breath, a phase that over time peoples have come to associate with pain, disability, misery, regrets and all kinds of negative emotions and expectations. However, views on aging are also changing. Disease and disability are no longer an inevitable part of growing older. Despite aging does putting us at greater risk for health issues, we can still be healthy and active well into our advancing years.
The print and electronic media are awash with promotion of different interventions that could promote longevity or active life expectancy. It will be worthwhile to research and find out why life expectancy is highest in Japan (83.7) and considerably high in Switzerland, (83.4), Singapore (83.1), Spain (82.8), Italy (82.7), Sweden (82.4), etc. We could learn some lessons from them which could help personally in this journey.
It is common knowledge that eating healthily, taking part in exercises and physical activities help promote healthy aging, but are there other interventions that can help? Can hormonal and other supplements, antioxidants, calories restrictions help. What about “Eating Right for Your Blood Type” There’s so much information out there, and there seems to be an unending cycle of one school of thought contradicting the other one, leaving the searcher confused at times.
Mrs. Grace Tinuke Oyelude, the first Miss Nigeria, 1957 is one very good example of aging gracefully – still looking radiant and full of life at 84, and when recently asked the secret of her beauty, she attributed it to living a normal life, no hustle, no bustle, no stress, eat well, sleep well and do little exercise; walk in the mornings and evenings, go to bed early. My father -in-law is almost in his mid 70, but still quite strong and kicking. All around me graceful I see aging personified
It is advisable to take a look at the possible benefits and risks of a number of approaches of what we know about these interventions. Some suggest that until we have a better understanding, it is a good idea to be sceptical of claims that any supplements can solve your age-related problems.
In the past two decades, use of Anti – Oxidants has grown in prominence, by-products known as free radicals, made normally when the body changes oxygen and food into energy. The discovery of antioxidants raised hopes that people could slow aging simply by adding them to the diet. So far, studies of antioxidant-laden foods and supplements in humans have yielded little support for this conclusion. Further research, including large-scale epidemiological studies, might clarify whether dietary antioxidants can help people live longer, healthier lives. For now, although the effectiveness of dietary antioxidant supplementation remains controversial, there is positive evidence for the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Now, why should I go get supplements, when I can get the same effects by eating fruits and vegetables and other natural food items. In this part of the world, it is not just easy to have a regular supply of organic food items, fruits and vegetables – enough to replace the quantity that these supplements deliver into the human body.
On the flip side, scientists are discovering that what you eat, how frequently, and how much may have an effect on quality and years of life. Of particular interest has been calories restriction, a diet that is lower by a specific percent of calories than the normal diet, though includes all needed nutrients. Research in some animals has shown calorie restriction of up to 40 percent fewer calories than normal to have an impressive positive effect on disease, markers of aging, and, perhaps, life span.
Even though calorie restriction appears to work in a variety of species, its effects on longevity are far from universal. Calorie restriction studies with humans and other primates, such as monkeys, are ongoing. Some studies in nonhuman primates have shown that calorie restriction reduces the incidence of certain diseases such as cancer. Other studies in primates have not yet reached final conclusions.
Findings of the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy pilot study in humans showed that overweight adults who cut their calorie consumption by 20 to 30 percent lowered their fasting insulin levels and core body temperature, also reduced their risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Though Scientists do not yet know if long-term calorie restriction is safe, beneficial, or practical for humans, the research offers new insights into the aging process and biological mechanisms that could influence healthy aging. This research may also provide clues about how to prevent or delay diseases that become more prevalent with age and inform the development of treatments for such diseases.
While evidences abound on positive effects of fasting or reduced meal frequency on the brain, heart function and regulation of sugar content in the blood in animals, the influence of intermittent fasting on human health and longevity is currently unclear.
While research into these types of approaches continues, it is important to remember there is already plenty of research supporting the value of a healthy, balanced diet and physical activity to help delay or prevent age-related health problems.
What is your understanding, experience with or about aging gracefully or your take on this introductory piece. Drop your comments.