By Frank Barone, MD, FACS
First the good news. You are likely to live longer, much longer than any human generation ever.
Recent advances in technology, medicine and science have resulted in adding over 20 years to your lifespan compared to those born in the U.S. less than 100 years ago. Longevity scientists are now predicting that babies born in countries with modern healthcare in this decade may potentially live to be 130 to 140 years of age…..incredible to consider!
But how well are you prepared for your new longer life? Living and working longer than ever before brings some significant challenges along with the exciting opportunities. Living and working longer will present some considerable physical, mental, social and financial considerations. Will you be ready?
Medical science and technology many keep us alive much longer, but will your body and mind be healthy enough to really allow you to fully enjoy those extra years?
Research and new science are clearly revealing some consistent fundamentals for healthy aging and they all involve lifestyle. The message from the leaders in nutrition is clear and constant: diets, or the concept of a ‘short-term’ fix for unwanted weight, just don’t work. What does work? Long-term lifestyle modification. Eat less meat and sugar, reduce your portions and calories significantly, and have a higher percentage of fruits, vegetables, nuts and natural fats (especially olive oil). Keep moving and have some form of exercise at least 5-6 days a week, and it should be vigorous and intense at times. Regular exercise and movement are the most important factors proven to reduce the signs and symptoms of aging and there is no way to escape that fundamental law of nature. WE don’t think you should shuffle off into the sunset on your walker…..we want you to run!
Many of our organ systems have been shown to exhibit deterioration in function long before the visible signs of aging are apparent. This change begins at the cellular level and at first is unnoticeable. The skin is actually the first organ system to show deterioration which begins with the consistent loss of collagen and elastin in our teen years. This continues at 1% per year but is mostly preventable with new technologies in medical skin care and sunscreens. Skin cancers may begin with sunburns and UV exposure in children and teens; again preventable with effective sunscreens and avoidance. Skin cancers are by far the most frequent human cancers and are increasing at an alarming rate despite the availability of sun protection and sun awareness education. These are critically important considerations in preparing for our longer lives, not only for ourselves but also for our children and families.
Fascinating studies in longevity are identifying the powerful effect of our minds and our moods on our body and overall health. The mind and body really are connected and we should think of them as one entity for optimal wellness and well-being. Just like the title of the famous text ‘Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer’ implies, reducing and controlling chronic stress is essential to a healthy life. Research has proven the effect of mood, optimism, social connection and mental engagement in healthy aging and longevity. Scientists are now revealing that the mind may not only be able to heal the body but also rejuvenate it. Meditation, yoga, commitment and purpose along with stress reduction really do make a difference at any age but especially the later years!
There is an exciting movement in healthcare involving lifestyle changes as an effective method to reduce disease and improve quality of life. This so-called ‘lifestyle medicine’ is the most compelling trend in healthcare and, most importantly, is supported by clinical research. When we consider our new aging population and the economic challenges of traditional healthcare, the importance of this movement is undeniable. Consider that currently over 85% of the 13 trillion dollars that we spend on health care is for chronic disease that can be effectively prevented or reduced by lower cost lifestyle modification. This philosophy is not just about how long we live, but also how well.
We have seen our patients at evolv and our medical practice improve their happiness and overall quality of life by incorporating these principles and enhancing their quality of life in the process. So we hope that we can stimulate you to consider these exciting health options so that you can be truly functionally younger and fully enjoy your ‘bonus’ years! We believe in improving health and happiness and we hope these principles will help and inspire you as much as they do us!
As we say at evolv……….LIVE LONGER. BETTER