I think science has begun to demonstrate that aging is a disease. If it is, it can be cured.
– Tom Robbins.
Nabi Tajima, a Japanese female, was the longest surviving individual on Earth a few months back as she died on 21 April 2018. She was 117 years old. She was born on 4 August 1900 and closely observed the events of the whole of the 20th century. The oldest verified person, on record was a French woman, Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) who lived 122 years and 64 days. The striking features of super-centenarians or super-agers are five habits – i.e.
_ Simple stress-free or low-stress life
_ Small, simple and low-fat food
_ Simple and regular exercise such as walking and doing household work
_ To remain happy
_ Sleeping well. It is observed that most of these people included these activities in their life style knowingly or unknowingly.
Ageing represents the accumulation of changes in a human being over time. Herber Warner of National Institute on Ageing once commented, that “the issues that cause ageing are cumulative and the earlier you start remedying them, the much better off you are in the future.”
So start reviewing your lifestyle – i.e. diet, exercise, sleep, stress busting and happiness status – and, you will realise the negative areas responsible for speedy ageing. Start rectifying your lifestyle, stop smoking and begin regular exercise including breathing exercise and pranayam. The sedentary habit in females is one of the most important and common factors for ageing fast. A housewife will feel that she is working very hard in household affairs and doesn’t require any other exercise but in fact, she is getting tired but not having sufficient physical exercise which she requires. Natural detoxification of body is to be considered from time to time.
Understanding basics of anti-ageing habits is essential for an Indian housewife for, if she is convinced, she can help other members of her family, specially children, to follow these healthy habits and enjoy a long healthy life.
Fortunately, doctors and researchers are starting to pay as much attention to the subject of ageing as the rest of us are. They’re working to better understand the changes that come as we get older and what can be done about them. Ageing is inevitable – there’s no way to stop the clock – but a gradual decline in good health and good looks isn’t.
We can at least avoid the additional factors of ageing than genetic or natural or unpreventable factors. We can avoid daily and regular attacks of offenders of health on our bodies and prevent man-made aging.
During the 20th century, the average lifespan of people living in developed countries increased 60% from about 50 years to 80 years. As a result, the special health problems of ageing are being studied. The increase in lifespan is also due to better prevention and management of diseases.
Ageing kills maximum persons, it kills about 1,00,000 persons out of 1,50,000 daily. Factors affecting ageing are of two categories – i.e. programmed and damage-related. Damage-related factors include internal and environmental assaults to living organisms that induce cumulative damage at various levels. This cumulative assault speeds ageing in considerable extent. We can reduce this cumulative damage by developing antiageing habits.
_ Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain, cereals and high fibre natural foods and avoid processed foods. Cruciferous vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts and radish etc are full of antioxidants.
_ Reduce overall dietary fats. Change cooking oil from saturated fats and oils to polyunsaturated fats and oils. This will improve the health of your children, husband and other family members.
_ Avoid dietary chemicals such as nitrates which are used to cure meats and its products. Nitrates are known to cause increased risk of cancer. Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before consumption.
_ Do regular aerobic and weight exercises. Weight-exercises are a must for females specially to avoid osteoporosis.
_ Maintain normal body weight
_ Don’t smoke or use tobacco in any form. The habit of smoking is increasing among women nowadays.
_ Avoid passive smoking. Be strict with the husband and other members of the family, be after them to stop smoking at home and also outside.
_ Do breast self-examination.
_ Limit alcohol intake. This habit is increasing in working women as it is now an ‘in thing’ to share alcohol consumption at parties.
_ Think positive
_ Be happy.
_ Sleep for optimum periods. In Indian households women go last to bed and are first to get up, but they must have optimum sleep of 6-7 hours.
Have a balanced diet.
Calorie restriction increases life span in rodents by upto 50 per cent. No life span data exists for humans on a calorie-restricted diet but researches support that calorie restriction protects from age-related diseases. It can be said that if we are protected from age-related diseases we live longer though the direct relation is difficult to find even National Institute on Ageing (NIA) says. Researchers also say that a moderate calorie-restriction is definitely beneficial to our health. Higher consumption of vegetable, fish, fruits, nuts and monosaturated fatty acids – i.e. olive oil reduces mortality risk.
One has to consume a good quantity of fluids including water as this helps in distributing nutrients to different parts of the body and also in excreting waste products which is essential for keeping good health. Develop a good and regular water drinking habit. Start drinking water from the time you get up in the morning so it will not be a burden. Drink approximately minimum two litres of water daily.
Carbohydrates are your main source of energy. Try to consume foods rich in complex carbohydrates rather than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, such as cereals, brown bread, brown rice, beans etc contain fibre, vitamins and mineral and don’t raise the blood sugar level of the body suddenly as they have low glyceamic index whereas simple carbohydrates such as sugary drinks, fruit juices and honey, contain only empty calories and raise the level of blood sugar quickly as they have high glycemic index.
Marion Nestle, American professor of nutrition, food Studies, and public health at New York University summarises the basic principles that “eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits and vegetables.”
Fibres increase the bulk of the contents of large intestine and help in passing stool smoothly and removing waste from the body. Fibres are found only in plant foods (fruits and vegetales) and are not present in non-vegetarian foods. A good quantity of fibres in diet prevents constipation, piles and diverticular disease in addition to lowering the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Though some researches indicate that fibres also reduce the risk of developing colon cancer but still a clear proof is required. We have to consume 25 to 35 grams of fibres each day to have above mentioned beneficial effects. Cereals, potato, beans, peas, apples with the skin, broccoli, pears, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fibre.
Fats and oils are energy-rich food items so one has to consume in restricted amounts. All oils and fats are not good for you. Some are bad while others are less bad. Try to drastically reduce the consumption of saturated fats as they raise cholesterol level of the body. We require only 10 per cent of our energy from fats.
Proteins are vital to our bodies as they supply aminoacids which are the building blocks of the body. Proteins help in the repair of body damage which occur due to daily wear and tear. We require 1 gm of protein per one kg of our body weight. Protein save found in chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, beans, nuts and some vegetables. You have to develop a habit of eating some protein daily such as egg white and chicken or cheese, milk and legume. You don’t require extra-protein as it leaves the body through urine as a waste.
Vitamins are essential for your health but if your body cannot manufacture enough you have to get vitamins from your food or from vitamin supplements. Vitamins are required by your body cells to perform various chemical reactions. You have to develop a habit of eating a wide variety of foods specially fruits, vegetables and grains and if require a pill of vitamin supplement daily.
Minerals are required by our body for muscles and nerves and also for development of bones and teeth. You have to develop a habit of eating fresh fruits, vegetables, grain and low-fat milk to get proper amount of minerals. Elderly people who are above 60 are recommended to take a supplement daily as they may not be able to take a diet sufficient in vitamins and minerals. Pure vegetarian people must add vitamins B12 and D in their diet to avoid deficiency of these two vitamins.
Exercise your body and brain
Hippocrates, father of medicine, said about your body parts, “that which is used develops that which is not used wastes away”.
Regular exercise improves health, stamina and endurance and also protects from diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. Physical exercise makes your heart, lungs bones and muscles stronger. It is observed through researches that 30 minutes of exercise, six days a week can increase your life span. It improves physical fitness and overall health and bell being.
Mark Tremblay, director of the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Ottawa, said that “There is clear, direct dose– response relationship between volume of physical activity and years of life gained.”
Some studies indicate that exercise may increase life expectancy and the overall quality of life. Moderate level of exercises have been correlated with preventing ageing by reducing inflammatory potential.
MrsPromilaKapoor (name changed) is facing the yo-yo effects of dieting. She goes for fat-free, and low-calorie starvation diet few weeks, loses few kilos and again gains more than what she lost. She is fed up with dieting. She was told by her doctor that only dieting will not do. She has to combine exercise with dieting. She did not believe it and started dieting severely. She was 110 kilos and then she decided that if she wishes to live long she has to definitely lose kilos. Now she decided and considered joint approach of dieting and work-out. She started going to a gym. She started working out one hour daily, six days a week, doing treadmill, weights and stationary cycling. Eight months passed, she was quite regular and when she started losing weight her determination became stronger and now she is 90 kilos, having lost 20 kilos. Now she is happy and more determined to lose more till she reaches her ideal weight of 60 kilos. She followed the right advice of combining dieting with exercise and she got the results. I recommend people to start one at a time, first exercise and then later on join it with dietary restrictions and results are sure to come. By the way, she also started meditation to help her overcome negative thoughts and low feeling at times.
Walking or jogging helps you in living longer and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases by a considerable percentage. The good news is that if you can’t do 30 minutes of jog or brisk walk at a time, you can divide it into three sessions of 10 minutes each with the same benefit and even a slower pace can give you these benefits. It is confirmed by the various studies that if you exercise hard you can definitely cross 100.
The habit of sitting for long hours increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancer and even early death and avoiding sitting for long hours and walking at intervals avoids these risks and increases life span. Regular exercise reduces the chances of developing osteoporosis which is more in women than men.
Pass time with friends and family
Dr Edward R. Marcantonio, MD, SM, of Harvard Medical School says, “One of the most important factors in successful ageing is staying connected to other people and to daily activities. Not only can it enhance the functioning of your immune system, it also helps form new connections in your brain. People who develop new interests, visit new places, and make new friends seems to be healthier than those who do not. You can help maintain intellectual health by attending classes, reading, working out and volunteering in your community. Anything that keeps your mind active will help keep you mentally fit. Loneliness or social isolation weakens your immune system and increases the risk of getting high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, depression and dying early.
Gloria Stuart, Oscar-nominated actress, lived up to 100 years, 1910-2010. She was selected for Titanic at the age of 87 and she felt it was her “last chance to finally prove I could be a first rank actress”. Even into her 80s, she had the big dream she was still chasing. Susan Bali, M.D., a life coach and author of Live a Life You Love, says that “pursuing something we love releases chemicals in your brain which are known to boost your immune system, keep your heart healthy and decrease stress hormones”.
Breast self examination (BSE)
Breast self-examination (BSE) is a technique which allows an individual to examine her breast tissue for any physical or visual changes. It is often used as an early detection method for breast cancer. Women should perform a BSE at least once each month beginning at age 18.
_ Do your BSE at the end of your monthly period.
_ If you are pregnant, no longer have periods or your period is irregular, choose a specific day each month.
_ If you find a lump or notice other unusual changes, don’t panic. About 80% of lumps found are not cancerous. See your doctor promptly for further evaluation.
Lie down and roll onto your left side to examine your right breast. Place your right hand, palm up on your forehead. Your breast should lie as flat on your chest as possible. It may be easier and more comfortable if you put a pillow behind your shoulder or back.
Using the flat pads of your three middle fingers—not the tips—move the pads of your fingers in little circles, about the size of a dime.
Start the circles in your armpit and move down to just below the bra line. Then slide your fingers over—just the width of one finger and move up again. Continue this up-and-down vertical strip pattern—from your collarbone to just below your bra line—until you reach the nipple.
When you reach the nipple, carefully check the nipple area using the same circular pressures as before, without squeezing. Then examine the remaining breast tissue using the up-and-down vertical strip pattern, until you reach the middle of your chest. Roll onto your right side and repeat these steps on your left breast, using your right hand.
Stand in front of a mirror and look closely at your breasts in three positions (arms at your sides, arms raised above your head bending forward, and place hands on your hips and hunch over) viewing from the right and left as well as facing forward. Check for changes in the following:
Shape: Compare one to the other. One breast may normally be larger than the other, but sudden changes in size should not occur.
Skin: Check for rash, redness, puckering, dimpling, or orange-peel-textured appearance.
Nipples: Check for any physical changes such as a sudden inversion, scaliness, redness, itching, swelling or discharge.
Vein patterns: Look for a noticeable increase in size or number of veins compared to the other breast.
Public should be educated about certain vaccines which prevent particular types of cancers such as human papilloma virus (HPV).
Mrs Asia, 40-Years old, Arabic female, noticed a small lump in her right breast, but she did not report to the doctor and neglected it for one year, but when it became double of its original size, she got worried and reported to the doctor. A biopsy revealed a cancer of breast, but she was fortunate enough that it was operated and cured.
Kick the butt
Tobacco consumption must be condemned and stressed to youngsters not to smoke as smoking is killing lacs of people annually world wide. Both active and passive smoking are to be stopped. Tobacco consumption must be stopped in any form, smoking or chewing. Smoking is nowadays increasing among females whereas in some countries smoking in males is reducing.
Smoking tobacco is the leading cause of death from lung cancer, heart attack, chronic obstructive lung diseases, erectile dysfunction and birth defects.
Now it is established that smoking is one of the greatest health hazards and one of the causes of preventable death. Birth defects are caused due to smoking during pregnancy. Smoking is now considered as a risk factor for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer of the mouth, larynx, Oesophagus, pancreas and urinary bladder. Smoking increases cancer risk in nonsmokers considerably. Some women feel that smoking keeps them thin but it is the wrong way to do so.
Beware of your Booze
Alcohol use can lead to intoxication, but its long-term use can damage liver and brain and lead to alcoholism. WHO reported in 2014 that alcohol consumption causes 3.3 million deaths annually world wide. Regular alcohol consumption in large amounts leads to serious health hazards such as pancreatitis, cirrhosis of liver, malnutrition, brain damage, peripheral nerve damage, diabetes, and alcohol abuse.
According to the National Cancer Institute drinking alcohol increases risk of cancer of the mouth, Oesophagus, throat, breast, liver, colorectal and ovarian. These risks increase after approximately one drink daily for women and two for men.
In 2011, Amy Whitehouse, singer and songwriter, died of acute alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27. She admitted to having problems with self-harm, depression and eating disorders. In spite of being famous and very successful, she could not show her will power to stop alcohol.
Consistently drinking more than four units a day (for men) and three units (women) is not advisable. one alcohol unit is equal to 25 ml of whisky (40 per cent) 180 ml of beer (6 per cent) or 175 ml of red wine
(12 per cent). Don’t drink and drive as alcohol interferes in your driving skills. Always take a taxi when returning from a party. Keep your car at home or take your driver. You must follow this golden rule at all costs.
Ten Commandmentsof drinking
_ Alcohol takes 25-30 minutes to produce its effect so take one drink in one hour.
_ Try to limit up to 2 drinks a day to have health-benefitting effects of alcohol.
_ Don’t drink to relax or destress. Alcohol doesn’t reduce stress and anxiety but actually increases it and also makes you dehydrated.
_ Don’t gulp your drink
_ Always pour your beer or other drink in a glass avoiding drinking straight from the bottle.
_ Put more ice and soda in your drink, it delays the alcohol effect by diluting it.
_ Eat with drink or eat something before going to a party as food reduces the absorption of alcohol in the stomach.
_ Don’t drink to sleep. Alcohol will make you get up after some time and you will feel dehydrated and sleepless.
_ Make a habit of taking plenty of water before going to bed after a party.
_ Avoid alcohol if you suffer from liver disease and gout. If you are overweight and try to reduce weight, stop drinking as it will add to your calories.
Stress is good and beneficial if in small amounts but excessive amounts of stress, however, may lead to bodily harm. Stress can increase the risks of strokes, heart attacks, ulcers, dwarfism, and mental illnesses such as depression. It can lead to insomnia and personality change if it becomes chronic.
Positive thinking, humour and involvement in sports and games with family and friends are the activities one has to include in daily life to reduce stress. You have to change your life style to become more optimistic in life and keeping yourself busy and this does not allow stress to collect.
Regular exercise, time management, meditation, visualisation, deep abdominal breathing or pranayam and progressive muscle relaxation are the habits you have to learn and practise for a stress-free
Meditation cures depression and anxiety and helps in ameliorating panic attacks. Ruth Stafford Peale, author of Secrets of Staying in Love and chairman of the Peale Centre of Christian Living, remembers that, in 1938, her husband Norman Vincent Peale, the famous writer, philosopher and proponent of positive thinking, was discouraged during the Great Depression and became very pessimistic.
One day, she told Norman, “Now look, Norman, you talk about positive thinking and now all you are doing is thinking negatively. I think what you need is to practise what you preach about faith and positive thinking.” The good life is one in which you are at peace with your inner soul.
Keep yourself cool
An Indian housewife has to play several roles such as daughter wife, mother, cook, household incharge and a professional and this certainly will bring stress, anxiety and even anger, so she has to keep her cool and work too. She is a healer also for husband and children. Her soft soothing and calming words can bring peace to the home. William DeFoore, an anger management writer, described anger as a pressure cocker. We can only apply pressure against our anger for a certain amount of time until it explodes. Anger is an emotional reaction which affects the body physically also. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, stress hormone levels and aggressiveness.
In Hinduism anger is equated with sorrow. In the BhagvadGita Lord Krishna regards greed, anger and lust as signs of ignorance and lead to perpetual bondage. Lord Buddha said, “An angry person is ugly and sleeps poorly. A person overwhelmed with anger destroys hiswealth.”
MrsSushila (name changed) was a beautiful 35 year-old female who was successful and active management professional in one of the big global MNC. One day while taking a bath she noticed a few painless lumps in both her breasts. She showed it to a gynaecologist and a surgeon and both were of the opinion that these lumps were benign in nature and she need not to be worried but must go for an ultrasound and mammogram of both breasts for a definitive diagnoses and if required a FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology) will be performed for reaching to cellular details and diagnosis. If the lumps increase in size she will have to get operated for removal of the lumps. She was very stressed and worried that lumps may not turn to malignancy (cancer).
It is found in various studies that spirituality helps to give good health and long life. Church attendance has been found to increase life expectancy with a life expectancy at age 20 of 83 years for frequent attendees and 75 years for non-attendees (Hummer et al 1999), though the diet, exercise, improved medical care, avoiding smoking and alcohol abuse help spirituality adding a few more years to one’s lifespan. People even say that we can think and target for biological immortality, but it is difficult if not impossible. Life extension and absence of ageing would be approachable, the idea of an immortal soul was advocated by Plato. Hindus believe in immortal soul which is reincarnated after death. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi interpreted Upanishads as “Once a man has become established in the understanding of the premature reality of life, his mind rises above the influence of pleasure and pain. Such an unshakable man passes beyond the influence of death and in the premature phase of life: he attains eternal life… this is what gives him the status of immortal life.”