Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Interesting Facts About Aging

I'm becoming more aware of my age these days.  When I crossed that imaginary threshold from my 40s into my 50s I told myself "age is merely a state of mind." Now I'm finding that, while that statement may be true, it takes a lot more concentrated effort for me to believe it.  That's likely because the aging process, which is neglible until we hit 50, seems to accelerate each year. As a result, my commitment to exercise, proper diet, and intellectual stimulation becomes increasingly important.

While researching the aging process the other day, I recently came across a series of facts about the brain that fascinated me.  For example, "the human brain has about 100 billion neurons by age 35.  However, from the age of 35 years on, 7,000 neurons are lost daily."  That's roughly 2.5 million a year or 25 million every 10 years.  "Wow!" I thought.  "That's a lot!" But then I realized that that it's really only a loss of 1/4th of 1% of the total every decade (hopefully we lose all the useless information we've acquired, while retaining the wisdom that comes with age).

Still, I'm very keen on maintaining my intellectual capacity and so I pay attention to what I take in, making sure to get lots of good brain food (both the edible kind and the intellectual variety).

According to Directory Journal's Health Section, the Top 10 list for edible brain foods includes:

1.  Blueberries
2.  Salmon
3.  Flax Seeds
4.  Coffee
5.  Mixed Nuts
6.  Avacados
7.  Eggs
8.  Whole grains
9.  Dark Chocolate
10. Broccoli

I wouldn't recommend having these choices as the only items on your diet, but these and other foods with similar charcteristics are a good step in the right direction.

In terms of non-edible treats that we can feed our brains, most experts include some configuration of the following list to ensure that we maintain healthy brain capacity and function:

1.  Keep learning (challenge your mind and your senses)
2.  Exercise regularly (stay as active as you can)
3.  Interact with others (and laugh a lot)
4.  Sleep well (8 hours sleep is still important )
5.  Reduce stress (learn what you can control and what you can't)
6.  Eat well (a combination of the right foods and supplmenets where needed)

I have been fortunate to grow up in a family where the quest for knowlege, healthy living, and conviviality are prized.  My paternal grandfather lived to age 99.  He was still sharp as a tack until the end and able to hold a conversation with anyone, from any walk of life.  Grandpa could still manage his own vegetable garden until his late 80s.  My mother, who turned 94 last week, still reads 3 to 4 books a week and when she watches television (which is infrequent), she's tuned to PBS, National Geographic Channel, or The Learning Channel.  She uses a walker to assist her in doing her daily walks whenever possible. Those traits, combined with a commitment to regular laughter (and to finding the humor in challenging situations) has created a zest for life in a good share of my family members.  "If I'm going to be alive," my grandfather once told me. "I'm damn well going to enjoy being here."

As for me, I join Christie Brinkley and Chuck Norris in endorsing the "Total Gym" as a wonderful exercise machine that allows me to stay fit and flexible.  I add to that form of exercise a daily walk (with Lila and our dog, Kai), healthy food (thank heavens, Lila and I both love to cook), and a variety of supplements.

Kai - The happiest dog I know

To keep my brain in gear, I take Fish Oil, Ginko Biloba, and Acetyl L-Carnintne and read voraciously, like my parents and grandparents.  And, since my father was a television art director with a PBS affiliate, I spend my television time watching programs like "Nature" and "Nova" (when I'm not enjoying a few of my guilty pleasures on other networks). As for that wonderful health food, laughter, my wife was once a stand-up comic in Los Angeles, so there's no shortage of that medicine in this house (gratefully)!

Whatever your methods are for staying fit and happy, know that we support your efforts.  It's so wonderful for us to have the chance to read your comments, on order forms or in emails, and to learn to how you're doing and how our products are helping you.  It's our privilege to be members with you in a Co-op whose whole design is to make staying healthy affordable and fun.

Peace, Love, and Good Health to you,

Chris Harding
Chief Community Officer
Our Health Co-op, Inc.

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