I’m listening to Andrew Weil on CD, Healthy Aging, Your Guide to Optimum Physical and Spiritual Well-being. As a doctor he is very interested in scientific evidence for all the myths and theories he has investigated regarding aging. He does not believe there is any way to reverse aging while continuing to live. However, there are some things he advocates to optimize your health and live better as you age.
He says that the factors most highly correlated to long life are: physical activity and community involvement (social connectedness). I assert that the mind is the biggest factor, so it makes sense to keep it healthy by physical activity and social interaction. It’s also helpful to look at aging in a positive way and viewing the benefits, not just the disadvantages. There are many things that are considered more valuable as they get older, like antique furniture, cheese, wine and whiskey. We live in a throw-away society now, but in the past, old things were considered better, because they were broken in already and had lasted long enough to prove their superiority over other instruments. Yes, violins are considered more valuable when aged properly. And I have seen carpenters who prefer an old trusted tool to one of the new-fangled electric ones. Shoes are more comfortable when broken in, too. I’m sure I could think of more examples. Any ideas?
Some of the advantages according to Weil are increased smoothness, complexity and depth. As with wine, whiskey and cheese, undesirable qualities are reduced, as taste and texture are enhanced. And don’t forget the old trees. He makes pilgrimages to unheard-of places just to stand in their presence. And he feels a strong presence as he thinks of all the wonders and disasters the tree has survived.
In order to keep your mind in optimum condition, Weil recommends that you continue to learn new things and he thinks the kind of learning that most effectively keeps your brain in condition are learning a new language or learning a new computer operating system. He also thinks it would be advantageous for older people to do these things in order to maintain that social connectedness.
He advocates a healthy diet, full of fruits and vegetables and recommends certain supplements which are not easy to get even in the most rigorous diet.
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2 years ago