Aging Centuries ago Ponce de Leon searched for the fountain of youth. Today. many men and women follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately though• the focus of these pursuits usually centers on "quantity" (longevity of their life) rather than "quality" of life. With advances in medicine, technology. and a concern toward health and fitness, people are living longer than ever before. Many of these older adults are able to live to the fullest. For others, though, who are unable to function mentally or physically, there is little quality of life. But before examining the various issues surrounding aging, it's important to understand just what is aging. Basically, there are two aspects of aging-chronological and physiological. Chronological This age refers to your age according to the calendar - for example, if you were born in 1950. you turned 40 in 1990. Physiological This age Is based on your body's structural, chemical and mental aspects in comparison to the ideals for your age and sea. For example, If you are a 40 year-old man, do you function more like a healthy 40-year-old man, a healthy 28 year-old man, or a healthy 55-year old man? Ideally, you should age faster chronologically than you do physiologically. Several other factors also affect one's aging process, These include: Elimination o f Potentially Fatal Diseases The U.S. ranks seventh in longevity behind Switzerland, Japan. Iceland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Norway. The primary diseases which prevent us from reaching 100 are heart, vascular, cancer and respiratory diseases. Genetic And Environment Factors For healthy peoples genetic and environmental factors have the greatest effect on aging. Genetically, we have little control, but negative genetic traits can be amplified by environmental stress- For instance, if your ancestors died from natural causes (genetic factors) at an early age, and you work in a factory with toxic chemicals (environmental factors), chances are that you could die at an early aga However, if you take good care of yourself (even better than the average person because genetics are against y ou), you'll probably live beyond the age of your parents and grandparents. "The control we have over aging is the control we have over environmental stresses:' In other words, limit your exposure to the environmental stresses, such as pollution, overindulgence and on-the-job stress and you may lengthen your life Organ Reserve Why do we aged Organ Reserve is one answer. The liver, kidneys, adrenals. intestines, thyroid and all of the body's other organs, have certain reserves. Jeffrey Bland. Ph.D. describes organ reserve as "the functional capacity of our organ systems - above minimum function that can be mobilized against a stressor, such as a disease process, to return us to a state of health:' Every organ starts out with four to seven times more reserve than necessary for normal function. Then, as one ages, the normal reserve declines. The more stress one encounters the more reserves that are used. One key to slowing the aging process is to maintain or rebuild reserves. That means, avoid excess stress from work, family. etc. Minor stress actually helps to build reserves. Free Radicals Many researchers suggest that the stress of free radicals plays a prime part in organ reserve and aging. Free radicals are molecules which are normally produced in small quantities by the body to counter stresses, such as bacteria. viruses, toxins and other unwanted substances. It also has been shown that heavy exercise produces larger amounts of free radicals. Too many free radicals will definitely cause Ill health. Total Food Intake And The Integrity Of The Mitochondria Two factors which we have control over are positively related to aging - total food and the integrity of the mitochondria. The quality of the food we eat influences our health and the quantity of food we eat can extend our We In other words minimize total food intake without minimizing q u a l i t y . Eat denser foods. such as brown instead of white rice and fresh, rather than frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. Generally, foods should be consumed as close to their natural state as possible. The people of Okinawa who have the lowest caloric intake in the Eastern World. outlive the Japanese (second in longevity in this area) and claim more centenarians (persons age 100 or older) than any other country in the world. However, modifying calories does not mean low calorie. For most people, if calorie intake is less than 1,000 calories daily metabolism can be dangerously lowered and many potential health problems can be created. Mitochondria are the parts of the cell which produce and control energy. To understand their function, consider what happens when a car runs out of fuel. No matter where the car is, it will stop running. The same happens w h e n you run out of energy -you die. Mitochondria, which benefit from quality aerobic exercise use fat as fuel for energy production. We all know someone who is 70- or 80 years-old who appears to be in great health but thrives on junk food and an aversion to exercise So. how do they do it? Well, to set your mind at ease. most of these folks are really full of symptoms which they are reluctant to admit. And the ones who aren't, have such a strong genetic constitution that they are able to withstand the stress of junk tool and sedentary lifestyle much better than most people. As M. Blend explains. ' any society will always contain individuals who adopt self-destructive lifestyles, but as time passes, they will become an ever dwindling minority:'
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