By Nancy Smorch
Quite some time ago my sister recommended that I read "Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond," by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD. They have a couple of additional books – one targeted specifically for women and one for men. I picked up the book, and dove into it, and after reading it, I highly recommend it to everyone – young, old, male, or female! The book is very well written. One chapter will be written by Henry, an MD, so you get the scientific background – what’s going on in your body and brain. And then the next will be written by Chris who gives you the more practical implications for the recommendations they are making. It’s a great balance.
Basically, the recommendations are: exercise 6 days a week, reasonable nutrition, emotional commitment, and a real engagement with living. The big piece here is to exercise 6 days a week. In addition to what we always hear about the benefits of exercise, you need to know that regular exercise is the foundation of positive brain chemistry. And, over time, our bodies do start to decay, unless we signal our bodies to keep growing by exercising. Exercising signals our cells to repair and renew themselves – it actually changes the expression of DNA itself.
One of the interesting parts for me, as I continue to do my research on the brain, is how the brain is involved in this process – especially the limic part of the brain. The different parts of our brain were perfectly designed for their natural purposes, but they were not designed for the typical modern lifestyle of bad food, lack of physical activity, and retirement. They were designed for a life in nature where only the strongest survived. The brain misinterprets these signals of inactivity and lack of nutrition, as a sign of starvation, so the body goes into preservation mode (there’s no food to hunt in the middle of winter in the tundra, so the body isn’t walking miles a day hunting and searching for food – the brain takes this as a signal of famine and acts accordingly). The good news is that this “decay” caused by inactivity, lack of nutrition, and disconnecting from society, can easily be stopped, or at least radically slowed down by following the recommendations mentioned earlier. The ailments and deterioration experienced by so many, are not a normal part of aging, “they are an outrage.” We’ve all just accepted them as normal because we’ve gotten used to them, and because we have set the standards embarrassingly low!
As far as nutrition goes – just be smart – there’s no magic formula or diet – now, these are my words. Eat organic whenever possible, because the synthetic proteins used in cattle for beef and milk are just not right for our bodies and are reportedly wreaking havoc with our health. Genetically modified seeds, some of which actually contain insecticide right in the DNA, are being used for some major crops – think about that for a moment! Don’t overeat, and what you do eat, please make certain it has some nutritional value, otherwise your body will still crave food if it hasn’t received the nutrients it needs.
Engage your mind and your heart! Continue to learn for the rest of your life and find the fascination in everything. And contribute something – we all came here with certain gifts and talents – share them.
And finally, there is a time for going within, but make sure you balance it with making connections with others. My dad always said the world experienced a huge shift with the invention of the television. Prior to TV, families used to sit on their porches in the evening and talk to their neighbors, and kids were outside playing for as long as they were allowed. Once the TV came along, everyone went inside to sit in front of the TV and the “networks” of human connection were weakened more and more over time. Make an effort to get outside of your “box” – if not for yourself, then for someone else. The U.S., especially, is a place of isolation for so many, we need to reverse that trend.
Well, that’s enough information for now. Read the book to get the rest of it, and share it with all of those you love. It will definitely change your outlook on life!!