…well, of course, in our erotic romance fiction, we make up lots of stuff.
But today I’m talking about those phrases you may have seen out there like sixty is the new forty, reverse the effects of aging, stay forever young, and the like. Pie in the sky? Nope, it’s true!
Of course we’re not going to actually stay young forever – but increasingly, there’s compelling evidence that certain healthy lifestyle habits do, in fact, reverse some of the effects of aging.
Earlier this week, NPR covered the most recent entry into this database. In a five year study authored by Dean Ornish, of heart-health fame, participants who engaged in a select group of healthy practices lengthened the telomeres on the ends of their chromosomes significantly, while the telomeres of the control group actually shortened.
It would take a lot of brain science to delve into a thorough understanding of telomeres and how they function, but here’s a short version: telomeres protect the dna within the chromosomes, and shorter telomeres are associated with shorter life span and an increase in many chronic diseases.
Prior to the present study, it’s not been known whether healthy living creates longer telomeres (and decreased susceptibility to disease), or whether people with longer telomeres simply have a healthier lifestyle, perhaps because they enjoy greater health. This exploratory study demonstrates in a small sample that the lifestyle differences can be causal.
So yes, sixty can be the new forty – or at least, in our sixties, we can still reverse some of the effects of aging through our habits. What habits? Ornish elaborated as follows:
A whole foods, low-fat, plant-based diet that’s also low in refined carbohydrate.
Walking for a half an hour a day.
Doing various stress management techniques, including yoga and meditation, for an hour a day.
Spending more time with their loved ones, including friends and family.
Apropos of all of the above, my husband and I went dancing last night. It’s part of what we love about being so close to Las Vegas, where great dance bands are easy to come by. We were fascinated by a highly energetic and broadly smiling elderly couple who hardly sat out a dance – fast or slow, western, rock and roll or hip-hop. I would have guessed their age to be early seventies, at most. A friend set us straight: both member of this couple are ninety years old. Not only that – where did they meet, after they’d each lost their spouse? They met at the gym, where they both still work out regularly.
That’s what I want to be when the time comes – ninety, vigorous, and happily dancing my feet off!