March 23, 2010

Living Longer

As I was sitting in the waiting room of Fond du Lac Clinic today (for over an hour - don't get me started), I began thumbing through an old issue of Time magazine.  The overall topic of that week was living longer, and of course Dr. Oz was a panelist and columnist (I don't know why, but he bugs me).

The articles were pretty interesting - one of them was about a family of 8 or 9 siblings who range in age from 79 to 96, and they're all still alive.  Scientists are actually studying their family to see what sorts of factors play a role in one family having such a great track record of longevity.  It is very intriguing, how some families are blessed with old age and others seem to be beset with health problems.

Knock on wood, my family is one of the lucky ones (I'm pretty superstitious, so I'm having a hard time writing this sentence).  I've lost very few family members in my lifetime:  my great-grandfather on my Grammie's side (he was 79 and had cancer but was a heavy smoker), my Auntie Lou-Lou, who was my Grammie's sister (she died at only 62, but she was an alcoholic and a heavy smoker and had throat cancer), and my Dad (but even though I was only 35 when he died, he was 83).

Of course, all of the doctors in these articles list things you can do to live longer: more fruits, veggies and whole grains; EXERCISE; live a stress-free life, don't smoke (or quit), etc.  You know, all of the "duh" things.  And yes, if you're overweight and/or don't exercise, you're at far greater risk of health problems.  But not always!  That's the thing!  I want to be in that "not always" category, so I don't have to exercise.  :D

Some of the studies published also found that "going hungry" may help people live longer.  Here's my question:  if you're a little hungry all the time, why would you want to live longer?  For better or worse, I think one of life's greatest pleasures is good food.  Yes, good food can and does include fruits and vegetables, but it's almost always accompanied by something fatty - that's why it tastes good!  Of course life is going to seem a heck of a lot longer if you're hungry, because you're miserable, which I would also be if I couldn't eat yummy stuff.

I don't put a lot of stock into "doctors' findings", because they change so often.  Remember the oat bran craze of the 80s?  No one talks about oat bran as being the panacea anymore - it appears that pomegranates or acai berries have taken its place.  Coffee seems to be a villain on and off, depending on how popular it is.  Back in the 90s, when coffee was again the drug of choice, it was linked to all different types of cancer.  Now, not so much.

I guess all we can do is all we can do.  As I get older, I'm certainly paying more attention to how I eat and I'm trying to get more exercise.  I quit smoking seven years ago, so I don't have to worry about that.  Every life has some stress, but I'm quite lucky in that department too.

We'd all like to live a nice, long, healthy and happy life.  Good news, all you babies born this year - you have a 50/50 chance of reaching your 100th birthday.  Isn't that incredible?  The only way I want to live to be 100 is if Brian's there with me (he'll only be 94!) and I'm not a loony old bat.  Oh wait...I'm already there.


  1. I want to be in the "not always" category too, since I hate exercise, so when you figure out the secret, let me know! I don't know what it is, but some people DO have it-- my BF's grandma is in her mid-90s, has had heart problems for years (she'll say, "oh yes, I had a small heart attack agin, but nothing to worry about" (! Grandma!! nothing to worry about?!?) and has always had very high levels of cholesterol, but she is still pretty spry mentally, and still drives, even! (of course, she may only be going 25 miles per hour, so look out when you're driving thru Wisconsin Dells...)

  2. Jennifer, I will definitely let you in on the "no exercise" secret, as soon as I discover it. :D

    I'm 41 and I'm lucky to still have my Grammie around - she's almost 86, but she does suffer from dementia. Up until 2 years ago, though, she was still driving and traveling overseas. THAT'S the kind of octogenarian I want to be! :D

    And yes - if I come across any 90-somethings in the Dells, I will be sure to get out of their way! :D

  3. I don't want to go hungry either! I saw a documentary recently along the same lines - it mentioned the under eating thing, but the thing that most of the longer living folk had in common was that they all enjoyed life to the full! I think that's a much more positive thing to aim for :-)

  4. I'm with you, Cecca! I know there has to be a balance between eating right and gluttony, but you can't deprive yourself for too long, or life can seem agonizingly long. :D Here's to second helpings every now and then! :D