Getting older ain’t for wimps
My Father, Ulysses, died of liver cancer at the age of 70. It was 5 months between diagnosis and death and I never saw him out of pain during that time. It was a horrible death to witness. My Mother, Ruby, died at the age of 78 of a stroke first, then a presumed heart attack 5 weeks later. She had high blood pressure and was symptomatic Atrial fibrillation for decades prior. I remember her talking about how doctors had prescribed over 30 different blood pressure medications, none worked. Most she would stop taking because they made her feel so bad.
As a black man in America, well past the half century mark, frankly, I feel blessed to still be here. Hypertension, high blood pressure, which I have, diabetes, (as a kid, I can remember my older relatives saying “he got that sugar” which meant diabetes, very confusing for a kid without explanation), and obesity are some of the gifts brought on by the pressures of society survival to Blacks in America and many other marginalized ethnicities as well. Gut health and getting enough sleep have been issues I struggle with and I know I’m not alone. I’ve tried a million different things to no avail and it seems like it worsens with age.
Australian biologist, Dr. David Sinclair, who is a professor of Genetics at Harvard University, was a guest on the comedy podcast, Smartless, in February and talked very frankly about reversing the cells in the aging process that enable your body to continue fighting off disease that is already in us but weakened with age and lifestyle. I’ll put the link below that is chock full of information, some of which I’ve gleaned and applied.
Intermittent fasting: A very trendy weight-loss method in Hollywood, but, the benefits far outweigh the trend. Fasting promotes several things in your body: Cellular repair, changes in hormone levels and gene expression. Dr. Sinclair talked about the need to be hungry to trigger the function of genes that are related to longevity and protection against disease. The three methods of intermittent fasting: 16/8 method, which is skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1-9pm, is the one I use, except I’m on 11a-7p. The Eat-stop-Eat, is fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, example from dinner to dinner, seemed harder, and the 5:2 diet, consuming only 500-600 calories on two nonconsecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5, also seemed tough. The 16/8 has been most effective for me and only took a couple of weeks to adapt to.
“Sleep will make you live longer.” Dr. Sinclair talks about the need to get the heart rate up at least 4 times a week. Exercise is key and when I’m on a regular exercise schedule, I do sleep better. Stretching before bed nightly has helped with back stiffness and other rusty joints in the morning. Eating plant-based foods and trying not to overload the body with proteins are new incorporations to my lifestyle, difficult for this meat-eater/lover. Resveratrol, the compound most prevalent in red wine, is a recommendation from Dr. Sinclair I’ve happily taken to heart, but, the intermittent fasting had yielded the most noticeable results, especially with my gut. I also use the natural calm magnesium supplement as a sleep aid.
1. Intermittent fasting
2. Exercise at least every other day for 30mins
3. Plant-based foods, don’t overload the body with proteins
4. Knowing your DNA makeup and avoiding/adjusting genetic risk factors
5. For those that can, Red Wine! Resveratrol also available in supplements https://amzn.to/3n9LaqW
Getting up every morning is both a blessing and a time of discovery. Some days seem to bring a new or missing body part that cause me to look under the bed in hopes of finding it there. Maybe a spare? “Listen to your body!” Something I’ve heard my entire life, but, taken to heart more and more seriously with age. “You’re not 16 anymore!” my mother used to constantly remind my father whenever he’d attempt a new household project. I hear that in my head all the time as I remember the words of Dr. Sinclair, who, by the way, is not my guru or anything, when he said that you are only 20% genetics and 80% how you live your life, giving me hope that I don’t have to go out with something horrible like my parents. There are absolutely no guarantees, but doing the best one can to be proactive gives satisfaction and positive results. Mine is a rented body, it’d be nice to return it in decent condition when called because don’t we all want to get at least part of our deposit back?
What are your aging tips?