Wisdom, peace and fulfilment are all part of the aging process. The passage of time does not mean the inevitable loss of mental power, sexual potency, physical attractiveness and energy. How badly and quickly you age depends on your genetic inheritance, diet, stress, lifestyle, pollution and you – your own mental attitude.
The Hunzas in a remote area of Kashmir, the Vilcabamba Indians in the Andes and the Abkhazians in Soviet Georgia all live to a grand old age – some well into their hundreds. All three cultures have several things in common…
- They lead extremely active lives, regardless of age, and engage in physical labour every day.
- They are sexually active well into their 80s and 90s.
- They eat a low-calorie diet – averaging a mere 1700 calories a day.
- Their diet is high in fresh foods, many eaten raw, and low in fats.
- They never eat sugar.
- The elderly are respected and valued within their communities.
It is possible to incorporate some of these factors into our lives…
- Cut down on calories and stick to a diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Cut down on coffee and tea. Restrict sugar.
- We may not be able to work in the fields like the Hunzas, but we can halt the ageing effects of a sedentary lifestyle by taking up exercise. Regular aerobic activity can slow the ageing process by increasing heart output, lung capacity and blood volume. Oxygen nourishes our cells, but maximal oxygen volume decreases by one per cent per year. Moderate exercise in an older person can achieve the oxygen uptake of a person 15 years younger. A very active person can achieve the uptake of a person 40 years younger. Ease into exercising gently, and consult a doctor if you need to, before you start.
- It is said that lovemaking is like wine – it gets better as you get older. Experience and a shift of emphasis to friendship and companionship in relationships can enhance sex in later years. Growing together in a relationship gives a fuller, deeper sense of love. Making love not only relieves physical tension, but is also a means of emotional, physical and spiritual expression and should continue long after the first bloom of youth has faded.
- Change attitude! Psychologists have found that the changes in our bodies and minds associated with ageing can be determined by our ‘programmed expectations’; if it is assumed that middle-age spread is inevitable at 40, it is likely to happen. A positive attitude to life and age is a key factor in staying youthful. This is best reflected in laughter. Research has shown that the more we laugh, the longer we live.
- Look for positive role models, men and women who take obvious delight in their maturity, people who believe that life really does begin after 40.