While we all want to live a long, healthy life, several factors come into play which determine your overall quality of life. You have probably heard the expression, “Play the hand you are dealt,” obviously meaning that genetics influences your chances of being healthy or living with disease. Personally I feel a positive mental attitude towards life, a balanced diet, plenty of rest to assist the immune system, and regular to moderate exercise are key. Bottom line…age is a state of mind, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Is The Fountain Of Youth In Your Genes? We have all heard of the George Burns type who drink and smoke and live long healthy lives, which leads to a debate about how much lifestyle and inherited genes have to do with life longevity. According to an article in The New York Times, “Live Long? Die Young? Answer Isn’t Just in Genes,” life span is simply random. “The likely reason is that life span is determined by such a complex mix of events that there is no accurate predicting for the individuals. The factors include genetic predispositions, disease, nutrition, a woman’s health during pregnancy, subtle injuries and accidents and simply chance events, like a randomly occurring mutation in a gene of a cell that ultimately leads to cancer.”
This is good news, folks. Look at it this way. Some of us whose mother or father died early on are expecting the same for themselves, but that is not necessarily going to be the outcome. Also, in this article it does in fact point out that how we live our lives does have a strong influence on the quality and longevity of it. The article discussed many studies by various leading experts, who all agree that genetics is not a strong indicator of life span. There have been many studies following identical twins and fraternal twins and found that it was even impossible to judge life spans in identical twins.
Reading between the lines and showing a connection to lifestyle, there was a set of identical twins in the study who are both alive at the age of 92. Their lives are not concurrent however, as one sister is very healthy and very active, and the other sister has many old age type illnesses (incontinence, hip replacement, poor vision and dementia). The healthy sister claims to have been very active in tennis most of her life, obtained a master’s degree, enjoyed a successful career as a teacher and was very headstrong. The healthy sister describes her twin as always having been more of a fragile individual who did not do well in school, obtaining only a high school degree.
On this same note, The Associated Press published an article titled, “Want to be 100? Listen To These 5 Centenarians.” They interviewed 5 women over the age of 100 and came to the conclusion that “the key to longevity is working hard at a job you love and taking care of your body while you’re at it.” All of the women had very positive outlooks on their current life. Commenting on how they hear all the time how some people do not want to live to be their age and they cannot understand why.
How long you live and what the quality of that life is does depend greatly on the individual. Yes, some of us may be affected by genetics, and some may have traumatic and random accidents. However, we are not chained to any one specific occurrence, rather living life to your highest and happiest potential, and incorporating healthy decisions is your best bet for a long healthy life. For additional tips, a must read is Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D. Specifically part one, “Understanding the Elements of Health.”