There was an article in the Pattaya Mail a couple of weeks back about my extra-curricular activities on the motor racing circuits. I said that it was race driving that keeps me young, or put another way – growing old disgracefully.
I have a book on my desk called ‘Geriatric Medicine’ and what a depressing start to the day that can be! Gloom, doom and disaster! However, the picture is not really as bad as all that, so I thought that this week I would go through the aging process, and then what we can do about it. The recipe for the elixir of youth is not enclosed as I am still trying to perfect it, but instead, I will give you some ways you can stay feeling ‘young’ while waiting till next week!
Let’s begin with the depressing news that you have actually been going downhill since the age of 14 (mentally) and from the age of around 30 (physically). That bar-room ditty that relates to what you used to do all night, now taking all night to do, can be too close to the mark for some of us. But don’t despair, help is at hand (no pun intended).
The book suggested that the aging of our individual organs is influenced by diet, environment, personal habits and genetic factors. Read that again – did you notice that three of them (diet, environment, personal habits) are actually under our control, so the angle of the slippery slide can be changed. Good News number one.
The physiological changes associated with aging do include an increase in body fat, a difficulty in reading (called presbyopia) and a clouding of the optic lens (called a cataract). Glucose metabolism goes a little awry as well, as we get older. In the lungs, the elasticity goes out of the lung tissue, meaning that the lungs don’t absorb the oxygen as well as they should.
It doesn’t end there. This elasticity thing gets increasingly important. The arteries become less elastic too, so the heart has to pump harder to force the blood around, increasing blood pressure and enlarging the heart.
Then the liver doesn’t cope as well with the toxic chemicals we meet as it used to, and the bowel gets a little lazy as well, leading to constipation. For men, the prostate slowly enlarges and makes it difficult for the bladder to empty properly, so you have to get up to pee a few times a night. The awful statistics are that 50 percent of all men will have some degree of enlargement by the time they are 50 years old, 60 percent by 60, 70 percent by 70, and you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to do the math for the time you are 100.
Finally, the brain shrinks and you begin to forget things, “I’ll never forget what’s-her-name” being a real problem! You lose the recent memory first, and then the long term memory second.
So what to do? The main thing is to make sure your organs get enough oxygen to work properly. Oxygen gets into the blood via the lungs. Clogged air sacs in the lungs is a big problem. Answer? Stop smoking – immediately, and get some exercise every day, so that you start to use the lungs, and their capacity, again.
Now we have some oxygen back in the blood we have to circulate the magic red fluid. Cholesterol build-up in the arteries produces blockages. Reverse it by lowering cholesterol in your diet. You do this by decreasing animal fats and increasing vegetables. That’s not too difficult either, is it?
Now the sugar problems. Another one with an easy fix – cut out all the ‘extra’ sugar in your diet. You don’t have to use sugar in your coffee, and chocolates should be a very occasional indulgence only.
The liver? The main toxic substance it has to deal with is ethanol, otherwise known as alcohol. Give the liver one day a week to recover. That’s your AFD (alcohol free day).
So look at the three items again under your control – diet, environment, habits. The answer to counter aging is there. Begin with fags, fat, booze and fancy foods. It’s the right start.