By Dr Zorba Paster
For the spokesperson-Revue
I talk a lot about living longer. Why? Because I’m an older guy. I am 73 years old. I hated it when my dad said he was a Super Senior. He liked to boast in a friendly way that he was still working. He did so until the day he died at the age of 87 – and he always hiked the course, the golf course, that is.
He was an active guy until the end. Now that I’m next at bat, I think about him, what he’s been up to and what others are doing that will help you live a long and sweet life. Now there are no guarantees in life, you already know that.
I have a dear friend whose husband passed away suddenly at the age of 60. He was in his prime, did everything well, ate well, practiced law, strong family ties, etc. But the vagaries of life are there. Random. But just like seat belts reduce your risk of dying in an accident, what can you do to stay in shape?
Now you are all up to speed with the usual things I talk about all the time – eating a more Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly, kicking. But what about drinking tea?
A published study of 100,000 people, followed for 7 years, pointed out that habitual tea consumption was linked to living more years, and more years in good health. Three times a week seemed to do the trick – it seemed to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 22% and death from all causes by 15%, with green tea being the most beneficial. Not bad.
Then there is the issue of alcohol. Recent research from the University of Georgia has shown that light to moderate drinking – averaging one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men – might just preserve and possibly be stimulate cognitive functions with age. Doing this three times a week also seems like the place to be.
Now, before the New England Puritans speak out on the dangers of alcohol, and let me tell you they are always a reminder that alcohol is the devil’s tool, this advice is not for those who have a drinking problem. This is not the case. About 10 to 15% of Wisconsin residents have a drinking problem. I have people who write to me to tell me that they are alcoholics and wonder if they can have a drink every day. Nope. But for the rest of us, it’s a healthful one.
And finally the one obvious thing that we all lack during the pandemic: human interaction. Kiss your kids. Out with friends. Help your neighbor. Go to soccer games, baseball games, music festivals, graduation parties. The data is irrefutable. The social sphere of our lives is what propels us forward. This is what often motivates us to do the other things that keep us alive.
When I wrote my book “The Code of Longevity” – Your Personal Prescription for a Longer, Smoother Life, I postulated that there were five spheres that have influenced us: physical, mental, family and social. , spiritual and material. With this COVID-19 outbreak, I am ready to change that order. I think the social sphere should be # 1.
Friends and family, those who love you and love you, are clearly the secret of life. So back to my dad. He never drank, so I can’t attribute that to his longevity. He ate fairly well; points for that. He played golf or walked every day – he wasn’t a couch potato. He kept his mind active by continuing to work in sales (more on this in another column). But what he excelled at was his social sphere.
He had five sisters, he was close to all of them, and when some of them died he stayed close to their children, he had golf buddies, work buddies and neighborhood buddies. And when asked what the secret to his long, healthy life was, he always, and I mean always, answered his family and friends (in that order).
Dr Zorba Paster is a family physician and host of the public radio show “Zorba Paster on Your Health”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.