An apple every day keeps the doctor away. I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes, right?
105 year-old Texan woman Pearl Cantrell seems to disagree. The feisty centenarian recently claimed in an article for The Huffington Post that the secret to her long life is bacon.
“I love bacon, I eat it every day,” she told reporters. “I don’t feel as old as I am, that’s all I can say,” Cantrell added. While a rasher a day might not keep the cardiologist away, there’s a few safer and more effective ways you can live long and prosper longer than Captain Spock himself.
Take care of your brain.
It’s pretty obvious your brain is the most important organ in your body, hands down. It silently regulates every chemical and biological process in your whole body, all the while giving you conscious thought and following most of your orders for movement, memories, thoughts, feelings and actions. According to an Access Economics report on Alzheimer’s disease, there are 1,700 new cases of dementia each week in Australia; approximately one person every six minutes. This is expected to grow to 7,400 new cases each week by 2050. It’s pretty staggering, so let’s find some ways we can take better care of our brains and keep them active in later life.
In studies conducted by the University of North Carolina, essential fatty acids (EFA’s) showed an important role in brain development and reducing mental and verbal decline in the aging process. The body can’t produce these EFA’s, so we need include these in our diet with foods like;
- Canola and soy oils
- Canola-based margarines
- Atlantic salmon
- Southern blue fin tuna
Teachers will always tell you that your brain is important, you either use it or lose it. Our brains have a range of core higher functions that perform everyday tasks, but sometimes those core tasks don’t get a run and can get slightly rusty over time. Doing crossword puzzles or even taking up daily brain training like Lumosity can help keep you thinking on your feet. According to Cris Niell, Stanford University neuroscience researcher and Professor at the University of Oregon, a lot of the basic science supports that using certain brain functions will strengthen them.
In an article for the Stanford Alumni magazine, he adds that “there’s lots of data that practicing specific tasks, many of which Lumosity games are based on, improves performance on subsequent tests of related abilities”, but admits that the jury is still out on hard factual evidence that supports brain training’s claims. Closer to home, the ABC has launched its own brain training portal, Active Memory, and you can sign up for a free trial.
Activities that force lateral thinking and problem solving, like fine motor coordination, language and visual exercises can kick start the brain into using itself more efficiently.
Why brains need sleep
It’s been a scientific enigma for many years; what going on in our brains while we sleep? Researchers at the University of Rochester have recently discovered that during the day, our brains are focused on doing their job and lots of work means lots of cellular waste building up.
When we sleep, our brains begin to clean themselves of all the cellular waste that builds up after respiration and brain activity – it’s like putting your rubbish out at night. The active clearance of by-products helps the brain work more acutely, so when there’s less brain junk lying around, there’s more room for the ‘getting stuff done’ brain to go about its daily grind.
Protect your skin
Seems obvious right? From the most important organ to the largest, our skin is a crucial protective barrier between disease and infection, with skin cancer one of the biggest killers in Australia. The Cancer Council claimed that sun damaged skin promotes 95 to 99% of all skin cancer types, making up a whopping 80% of all cancer diagnoses in Australia.
While avoiding death is usually the only sure fire way to live longer, wearing a light sunscreen regularly will get you looking younger with well-maintained skin with less signs of aging.
Stress is one of the biggest killers out there because people ignore the silent and cumulative effects of chronic stress. According to the Australian Psychological Society, chronic stress pushes up cortisol levels, a stress hormone telling your heart and body to work harder, so not taking time to relax means you’re overworked and feeling tired. A healthy stress level is good for our coping skills and resilience, but too much stress can increase the risks of heart disease, diabetes and depression. A stress and wellbeing survey conducted by the APS found of the most popular ways Australians dealt with stress included Watching TV or movies (85%), spending time with friends or family (82%), focusing on the positives (81%), listening to music (79%) and reading (77%).
When it comes to finding ways to extend your life, it really just comes down to common sense, despite Pearl’s southern influenced and bacon-laden diet! The common sense approach always prevails; get solid sleep, make time for yourself, your family and keep your brain active.