This month’s topic is Healthy Aging, and it’s directed not just at older folk but at those of you in your twenties and thirties who’re still feeling strong and invulnerable. We age from the moment we’re born, and unhealthy aging can begin as early as childhood, showing up much later as actual disease.
We know from studying healthy cultures that it’s possible to live to the ripe old age of 120 years and more without having a single disease, but these days healthy aging is definitely NOT the norm.
According to Luigi Fontana, professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and other gerontologists writing in a 2014 issue of the journal Nature, more than 70% of our population over the age of 65 has 2 or more chronic conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Although a major survey reported in 2013 heralded the good news that we’re living longer (from 1990 to 2010, life expectancy in the US rose from age 75.2 to 78.2), Americans are spending an increasing number of years in poor health.
It’s not only a problem for individuals and their families; the combination of longer lives (by 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 is expected to triple globally) and decreasing health may tax our common coffers to the breaking point. As Fontana warns, “The combination of an aging population with an increased burden of chronic diseases . . . could soon make health care not affordable for all but the richest people.”
Fontana and colleagues make a passionate plea for approaching research differently. Instead of studying each disease entity in isolation, they propose studying the factors that underlie all the various diseases and aging itself and applying what we already know about how lifestyle and nutrition can affect these factors.
If all this sounds familiar, it may be because it’s what Raymond Francis and Beyond Health have been saying for a quarter century!
Our current medical paradigm that treats symptoms with drugs while ignoring the underlying causes of disease leads inexorably to ever more unhealthy aging, with higher costs to individuals and to society.
But how to do things differently?
It’s a question our founder and president Raymond Francis, an MIT-trained scientist, devoted the remainder of his life to after recovering from his own near fatal illness over thirty years ago.
Since then he’s been acquiring knowledge, testing it out successfully on himself and others (at 80, he’s still fit as a fiddle and never gets sick despite working 16-hour days, and he’s helped countless others back to health) and writing books explaining how to get well and stay well in plain English that’s easy to understand and use.
For fifteen bucks, his Never Feel Old Again is a pretty darn good investment, whether you’re in your twenties and want to correct early deviations from optimal health or your eighties and want to significantly improve your quality of life.
Reading Never Feel Old Again, if you haven’t already, is your assignment this month.
- Francis R. Never Feel Old Again. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 2013.
- Fontana L. Medical research: treat ageing. Nature. July 2014;511(7510):405-407.
- Murray CJ. The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA. August 2013;310(6):591-608.
- Washington University in St. Louis. “Strategy proposed for preventing diseases of aging.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2014.