Stress is among the leading causes of age-related disease (Essential 4). It contributes to physical pain, as well as the appearance of wrinkles and premature aging. Few people realize that our ability to adapt to our ever-changing environments can greatly contribute to lowering our stress levels. Whether it's traffic, smoke, clutter, noise, mold, smog, or information over-load, our quality longevity depends upon our ability to adjust to these environmental influences (Essential 5). Personalizing our immediate surroundings, at home and at work, is an important environmental element that is within our control.
Reducing the clutter in our lives is a powerful way to lower stress levels. Just as it feels good to occasionally clean out your closet and get rid of the clutter there, it can sometimes become necessary to reduce relationship clutter -- clean your emotional house -- and conserve your energy for the people you love or care about. At times, relationships may become more damaging than they are enriching -- old friendships that were once meaningful, can become simply old habits that may have negative effects but are hard to break.
A healthy diet can have a major impact on life expectancy by lowering our risk for heart disease, cancer, and other age-related illnesses. Longitudinal studies have found that a diet that emphasizes the right food choices and helps people stay at their target body weight, can increase survival rates by 50 percent or more. We'll learn about The Longevity Diet (Essential 7), a healthy diet plan that allows you to eat all of your favorite foods -- even naughty desserts. It incorporates the best scientific data on healthful eating for longevity and weight control, combined with some of the most satisfying and delicious foods available. Just as fitness experts now tell us that for long-range health, it's best to cross-train our bodies by emphasizing aerobics one day, followed by weight training the next, and perhaps yoga the day after that, The Longevity Diet shows us how to cross-train our eating, allowing us to break free of the boredom and repetition of today's popular low-carbohydrate, South Florida, salmon-every-meal diets. We can enjoy a barbequed steak and Caesar salad one day, and a delicious pasta dinner with whole grain crusty bread the next. The Longevity Diet allows our bodies to cross the lines of today's fashionable diets and learn to process all good foods in realistic portions, while feeling sated, satisfied and anything but deprived.
We will look at the latest in medicines and treatments to keep us young (Essential 8). From smart drugs to botox to microscopic lasers, we'll learn about the options available to keep looking and feeling youthful throughout our lives. Even simply taking drugs to lower blood pressure has been shown to increase life expectancy by at least two or more years, and scientists have found that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can increase survival rates of heart patients by more than 50 percent.
Many baby boomers may recall the 1960's Harvard professor who traveled to India and became the guru known as Ram Dass. His "Be Here Now" message became the mantra for staying in the moment, not worrying about the past nor stressing over the future. His message echoes that of many other teachers, ranging from Martin Buber to Lao-Tse.