Do you expect to live to age 100? Do you want to? How about living to 100 regardless of your physical well-being?
A show of hands at our Annual Meeting indicated that most people want to live long if they’re living well. So, to do that, “Treat your body like a temple, not a junkyard,” advised Jane Brody, well-known New York Times health columnist who was the featured speaker at United Hebrew of New Rochelle’s Annual Meeting on November 14.
“The quantity of years isn’t important, if those years lack quality,” said Brody, who reports on medical, science, and nutrition topics and writes the Times’ weekly “Personal Health” column, that is syndicated nationwide.
Brody gave the inside scoop on healthy aging and shared her philosophy on how to age better: “Our goal shouldn’t be to add years to our lives, but to add life to our years.”
She should know: at age 77, Brody writes, speaks, travels, and enjoys a walk and swim daily. And she spends plenty of time with friends and family. These activities, plus healthy eating, compose Brody’s four essential elements for a healthier, longer life. Too many people believe that genes control your destiny,” she notes. “That’s untrue. It’s been scientifically proven that 20-30% of our health is programmed by genes, and 70-80% is how we live our lives.”
Jane Brody’s four ways to live a longer, healthier life
1. Follow a sensible diet.
Eat a plant-based diet: Beans, leafy greens, peas, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Have dairy fats in small amounts; that means eat butter and ice cream sparingly. And fish is good to eat, too. If you decide to go vegan, be sure you get enough protein to maintain your muscle mass for bone strength. “And, lest you think this diet will make life not worth living – there’s always wine!”
“You can’t be healthy if you are sedentary,” Brody stated simply. “People don’t wear out – they rust out.” Thirty minutes a day, five days a week will help slow the aging process, prevent the loss of healthy brain cells, and make you feel up to 20 years younger. Try to walk 30 minutes every day. If you don’t have 30 minutes to spare, try walking for ten minutes at three different times.
3. Maintain social connections.
Maintain your social networks. Get out, see friends, join clubs, and make plans to see family. Being involved in social activities has a healthy, healing power.
4. Have meaning and purpose in your life.
This is the hardest to achieve, Brody noted, especially post-retirement. “Find ways to contribute and reap the rewards,” she said. In addition to her professional writing work, Brody visits hospitals with her dog, which was certified as a pet therapy animal.
What to do if one hasn’t been following her healthy principles?
“It’s never to late to start,” said Brody. “No one will take better care of you than yourself. Treat your body like a temple, not a junkyard.”