I love long life better than figs — ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, Act 1 Scene 2, Line 33; Chairman to a Soothsayer
July makes me think of the big family BBQ reunions we used to have every summer in my Indiana hometown. People were always basically the same there: the uncle who always DJ'd, the distant cousins you only saw there, even the kids who now had their own kids. But there was one constant unlike any others, and that was my Grandpa, who finally gave up the ghost last year at the tender age of 102.
He left a ton of loving family members behind, and he left a ton of secrets for longevity as well. There are no reunions in sight this summer thanks to COVID-19, unless they are virtual, so instead I thought I would offer you guys some important tips on how to live a long and healthy life. I mean, they are not guaranteed to make you reach 102, even if you aspire to get that far, but they worked for him:
1. Have fun and laugh at stress.
Grandpa spent most of his life making up for the horrors of World War II that he experienced as an Army staff sergeant. He drove an anti-aircraft artillery unit truck in England, where they blasted Hitler’s buzz bombs, and then survived Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He never talked about his service until his 90s, and he spent most of those years just enjoying the glorious life we are all given. And I mean he enjoyed it fully.
At the age of 100, he was still jitterbugging every week at the local club with a new girlfriend du jour. He danced his whole life. The ladies couldn’t keep up with him in his final innings. He was the local riverboat casino’s VIP high-roller at age 101, and when asked if he would share a huge jackpot that he won, he said hell no because there was a lot of living to do. He had driven a truck and driven sports teams and tour groups on buses around the country, and then he drove a riding mower around town to cut yards in his 90s.
No one is stress-free, but he never sweated things too much, and stress can lead to health issues. Have friends and laugh through it all, like he had joked as a private, when he and a couple buddies called each other "The Three Stooges" after their funny skits. Get a good night’s sleep like he usually did, once “Golden Girls” was over. A little Ashwagandha wouldn’t hurt, either.
2. Stay thin-fit and mobile.
Grandpa was a fairly wiry guy most of his life, walking routinely and even riding an exercise bike in his later years. Without body shaming anyone here, the fact is that weight management matters for longevity in real life. Here is the general rule of thumb from health-care insiders: Heavy-set individuals don’t typically make it far into the octogenarian club (80-89) if at all, and certainly not into the ranks of nonagenarians (90-99) or centenarians (100 and over).
Talk to your doctor, get serious about your BMI (body mass index) now, and know what you should weigh. Make a goal of being lean and mean through middle age and into your 50s, and then maintain that weight the rest of your life like he did. Don’t confuse celebrating life with gluttony and get into your 60s or 70s and realize you have to lose a lot of weight to avoid a heart attack or diabetes or other health problem.
3. Exercise the rest of your life.
Physical activity not only helps control weight, but it also reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers, and improves mental health and mood. Consider some of the weight-management supplements like Berberine + Cinnamon or Apple Cider Vinegar. Set a new fitness goal, and get better pumps at the gym with performance supplements such as L-arginine and Beet Root Powder. Enter a 5K and work your way up to longer distances. Or just take a walk around the block at least every other day. Count your steps. Grandpa was not into sports, in fact made fun of sports his whole life. He just loved to dance!
4. Don’t smoke.
At all. If you do, quit now. For you, and for your family. We didn’t need the coronavirus to tell us that, but it is yet another reason to quit, because it goes after lungs and you are a sitting duck if you are a smoker. Grandpa smoked socially when he was younger, but at some point, he saw the light and look how he turned out. For help with quitting, call your state’s tobacco quit line 1-800-784-8669.
5. Eat cherries and lots of healthy food, but enjoy.
Hey, that was one of Grandpa’s secrets. He had a cherry tree out back and it made his favorite snack. He also loved cherry pies. Again, he lived to 102. Eat a healthy diet, cheat once in a while, and love what you put into your stomach.
Experts suggest that guys include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day for the many vitamins and minerals that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat and alcohol. He drank a lot of water; chug some right now.
Probioticswas not Grandpa’s thing, because he was old-school. But you would do well to consider them to grow good bacteria, for healthy digestive function and regularity.
6. Build your immune system and get checkups.
There is more focus than ever on our immune systems. Elderberry Gummies are all the rage as one arrow in your quill, a natural boost that goes back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Even more importantly, you should be taking a Multivitamin every day to ensure enough Vitamin C, D and other essentials.
Every three minutes, another man will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. In other words, someone just found out while you scrolled down to this part. Don’t let it be you. Get a physical each year, and get screened for your prostate. Consult your doctor and take Saw Palmetto, which can improve prostate health, reducing inflammation and enhancing urinary tract function. Visit pcf.org or prostatehealthguide.com for more information.
Know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and call 911 immediately if you or someone you know might be experiencing any of them. These include: pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back; feeling weak, light-headed, or faint; chest pain or discomfort; pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder; and shortness of breath. Know your family’s health history with these or any other conditions that could loom in your genes.
7. Family, friends and faith.
The steady procession of hundreds of visitors to Grandpa’s memorial service was a pretty good testament to the impact he had on people over his long life. He had a big family with lots of love, friends who he kept in touch with, and about average at best in terms of open spirituality. He wasn’t a big church-goer, but he had an expectation of happiness on the great dance floor in the sky with all those people he came to know over those 102 years.
It would be great to start by organizing your own family reunions, the way they used to back in the day. Our COVID-19 lifestyle in 2020 means that is probably not going to happen very many places, if at all, but even virtual is better than nothing. Stay connected to people who share your blood, because it makes you feel good, especially for kids who want to grow up knowing their relatives.
It’s not just about who can live the longest, either. As Jackie Robinson once said: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”