Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I can no longer climb stairs without my knees aching. My body has morphed from a lean 20-something to a comfortable and rounded-out 30-something. Children and age have etched lines on my once-smooth skin. I know how to ease the strain on my body, but it all seems overwhelming. The idea of becoming healthy sometimes seems like climbing a rocky mountain peak barefoot.
"Living Well at One Hundred" by Dr. Darlene McCord (Authorhouse, 2009, $27.95) made it seem less difficult.
McCord's book, with the happy author smiling at you from the cover, lets you know right away that this is not just another fitness book written by some obnoxious 20-something twit. She is a real woman with a real-life plan for longevity. Her approach is based on years of research as a biochemist and treatment specialist for non-healing wounds. It is a simple plan that involves making better lifestyle choices.
The book starts with an honest look at health care and what we are spending. Over the past 60 years, our health-care costs have risen from $144 per capita to $4,400 per capita, she writes. The United States spends more than any other nation on health care, and yet we are ranked No. 37 for health-care quality. McCord explains that bad lifestyle choices are a primary cause for this rise.
McCord reminds us that life is a journey, not a race. She tells us that changing your wellness is as simple as making a different choice. She notes that we keep our cars tuned up to avoid problems. She says that taking care of our bodies is much like taking care of a car. You wouldn't ignore the check-engine light on your car and wait for it to fail, and yet we often wait to get medical care until there is already a problem.
In another chapter, McCord discusses the importance of supplements and our reluctance to use them. Her point is that many illnesses can be battled from a natural way, rather than pumping our bodies full of chemicals. One point in particular was that we spend all of this money each year on pharmaceuticals, and we could be spending it on supplements.
Much of the information in this book repeats the recommendations that we hear continuously: Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, take your vitamins, exercise more and so on. But McCord's point is that if you incorporate small steps into your daily life it becomes a practice of preventative medicine. Full of colorful illustrations and charts, McCord's book is pleasant and easy to understand, reading more like a coffee-table book than a textbook. McCord basically says to treat your body like you would your car. Go in for a check-up and blood panel every year. Figure out what supplements you should be taking for your health. Eat healthy and exercise.
The book made me stop and reflect on my lifestyle choices. I particularly liked the chapter dealing with nutrition. The chart of what foods to replace common staples with was helpful and informative. It became a task that I could accomplish. Simply by substituting sweet potatoes for white potatoes, for example my family can be eating healthier. She encourages you to keep a daily food diary and track of your meals.
It's not just about eating right and exercising. McCord also stresses the importance of laughter and enjoyment in life. She says we need to stretch more, laugh more, increase balance, stay mentally and physically active, and take care of our emotional health. There is even a section to help get you started on an activity program, which includes illustrations of yoga stretches and poses to improve flexibility and balance.
"While I recognize that it is always a challenge to make change happen, I would like to extend a positive challenge to you: Take charge of your own health and make a commitment to yourself to live a long and healthy life," McCord writes in her conclusion. "Remember, no one else can make that choice for you."
"Living Well at One Hundred" is available through the publisher at their Web site, and through other Internet booksellers. Proceeds go to benefit research into Buruli ulcers, a flesh-eating bacterium that threatens thousands of children each year. Learn more at mccordresearch.com
How to Live a Long,
Here are some of the factors involved:
• Good genes
• Healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables
• Meditation and stress relief
• Improved nutrition with supplements
• Mental stimulation: for example, reading, classes, the visual arts
• Positive attitude
• Reduced dependence on prescription drugs
• Seeing a physician who prescribes changes in diet before prescribing drugs
• Sleeping at least eight hours per night
• Healthy lifestyle free of smoking and heavy drinking
• Weight control
From "Living Well at One Hundred"