Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My youngest daughter texted me that her teacher said I am doing a bad thing. I had to respond.

Oscar Wilde once wrote in regards to children that “when they are little they adore us, when they are teenagers they judge us and when they are adults they may forgive us.”  So I wasn’t that surprised when my teenage daughter sent me a judgmental text one day from school. 

It read “My teacher says you are doing a bad thing.” Now usually, I don’t want to engage in texting with her while she is in school, but she had piqued my curiosity so much that I couldn’t resist. “Which teacher and what bad thing am I doing?” I queried. 

She wrote back. “My environmental sciences teacher says people have to die to preserve natural resources and make room for the next generation, and you are trying to keep people alive longer.”

I guess I am guilty as charged. I do want to help people live longer because I believe that heaven can wait. Some say the afterlife must be great because nobody comes back, but given the choice, I’d rather stay here as long as possible. Yes, even with blemishes and all.

Is it really up to us how long we live?  To a great extent, yes.  Barring accidents, congenital anomalies, and unnatural events, most of our health is in our hands. 

How do we know this?  From the Swedish National Twin Registry which followed nearly 25,000 sets of same-sex twins born between 1886 and 1958 – a period of 72 years!  Many of these identical twins were separated at birth and grew up with disparate lifestyles. Despite being genetically identical they developed different health problems based on how they lived and what they ate.

It is primarily based on a study sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation which led to the book Successful Aging by Doctors John Rowe and Robert Kahn from which we know that genetics only plays a 25 to 30% role in our overall health. If that’s the case, then 70 to 75% of our health is based on environmental factors which are basically our lifestyle, the food we eat, etc. Those are all factors primarily under our control.

So if you want to annoy the environmental scientists (or teachers) who think you should not prolong your life, start taking the measures you need to do so. Learn how to eat properly, achieve meaningful physical activity, get a good night’s rest, etc. 

For more about the role of genetics in longevity and how to live to 100, watch my 2 part YouTube video of the same title by cutting and pasting into your browser the link below:

So please take heart, no pun intended. How long you live and the quality of that life is mostly up to you!

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