Kosmic Journey

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Andrew Weil on Healthy Aging

Andrew Weil in his new book Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, has good advice about managing the aging process. Here are few useful tips:

Nature take its course while doing everything in our power to delay the onset of age-related disease, or, in other words, to live as long and as well as possible, then have a rapid decline at the end of life.
There are no effective anti-aging medicines.
Yes, aging can bring frailty and suffering, but it can also bring depth and richness of experience, complexity of being, serenity, wisdom, and its own kind of power and grace.
The goal is to adapt to the changes that time brings and to arrive in old age with minimal deficits and discomforts -- in technical terms, to compress morbidity.
I do not use antiaging cosmetics and have no interest whatever in cosmetic surgery
I want to warn you that the promises you will hear from practitioners of antiaging medicine are going to become more extravagant in coming years.
Be wary of wishing for life extension without thinking through the details of what your extended life will be like.
Cells are programmed to age and die: When cells become immortal, they are cancerous.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

There's no such thing as 'healthy aging'. Loss of function with age has NOTHING healthy to say about it. All we can do is grin and bear it and try to mitigate the worst of the debilitating effects by taking the best care of ourselves we can. Putting the best face on a bad situation is one thing, but calling it 'healthy' is simply nonsense as anyone experiencing the dysfunction that comes with age can tell you.

Andrew Weil has a very good point when he says we need to focus on what we can do about preventing age-related disease through lifestyle changes now as these are the only avenues we have available to us at the moment. He is quite wrong however when he says that people alive today will not be around to take advantage of the new advances which science is developing that will extend the healthy human lifespan. I understand that he is likely trying to get people to not rely on some future magic pill that will allow them to continue to abuse their bodies with impunity, however he does not seem to be aware of some of the developments which indicate that for people who *have* looked after themselves but still find their constitutions failing, there will be options to just laying down and letting biology bowl them over.

Cells are programmed to age and die: When cells become immortal, they are cancerous.

Cells of course die, and are *REPLACED* all the time. Aging is not by design, but by neglect. Aging is a result of the increasing entropy that accumulates after our maintenance systems begin to be unable to keep up with the damage that accumulates. Aging does not need to be built into anything. Our bodies valiantly try to keep things running, like a car with failing parts, but eventually the damaged repair systems are unable stem the rising tide.

With new technologies we have been given an 'owners manual' for this remarkable machine we call our body. Where we didn't even know how to check the oil a few years ago, we now have been handed complex wiring diagrams and operating procedures. We are rapidly understanding how 'this machine' works and will develop ways to keep it operating healthier longer. That is a foregone conclusion.

It is something worth noting that as with any new therapies, they will likely be arduous, expensive and fraught with risk. People who stand the best chance of benefitting from them will not be those who have abused their bodies through damaging lifestyles, but those who have done their best to do everything their mother told them.

So look after yourself and maybe you'll make it under the wire to take advantage of some of the new ways of squeezing more life out of life.

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