Friday, July 11, 2008

Some Random Thoughts on Longevity [ 101]

Friends ,

Man , since time immemorial ,longed for the eternal youth ,a long life free from illness ,active to the very end .Man's quest for eternal youth take a more determined approach from the 20th century onwards with the advent of new infectious disease controlling antibiotics and explosion of new technologies in health care and more so with increasing materialism and man's newly perceived freedom from 'god' and 'god given' afflictions .

Nonetheless with increasing materialism and affluence ,the fragile 'human system' began to get 'pounded' by excessive environmental pollution at the global level ,increasing relative inactivity ,obesity ,stress ,increasingly level of 'godlessness and emptiness' in their lives and increasing 'aimlessness and lack of direction in the lives leading to higher stress level , albeit a well known precursor to general ill-health and debility ,degenerative diseases ,etc etc at the 'organism' level which all contribute collectively to premature demise of the 'organism'.

There are however pockets of small populations on this planet that live on the average longer life than the rest and these pockets stood out like a sore thumb .The small community of 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda ,California who are mainly vegetarians ,small close knit communities interdependent on each other ,on average stricter practising Christians than the rest of USA .Of course I remained corrected here .The Mormons may not agree , but on the average this small loculated Loma Lindans population live longer lives !

In the East we have the now famous Okinawans who live on several islands of Japan ,but lived life much different from the rest of the upward mobile,' aggressive' modern Japanese from the 'mainland' :low caloric diet ,protein mainly from vegetables ,with the occasional pork ,sedate rural lifestyle marked by frequent meditation and prayer .,also close knit communities ,daily active life stlye . An Okinawan of 50 is usually considered a relative youth , most remain in their respective jobs well beyond 75 .

In Europe we have the Sardinians from the Island of Aviddo .Unlike the 7th Day Adventists of Loma Linda and the Okinawans , the Sardinians are more liberal with meat in their daily diet , though fruits ,vegetables ,and the Mediterranean diet are their habit . There is yet another small pocket in Costa Rica [ most unlikely place at one glance ],that have more octagenarions than the local third world Costa Ricans and Western average .

The common denominators amongst these 4 pockets of communities : is the slow ,but physically active but unhurried daily life style they seem to lead .The close knit families with close interdependence which lend to the theory of lower daily stress of living .The Okinawans prescribed to the principle of 'Hara hachi bu' ie eating but stopping well before they feel 'kenyang' [ satieted] , much akin the habit as prescribed by our beloved Prophet Muhamad .

Putting these observational population studies apart let us examine our modern life and much information was gained from the young American men who died for[ with hindsight,rather aimlessly] their country some 45 years ago in the Vietnam War [ Bush was not a good history student otherwise he would not be in Iraq today ] .Young men dead in their teens and early 20's .Postmortem showed some of these 'young specimens' were in varying stage of old age with arteries in their brains ,kidneys ,hearts littered with 'streaks' ladened with fats and cholesterols .That lead to the theory that for most of us ,'Non Okinawans' who pile on a daily ration of Buerger King KFC and MacDonald's,we start 'dying' or rather the brick and mortars are being laid well ahead in our early 20's and late teens !

Fast forward another 40 years the world now is on the verge of a diabetes epidemic .East ,West ,North or South .Powered by consumerism in the food and fast food industry ,obesity lead to 'metabolic syndrome' , a new medical euphemism since it really mean obesity and obesity related diseases :heart problem ,strokes ,hypertension ,kidney problem and the certainty of an early ,'premature appointment with Izra'il'[ Angel of death] .Obesity leads to over insulin production [ hormone needed to regulate blood sugar produced by the islet cells in our pancreas ] and chronic high level of internal insulin production trigger off a cascade of changes at the cellular level especially the increase thickening of the bastment membrane of billions of cells lining our arteries and arterioles .

This is the precursor of all other changes to the lining of the blood vessels ,big ,medium ,and small .The arteries and arterioles to our body are akin to the 'highways ,roads ,lanes and 'lorongs' in the country .Bad roads ,highways and lorongs lead to poor transport of goods , food and myriads of human activies .Bad ,clogged arteries ,arterioles and cappillaries lead to poor nutrition of important organs such as heart ,kidney ,brain ,skin and even 'the small man Down Under' .Poor transport of toxins away from those important cells[ eg free radicals] in all the organs ,and poor oxygen delivery etc etc .In short ,premature aging ! ie early death and debilitation from strokes ,heart attacks ,degenerative diseases ,early acute and chronic organ failures and cancers .

[ to be continued]

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