Like all of us, I’m sure you receive a zillion emails a week touting ways to reverse the effects of aging, helping you to “feel and look younger.” And I’m just as sure that there are days, certain days, when you are tempted to open those bad boys up and take a look to see if it’s possible.
Those claims are just that, according to Dr. Andrew Weil: pie in the sky offers by those who want to take your money with no miracles, alas, in sight.
Dr. Weil, arguably the most widely known doctor in the country, says he has learned the truth through years of research and living: Aging is the way of nature, as natural and irreversible as any other of Mother Nature’s laws.
“As a society, our views of aging are way off track,” he told a capacity audience in Pittsburgh last December. “We see aging as a catastrophe, and we de-value aging and the elderly.”
He is tired of hearing about new anti-aging philosophies and ways to reverse aging and stop the clock. Aging is inevitable but, and this is a big one, he refuses to connote being old with being ill. It’s not a given that we will suffer from cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes as we age, Dr. Weil says.
That’s where his philosophy, outlined in his newest book -- “Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being” -- fits in.
Our goal should be to reduce the risk of the onset of age-related disease, he says. Even though we are all dealt a genetic background hen we are born, it’s how you play the game that makes all the difference.
He suggests that we “get a sense of our greatest genetic risk” (cancer, heart disease, etc.) and concentrate our energies on how to prevent the onset of those problems. He touched upon how the foods we eat can often turn on and off our genes so it behooves each of us to research is nutritionally in our best interest.
To age successfully, Dr. Weil says we must include physical activity into our lives every day, learn to deal with stress, use our minds and maintain social connections. He described the “disconnection syndrome” which is defined by those who have lost communication with other people and nature itself, and instead focus too much on themselves. Be wary that, unless we guard against it, the world shrinks as we age and we therefore become more isolated.
As an example, he says the world is divided into two groups: those who are computer literate and those who are not. Knowing how to use a computer to access the unlimited connections it provides with others can be a wonderful way to stay open and connected to the world.
Our society should take lessons from others which value aging because of what their elders bring to the table: maturity, experience, wisdom, equinity, creativity and pattern recognitions. It makes much more sense to seek out their insights instead of concentrating instead on what they have lost as they aged.
As the Baby Boomer generation begins to turn 60 this year, Dr. Weil encourages us not to settle for the previous models of aging. “We shouldn’t give in to our society’s obsession with youth and the marginalization of the elderly.”
Along that vein, Dr. Weil lives what he preaches, doing what he can to ward off illness at the age of 63 – eating right according to his guidelines, spending time with others, stretching his brain to keep his memory healthy and spending time with nature.
For more information on Dr. Weil and his publications, visit www.DrWeil.com.
By Teresa K. Flatley