I saw this book was recommended by one of my favorite bloggers: Debbie over at Happyhealthylonglife.com. If she recommends it you can bet it is worth reading-she does her homework!
(When Chris saw what I was reading he had to tell me, "But Aly, you're not 100...yet!" Uh, yeah thanks Chris. I realize that! The plan is to get to 100- in good health!)
Before I started reading this book I hadn't really thought that much about how we age in this society. The answer seems to be "not well." John Robbins talks about how in this culture older people are devalued and the end of life often doesn't hold the joy that it does in other cultures where the older generation is respected and people look forward to being old because of their increased status! He profiles 3 different cultures that are world-renowned not only for the longevity of their people but for the amazing quality of life these older people have. I am talking about 90-100 year olds here!! These people are still walking, exercising, working, gardening, participating in society...
The most amazing thing these 3 cultures have to teach us is how to live a joyful and DISEASE-FREE life. Yes, these populations of people have no cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and alzheimers. They need no reading glasses. They don't get osteoporosis. The list goes on!
I haven't finished reading the book yet (I just got it yesterday!) but the commonality between the 3 cultures and the key to their longevity seems to be linked to a few things:
3. Social connections
Each of these 3 cultures eats a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Like, pick it off the tree before eating fresh. They also eat very little animal products, if at all. They eat very little salt and no sugar. Fresh fruit is their main source of sweetness. Processed food is never eaten.
Many of the people from these cultures were exercising quite a bit in their natural everyday routines. Such exercise included traversing steep terrains, swimming in ice cold mountain streams, and mountain climbing. There was no water-aerobics for these old people- they were just as active and fit as their younger counterparts!
In each society getting older was seen as something to look forward to. With age came increased respect. Relatives loved the opportunity to have an elder live in their house-it was an honor. In fact, in these societies people often lie about their age just as we do here- except they add years to their age instead of subtracting them!
Older people dance, laugh , sing, participate in their cultures celebrations. They are an integral part of the society and enjoy a special and revered place in it. How different from things in America!
MY THOUGHTS SO FAR
In this society it is easy to see why people don't look forward to getting older. For us it usually means facing heart disease, cancer, alzheimers, diabetes, and a host of other health problems. Not only that but older people tend to be devalued by this culture that is focused on youth and beauty. I think the first step towards change would be to take a lesson from the 3 cultures in the book and to change your diet, exercise more, and make sure you have some strong familial and friends bonds to see you into your old age.
This crappy American diet is killing us! Our sedentary lifestyle is killing us! Our addiction to technology at the expense of real relationships with family and friends is killing us! Being focused on earning money instead of spending our valuable time with precious friends and family is killing us!
I, for one, intend to look forward to getting older by treating my body with respect and eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining my ideals about the importance of family and friends. Thank you for this book, John Robbins. This is a great read for people of any age. After all, we are all getting older every day!