Nobody wants to die young. Everybody wants to live for more than 100 years. Whenever I tell people what health cocktail to follow in other to attain longevity, they will ignore me. Nobody was ready to listen to me, on the pains they should shoulder, if they desire to reach 100 years. This just tallies with Peter Tosh’s song, “everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die”. Of course, we have to die first, if we want to make heaven. To live long, we have to pay the health prize.
Do you know that, I once sampled the opinions, of my patients during a free medical scheme. The questionnaire had subtitles like (i) How long do you want to live? and (ii) What will you do to age well ?. Almost 3/4 desired to live for 100 years plus. Amongst the Christians, the deeply religious said ‘three-scores-and-ten, that is 70, and boldly quoted Psalm 90 verse 10, where it was written. With my junior doctors, we started thinking aloud, may be our patients have never read of Methuselah, the oldest man in the Bible, who lived for 969 years nor Adam who lived for 930 years. Yet our Lord Jesus Christ, who lived for only 33 years, left an everlasting prophetic legacy. So actually age has nothing to do with it.
We must age, is a certified dictum. In the 2nd week of January 2016, the oldest man in the world from Japan died. He was 112 years old. Have you ever wondered, how Methuselah and Adam managed to live for almost 1, 000 years, in this same world, where to attain 100 years has left most of us gasping for breath. Were they still able to function at 900 plus years. Maybe there was a spiritual angle to it. Maybe God had a hand in their longevity. Did they stop aging, in other to reach such mind boggling years.
You know what? Go to your family albums, if you still have them, bring out your various pictures, taken while growing up. Anotate the years at the back of the pictures, then compare the process of your own aging. What do you have to say? Did you notice that, apart from changes in your height, three-quaters of your aging process is on your face.
According to the book “Man’s Body – An Owners Manual” published by the Diagrams Group in 1976, the process of aging, begins in the middle of late 20s, and continues until death. That means willy-nilly we must grow, expand and age.
No one escapes the effects of aging; but there are often great differences in its degree of impact on people of the same age. Two people, each 40 years, one looks 20 while the other looks 60. Food, environment, DNA, chemical applications (soaps, creams, perfumes) all contribute.
The efficiency of a man’s body functions at the age of 75 is proportionately less than at 30. At 75 years, the proportion of the body functions stated below decline or are lost.
1 ● Body weight = 5% is lost at 75 years.
2 ● Basal metabolic rate = 7.5% is lost at 75 years.
3 ● Body water content = 10% is lost at 75 years.
4 ● Blood flow to the brain = 12.5% is lost at 75 years.
5 ● Cardiac output at rest = 15% is lost at 75 years.
6 ● Filtration rate of kidneys = 17.5% is lost at 75 years.
7 ● Number of nerve trunk fibres = 20% is lost at 75 years.
8 ● Brain weight = 22.5% is lost at 75 years.
9 ● Number of kidney glomeruli = 25% is lost at 75 years.
10 ● Maximum ventilation volume = 27.5% is lost at 75 years.
11 ● Kidney plasma flow = 30% is lost at 75 years.
12 ● Maximum oxygen uptake = 32.5% is lost at 75 years.
13 ● Number of taste buds = 35% is lost at 75 years.
14 ● Return of blood acidity to equilibrium = 40% is lost at 75 years.
Stop. Read items 1 to 14 again, then reflect. Do they apply to any elderly person you know? There is a proviso. These losses do not apply to everyone proportionately. A research done by Prof Alex Yuri in USA, in a Medical School, showed that sportsmen, vegetarians and seamen exhibit these decline the least. He attributed this to secretion of male hormone like androgen, and stress hormones which help to burn off excessive fats. As mentioned earlier we should recognise that 75% of aging manifests mostly on the face. Changes in facial appearance come about in adulthood through, atrophy of facial bones, recession of the gums, and loss of teeth. The skin becomes dry and loses its elasticity, taking on a wrinkled appearance.
The deterioration is speeded by the loss of fat deposits from under the skin surface. Hair becomes grey as pigment ceases to be produced. Also both sexes undergo loss of hair, though actual balding is much more common in men.
One of the things my patients have repeatedly asked me, especially those who consider themselves short is, “doc how do I increase my height”. Usually males are more worried than females about their heights. Let me re-state for the umpteenth time the medical facts about heights.
Full stature is reached by the age of 20 or shortly afterwards. After that there is little change in the size of any individual bones.
As I have always told my patients who consult me with the desire to increase their heights. Look, if you are above 22 years there is little or nothing any doctor can do for you.
So if you are still below 20, and you have not attained your requisite height, balanced diet with a lot of calcium could stimulate what we call the “last sprout growth”, or “catch up growth”. Now all those that bombard me with texts regularly on heights and growth, should please spare some minutes and read these two-serial write-ups on the process of aging.
We should also note that, adult height does decline with the aging process. This is partly because the vertebral discs in the spine deteriorate, causing the spine to shorten slightly. More important is the gradual weakening of the body muscles, so that the spine is not erect.
Possible causes of aging
Medical science can prolong lifespan – but it cannot yet prolong youth. We have read stories of stupendously rich ancient kings and queens, who went to the end of the world, in search of the greatest medicine men, so as to prolong their youth. Of course they all struck blanks.
Gerontology – the serious study of aging – is still a new science, considering that the study of Medicine is more than 1, 000 years old. So even the process and causes of aging are not yet properly understood.
So what are we to do, before we go to the causes of aging proper? We should bear certain things in mind. We should gradually begin to pay proper attention, to what we eat, and exercise utmost discipline on what we drink.