The pandemic cut short many precious lives especially among the elderly. Otherwise living beyond 60 and upto even 70 years of age is no longer a miracle. On April 7 while the whole world was observing World Health Day, an estimate on life span for Indians came out. The current life expectancy for India in 2021 is 69.96 years, a 0.33% increase from 2020; the life expectancy for India in 2020 was 69.73 years, a 0.33% increase from 2019 and the life expectancy for India in 2019 was 69.50 years, a 0.33% increase from 2018. India’s life expectancy is less than the world’s average lifespan of 72.81 years. This projection is from SRS (Sample Registration System) based Abridged Life tables (2014-18) of Register General and Census Commissioner, Government of India. This report is presented up to the age group of 85 plus in order to reflect the mortality rate in a suitable way.
Physical aging is a natural phenomenon, and it is the most sensible choice that one should fully devote to one’s life and live the best way every day. Those of us who have been luckily spared by the pandemic and have managed to keep the ailments at bay and are leading healthy lives, may naturally be tempted to live longer to see their karmas (good actions) bearing fruit, if not for any other reason. If they have already crossed 70, it is time for them to be more careful, whereas those below 70 should so live their years as to prepare for the critical years between 70 and 79 years of their age.
Ageing is a challenge for any living organism and human longevity is a complex phenotype. With increasing life expectancy, maintaining long-term health, functionality and well-being during ageing has become an essential goal. To increase our understanding of how ageing works, it may be advantageous to analyze the phenotype of centenarians, perhaps one of the best examples of successful ageing. Healthy ageing involves the interaction between genes, the environment, and lifestyle factors, particularly diet.
A challenge in the area of healthy ageing is to identify dietary patterns, in addition to specific dietary components, that offer protection against age-related diseases. Dietary patterns are defined mainly for assessing eating behavior and to relate the food intake to disease or health outcomes. Although severe disabilities in persons older than 60 seem to be declining, the prevalence of chronic disease, particularly of those diseases linked to diet and lifestyle, appears to be increasing. Healthy centenarians are ‘expert survivors’ with important lessons to share, in particular regarding the most modifiable lifestyle factor: the diet. However, it is necessary to emphasize that several lines of evidence suggest that the genetic contribution to a healthy life span in populations with exceptional longevity may be greater than that seen in the general population.
To have a long life, the 10 years from age 70 to 79 years, are crucial. Israeli scholars have found that there are around two health problems per month for people between the ages of 70 and 79. Surprisingly, the health status of the elderly aged 80-89 is as stable as the 60-69 age group. 70-79 years is a dangerous period. During this period, various organs decline rapidly. It is a frequent period of various geriatric diseases, and it is often prone to hyperlipemia, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetes. After entering the age of 80, these diseases will decline, and the mental and physical health may return to the level of 60-69 years olds. When the elderly are between 70 to 79 years of age, they are advised to follow the health tips given below every day.
1.Begin the day with a glass of water. Water is "the best and the cheapest health drink". One must invariably drink a glass of water during these three times/occasions each day: the first glass after getting out of bed on an empty stomach. Because of our invisible sweating and urine secretion during sleep, we lose a lot of water. Even if we don't feel thirsty after getting up, the body liquids will still be thick due to lack of water. Second cup of water should be taken after exercise. The right amount of exercise is one of the cornerstones of longevity, especially for the elderly, and more attention should be paid to effective and reasonable exercise. However, after exercise, special attention should be paid to replenishing water. During exercise, sweat takes away electrolytes and consumes more energy. If we don't pay attention, it is prone to hypoglycemia after exercise, and even causes syncope. Therefore, after the exercise, it is recommended that the old people drink water to which a small pinch of salt and sugar can be added and dissolved if one may so wish. Third cup or glass of water should be taken before going to bed. When people are asleep, sweat glands are still draining water. When the body's water is reduced too much, the blood viscosity is increased. A cup of water before going to bed can effectively reduce the blood viscosity and may even slow down the appearance of aging. It also helps against Angina, myocardial infarction and other diseases.
2. Take a bowl of porridge in the breakfast even if one may feel sick. Wang Shixiong, a famous medical scientist in the Qing Dynasty, called porridge "the first complement of the world" in his book. China Daily Online published a 14-year study conducted by Harvard University on 1,00,000 people. It found that a bowl of about 28 grams of whole grain cereal porridge per day can reduce mortality by 9% and reduce the chance of getting cardiovascular diseases. Each volunteer was in good physical condition when he participated in the study in 1984, but in 2010 feedback survey, more than 26,000 volunteers had passed away. It was found that those volunteers who regularly ate whole grains such as porridge, brown rice, corn and buckwheat seem to have avoided most diseases, especially heart diseases.
3. Have a cup of milk and an egg almost daily. Milk is known as "white blood" and it is so to the human body. Its nutritional value is well known with a lot of calcium, fat and protein. The recommended daily intake of milk and dairy products is 300 grams. Supplement your daily diet with an egg. Eggs can be said to be the most suitable food for human consumption. The body's absorption rate of egg protein can be as high as 98%.
4. An apple and an onion a day keep the disease away. Modern research believes that apples have the effects of lowering cholesterol, losing weight, preventing cancer, preventing aging, enhancing memory, and making the skin smooth and soft. The health benefits of different colored apples are different: red apples have the effect of lowering blood lipids and softening blood vessels; green apple has the effect of nourishing liver and detoxifying, and can fight depression, so it is more suitable for young people to eat and yellow apples have a good effect on protecting vision. The Onion has a very high nutritional value and has many functions, including helping to lower blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, preventing cancer, protecting cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. It is also anti-bacterial, prevents colds, and supplements calcium for the bones. Eat onions at least three or four times a week.
5. Eat a piece of fish every day. Chinese Nutritionists have warned that “eating "four legs" is worse than eating "two legs", eating "two legs" is worse than eating "no legs." "Four legs" mainly refers to pigs, cattle, and mutton. Eating too much of these meats is not conducive to weight loss and lowering blood fat; “two legs" mainly refers to poultry such as chicken, duck, goose, etc., which are good meat foods and "no legs" mainly refers to fish and various vegetables. The protein contained in fish is easily digested and absorbed. The amount of unsaturated fatty acids in the fat, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids, is relatively good for the body.
6. Gentle walking is an elixir for life. This has a magical anti-aging effect. When adults walk about 1 kilometre or less regularly for more than 12 weeks, they will achieve the effect of correct posture and waist circumference, and the body becomes strong and not easily tired. Walking exercise is also beneficial for treating headache, back pain, shoulder pain, etc., and can promote sleep. Experts believe that a 30-minute walk a day can get rid of the danger of “adult disease”. People who take 10,000 steps a day will have a lower chance of developing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.
7. Cultivate a hobby. Having a hobby, whether it is raising flowers, raising birds, collecting stamps, fishing, or painting, singing, playing chess, and traveling, can help the elderly to maintain extensive contact with society and nature. This broadens the horizons of interest of the elderly. They will love and cherish life.
8. Always keep a good mood. Old people should maintain good emotions as these are extremely important to their health. Common chronic diseases which affect the elderly are closely related to the negative emotions of the elderly. Many patients with coronary heart disease have angina and myocardial infarction due to the stimulation of adverse emotions, resulting in sudden death. "Bad" temper leads to high blood pressure. In prolonged and severe cases, this can cause stroke, heart failure and even sudden death, etc. Negative Emotions such as anger, anxiety, and grief can cause blood sugar levels to rise, causing metabolic disorders in the body. This shows how important it is to have a good mood.
Wish you all happy and healthy living!
Bhushan Lal Razdan, formerly of the Indian Revenue Service, retired as Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Chandigarh.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.