I'm absolutely charmed by the words of Esther Tuttle: "I am blessed and I've worked on it."
And Esther should know—living almost 100 years has given her a chance to figure it out. Ah, out of the mouth of a "centenarian babe." That may be one of my all-time favorite quotes. She's fit and vibrant with a quick mind — blazing the trail for the many of us that hope to live as long as she. If there is such a thing as a centenarian babe, she's it.
As a society we are indeed living longer. The Census Bureau tells us that in 2009 there were 96,548 centenarians living in the United States — up from 38,300 in 1990. That's quite a jump (significantly more than the percentage of growth of the general population) and the numbers are rising. Which leads me to wonder about the many of us "living" in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities or, should I say, "barely living."
My last visit to one such place to see a dear old friend, whom I refer to as "Aunt Rose," left me disturbed and concerned. Row by row, dozens of ashen, lifeless bodies propped up in wheel-chairs, tipping to one side or the other, sat glaring off into space. If you happened to get up close enough to look into their eyes, no one was home. The visual was staggering and I could not help but be concerned for the future of our collective health. Yes, we are living longer.
Medicine has a way of extending our lives, whether or not the mind is on board for the extended ride. Studies are showing us the damaging effects that processed foods, food dyes, coloring agents, pesticides and genetically-altered foods can have on the brain. Conundrum: Are we smart enough to protect our own brains? After all, the whole point of being alive is to live!
Your two big guns in the fight against Alzheimer's, dementia and an aging brain are: 1) eating an organic diet, and 2) exercise. Eating organically reduces the amount of toxic substances that could penetrate the blood-brain barrier and create neurological imbalances. It reduces age-accelerating inflammation throughout the body as well as in the brain. Exercise oxygenates the brain right along with the body, keeping you flexible and coordinated. It not only adds years to your life, but it increases the number of years that you are healthy.
Esther, or "Faity" as her friends call her, was raised on a farm in upstate New York. She does yoga every morning and goes for a walk every day. She eats light and is an optimist. Not only is she living long, but she's living well. And, bless her heart, she's smart enough to know that you get what you work for.
I'll see you in two weeks.
Love & health,