AND FEEL ----

                                                         YEARS YOUNGER!


Good genes and avoiding risk factors such as smoking, drinking and high-cholesterol foods are important. But they don’t tell the whole story.

M any scientists believe we should also cultivate the personality traits and health habits that keep people well. Here, drawn from the latest “wellness” research, are eight things you can do for your body that will help you

stay healthy, look and feel younger and live longer:


In an Ohio State University study of newlyweds, couples who became angry and hostile when talking about their problems had higher blood pressure and heart rates than those who resolved conflicts with compassion and humor. Anger also depress-ed both spouses’ immune systems for up to 24 hours after a quarrel.

By contrast, a happy marriage can protect your health. In an Israeli study of 10,000 men, those at high risk for heart disease were 20 times likelier to develop chest pains than men at low risk. But, mysteriously, some men who were fraught with medical problems (including high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure) still didn’t develop chest pains. Why not? One possible explanation emerged: they had loving, supportive wives.

When you make love with your spouse, your body may benefit even further. According to Ted Mcllvenna, president of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, “Sex may rev-up the immune system, raise pain thresholds (thereby easing chronic headaches and arthritis) and act as a natural sedative and buffer against stress.” In a study of 55,000 people, Mcllvenna found that those who enjoy lots of sex are less anxious, less hostile and physically healthier than the sexually lethargic. “Sex,” he says, “is perhaps the best preventive

and healing medicine there is.”


 Adults who did not get shots for measles, mumps or rubella as kids are at risk for

catching these “childhood” diseases. “The immunization of adults in this country should receive the same priority as the immunization of children,” says Dr. Pierce Gardner of the Department of Internal Medicine at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. Every year ~50,000 to 70,000 adults in the United States die of flu, pneumonia, complications From hepatitis B and other diseases that can generally be prevented with a simple shot.

Many people mistakenly believe flu vaccine either causes the disease or doesn’t work. But flu shots prevent illness in 70 to 90 percent of young adults and drastic-ally reduce risks of hospitalization and death in the elderly. Mild side effects like headaches or low fever occur in only five to ten percent of the population—a small price to pay for saving some 20,000 lives a year. The U.S. Public Health Service also recommends a pneumonia vaccination for anyone who is over 65 or has a heart or lung condition or a compromised immune system. It prevents the disease in 6o percent of those vaccinated.

Each year some 200,000 to 300,000 Americans are infected with the virus that causes hepatitis B, a liver ailment that is spread by blood and intimate contact and can cause chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. As with AIDS, the risk for hepatitis B is higher among intravenous drug users, gay men and nonmonogainous heterosexuals. But since one-third of cases occur in people with no known risk factors, everyone needs to be vaccinated.


Most robust, vital folks maintain strong friendships and care about others. Hay-

ing a network of supportive family and friends has been linked to fewer comp-lications in pregnancy (and shorter labor during delivery), higher levels of immune function, and a greater ability to give up cigarettes, stick with an exercise program and even survive cancer. A Stanford University School of Medicine study showed that women with metastatic (advanced) breast cancer who attended weekly support groups lived twice as long as those who received medical therapy alone.

On the flip side, says Dr. David S. Sobel, co-author of Healthy Pleasures, “Lack of social support is a health ‘risk factor’ like smoking and lack of exercise.” In one study in Alameda County, California, adults who had the fewest connections with other people were the most likely to die of heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer and other illnesses.

After his wife died, Andrew Ferrante of East Meadow, N.Y., was just sitting at home. “I’d had quadruple bypass heart surgery, my joints were hurting, and I was always catching colds or the flu,” he says. “My kids were grown and out of the house, and I thought, Am I going to die alone?’” Then he joined a group for people who’d lost their spouses, and his health improved. “I’m having so much fun now,” he adds, “I don’t have time to be sick. I credit this group with saving my life.”

If you have no friends to help you, there are still healthy rewards in helping others. In a national survey of 3300 volunteers, virtually all spoke of enjoying a “helper’s high,” and nine in ten said they were healthier than other people their age. Many also reported reductions in stress and relief from backaches, headaches and even arthritis, asthma and ulcers.

When Judith Weintraub was told she had multiple sclerosis at age 35, her doctor listed the symptoms she might develop—from double vision to eventual paralysis. Yet for 19 years, Weintraub has suffered only minor symptoms. The energetic New Yorker believes that she benefits from helping other people. “Every time I help somebody, I get an emotional and physical rush. I lust feel like I’m flying.”


When you’re playing or working hard, it s easy to forget your body also needs rest. But moderate doses of sleep-seven to nine hours a night—help you look and feel better. “If you don’t sleep, you feel lousy and tired—and your outlook on life is negative,” says Dr. Christian Guilleminault of the Stanford University Sleep Disorders Center.

Getting enough sleep has also been linked to longevity. In a study by the California State Department of Health Services, people who slept six hours or less a night had 70 % higher death rates than those who slept seven to eight hours

Some research suggests a link between deep sleep and the immune system. As Sobel says, “A variety of chemicals trigger slow-wave sleep—the deepest, most restful kind—as well as rouse the immune system into action.”


Your body constantly “talks” to you through aches, pains and that vague feeling we call intuition. Pay attention. At age 30, Marie-Anne Domsalla I of Federal Way, Wash., “just knew something was wrong in her right breast. When a mammogram indicated she was perfectly healthy, she sought a second opinion. Only after she consulted a third doctor was her intuition confirmed: she had advanced cancer in her right breast and a pre-cancerous condition in her left. Because she was so young and had such dense breast tissue, the cancer hadn’t shown up clearly in her mammograms. She had a double mastectomy. Now she remains cancer-free.

A study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that people who pay attention to their body’s signals are less apt to get sick than those who ignore their problems. So if your body sends you a message in the form of a symptom, listen to it.


The stress of being dissatisfied with your work can make you look drained and

exhausted. It also can lead to a host of ills. Several years ago, a North-western National Life Insurance study found that half the workers in high-stress jobs frequently suffered headaches, colds, indigestion, bronchitis and pneumonia. Douglas LaBier, director of the Center for Adult Development in Washington, D.C., agrees. “Quite often people have backaches, headaches or stomach problems during the workweek,” he says. “Then on the weekend, the symptoms mysterious-ly’ disappear, only to return again on Monday morning.” And U.C.L.A. researchers have discovered that people with a ten-year history of workplace stress also face more than five times the risk of developing colon and rectal cancers compared to those who enjoy their work.

But suppose YOU hate your job and can’t afford to quit? University of Chicago psychologist Mihaly Csikszcntmihalyi maintains that a job must offer variety and challenge to be fulfilling. But he adds, “Whether a job has variety or not depends more on a person’s approach to it than on actual working conditions.”

Csikszentmihalyi once interviewed a man who worked long hours as a welder in a dreary plant in South Chicago. “The plant was hot as an oven in summer, and icy in winter. The clanging of metal was so loud you had to shout just to be heard,” Csikszentmihalyi recalls. “Yet despite these stressful conditions, this man was quite happy with his job.” Why? Csikszentmihalyi explains: “Over the years he had mastered every phase of the plant’s operation and was the only one who could fix any piece of machinery. He loved being called on to keep the factory running smoothly.” People who transform mundane jobs into rewarding work find the challenges in their situation and embrace them,


Gcorgc Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” Yet we’re so often told nowadays that what we eat is “bad” for us it can be hard to really relish a meal. So what should we do? Just relax and eat like the folks living around the Mediterranean Sea.

Although many studies have confirmed the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, no one knows precisely which ingredients make it healthful. It may be the abundance of whole grains, the fresh fruits and vegetables, the low amounts of red meat, or even the generous amounts of garlic (which may raise “good” HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LI)L cholesterol).  Olive oil, which also lowers “bad” cholesterol, is a controversial ingredient in Mediterranean fare. Some experts believe all kinds of fat are bad for your body. Others—like Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health—think olive oil may actually be beneficial, especially when substituted for saturated fat. So he advises that rather than fret over whether you have too much olive oil on your spaghetti, just enjoy your dinner, then get out and exercise.


Growing evidence links a belief in God to better physical health. In 22 studies, frequent churchgoers had lower rates of many illnesses, from hypertension and heart disease to tuberculosis and cervical cancer. Scientists aren’t sure why. Jeffrey S. Levin at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., notes, “It might be that being more religious fosters a healthier life-style, offers greater social support or provides a buffer against stress. Or it could he that hope and optimism somehow bolster the immune system.” For example, when doctors examined men over 65 who’d been admitted to a veterans hospital in Durham, N.C., they found those who said religion was very important to them were less likely to become depressed—a feeling that by itself can hinder recovery.

Dr. Randolph C. Byrd, a cardiologist, created a stir in medical circles when he had volunteers pray daily for one group of patients in the coronary care unit at San Francisco General Medical Center. A second group of heart-disease patients served as a control group. Although neither the patients nor their doctors knew who got the prayers, those in the prayed-for group were five times less likely to require antibiotics and were less apt to need yentilators to help them breathe.

Levin concludes: “The evidence strongly suggests faith in God truly is linked to a long, healthy life.”

PLAINLY, robust health—a key to looking and feeling years younger— requires more than following a set of rigid rules. It also involves achieving an exuberant, hopeful, fun-loving state of mind. Scientists are increasingly proving celebrated pianist Arthur Rubinstein was right when he said, “I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” Rubinstein lived to be 95.


by: Sue Browder


September, 1995, (pgs. 147-151)

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