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Secrets of the Fountain of Youth - Part 1

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I was recently asked to reveal my personal approach to health and longevity; that is, how to delay the usual pitfalls of aging as long as possible. While death is inevitable, the goal here is to have a joyous, fulfilling, and healthy life for as many years as possible along the way. I’ll share what has worked for me, my friends, colleagues, readers, and patients.


As a board-certified psychiatrist and practitioner of integrative medicine, I long ago abandoned the mainstream approach of the “physician as the all-knowing expert, a prescription, for every ailment, and the 10–20 minute office visit.”


Instead, I spend an hour or two with patients, work with them as a partner in their health, and look for root causes rather than treating symptoms. For the most part, I depend on natural treatments including lifestyle and supplements, prescribing medications where appropriate and only as a last resort. The natural “prescriptions” that I give out require more participation than simply taking a pill every few hours. Similarly, the key to preserving our health is participation. There are no shortcuts.

Of course, even doing our best in these areas, we all succumb to the inevitable at some point. I had friends who lived cleanly and exuberantly—and they departed too early in my opinion.


The lesson here is—live every day fully, since it may be your last. Paradoxically, when taken to heart, this awareness can make life a true joy. We’ve seen people told they had several months to live find great meaning in every aspect of the time remaining, and stuffing lifetimes of quality experience into those hours and days.


“The Bucket List,” with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman is a perfect example of the turnaround that a “known” death sentence can inspire. Both diagnosed with advanced cancer, we see how companionship and mutual encouragement can be wonderfully life-enhancing, even—or especially—in the face of death.


So how do we stay as youthful as we can? There are no magic pills, specific hormones, or special diet that are “the answer.” The result derives from a mysterious combination of factors, only some of which we can know or control.


There is much that is unknown, as well. According to Deepak Chopra, and others I know who have travelled to India, there are psychic readers there that are able to tell you, your date of death if you ask them. This has piqued my curiosity ever since.


Does this mean we are already ordained to die at a certain time—so why bother doing anything about it? Knowing our date, do we then make the very best of our remaining time? Or, do we dismiss these predictions as primitive superstition? What effect would it have on your life if you knew your date of death?


My own philosophy is it can happen at any time, so don’t take anything for granted—your health, your relationships, and the beauty that surrounds us all if we only take the time to look.


Questions abound, but I also have a few answers, guidelines to healthy living that will help you make the best of the body and life that you have.


Here is a short checklist of Life Enhancers and likely, Life Extenders that I have found to be useful in this quest:
1.    A positive attitude, including psychological well-being and resiliency in the face of life’s stresses.
2.    Satisfying, fulfilling relationships.
3.    Stress Management: Build up your stress-resilience.
4.    A healthy lifestyle including good diet, appropriate supplements, and regular exercise.
5.    Hormonal supplementation (herbal, or prescription bio-identical) to compensate for waning levels.


Look out for a deeper look at the checklist on January 27th.

Adapted from Dr. Cass’ chapter in “The Fountain: 25 Experts Reveal Their Secrets of Health and Longevity” from the Fountain of Youth by Jack Challem, editor; Basic Health Publications, Inc, 2009.



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