My life is going through one of its frequent changes and I find myself in turn excited and slightly wary. As we get older we do tend to become more entrenched in our lives and routine and disconnecting from that and floating off into space looking for the next harbour to anchor can be stressful.
There are varying degrees of change and there are also many different reasons for that change. The two main forms are those we decide to make and those that are thrust upon us.
Over the next three posts I am going to be looking at three elements that are subject to both enforced and voluntary change. Physically, mentally and emotionally we are programmed for change as our body and brain develop and age.
Today I am taking a look at the enforced physical changes that effect us all. For many this natural aging of our bodies is so unwelcome that it has fuelled a multi-billion dollar industry to try and halt the process. (And yes I am a contributor!)
We are set upon an inescapable course of events from the moment we are conceived. Our genetic makeup will determine many factors that contribute to the way we develop and mature including our eye colour and eyesight, hair colour and hair density, bone structure, height, skin tone, tendancy to forms of arthritis and other diseases and to a degree our lifespan.
We also carry genes from random pairings over thousands of years that contribute to the complex chemical makeup which is unique to everyone of us in the form of our DNA. This will result in family traits that are clear to see from each generations photographic contributions.
The fact is that we are born, live and then we die. Barring accidents, and with the help of modern medicine we should all look forward to living into our 80s, 90s and increasingly into 100s. Which of course fuels another industry – Pharmaceutical companies are delighted with the prospect of an aging population that requires copious amounts of pills to hold back the inevitable.
So that is the enforced part of the equation when it comes to physical changes. There is however the voluntary factor which can make a huge difference in the rate that we change physically and that is related to our diet and lifestyle choices.
Some of the genetic traits that I mentioned are carved in stone. But we can make a difference in a number of areas particularly where there is a family connection to disease. Previous generations who have contributed to our makeup may have had what I call ‘famine’ years that will have impacted their general health, immune systems and also their physical development.
Great grandmother on my maternal side around 5′ tall died age 39.
If you look back 100 years to old family pictures it is clear that the majority of people in them are much shorter than we are today. I know that most of my grandparents and the next generation were all under 5′ 7″ with the women actually much smaller. I am almost six feet tall which would have horrified my grandmother who believed that petite was the only female form allowed! The vast majority of our ancestors unless very privileged would have had simple diets and would have certainly not had access to as much fresh vegetables, fruit, and protein all year around that we have today.
There are a number of factors that determine life expectancy including the introduction of modern medical care and better living conditions, but diet will also have played a major role in the average life expectancy at birth in 1914 of 50 years for men and 54 for women. Today in the western world the average is around 78 for men and 83 for women which is a huge leap in such a short space of time.
So this is definitely an area that we can impact physical change voluntarily not just for ourselves but also in future generations as they benefit from our choices today.
The good news is that a balanced diet does not just impact our physical health and longevity. Eating the right foods also improves skin tone and therefore reduces wrinkles, improves hair condition and with a little help from the beauty industry one can banish those grey hairs that do infiltrate. A balanced diet with moderate execise will also help improve joint health and bone density and stimulating the brain will ensure that you keep mentally vital during your lifetime.
Giving up smoking not only improves the health of the lungs but will also improve your facial skin tone that ‘leathers’ in the bath of 4000 chemicals. Maintaining a healthier weight and exercising will improve muscle tone and improve posture. Drinking pure clean water every day will keep your body clear of toxins, hydrate your skin to look and feel more youthful and also improve hair condition.
We also can make the voluntary choice to see not just an aging face and body in the mirror but to also see a life well lived, the laughter lines, the wisdom and the character. I have a strategy that works for me when I look in the mirror – no glasses : Age 40 – Driving glasses : Age 50 – Reading Glasses : OMG!
If you would like to see the broad spectrum of food that provides the nutrients necessary to keep us healthier over a longer lifespan you might find this useful.
Next time a look at the way our mental attitude to the changes that we face can make it a much more pleasurable experience.
Space image from Reddit.com