Longevity Bible: 8 Essential Strategies for Keeping Your Mind Sharp & Your Body Young


From the author of The Memory Bible and The Memory Prescription, Dr. Gary Small’s exciting, all-encompassing formula for living a longer and better life

Bestselling author and expert on aging Dr. Gary Small show us how to live longer, stronger, better lives in his new book, The Longevity Bible, by following simple guidelines such as a positive attitude, gratifying relationships, and lifelong education.

Comprised of advice on memory fitness, ...

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From the author of The Memory Bible and The Memory Prescription, Dr. Gary Small’s exciting, all-encompassing formula for living a longer and better life

Bestselling author and expert on aging Dr. Gary Small show us how to live longer, stronger, better lives in his new book, The Longevity Bible, by following simple guidelines such as a positive attitude, gratifying relationships, and lifelong education.

Comprised of advice on memory fitness, healthy diet, physical conditioning, and stress reduction, The Longevity Bible follows the stories of four typical readers in different stages of their lives, and how those lives are improved with his plans.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Staying alive is the name of the game. With this comprehensive tome, the author of The Memory Bible and The Memory Prescription offers readers all-encompassing advice on enhancing every aspect of their lives. The Longevity Bible contains specific information on healthy diet, physical condition, and memory fitness.
Publishers Weekly
Small (The Memory Bible; The Memory Prescription), chief of the UCLA Memory and Aging Research Center, offers eight essentials (positive outlook, mental and physical exercise, acceptance of change, are three) in this manual for a better, longer life. He takes a holistic approach to body and brain fitness, covering everything from meditation to diet and skillful makeup application. While his "essentials" likely won't be anything new to reasonably self-aware readers, the author does provide thought-provoking questionnaires, helpful step-by-step approaches to achieving various goals and detailed anecdotes about patients who have benefited from UCLA's programs. Information gleaned from UCLA's research lends credibility, and a section called Putting It All Together makes self-improvement efforts manageable, not overwhelming. The chapters that focus on memory are the most detailed; they include helpful tricks and challenging games that will surely inspire an increase in sales of crossword-puzzle books. Perhaps in recognition of the book's ambitiousness, a nine-page list of additional resources will prove handy for those who wish to further investigate some of the topics touched upon in the book. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Aging baby boomers are inundated with all sorts of resources advising them on how to live longer, happier, and healthier lives. This latest self-help book by neuroscientist Small (chief, UCLA Memory & Aging Research Ctr.; The Memory Bible) tackles both mind and body well-being in later life. His eight strategies for quality longevity include the usual suspects, e.g., keeping mentally and physically fit, maintaining healthy social and sexual relationships, keeping a positive attitude, avoiding stress, and following a low-fat diet rich in protein and antioxidants. Information is presented in concise, readable portions and is backed by summaries of relevant scientific research. While most of the material is available elsewhere (e.g., Gary Null's Ultimate Anti-Aging Program; Andrew Weil's Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being), Small's upbeat attitude; readable text; and abundance of lists, questionnaires, quizzes, puzzles, case studies, and recipes are informative and fun and encourage readers to apply his recommendations to their own lives. The bibliography references scientific literature only. A good choice for all consumer health and aging collections.-Karen McNally Bensing, Benjamin Rose Lib., Cleveland Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641896507
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Longevity Bible

8 Essential Strategies for Keeping Your Mind Sharp and Your Body Young
By Gary Small Gigi Vorgan


Copyright © 2006 Gary Small, M.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4013-0184-3

Chapter One

It is not enough to add years to one's life ... one must also add life to those years. -John F. Kennedy

You're savoring your ritual cappuccino across the street from your dentist's office when this incredibly handsome young guy sits down two tables over. Your eyes meet his and he smiles seductively-you practically choke. You could swear you know him from somewhere.... He gives you a little wave. Where the heck could you know him from? He's so young. And you've been married a long time. Oh my god, he's coming over! Could this amazing hunk possibly be hitting on you? Ridiculous. No way! Thank God in heaven you just had your teeth cleaned. He grins broadly. "Hi! Remember me?!" You're completely at a loss. "I'm Andy! Andy Carter! I was on your son's basketball team in middle school." You freeze with a ridiculous smile on your face and a sudden urge to evaporate into thin air.

Age reminders happen to everyone. It could be as simple as the appearance of a single gray hair, the first time someone calls you "Ma'am," or perhaps walking into a room and forgetting the reason why. None of us can stop time, but we can slow down the effects ofaging-and sometimes even reverse them.

A mere one hundred years ago, people were lucky to live beyond age forty. Now, life expectancy has risen to age seventy-four for men and eighty for women, and recent studies show that tire average sixty-five-year-old American can expect to live another seventeen years. Modern medical science is striving to keep us alive well into our nineties and beyond, and most people say they want to live as long as possible. But who wants to live to be one hundred without their health, vitality, and faculties intact? That's where The Longevity Bible's Eight Essentials come in-showing us how to keep it all together-our brains, our bodies, and our attitudes.

The Eight Essentials

Traditionally, magazine and television advertisers have focused their marketing strategies on youthful looks and attitudes to attract consumers to their products. Recently, however, there has been a shift in tactics. Today, Madison Avenue's emphasis is not so much on youthful demographics but on "psychographics"-marketing focused toward the age group in which consumers actually perceive themselves as being. Try asking baby boomers how old they consider themselves, not in actual calendar years, but mentally and physically. Many will confess they still have the attitude of a twenty-five-year-old and feel nowhere near their chronological age.

Most of us protest against the idea of aging in the way our parents did and vow to fight against the process as long as possible. We are looking for a safe, convenient, medically sound way to live longer, empower ourselves, and remain healthy and fulfilled throughout that long life-what I refer to as "quality longevity."

Empowering ourselves for the future requires learning new skills, as well as honing the ones we already have. In my last book, The Memory Prescription, I showed how we could jump-start our brain and body fitness by focusing on four of the basic essentials: achieving mental sharpness, physical fitness, a healthy diet, and stress reduction. Now, in The Longevity Bible, I outline lay entire program-all Eight Essentials-to allow every one of us to achieve our own maximum, quality longevity in every area of our lives. These essential strategies include keys to keeping a positive outlook, cultivating healthy relationships, getting the most out of modern medicine, and adapting and flourishing in a changing environment.

We'll look at the science behind the Eight Essentials, and at simple and practical ways for integrating them into our daily life. When practiced together, these Eight Essentials create a synergy that achieves positive results faster and far more effectively than could be achieved by doing them individually.

Fix Your Brain First: The Rest Will Follow

We begin our longevity solution by sharpening our minds (Essential 1) and maximizing our brain fitness. Fix your brain for longevity, and your body will follow in kind. By keeping our minds sharp, we are more inclined to stay physically fit, enhance our relationships, maintain a longevity diet, and follow the other healthy lifestyle strategies outlined in this book. In fact, all the Essentials contribute to keeping our brains young, fit, and cognitively strong throughout all stages of life. Simply doing mental aerobics can significantly improve memory skills and, when combined with the other Essentials, may extend life expectancy. A recent study found that mentally stimulating leisure activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, or playing hoard games lowers the risk for Alzheimer's disease by nearly a third.

Scientific evidence shows that keeping a positive outlook (Essential 2) helps us to stay healthy and live longer. In a recent study, positive and satisfied middle-aged people were twice as likely to survive over a period of twenty years, as compared to more negative individuals. Optimists have fewer physical and emotional difficulties, experience less pain, enjoy higher energy levels, and are generally happier and calmer. Positive thinking has been found to boost the body's immune system so we can better fight infection.

When we feel good, it boosts our self-confidence, which helps us to have better relationships (Essential 3). The MacArthur Study of Successful Aging found that people who are socially connected may survive up to 20 percent longer than those who live more isolated lives. Today, we have many tools to help us connect with others, shore up self-doubt, and make ourselves feel and look younger and more beautiful, both through medical and nonmedical techniques. Despite the myth that libido declines with age, several scientific studies have found that our desire and need for sex continues throughout our lives. A healthy sex life at every age helps lower blood pressure, reduce stress, ward off depression, boost the immune system, diminish pain, maintain physical fitness, and even extend life expectancy.

Stress is among the leading causes of age-related disease (Essential 4). It contributes to physical pain, as well as to the appearance of wrinkles and premature aging. Few people realize that our ability to adapt to our ever-changing environments can greatly contribute to lowering our stress levels. Whether it's traffic, smoke, clutter, noise, mold, smog, or information overload, our quality longevity depends upon our ability to adjust to these environmental influences (Essential 5). Personalizing our immediate surroundings, at home and at work, is an important environmental element that is within our control.

It is much easier to maintain a positive attitude when we enjoy good health, and the best way to ensure that is by eating a healthy diet and staying physically fit. With so many fitness options available, there is bound to be something that appeals to just about everybody. Along with the basics of tennis, jogging, cycling, swimming, and yoga, many people are getting fit with Pilates, weight training, Bosu ball, spinning, salsa dancing, ballet, trail running, and more. Essential 6 will introduce the Longevity Fitness Routine, which covers cardiovascular conditioning, balance and flexibility work, and strength training-the three vital fitness areas for maximizing health, boosting energy levels, and preventing many age-related diseases. Recent research has found that regular physical activity can add two or more years to an individual's life expectancy.

Reducing the clutter in our lives is a powerful way to lower stress levels. Just as it feels good to occasionally clean out your closet and get rid of the clutter there, it can sometimes become necessary to reduce relationship clutter-clean your emotional house-and conserve your energy for the people you love or care about. At times, relationships may become more damaging than they are enriching-old friendships that were once meaningful can become simply old habits that may have negative effects but are hard to break.

A healthy diet can have a major impact on life expectancy by lowering our risk for heart disease, cancer, and other age-related illnesses. Longitudinal studies have found that a diet that emphasizes the right food choices and helps people stay at their target body weight can increase survival rates by 50 percent or more. We'll learn about the Longevity Diet (Essential 7), a healthy diet plan that allows you to eat all of your favorite foods-even naughty desserts. It incorporates the best scientific data on healthful eating for longevity and weight control, combined with some of the most satisfying and delicious foods available. Just as fitness experts now tell us that for long-range health, it's best to cross-train our bodies by emphasizing aerobics one day, weight training the next, and perhaps yoga the day after that, the Longevity Diet shows us how to cross-train our eating, allowing us to break free of the boredom and repetition of today's popular low-carbohydrate, South Florida, salmon-every-meal diets. We can enjoy a barbecued steak and a Caesar salad one day and a delicious pasta dinner with whole-grain crusty bread the next. The Longevity Diet allows our bodies to break free of today's fashionable diets and learn to process all good foods in realistic portions, while feeling sated, satisfied, and anything but deprived.

We will look at the latest in medicines and treatments designed to keep us young (Essential 8). From smart drugs to Botox to microscopic lasers, we'll learn about the options available to keep us looking and feeling youthful throughout our lives. Even simply taking drugs to lower blood pressure has been shown to increase life expectancy by at least two or more years, and scientists have found that cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can increase survival rates of heart patients by more than SO percent.

Many baby boomers may recall the 1960s Harvard professor who traveled to India and became the guru known as Ram Dass. His "Be here now" message became the mantra for staying in the moment, neither worrying about the past nor stressing over the future. His message echoes that of many other teachers, ranging from Martin Buber to Lao-Tzu.

We don't have to become spiritual gurus to live a long, healthy life, but attempting to stay in the moment helps us to achieve quality longevity. Mindfulness or mindful awareness-the subtle process of moment-to-moment awareness of one's thoughts, feelings, and physical states-is key to sharpening memory and staying mentally fit. Initial research suggests that this ability not only reduces stress and anxiety, but also boosts the immune system and promotes health and healing for a variety of medical illnesses and conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and chronic pain.

This underlying principle of mindful awareness can be applied to nearly all of the Eight Essential Strategies. Having an awareness of our bodies and what is going on around us helps us maintain balance and avoid danger. Awareness of our internal sensations reminds us to stop eating when we are sated-a key to maintaining our target body weight. By integrating mindful awareness into our daily lives, we not only enjoy ourselves more and live longer, we take better care of ourselves, have a more positive outlook, and feel more empathy toward others.

Mindfulness often fosters a sense of spirituality, and several studies have found that people who pursue some form of spirituality live longer. Recently, investigators found that visiting a house of worship just once a week can extend life expectancy by nearly a decade. Studies of patients with chronic physical illnesses have found that those who believed in God had a 30 percent lower mortality rate as compared with those who felt abandoned by God. The increased longevity benefits of spirituality result from many of its forms, including religion, meditation, a personal belief in a higher power, and more.

Many of the benefits of The Longevity Bible's Eight Essentials can be achieved in a remarkably short period-as little as fourteen days. My research team at UCLA conducted controlled studies to test how well volunteer subjects could improve their brain and body fitness by focusing on just four of the essential strategies: mental aerobics, physical fitness, stress management, and a healthy diet.

We found that after just two weeks, the volunteers who followed the healthy longevity lifestyle program (as opposed to the control group who merely continued their usual behavior) experienced improved memory performance and brain efficiency. They also reported greater levels of relaxation and lower levels of stress.

We observed significant physical health benefits as well. Many volunteers on the program lost weight and experienced a significant decline in blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Shirley's experience was similar to that of many other subjects in the study for whom these essential longevity strategies improved memory and reduced stress, as well as lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Scientific evidence indicates that adopting these lifestyle strategies not only lowers the risk for Alzheimer's disease, but actually increases life expectancy-making us live longer-while adding to the quality of those years.

Quality Longevity for the Long Haul

Large-scale, longitudinal aging studies, including the MacArthur Study of Successful Aging, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, the Leisure World Cohort Study, and many others, have yielded scientific findings that add to the foundation of The Longevity Bible's strategies. The MacArthur Study found that staying connected through social relationships as we get older is linked to longer and better living. A healthy emotional life-founded on intimacy and strong relationships-is associated with a more positive mental state as well as improved physical health and function. Another key finding is that it's almost never too late (or too early) to make healthy lifestyle choices and instigate changes to achieve quality longevity.

Whether we are approaching our forties, fifties, sixties, or more, we all face the challenges and rewards of aging. Studies on successful aging have shown that only one third of what predicts how well we age is controlled by genetics. Approximately two thirds is based on our personal lifestyle choices and, therefore, under our own control.

As we learn about the Eight Essentials, we will see how our psychologist, Shirley, and several others tackle the bumps and hurdles that so many of us face as we get older. We will learn how to apply the Eight Essentials, quickly and easily, and begin living a quality longevity lifestyle. If it's true that we're only as young as we feel, then it's time to start feeling, looking, and acting younger today.

Chapter Two

The Eight Essentials

Essential 1

Sharpen Your Mind

Memory is the mother of all wisdom. -Aeschylus

The newspaper's daily crossword puzzle had long been the high point of Michele R.'s morning routine. Monday's easy puzzle she could do quickly, and in pen. But as the clues got harder throughout the rest of the week, she felt challenged enough to get that "puzzler's high" whenever she could solve them all and complete the puzzle. That all changed when Michele started working the newspaper's new brainteaser-Sudoku. There was nothing easy about it. How could arranging a bunch of numbers in a grid possibly hold her attention for more than a few minutes? Words were so much more interesting than numbers, and she had always been lousy at math.

It only took a week for Michele to get hooked on the new puzzle, as she began to pick up its patterns and logical challenges. She grabbed for the entertainment section of the newspaper before anyone could get near it-Sudoku had become Michele's new obsession. But instead of being fun and challenging like the crossword, it was often frustrating and sometimes enraging. She absolutely couldn't start her day off right if she failed to solve that morning's Sudoku. Her kids joked that if Michele kept up this fixation with the puzzle, she might have to join a Sudoku Anonymous group to kick the habit.


Excerpted from The Longevity Bible by Gary Small Gigi Vorgan Copyright © 2006 by Gary Small, M.D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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