Ray Joseph's Notebook: Observations on the Phenomenon of Youth and Aging

Nutrition Health Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Ray Joseph's Notebook: Observations on the Phenomenon of Youth and Aging


PLEASANT MEMORIES are always more available to us than unpleasant ones. Perhaps that is why older people often dwell upon the happier past.

Memory thrives on emotions and stimulation. Every memory is encased in its own emotional cocoon. That is why we can often recapture memories by feelings that accompanied them. Music, for example, usually triggers immediate recall.

THE MEMORY MACHINE sometimes needs fine tuning. Unless you are born with a phenomenal brain that actively remembers everything it encounters, diligence and attention are needed to keep memory efficient.

We cannot remember what we do not think about. It must register aurally and visually. Distraction is the enemy of remembrance. Memory responds to input best when one is mentally relaxed and listening carefully, making visual "notes" for further reference.

Some researchers say that people With hearing loss in the right ear have more difficulty remembering. What is heard through the right ear, it has been said, is better remembered than what is heard through the left ear.

IS THE AGING PROCESS the "trigger" of diseases, or do diseases hasten the aging process? The answer to life extension lies in limiting the number of illnesses we endure, declare researchers. Every time we suffer a cold or other infectious disease, to some extent the immunological system loses its potency, despite the fact that some diseases stimulate the development of antibodies.

DegeneratiVe diseases, although they are not directly involved with fighting off invasive infections, damage the vital organs of the body.

The diabetic pancreas, the arthritic joints, the pressured kidney are all depositories of defensive armies. There is therefore a link between degenerative diseases, infectious diseases and the aging process.

THE BRAIN DOES DECREASE in weight as we grow older. It doesn't necessarily follow that there is a decrease in brain cells. The primary reason for such changes could be a significant decrease in extracellular space, says Dr. Kenneth R Brizzee of the Delta Regional Research Center in Covington, Louisiana. Rich, nutritious flow of blood to the brain may preserve the integrity of the brain cells despite the loss of volume.

Experimentally it has been proven that cells transplanted from old brains to young have survived for long periods of time, often living longer than their original donors.

THE FREE RADICAL THEORY of aging implicates chemical fragments that enter into reactions with other chemical compounds in the cell structure. They are frequently generated from unhealthful foods, tobacco smoke, polluted air, impure water. Lipid peroxidation (the combination of fats, hydrogen and oxygen) occurs when free radicals react with unsaturated fatty acids (such as those found in hydrogenated vegetable fats). Margarine and fried foods are in that category.

To counteract the effect of free-radical molecules the most effective antioxidants are Vitamins E and C. The trade element selenium has also proven to be effective.

Researchers discount the theory that free radicals are the only cause of premature aging. The critical factor that leads to deterioration, most authorities agree, is the loss of capacity for cell division in tissues such as brain, heart, and muscles. These inevitable changes can be slowed down by dietary manipulation.

OVEREATING IS A FACTOR in reduced longevity. Experiments have revealed that the heavier the animal, in relation to its natural size-weight, the shorter the life span.

Interviews with centenarians have revealed that they were predominantly modest eaters. Their choice of foods, either by circumstance or economics, were limited in the amount of protein they ingested.

The low-calorie diet produced less chronic diseases. Mary J. Tucker, a British researcher, reports that eating less may prevent cancer, if the food selections are well-balanced and high in vital nutrients. …

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