Seeking ‘youth’ in old age

By Herbert Vego

ONE day I stepped into Farm to Table Restaurant to eat nothing but a vegetable-fruit salad. I had heard that chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing had “prescribed” the organic delicacy to her hubby Gus to keep him looking younger than his age.

It was also in line with my determination to defy the ravages of senior citizenship. As I have been reiterating in previous columns, health maintenance is the key to adding years to our lives, and life to our years.

In the Old Testament, a Hebrew patriarch named Methuselah lived for 969 years. Since then, man has been searching for his lost key to longevity.

History records the pioneering quest of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon for the fountain of youth. Discovering Florida and its beautiful unpolluted beaches, he spent the rest of his life there until 1521 when an enemy killed him with a poisoned arrow; he was only 61.

Nevertheless, 61 was a “ripe old age” by 16th-century standard when cures for diseases had yet to be discovered.

Since then, people have enjoyed longer lives because of advances in nutrition and medicine. In the United States, according to the Bureau of Census, the life expectancy of Americans has gradually accelerated. A child born in 1900 could expect to live an average of 47.5 years. But an American born today could hope to reach 76 or more.

Everybody wants to live not just longer but healthier lives. We want to know why some die young while others grow very old. After all, nobody is exempted from wear and tear. Over time, everybody’s body deteriorates because it is not capable of replenishing all damaged cells. This is often apparent among the old who become senile due to declining number of brain cells.

Way back in the 1950s, a scientist from the University of Nebraska, Denham Harmon, announced that he had found the reason behind lethargic aging. It is now widely known as the free radical theory. Based on his research, the free radicals are chemicals that rob the body of its normal health by depriving the cells of oxygen, in effect triggering diseases, including all forms of cancer. This damage, called oxidation, is comparable to rust-destruction of metals. Therefore, to rise to the “impossible” age of Methuselah, one should wipe out free radicals.

Fortunately, like all other animals, the human being has an immune system that could produce antioxidants to fight free radicals. The older the body, however, the less it is capable of producing them. There is now an urgent need for acquiring them from food and food supplements.

Studies have shown that certain vitamins, notably E and C, lower the risk of heart diseases because they minimize fatty deposits, thus preventing atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

Wrong choices of food, on the other hand, may trigger organ malfunction. It is universally accepted, for instance, that too much sugar may damage certain body proteins, notably collagen. Since collagen helps form bones, teeth, skin and tendons, such damage could worsen from tooth decay to arthritis and diabetes. Diabetes is considered “accelerated aging.”

Perhaps, had Ponce de Leon not died from a poisoned wound, he could truly have found the fountain of youth in healthy habits. Remember, he had spent his adult life in a beachfront house in Florida so he could swim at sea, breathe clean air and eat the most nutritious foods.

These days, the internet is “pregnant” with lectures on the need to eat mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and only a little meat, maintain a weight ideal for our age, exercise daily, shun stress, minimize alcohol intake, sleep at least six hours daily and drink plenty of water.

That sounds familiar. But does everybody obey?



TIME was when electricity consumers in Iloilo City would always blame MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) whenever Mr. Brown strikes.

The brownouts and even blackouts that hit the entire region 6 last week, however, have corrected that wrong notion.  MORE Power as a distribution utility (DU) covering Iloilo City could not be blamed for the failure of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to transmit power from the power generators to the distribution utilities regionwide.

If there is nothing to distribute, why should MORE Power be blamed?

MORE Power President Roel Z. Castro, however, was reported in the media to have appealed for an end to finger-pointing. After all, his company has a five-year modernization plan aimed at keeping homes lighted 24/7.  It could not do so as long as NGCP lags behind in upgrading its facilities.

You see, DUs are no longer allowed to generate electricity or to tap it directly from power plants; it has to pass through the grid.