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book review: The Longevity Book

longevity book

THE LONGEVITY BOOK by Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bark. Harper Wave| February 2016| 259 pages | $27.99| ISBN: 978-0-06-237518-6

 RATING: ****/5*

“In the years that come, I may grow weaker, but it is my hope that I can also grow wiser, warmer, and more resilient. I hope we can all find the power to grow older together, each of us doing the work we must to become stronger and more loving and more at home in our hearts, in our bodies, and in the world.” –Cameron Diaz

How does Cameron Diaz start every day? She brushes her teeth, drinks one liter of water, meditates, eats breakfast and works out. I didn’t read The Body Book. I know that her discussion of poop and body hair received lots of press. Both important and I was glad that her book encouraged discussion. I’m quite in touch with my body, its functions and the mind-body connection. That doesn’t mean I look or feel perfect or that my body isn’t showing and feeling signs of aging. There’s more gray hair at 46 and more creaks and cracks. The Longevity Book focuses on aging—what happens to our body as we age, how we can feel good in our aging bodies and how we might increase our lifetime longevity. Cameron Diaz and her writing partner Sandra Bark conducted thorough research on the subject. They spoke to scientists, researchers, educators and doctors throughout the country at universities and research centers, including National Institutes for Health [NIH]. If you’ve taken a biology or Anatomy and Physiology class some details will be familiar. Definitely worth a review. Throughout these pages the authors effectively explain stem cells, disease risk factors, genes, cells, the immune system, nutrition and menopause.

The Longevity Book is divided into three parts—The Scenic Route: Living in the Age of Longevity; Steep Grades, Sharp Curves: The Biology of Aging; and You are Here: The Art and Science of Living Longer. The book reads quite conversationally. It’s packed with useful information, reminders and facts. Here’s the truth on how women age, what’s expected of women in our society and how changing dynamics and life expectancy combined with new technologies will change the way we live and live long. As someone looking for work and being interviewed by many twentysomethings, I could relate to this: “Traditional hierarchies may be overturned. Many older people may find themselves taking lower-level positions, reporting to people who are actually their junior in age but their senior in authority.” The Longevity Book serves as a handy reference guide for women. Kudos to Cameron Diaz to get women talking about their health. It’s such an important and integral topic.

Some interesting information:

–In 1850, a woman’s life expectancy in the United States was approximately 40 years old. Now it’s double that—90 years old. [p. 22]

–66% of caregivers are women [p.34]

–“The field of geroscience aims to understand the relationship between aging and age-related diseases. The word root “gero” is derived from the name of the Greek god of aging, Geras.” [p. 37]

–The female heart is smaller than a male heart with “”think vessels arranged in a lacy pattern instead of the thicker tubes that connect a male heart to his cardiovascular system.” [p. 46]

–A women’s distinctive biology means that we have different risk factors for disease. “women are more likely than men to develop depression, eating disorders, and anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health issues are, in turn, a risk factor for a variety of other diseases.” women aged 47-52 with depression have twice the risk for stroke than women who do not have depression. [p. 47]

–Not until 1980 did the American Psychiatric Association drop the official diagnosis of “hysterical neurosis.” You know a woman is crazy because she possesses a uterus.  [p.50]

–Women’s health wasn’t really a thing until the 60s. And not until 1989 did Congress allocate funds to study women’s health specifically. By the 1990s “30 percent of ob-gyn specialists were women, up from just 7% in the 1960s.” [p. 51]

–Sex affects medications. “A female liver metabolizes drugs different than a male liver.”  Also women store more body fat than men and some medications are attracted to fat tissues. Hormones influence how our bodies process medications. [p. 54-55]

–“Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps your brain make serotonin, an important neurotransmitter for positive moods.” [p.140]

–“Nutrition, Movement, Rest. These are the threads from which our human experiences are woven, and they are the basis of our strength as we age.” [p. 158]

–Brain cells possess a longer life span than other cells. Skin cells last about three weeks and stomach lining cells last three days. “Over time, we continuously lose brain cells due to injury, illness, and the natural process of aging.” [p. 183]

–“Mindfulness-based activities like mediation and relaxation exercises have been linked to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And a regular mediation practice has been shown to change the architecture of your brain in ways that are beneficial and protective.” [p. 193]

–According to studies, when people listen to music or play music it increases the neural activity in the brain. [p. 194]

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper Collins.

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purchase at Amazon: The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time

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