This Week's Comment from Network 7 News 

Edition 387 November 27, 2004.  

 This weeks  was written by AWR's English Language Service Director, Victor Hulbert.  The full programme can be heard in Real Audio on our web-site.

Living Longer

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Good News all round today.  Yesterday I learnt the secret of living to 114.  Today I learnt that chocolate, once again, is proving to be good for you.  I love these chocoholic researchers who find ways to demonstrate that there is goodness in something that we intrinsically know is bad in excess.  

So while the North American Continent recovers from the excesses of Thanksgiving, you may just want to relax in a comfortable chair, reach for a bar of chocolate, or better yet, sip on some cocoa, and ponder on research conducted by Imperial College and the Royal Brompton and St Bartholomew's hospitals in London and a Hungarian company that indicates that theobromine, a constituent, particularly of dark chocolate, has proved more effective at treating persistent coughing then the traditional over the counter remedies.  

Now before you go rushing out to the candy store do keep in mind that this is only preliminary research, that its probably better to extract the theobromine from the chocolate, and that tooth decay, high sugar levels and obesity are issues you have to also take into account.  

It does seem, however, that every week, somebody is telling me there is a better way to live longer and stay healthier.  That somebody, this week, is the late Fred Hale.   I say late, as he died last Friday, just 12 days short of his 114th birthday.  He was the worlds oldest man and lived an active life as a railway postal worker and a keen gardener, retiring in 1957 the year  before I was born.  He still found slow drivers annoying as he sped down the road, age 108.  That got him in the Guinness Book of World Records as the worlds oldest driver.  

So, his secret for a long life?  A spoonful of bee pollen and another of honey each day, walking, and a spot of gardening.  To that we might add that he had a tranquil temperament.  He was a gracious person and happily fed the local neighbourhood with the apples, strawberries and raspberries from his large garden.  It seems to me a good system, and if only we had a little more land behind our house, Id love to indulge in it more myself.  

The search for eternal youth is something that has gone on for centuries, certainly as far back as the Greeks.  And a quick scan through any internet search engine will demonstrate that the search, and any number of solutions real or mere quackery -- are readily available.  

It was Turkish nomads on the slopes of Mt Elbrus who claimed that longevity came through drinking sour milk.  Today we call it yoghurt.  When I was in Japan recently I drank vast quantities of Green Tea.  That, along with raw fish and soya are their links to longevity.   

If you want a really long life then maybe move to the Hunza valleys of North West Pakistan .  The high altitude, clean air and water, simple diet and freedom from many of the stresses of modern life mean that folk in their 80s and 90s are still living highly active lives.  Of course, we cant all move there, but we can take simple steps like looking at our calorie intake and seeing how much of it is made up of the healthier food groups, and, like our late friend Fred Hale, getting out for some exercise and a spot of gardening.  

There is one other aspect to take into account.  Repeated studies have shown that people who belong to a club or religious community tend to live longer.  The sense of belonging has beneficial effects.  Its interesting talking with my children that some of their happiest memories are in community, in a small church that I used to pastor, in camps and retreats together with friends.  I would agree with them.  

It doesnt always work.  Ive had my disputes in church environments as well.  And I had a phone call this week from a listener in Asia that only wishes his church was friendlier and more loving.  Jesus had the same problem.  He was the embodiment of love yet worked with disciples nicknamed the Sons of Thunder, and one who turned out to be a thief and a betrayer.  In the middle of disputes with the religious leaders of his day, and knowing that he was facing death he could say, Peace is what I leave with you . . . . Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.  (John 14:27 TEV)  And in that same context Jesus promises a secure hope for the future the best longevity medicine of all time:  

I am leaving, but I will come back for you. (Vs28)  Im going to prepare a place for you. (Vs2)  I dont know whether they have chocolate, bee pollen or yogurt there, but I want to be there to find out.

 

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