Friday, June 17, 2011

17/06 How To Live Long and Prosper

Friday, June 17th, 2011 | View Comments

The new film How to Live Forever will show you how to live to be 1,000 years old! Or it’ll give you chuckle while exploring mortality.
By Chris Opfer

It might not happen today or tomorrow, and it certainly didn’t happen when that old kook Harold Camping caused a frenzy with his doomsday prediction back in May. But you, sir, are eventually going to die. And a new documentary in theaters, How to Live Forever, humorously explores what growing old means nowadays, and the lengths some people go to in hopes of postponing death.
Filmmaker Mark Wexler encounters a fitness pioneer pushing the century mark, a 101-year-old chain-smoking, beer-guzzling marathon runner, a leading man in Japan’s “elder porn” film industry, and a slew of other characters on his quest to see how he, as an aging American, can continue to live long and prosper. Here are a few tips we pulled from the film:
Find your ikigai
See this dude to the left? That’s Buster Martin. He lived to be 101 years old before dying last April. Martin was a runner, a smoker, and a drinker. He even completed the London Marathon in 2008 — after taking numerous smoke breaks, of course. ”I like to have a pint, and I like to have a smoke,” he admits to the camera.
While two of his three habits contradict a traditional healthy lifestyle, they were what people in Japan refer to as ikigai (ee-ki-guy), or ”a reason to get up in the morning,” Wexler says.
Ikigai can be whatever helps you find meaning in lifeMartin had booze, smokes, and running. For others, it might be fishing or writing. And, as you’ll find out next, for Shiego Tokuda, it’s exercising his sexual appetite.

Keep your libido healthyShigeo Tokuda lives in Japan. He is 74 years old with grey, thinning hair, and he’s an adult film star who has been in more than 100 “elder porn” flicks. You can spot Tokuda in the film making out and licking the feet of lady in her 70s. While it’s creepy to visualize — and infinitely creepier to watch — to Tokuda, flexing his libido has helped add years to his life. ”Sex is a method of rejuvenation,” he explains.
The dude’s got a point. A healthy sex life boosts testosterone levels, which in turn helps strengthen bones and muscles. Sex is also a form of exercise that increases heart rate and blood pressure, burns calories, and releases bodily chemicals like oxytocin, prolactin, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) that lead to better sleep. Also, according to researchers at the National Cancer Institute, frequent sex can lessen the risk of prostate cancer.

Watch what you eatCalorie restriction isn’t the same thing as cutting calories; it’s the belief that people who eat less will live longer. Instead of a guy consuming roughly 3,000 calories a day, he’d cut back to 1,200-1,5000 and feast on veggies and supplement meals with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The payoff, according to CR enthusiasts, is an additional year of life for every four years on the diet.
However, the people from the CR Society International have warned that decreasing daily caloric intake that drastically for an extended period of time can lead to horrible things like decreased testosterone, fatigue, food obsession, reduced bone mass, and the physical appearance of Mary-Kate Olsen.
“I tried it for two weeks,” Wexler says. “I’d gladly take five or 10 years off my life in order to be able to eat normally.”
If self-induced starvation is too extreme, you can use websites like, an automatic diet generator that customizes food choices based on desired calorie count and number of meals per day.

Accept death instead of fearing itMany of the subjects featured in How to Live Forever had their own “secret” to finding comfort with their mortality. Before his death at age 96, workout guru Jack LaLanne continued to exercise regularly and pound carrot juice. Former Three’s Company star Suzanne Somers has found solace in hormone therapy — taking roughly 60 pills a day — to combat what she once referred to as “the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause: Itchy, Bitchy, Sleepy, Sweaty, Bloated, Forgetful, and All Dried Up.” (We know, gross.) And the weirdos people at ALCOR Life Extension Foundation think it’s completely sane to recommend freezing dead bodies until someone invents the corpse-reanimation technology.
“The film started as more of a scientific look at longevity … but I eventually came to the conclusion that it’s not all about the length of one’s life, but how it’s lived,” Wexler says.
And that means accepting death as a part of existence, and finding meaning in our lives during the time we do have.


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