Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Decade: “Living Long Enough To Live Forever”

Bill Clinton        Rebecca "Becky" Singson-Zahar     Ray Kurzweill

I belong to the Gal-lang Maynigo Clan. There are many things to be proud of by being a member of this clan. Readers of my column, my blog and my Facebook notes found out some of them and will continue to do so during the course of our lives. But there is one thing that seems to bedevil each and every member of the clan. Based on our genes, we are all expected to have heart diseases.

Indeed, my parents died of heart disease. So did two of my siblings and several of my cousins. My two other sisters who now live in California have had several heart surgeries. In my case, I have had a triple by-pass, a stroke, and just a few months ago, a heart attack after which a stent was placed in my coronary artery..

I am sure that there are families out there who are similarly situated or might be soon without realizing it. This article might interest them as well.

I just graduated from my Cardiac Rehabilitation Program and coupled with my regular exercises at my sports gym, I am quite optimistic about the future relating to my health and to that of my entire clan.

In my heart procedure, only one stent was required. I was told by my cardiologists that because of my regular exercises small arteries were naturally created connecting to my heart allowing greater and better blood flow.

Over the years, the traditional reading for one’s blood pleasure for me was that, if the diastolic was low, it would be okay even if the systolic was high.  After some diligent research and self-involvement of my healthcare, I found out that the systolic also mattered.  Trying out certain drugs and coupling them with gym exercises lowered the systolic. But this was not regular. Sometimes the systolic was still high. It turned out that during those times I was taking my medicines together with the recommended fiber food (oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc.) that I was eating.

The effectiveness of the medication is greatly reduced when taken within two hours of eating fiber. Knowing that and changing the eating and medicine-taking time, my blood pressure, be it systolic or diastolic has been normal or low ever since.

Medication, exercise, diet, lifestyle, and new technologies are the major factors in the prevention and cure of heart and other diseases.

I understand that a maximum intake of 1600 calories daily would be good. This means that daily, a combination of 5 servings of starches and grains, a minimum of 3 cups of vegetables, 2 pieces or cups of fruits, 2 servings of milk, dairy and dairy alternatives and 8 oz servings of proteins (fish, lean meat, eggs, etc.) would be ideal.

High fat deserts, regular canned and cream-based soups, butter, coconut oil, partially hydrogenated oils, relish, sea-salt, and hard liquor should be avoided.

Former President Bill Clinton who has had a triple by-pass and a stent procedure  believes that based on certain studies the blockage of our arteries could be reversed through diet and exercise. He is now part of an experiment aimed precisely to accomplish this.

When I was still maintaining an office in Makati, Philippines a few years ago I joined the Rotary Club of Makati Dasmarinas. In one of our luncheon meetings, the first President of the club and also the Chairperson of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City Dr. Rebecca “Becky” Singson-Zahar made a presentation I will never forget. It was entitled, “The Possibility of Not Dying Is Just Around the Corner” explaining the advances in stem cell research, the effectiveness of transplants such as heart, kidney and other body parts and the invention/discoveries of new technologies in the field of medicine. Dr. Becky is a strong advocate of healthy living and is known to teach her patients how to eat right, exercise, relax, and rest.

Settling back in the United States for medical reasons, I came across the works of a multi-awarded and well respected author, scientist, inventor and futurist, Ray Kurzweil. He had written several interesting books but I will discuss only two in this article. Together with Dr. Terry Grossman, an expert on human longevity, Kurzweil authored and published “Fantastic Voyage: Living Long Enough To Live Forever”, and “Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever.”

In both books, they have essentially asserted that we can tap today’s revolution in biotechnology and nanotechnology to virtually live forever. They claim that startling discoveries in the areas of biotechnology, nanotechnology and genomics are occurring every day, As one reviewer said, “The array of scientific knowledge is mind-bending and that it is now possible to prevent nearly 90 % of the maladies that kill us including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease.  It will be feasible for 10% of our blood cells to be replaced by artificial cells, radically extending our life expectancy and enhancing our physical and even mental abilities beyond what is humanly possible.”

According to them, the brain is like a muscle: use it lose it. The brain can be exercised showing that relevant brain growth can be stimulated with letter differentiation training.

They did not only talk of possibilities and feasibilities, they actually made predictions. Some of their predictions worth mentioning are:

1.      In the 2020’s nanobiotic cameras will perform endoscopies and colonoscopies; physicians will almost never examine patients by hand (or stethoscope), using imaging technologies instead;
2.      In 2023, stem cells will be able to overcome nerve damage such as spinal injuries; sleep can be replaced with devices and medication; drug therapies will be able to turn off bad genes or add new ones; robotic sex will be popular; most types of meat can be grown artificially in factories; early detection will make heart disease and cancer rarer and greatly improve survival rates; many injuries and genetic damage can be fixed using stem cells;
3.      In 2034, blood-stream nanobots will enhance memory and learning ability; bloodstream nanobots will replace some red blood cells greatly increasing oxygenation efficiency and reducing the emergency nature of a heart attack; virtual reality sex will be a reality; gene therapies will erase virtually all genetic problems.

In a book written several years ago, Kurzweil had made 109 predictions. Of these, 89 proved to be correct, 13 essentially correct, 6 partially correct and 1 has still to occur. .

With such a batting average, I would not bet against Kurzweil and his co-author. The best strategy is to stay in good health while we wait for technology advances which will greatly extend life.

Medication, exercise, diet, lifestyle and new technologies will make us live long enough to lend us the possibility, feasibility and even the predictability of living forever. Why not?

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