On Mike Wallace and the meaning of lifelong health

In the nutrition world, we hear a lot of terms like life extension, anti-aging, age-defying, etc. We hear of “science” showing that there’s really” no reason we can’t live to be 150…or 200.

On this Easter weekend, I offer a few personal thoughts about life on earth. And with the passing of Mike Wallace last night, a great example of my thinking can be put forth.

First, I believe we age for a reason. Whether there’s a scientific basis, a theological basis, or a combination, we are meant to get old. Can you imagine the earth’s population if average life expectancy were 200 years or 300? Or 1,000? We have trouble sustaining a planet right now with7 billion people.

With this “natural aging” presumption, I’m a big-time advocate of a lifespan where an active, productive, high-vigor, fully-abled life takes place for a the vast majority of the life continuum, and any disability, suffering or incapacitation is minimal and brief and happens right before dying.

In other words, my vision of lifelong health is not living to be 100 or 105, and being barely functional for the last 20 years of life. It’s living to be 80 or 90, and expiring relatively quickly and peacefully, all the while having had the health and stamina and mobility and cognitive clarity enjoy everything almost right up to the end.

And Mike Wallace, to me, exemplifies this value. He was a bulldog interviewer right up to age 90. He passed at 93. I’m sure he would have preferred to have passed right after his last “60 Minutes” interview. Still, even with multiple bouts of depression, he had a great run doing what he was extremely good at, and doing it very close to the end of his life on earth.

What’s this have to do with immune health? Not a whole lot. Or maybe it has everything to do with it. If a healthy immune function, or good heart health, or good cognitive health, or good bone and joint health, can help one to live vigorously right up to–or close to–the natural end, at whatever age that may be, I say “mission accomplished.”

Well done, Mr. Wallace.

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