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If there were a fountain of youth, would you drink from it?
If you knew the secrets to “Growing Young” as you age, would you share them?
I’ve learned some legitimate secrets to growing young, and today I’m sharing them with you.
I don’t write too many book reviews, but I just read a book that deserves some recognition. The book? Growing Young, by Marta Zaraska. (Amazon affiliate link, I’ll get a small commission if you buy at no cost to you)
What makes it so special? I read a lot of books (13 in the first 8 months of 2020), and this one stands out. Marta is a science journalist, and Growing Young is a fascinating look at what happens inside the human body. More importantly, it represents a shift in Marta’s writing. She’s realized what really matters.
She’s discovered some secrets of youth.
In her earlier work, Marta was focused on nutrition. In her research “through hundreds of research papers a year and talking with dozens of scientists”, she discovered something important. In her own words:
“Diet and exercise were not the most important things I should be working on to encourage my family’s longevity.”
Wow, quite a statement from an expert nutritionist. So, if diet and exercise are not the most important things for longevity, what are?
Therein lies what makes this book special.
The Fountain of Youth
Growing Young focuses on the things that REALLY make an impact on your longevity.
What I found interesting was her ability to quantify the impact. For example, she cites that “exercise can lower mortality risk by 23 to 33 percent”. Pretty good, right? But how about this one:
“A strong support network of family and friends lowers mortality risk by about 45 percent”.
Throughout the book, Marta discussing the things we can do which will make real improvements in our longevity. More importantly, she discusses how much of an impact those things can make. Finally, she discusses the science behind why they have positive impacts.
The combination of the acts, the impact, and the science lead to a fascinating read for anyone interested in “growing young” as they get older.
It’s All In Your Mind
The things that really matter for longevity end up being primarily things involving the mind.
The first section of Growing Young is titled “The Mind-Body Connection and its Longevity Consequences”. It focuses on how we age and how the mind and body are interconnected to affect health. It’s a fascinating look at things like telomeres, longevity genes, mitochondria, the amygdala, serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and cellular aging. Her discussion on what stress does inside your body is, alone, worth the price of the book.
While I often find scientific writing to be boring and beyond my comprehension, the exact opposite was true with Growing Young. Marta does an excellent job of weaving in personal stories and examples, then discussing the impacts of various mindsets at the molecular level, and it’s ultimate impact on longevity. I learned a ton while reading this book, and enjoyed the process.
In Marta’s words, “we should embrace solutions that do work…Changing mindsets, not our medicine cabinets”. Above all, she says, “taking care of our minds and social lives”.
Fascinating stuff, this.
The second part of the book is titled “How Your Relationships and Your Mind can Prolong Your Life”. It focuses on social interactions that affect our longevity, and how our social realities impact our biology and our health. I found it to be the most interesting section of the book, and her willingness to challenge paradigms was refreshing (“being a bit overweight can add years to your life”).
She challenges the reader to beware of supplements and does an excellent job of providing overviews of the most common supplements and “superfoods” (tumeric, for the record, “doesn’t stand up to scrutiny”. “Organic” hasn’t convinced the scientists) The mix of science and practical advice is fascinating and valuable.
Each chapter concludes with “A few suggestions to boost your longevity” based on the lessons taught in the chapter. They’re practical and applicable tips that provide an elegant summary to the preceding lesson.
One Sentence Which Best Describes Growing Young
In closing, this quote from the book’s introduction does an excellent job of summarizing what Growing Young is about:
“My goal in writing this book was to help you fundamentally rethink how you approach your health – whether you might be putting too much effort into strategies that don’t work well (supplements, fitness trackers, etc.) and not enough into those that truly matter (you love life, your friendships, your life’s meaning).”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. If you’re interested, you can order the book below (Amazon affiliate link):
Growing Young has a 4.9 (of 5.0) ranking on Amazon, with 21 of 22 readers rating it a 5.0. It seems that I’m not alone in finding this book of value.
If you’re interested in longevity, Growing Young will be an interesting read. Most importantly, the author realized through her research what makes the greatest impact as we grow older, and it changed her mind. It’s refreshing to see someone who’s brave enough to challenge their beliefs and admit when they were wrong, especially when that someone is a renowned nutritionalist.
Of course nutrition and exercise matter, but if you want to know what makes an even bigger impact on your longevity, this book is for you.