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A hundred birthdays, 28 teeth, one sound mind, seven resiliency enhancing tips

  • Published
  • By Col. William Dinse DMD, MS
  • 6th Dental Squadron commander
I recently attended a lecture given by a nationally respected dietician. He studied people with long and healthy lives. He convinced me that diet and lifestyle have a profound effect on a person's longevity and quality of life. Here are seven resiliency-enhancing tips I've distilled from his three-hour talk that may keep you sane, help you live longer and perhaps keep most of your teeth.

Cultivate optimism. We live in the best country on the planet at an amazing time in history. We are blessed with the best military, freedom to pursue our dreams, clean water to drink, plenty of food, and a standard of living that is the envy of most of the world. Be positive! No one wants to be around a person who is a pessimist. "Laugh and the world laughs with you: weep, and you weep alone," said poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox. People prefer cheerfulness in others. A person who is cheerful will have company, but someone who is gloomy will often be alone.

Find your passion. The Japanese call this "iki-gui" or a reason for living. Develop a hobby. It does not have to have great meaning; it just has to mean something to you. Some people collect antiques, others play golf, some are involved in their houses of worship, others play fantasy football, some make craft beer and others teach children to read.

Stay mobile. Our lecturer stated that one quarter of women and one third of men who fell and broke a hip died within 12 months. There are many medical complications from being sedentary. Military members run,train and stay mobile so this is an easy objective for us to meet. After you leave the military, keep moving. Take a brisk walk, not a leisurely stroll.

Adapt to loss. People who've lived to be 100 years old have learned to cope with loss. My wife and I are adapting to leaving three of our college-age children behind in Ohio. That has been a huge transition for us. Thank heavens for cell phones and text messaging. Some have lived through divorce or lost a close friend. Some of us have lost our parents or, God forbid, a child. Don't carry that burden too long, you must adapt to the loss and move on. Reach out for help. We have a strong mental health team at the 6th Medical Group clinic. They work extremely hard to help us on a daily basis. Feel free to talk to your chaplain.

Be socially connected. Two people are better off than one, as they can help each other succeed. We need friends to share the joys and heartaches of life. A friend in need is a friend indeed. A friend who helps out when we are in trouble is a true friend; unlike others who disappear when trouble arises.

Have healthy habits. Eat less sugar and animal fat. Eat fish. Your dinner plate should be three-quarters plant based and one-quarter animal based. Avoid tobacco, floss your teeth, and take a multivitamin specific for your sex and age.

Beat cardiovascular disease. It is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. Keep your blood pressure controlled, reduce cholesterol, practice stress reduction and reduce your waistline. Talk to our experts at the Health and Wellness Center located at the base gym for guidance.

Changing your lifestyle can be very tough to do; however with gradual changes, it is possible. Scientists know our genes play a role in the length of our lives and most of us know people who have died young for a myriad of reasons. Our speaker said, "Genetics is the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger."

On my 100th birthday, God willing, I'll be skydiving.