The Recipe for a ‘Seasoned Human’
Key ingredients for cooking up a wise, healthy, happy, future you, instead of just getting old
Sean Gates, a friend of mine in his 50s, recently did a 53-mile mountain bike ride. When he mentioned it on social media, someone called him a “seasoned human.” I love the term. It implies everything good about growing older: the well-established-but-not-guaranteed potential for greater wisdom and the strong tendency for greater happiness, while suggesting that just like great cooking, results depend on the quality and quantity of ingredients*.
In the science-based cookbook for life, the recipe for a well-seasoned human is flexible but contains a handful of indispensable ingredients, basics without which it’s difficult to concoct a robust, healthy, productive, sharp, wiser, happy, long-living you.
I’m curious to hear your favorite ingredients (add them to the comments below).
Meantime, think of these fundamental elements as vital, interrelated, complementary. Just as good sourdough bread needs flour, yeast and salt, the key ingredients of a healthy mind and body that underlie a solid, seasoned human start with the basics, which support and enhance one another and suffer in the absence of any other.
Healthy foods: No single “diet” is best for everyone. But a large new study involving data on 75,000 women and 44,000 men across 36 years, published Jan. 9 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, confirms that a healthy way of eating — encouraging whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts while avoiding processed sugar and saturated fat — is linked to lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer, and all causes. That means not just longer life, but a healthier, more capable you along the way.
A heaping helping of physical activity: Any movement is better than none for overall physical and mental health, and more is generally better. Aim to take a daily walk or other activity that gets your blood pumping and elevates your breathing for at least 22 minutes, or the equivalent in brief chunks, combined with a couple days of strength training each week to keep you strong and capable and help ward off accidental falls, the leading cause of injury-related death in seniors.