Twelve months ago, Will collapsed on holiday. No warnings, no history, just an enormous shock for Will and his family. After a battery of blood tests, a 24 hour Holter test of his heart, an ultrascan of his carotid arteries and an EEG, the medics couldn't find the cause of his collapse. But thankfully it was not a stroke or mini-stroke.
What they did find was that his left carotid artery was blocked to the extent of 40% and the right by 35% - pretty normal for a man of his age apparently (in his 60s) - but 40% blockage sounded pretty frightening to Will. He also learned that his cholesterol was too high as was blood pressure. He could try aspirin as a precaution against clotting and he could take the advice of one section of the medical establishment and start taking statins to lower the cholesterol. He didn't smoke and was around 7 pounds overweight.
HE TOOK ACTION! No drugs, just some simple lifestyle changes. And they worked! Six months later, Will had lost weight, brought his blood pressure and cholesterol levels down to normal, begun to unclog (yes, unclog) his arteries and regained a lot of the memory he thought he had lost.
What did he do? Four things -
He changed his diet
He boosted his circulation
He practiced deep breathing
He grew some new neurons
I summarise his solutions below but you can visit his website - details at the end - for a fuller, complimentary report.
'EVERYTHING BEGINS WITH FOOD' says Will. The key foods being fruit, vegetables, raw salads, oily fish, nuts/seeds, organically grown produce and wholemeal breads and cereals. He adds spices to his meals, choosing from those rich in anti-oxidants - ground cloves, cinnamon, dried oregano and turmeric, plus sage and ginger which have been used for many years for their anti-inflammatory properties to fight diseases. And he moderated his alcohol consumption - simply keeping to the recommended guidelines.
NEXT UP WAS EXERCISE. Will had settled into a sedentary life and realised that some regular if gentle exercise was necessary - 'the key thing is to find a regime that you will keep to ' he says. Five half-hour walks a week is his routine. He suggests you start with three and work up.
DEEP BREATHING was something Will had once studied as a means of relieving stress but long since neglected. Time to go back to it. The complete breath is the fundamental breath of the Yoga science of breathing. 'Complete breath' might sound an abnormal or forced thing, but it is quite the opposite - it goes back to the first principles - a return to nature.
To perform a complete breath, sit or stand - aware of maintaining a good posture - and breathe in through the nostrils. It's useful to place your left hand on your stomach and your right hand on your chest. Inhale steadily, first filling the lower part of the lungs by lowering the diaphragm - feel your hand rise gently on your stomach pushing out (your right hand should remain still at this point). Then fill the middle part of your lungs, pushing out the ribs, the breast bone and the chest. Finally, fill the higher portion of the lungs. With this movement the lower part of the abdomen will be slightly drawing in; this both supports the lungs and helps to fill the highest part of the lungs - notice your left hand gently sinking down.
The second stage of the complete breath is to retain the breath for a few seconds. Then exhale quite slowly, drawing the abdomen in a little and lifting it upwards slowly as the air leaves the lungs.
In the early stages, practicing just a few times a day will benefit you when feeling stressed. Indeed, the very act of focusing on the complete breath may be sufficient to produce an immediate sense of relaxation.
FINALLY, HE GREW NEW NEURONS. Until around ten years ago, scientists believed that the number of brain cells just decreased with age. However, a study by the Society of Neuroscience shows that the brain is constantly producing new cells. And the more active the brain, the more it will retain them.
So Will started stimulating his brain. He took up chess again. He bought books of crossword puzzles. He started learning a new language. And he began to use mnemonics (i.e.the use of imagery and association) to improve his short-term memory. There are a number of mnemonics techniques. The two Will practices are the Link method and the Story method.
The Link method associates a list of things with a series of vivid images e.g, a shopping list, with an apple stuck inside the mouth of a fish, which is sandwiched between two pieces of bread coated thickly with butter and jam etc etc. The Story method takes the list and links the objects together in a story. The advantage of this system is that it links objects in a logical order.
Will still doesn't know why he collapsed but he's delighted he did. So delighted and thankful that he's put together the short, complimentary report summarised here 'Turn Back the Aging Clock' to let others know what has worked for him and how easy it is.
It's aimed at anyone who is not seriously ill but feels age taking its toll and demonstrates how simple lifestyle changes have achieved remarkable improvements in health and alertness.