Forever Young: A Trade Secret

Canute is often depicted as trying to repel the waves as he sat on his gilded throne on the sandy shore whereas, in fact, he was teaching his courtiers a lesson. Sick of their sycophancy he was showing them that he was a mortal and had no power to control nature. Thus it is with all of us. Despite our attempts at evasion and distraction we get older and seem less immortal by the microsecond. The thought which seeds itself in my mind is a historical footnote before I have even become aware of its import. My body is ageing inexorably, bits of it doing less and less what they are supposed to do. It is a slow degeneration which only became vaguely noticeable at around thirty and has slowly accelerated ever since. Entropy, I suppose. The second law of thermodynamics or whatever. Order giving way to disorder.

A bit like Canute, there comes a time when you decide to make some show of pointless defiance. You take a look at yourself in the mirror, at the bulging midriff or those jug handles for a waist and you say to yourself that this year you are going to reverse the trend towards geriatric gormlessness and corpulence. I did this a while back, years ago, in fact and have had a little success. I am not saying that out of the decay there are green Adonis shoots or anything like that but there is a mild and appreciable return to what I used to call, form. Now in my upper sixties, I think I should share my secret with you all. This is a recipe for a gentler ease into old age, not the sudden vault into slippers, breathlessness and morbid self-doubt. If it was (easily) expanded into a self-help book, then I might make a lot of money. Imagine, The Sanger System of Self–Sustenance.

Here’s what you might do. (Note, I didn’t say should do. I cannot bring myself to impose my disciplines upon you!)

Get a high quality juicer. In Ghana I juice five vegetables and five fruit (together with raw ginger) to make a daily power drink of roughly half a pint. Here I use pawpaw, melon, oranges, pineapples, apples, pears as well as beetroot, carrot, cabbage, white radish, green beans. In France I use local fruit instead of the exotic ones I can find here. In the Uk it may be slightly different again. To juice takes about twenty minutes for two days worth if you have a worm-screw juicer which cold presses. Cheaper machines use a spinning disc which damages the ingredients so you have to drink them straight away.

Have your roughage at breakfast whether it is muesli or heavy brown breads which can give you energy for most of the day if you take the juice with it. I eat my main meal at around tea time and have protein and a cooked vegetable or salad. No carbohydrates! Then there is a snack in the evening just to stave of hunger. The additional add-ons I take are fish oils and glucosamine/chondroitin for the joints. On top of this you MUST exercise each day. Whatever you find agreeable and not too boring. Half an hour of reasonably challenging activity. Get the heart beating fast. I am lucky. I swim for forty minutes.

Drink plenty of water. It washes away the rubbish.

In case you think I am a Spartan and a fanatic, I eat butter and full cream milk, have chocolate when I feel like it and often have wine or even beer and good ground coffee. But the great thing is that I am the same weight as I was at thirty when considerations of mortality first began to make themselves known through the creeping impairment of faculties and physique. And my brain seems to go through all the gears.

There you are. You didn’t have to buy my book. Get a bit o discipline! Live longer. Live happier. Free yourselves up a little to do the stuff that matters to you! Happy New Year!

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