Como doctor: simple steps can increase longevity 12/27/2013

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 27, 2013

Como doctor: simple steps can increase longevity

By John Howell Sr.
While making your list of resolutions, you might want to add flossing. It could extend your life expectancy by seven years, Dr. Mike Cockrell said, speaking recently to the Como Rotary Club.
The family practice physician who operates a clinic in Senatobia, said that his topic had been chosen by the club’s president, Pete Nelson.

“When I asked him what he wanted me to talk about, he very quickly spit out, ‘I want to know how to live to be 100,’” Cockrell said.

Cockrell’s recommendations for longevity included the usual healthy habits — more sleep, more exercise, less food — and some unexpected, like teeth flossing.

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“According to the data that’s out there, flossing your teeth on a daily basis will add up to seven years to your lifespan,” Cockrell said, though he admitted he had difficulty complying with the regimen himself.

“Most of the exposure that we get to bacteria comes from our mouth,” he said. “Lots of germs in there, and as we chew it’s easy to break the skin. They have instant access into our bloodstream, and everything just sort of spreads.”

But the first recommendation on Cockrell’s longevity list is “having a spiritual connection.”
“We know without a doubt that those people who are spiritually connected — I’m not just talking about a specific religion, but spirituality in general — when you have that spiritual connection you have less stress in you life, you have less depression in your life and you basically have an increased sense of being,” he said.

His second key to longevity was also related to the mental/spiritual health: “Being able to identify and live a life that has purpose and meaning … basically knowing and feeling good about what you’re doing every day,” Cockrell said.

In his medical practice, “It never ceases to amaze me how many people despise what they’re doing,” he said, whether it’s their job, children, spouse.

“It’s a disaster. All of those stressors, … you trigger an entire cascade of hormonal reactions within your body that over time devastates your entire being,” Cockrell said.

“One of the things that I have found … in my clinic is younger and younger and younger men, especially, who literally have testosterone (and) DHEA levels of 60, 70, 80-year-old guys. These are guys that are 25 and 30 years old that have literally accelerated their aging process by … 30 or 40 years,” the doctor continued.

“Probably the most important health decision that anyone in here can make and start implementing immediately is to drink more water,” Cockrell continued, transitioning to physical recommendations from his longevity list.

“Water truly is the essence of life when it comes to keeping yourself healthy,” he said, citing a study that found that “on any given day, 70 to 75 percent of us are dehydrated.”

Dehydration causes fatigue, headaches, most muscle spasms and cramps, he said. “If you’re going to do anything for health, drink more water.”

(“Half your body weight in total ounces in total ounces of fluid a day; … 70 to 80 percent of which should be just pure water,” Cockrell said, replying to a question about how much.
“Beer don’t count,” he added, replying to another question.

“Fruits and vegetables are important, … which we all know.” Cockrell continued. “Most of us don’t understand the benefit of fruits and vegetables (as) natural alkalizers. … Our body does not work well in an acidic environment,” he said, citing processed foods, soft drinks, processed juices as creating an acidic environment inside the gut that hinders cell repair and division.
“Cellular division is one of those things that is actually essential because your body — you — become a new person every seven years,” he said.

Healthy lifestyles also include plenty of sleep — but not too much.

Six to eight hours is ideal. “Anybody who consistently gets less than five is probably shaving years off their life; anybody who gets more than nine is shaving years off their life,” the physician continued.

“Vacation — you’ve got to have time to relax,” Cockrell said, the next recommendation on his longevity list.

Staying active is also essential, he continued, either in a structured gym setting or “something as simple as going for a walk, getting out and playing in your yard, working in your garden, whatever you want to do. … Anything you do to stay active,” he said.

From a medical perspective, Cockrell’s longevity list also included “hormonal optimization” to offset a decline in hormone levels that begins at age 25. He recommended supplements, primarily vitamins C and D and fish oil in addition to staying active, exercising and eating right.
“Eighty-five percent of the Type II diabetics in this country can not just manage their disease, they can completely cure their disease with nothing more than diet and exercise,” Cockrell told his audience.

“If you can get your metabolism working like it should, your body is actually the best healer you will ever run across, bar none,” Cockrell said. “There’s not a physician on earth who can match the healing capacity of what you can do for yourself if given the right environment,” he added, not sounding like a man who was afraid of working himself out of a job.

“This is the probably the most informative speaker at this Rotary Club, and I’ve been here a long time,” Bill Wallace said when Cockrell finished his remarks.