We recognize them by their smile lines that lift the cheekbones. But not just any smile. Not the uncontrollable nervous giggles, nor the smirk. That of the centenarians comes from within, a bit like that of the statues of Buddha. In Chinese medicine, the smile would have a direct impact on the release of energy in the heart and blood circulation. It releases tension in the body. It means that the heart is open, the face lights up and attracts positive energy. You can train in front of your mirror, without necessarily thinking about Foresti’s last sketch but simply by relaxing.
“When we no longer want to learn, we shut ourselves in our shell,” notes Jean Pélissier. According to him, it is the open door to depression that is the bedrock of Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover today, we know that neurons do not decrease inexorably with age, but that our brain can produce new cells and new connections, provided we train them. Memorizing poems is a good way to exercise your memory. “In a poem, you make your soul speak and the rhythm of the words allows you to open your heart”, specifies the practitioner in Chinese medicine.
To bring the creative energy of the kidneys into contact with the central memory, which is the brain, you have to sit down, with your spine straight. Writing by hand uses ten times more neural connections than pressing the keys on a computer. This allows you to exercise your memory and maintain neuronal plasticity.
“For an elderly person, it is useless to play sports in the strict sense”, notes Jean Pélissier. On the other hand, forcing oneself to a daily walk of one to two kms per day is beneficial. According to Chinese medicine, this would release stagnant energy, responsible for inflammation and disease. Try the Qi Gong walk: Divide your walk into three stages (for example three times 10 minutes). In the first phase, you focus on the breath. Inhale on 3 steps and exhale on 5. During the second phase, concentrate on the working muscles. Change the pace, remember to unwind the foot well, feel your thighs contracting in a rib… Finally during the last phase, open up to the world. Observe your environment: the smells, the colors. This walk is regenerative.
To eat less
It is better to avoid heavy meals which require a lot of energy for digestion. The right tempo: a frugal breakfast, a single dish for lunch, an afternoon tea at 4 p.m. and a light dinner. The secret: chew each bite well, 20 to 30 times if possible. Centenarians would thus have very developed masseter muscles (responsible for chewing). Finally, according to Chinese medicine, snacking between meals should be avoided at all costs, even if only an almond, which forces the body to re-enter a digestion process. Drinking lukewarm or hot between meals is recommended.
To recharge the batteries, you should sleep between 6 and 8 hours per night, preferably relying on the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. range. Watch out for the digestive nap. She should not play overtime (no more than 30 minutes) at the risk of seeing the food “rot in the stomach”. Instead, focus on relaxation breaks of 5 to 10 minutes, lying on the floor, arms at your sides, feeling your body more and more heavy.
* Jean Pélissier is the author of Healthy Aging and Prevent Alzheimer’s with Traditional Chinese Medicine (ed. Albin Michel)