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May Newsletter 2021

A Continuation of Gene Variants of the Aged, or the "Why Am I Here?" Gene: This is neither an ontological discourse nor is it a deeply disturbing existential exploration. This is also not Buddhist Empty Mind, nor is it the sudden attainment of enlightenment, but merely one of those aging fugue states that usually appear sometime in your 60's. The "Why Am I Here" gene is the expression, or rather the non-expression, of a space/time event where the brain has neglected to secure in your memory bank the memo you gave it maybe 10 seconds ago.

Example: You find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator poised to open the door but you realize that your mind is empty and vacuous, possessing no knowledge of how or why you came to be in front of the refrigerator. You open the door hoping that this might jog your memory a bit. You stare at the shelves with such intense concentration that the casual onlooker would imagine that you were waiting for God's face to appear in the jar of mayonnaise.

But, alas, neither do you find God in the Vegenaise nor do you yet understand why you are in front of the refrigerator. Finally, as a last resort, you retrace the steps you took to get to the refrigerator and suddenly: You remember! You wanted to put more creamer in your coffee and you now purposefully and happily reach for the Organic Valley Half n' Half, forgetting immediately how really witless you just acted.

Or: You find yourself in the breezeway having raced there with great purpose from your bedroom, apparently on your way to the living room. But suddenly you screech to a halt, realizing that you have no idea why you are in the breezeway, where you were going and for what reason. Again: Retracing your steps back to your bedroom and starting out again, and with new laser-like focus, you realize that you were on the way to get the latest New Yorker Magazine off the coffee table and you bustle perhaps a bit too zealously to the living room for said magazine. Somehow the speed and the laser-like attention you will pay to securing said magazine is the brain's way to deny the manner in which you just comported yourself. (Lamely.)

Another gene - "The Wheresit?" gene is related to and is the cousin of the "Why Am I Here?"gene. There are many examples of the expression of this gene, but perhaps the most familiar one concerns your car in the Costco parking lot. Lately you find that you have come out of Costco asking yourself too many times - "Wheresit? - referring, of course, to your car. After too many "Wheresits?" events and stupid trompings through the lot with your big awkward cart, you train yourself to landmark your car; like next to the big silver Denali in the row just to the left and at a 45 degree angle to the exit of Costco. All well and good unless the Denali leaves before you do...

But then you become more cunning in your landmarking and you leave transitory objects (like a Denali) out of your mapping equation. You think very cleverly about tying a red bandana to your antenna, but then you remember they stopped putting antennae on cars about 30 years ago. And all the while you are remembering fondly when you didn't have to landmark your car, but would effortlessly Marco Polo your way to it without even thinking, your wonderfully limpid brain with the magnetic GPS chip painlessly taking you to your car.

An advanced breakdown of the "Why Am I Here/Wheresit" gene would be the Too Scary To Name gene. This would entail forgetting your usual route to McGuckins, the one where you wind down this street then that one then the alley behind that restaurant whose name you always forget, then left on Walnut then the right on Folsom. You rationalize the forgetfulness by saying you didn't sleep well last night or you forgot your brain food this morning (all 15 pills) or perhaps you were distracted because you were re-imagining Hegelian Dialectics in Farsi while driving. Never ever would the chilling "A" word pop into your mind. Take heed, younger folk: Something weird happens to the GPS system in the brain after age 60, so start training yourself now, before it's too late.

(Segueing awkwardly to the real world, here comes...) Women and Fiber: I have recently added a good bit of psyllium to my daily routine - maybe 1T per day stirred into some nut milk, followed by about 16 oz. of water so the psyllium doesn't harden into a concrete mess in my bowel that would necessitate a visit to the ER. It works for me and a study at Lund University in Sweden engaging 20,000 residents of Malmo, ages 44-73, 8,000 men and 12,000 women testing the effects of higher fiber levels on all health but esp. cardiovascular health. "Women who ate a diet high in fiber had a 25% lower risk of suffering from CVD." However, oddly, a higher fiber in men reduced the risk of stroke, a Venus and Mars thing yet again.

Here are the top high fiber foods to include in your diet: The best are avocados, then artichokes, raspberries, blackberries, lentils, black beans, broccoli, veggie soup, pears, apples, oatmeal and barley. Increased fiber will also protect you against abdominal obesity which is the precursor to a lot of bad health stuff like insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and uncomfortably tight pants.

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