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The Upside of Aging: How Long Life Is Changing the World of Health, Work, Innovation, Policy and Purpose by Paul Irving

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Chapter 2 Personalized Aging: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Pinchas Cohen

Dean, USC Davis School of Gerontology; Executive Director, Ethel Percy Andrus Gerontology Center; William and Sylvia Kugel Dean’s Chair in Gerontology

The upside of aging is personalized aging, based on the idea that no matter how closely related we are, no two of us travel through the world or our aging process in the same way.

When a Scottish grandmother named Ella Bulloch turned 96, she was asked for her longevity secret. “Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate,” she told the Sun. “I love it and have never been a fan of vegetables or fruit. Chocolate keeps me going. I’ll have a bit during breakfast, another bar during lunch, and again during my dinner. That, as well as what I can get my hands on in between.”

When I went to medical school more than 30 years ago, chocolate as the staple of a longevity-assuring, healthy diet certainly never crossed my mind. Neither, for that matter, did anyone at the time seriously propose coffee, olive oil, nuts, or red wine as “health foods.”

Since then, however, as my career in teaching and practicing medicine has spanned several continents and institutions—from the Technion in Israel and the Royal Free Hospital in London, to New York University, Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and finally the University of Southern California—I have seen evidence-based medicine expanding to explore nontraditional health interventions. I also have recognized ...

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