Saturday 18 November 2017

Rituals give a spring to Bruce's step

Bruce Forsyth and wife Winnie arriving for the 2013 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Bruce Forsyth and wife Winnie arriving for the 2013 Arqiva British Academy Television Awards at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

Sarah Caden

Although he recently retired from Strictly Come Dancing, Bruce Forsyth credits a commitment to keeping busy with keeping him fit and healthy at the age of 86. A key element of his activity is the daily practice of the Five Tibetan Rituals, an ancient stretching sequence that not only works to keep a person limber, but also boosts the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with balancing energy levels, easing aches and pains and, some say, warding off illness.

Certainly, it seems to work for the legendarily agile Forsyth, who was introduced to the practice three decades ago by his mother-in-law. Apparently, she was so concerned about the 32-year age gap between the twice-divorced TV star and her former Miss World daughter, Wilnelia, she was keen he take care of his wellbeing.

The Ritual involves twirls, stretches, wiggles and twists that look very gentle to the bystander, but require both concentration and full-body effort, particularly when you do up to 20 repetitions per day, as Bruce performs. It is to this practice that he credits his agility and energy, though being married to a woman in her 50s can't hurt either when it comes to maintaining a youthful attitude.

Good oral hygiene may reduce risk of clots and heart disease

In the famous Shakespearean drama, As You Like It, Melancholy Jacques describes the seven ages of man. It begins as an infant, "Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" and ends in "second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything".

Losing your teeth will certainly make you look older, but there is now compelling evidence that the impact of oral hygiene goes far deeper than that. One very good reason for regular tooth brushing and flossing is that it will keep your teeth in good condition for longer. In particular, flossing, by getting rid of plaque, reduces the risk of chronic inflammation that leads to gingivitis, inflammation of the gums.

It has been known for some time that if bacteria from chronically inflamed gums get into your blood stream, they can combine with platelets in the blood to create blood clots. These may, in turn, increase your risk of having a heart attack.

Now there's another reason to floss, and that is a link between tooth loss and dementia. In a recent study done at the University of Kentucky, researchers did a word-recall test on a group of elderly nuns aged between 75 and 90. The nuns, who had similar education and diet, were asked to recall as many words as possible from a list of 10 that they had been told a few minutes earlier. This test, when done over a number of years, is regarded as a good predictor of dementia.

What they found is the nuns with the least number of teeth did worst in the initial test and their scores declined faster over the next few years. The researchers weren't sure why but they suggested that chronic inflammation associated with gum disease was the most plausible explanation. That is certainly enough to get me reaching for the nylon.

Dr Michael Mosley, creator of the 5/2 diet

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