Want to increase your longevity? Practice Sensual Wellness™.
By Robin Albin & Daria Myers
Every day, more and more Baby Boomers are turning 60. And you can bet that we are not going quietly into that good night any time soon.
All you have to do is Google “Healthy Aging” and you’ll get pages filled with tips and techniques revealing how to age great.
Eat right. Keep moving. Go for a walk. Go for a run. Lift weights (but not too heavy). Learn a new language. Find your passion. Retire. Never retire. Sleep more. Socialize. Stay connected. Stay curious. Have more sex…
But what about our senses? What about our Sensual Wellness™?
Last year when we first envisioned our new brand, Everlusting™, we had a hunch that igniting our senses would enrich our lust for life and increase longevity.
Turns out, we were on to something much bigger. You see, pleasure is only one aspect of Sensual Wellness™.
Sensual Wellness™, that is maintaining and enhancing our senses, is vital to our health, safety, independence, engagement, emotional well-being and overall quality of life. And a major must-have as we age. Sadly, this critical component of health and longevity has been sorely missing from the wider conversation
Of course, we get glasses without batting an eye when our sight gets fuzzy. And with all the new, readily available, high-tech hearing aids on the market, we no longer tune out to our hearing loss.
But Touch, Taste and Smell also become less sharp and gradually decline as we age — distancing us from the pleasures of life — great food and drink, friends and family experiences and partaking in cultural activities.
In fact, our sense of smell has been dubbed The Cinderella Sense because it is so woefully overlooked and forgotten.
“Whoa, that may be true for the elderly but not me,” you say. Before you dismiss this as something far off in the future, know this. These changes can begin by around the age of 50. And as early as 40 for some. Just when you’re kickstarting your second career or heading off on your next adventure.
Many of these losses sneak up upon us gradually. We miss the nuances — as the Washington Post recently reported, “Because the ability to detect, identify and discriminate among odors (for instance) declines gradually, most older adults — up to 75 percent of those with some degree of smell loss — don’t realize they’re affected.” Until wham — it’s too late.
So why aren’t more people talking about this? As it turns out, they are. Research labs around the world are trying to make sense of these conditions. With only minor recognition — and awareness. Until now.
As we dug deeper, we learned a thing or two — or 10. Here’s some of what we’ve sleuthed out.
By age 50, our sense of touch — be it to hot or cold, pain or pressure — diminishes due to a reduction of tactile receptors.
According to the NIH, almost 1 in 5 Americans (or 19 percent) over the age of 40 report some alteration in their sense of taste due to fewer taste buds in our mouth. And each of our remaining taste buds also begins to shrink lessening our interest and enjoyment in food.
Covid has greatly increased our awareness of Anosmia (loss of the sense of smell) and Parosmia (having a warped sense of smell so coffee no longer smells like coffee it smells like sewage). But long before these 2 conditions became part of the health lexicon, they were symptoms of an aging olfactory system.
Approximately one in eight Americans over age 40 — up to 13.3 million people — have measurable smell dysfunction, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Our sense of smell can even determine how long — and how well — we’ll live. Researchers from The University of Chicago found that people over the age of 57 with a weak sense of smell were 4x more likely to die within a 5-year period than people with a good sense of smell.
One reason? Without a functioning nose, you’re less likely to be able to detect environmental dangers such as smoke, food spoilage and dangerous chemicals. Your appetite is likely to suffer.
Shocking, but true. A poor sense of smell has actually been shown to be the first warning sign of progressive neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. So, if you think something smells fishy — or not at all — time to see the doctor.
Yes, that stinks. Before we get all doom and gloom about, we’ve also sniffed out some good news.
Until middle age, your sense of smell regenerates itself about every 28 days. Every month you get a nose full of new olfactory neurons. But as we get older, the number of olfactory neurons in the nose die off and don’t get replaced. Which begs the question. Can we re-ignite our sense of smell? While long-term data is still lacking, experts agree we can start to rebuild our sensory capacity — like working out — to keep it strong and healthy. By regularly smelling things that are unfamiliar or harsh (but not toxic), you just might be able to keep your nose tuned like your muscles in a fitness program.
Valentina Parma, Ph.D., Assistant Director, and a scientist at Monell Chemical Senses Center, the world’s only independent, non-profit scientific institute dedicated to interdisciplinary basic research on the senses of taste and smell concurs: “We’re looking at therapies for smell and taste loss. The effective interventions for smell loss that we have right now, like smell training, are behavioral in nature. Practicing smell training — or smelling odors repeatedly and intentionally, is a way to become more “sensitive” to smell.”
Speaking at the Fifth Sense National Conference 2021 in November, Graham Wynne, Founder of Mirodia Therapeutics, commented “We’ve long known that some parts of the body are particularly good at repairing themselves. For example — skin. If you get a cut, it repairs itself. Blood replenishes itself. Our approach is to restart that regenerative process — to give our olfactory stem cells a kick start to enable the tissue to repair itself.” To that end, Mirodia is developing nasal therapies to restore olfactory competence in patients with Anosmia and Parosmia.
We, at Everlusting™, believe that as sensory beings, our lust for life is deeply connected to our Sensual Wellness™. To this end, we are working with several prominent — as well as up-and-coming — sensory scientists to develop experiences and products designed to ignite your senses. And transform sensory loss into vibrant sensory living. Updates will be coming your way soon. Stay tuned.
Until then, indulge yourself in delicious tastes. Notice intriguing sounds. The sensations of touch. Challenge yourself to detect provocative aromas. So that you experience life with heightened awareness and appreciation. Enhance your Sensual Wellness™. And remember, the secret to longevity is a lust for life.