Commentary: Plan to outsmart his genes is nuts

Joe PIsani
Joe PIsani

I have to admit I’m envious of my co-worker. I envy his longevity potential, which is considerably longer than my longevity potential.

In fact, it’s two decades longer than the average life expectancy for guys in Connecticut, which is a mere 77.69 years.

His mother lived to 98. That’s what they call having “good genes.” Another friend has a father who is 93, and my wife knows a man who is 102. Some guys have all the luck.

Guys who inherit good genes are usually guaranteed a long life, assuming they don’t cross Fifth Avenue while they’re text-messaging their stock brokers or mistresses and get walloped by a crazed bike messenger or one of those double-decker sightseeing buses. None of us knows the day or the hour when we’ll be called home.

I’m jealous because these fellows will probably make it to their 90s, and the genes I got aren’t as good. You see, they got Heineken genes, and I got Pabst Blue Ribbon genes.

Blaming Mom and Dad

I know absolutely nothing about DNA or genes or heredity, other than I inherited more than my fair share of deficiencies from my parents, including my constant craving for Ring Dings and Devil Dogs. (In the time-honored tradition of baby boomers, I’m still blaming Mom and Dad for the way things turned out.)

Even more troubling, my mother had Alzheimer’s and cancer, and my father had heart issues, so every time I go for my annual physical, I listen to a lecture about my cholesterol (inherited from Mom) from my PCP — that’s an Obamacare term for “primary care physician.” In the olden days, we called them “family doctors.”

When my doctor reviews the laundry list of bad stuff, it scares the heck out of me, and every time I have to fill out a questionnaire about my family medical history, I suffer high anxiety and usually lie a little.

I also got premature gray hair from my mother, which my daughters have, although they resorted to coloration. I never bothered to dye my hair because it fell out before I could buy a bottle of Grecian Formula. Problem solved.

Then, there’s the nearsightedness, crooked teeth and a few other “things,” which I suspect keep getting passed from one generation to the next.

A plan to beat the odds

However, I’m a “proactive” kind of guy. I learned to be proactive from an organizational development guru who taught me valuable lessons about how to avoid getting yelled at by the boss.

The guru said the first rule is to convince the boss you’re “proactive,” whatever that means. Then, even if you mess up, you’ll get an ‘A’ for effort.

So I decided to get proactive and take the moose by the horns. I have a plan to beat the odds. I have a plan to outsmart my bad genes, and my plan is nuts.

Not nuts as in “looney,” but rather nuts as in walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts and cashews.

There's proof ... I think

Several studies have concluded that nuts will help you outmaneuver the Grim Reaper by preventing cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Did I forget anything?

The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, so it has to be true, I think ... I hope. Who knows for sure?

It concluded that people who ate nuts every day were 20% less likely to die during the study, which was conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

How can I question those results? I just figured out how to level the playing field. Now, I can make it to 98, too.

Please pass the pistachios … along with the Devil Dogs. And don’t forget the Ring Dings.

Joe Pisani, who grew up in Shelton’s Pine Rock neighborhood, may be reached at