Photo by Michael Montano with Jack Keough
Mohammed Hasan is not a doctor, nor does he have a background in medicine.
Yet he strongly asserts that he understands how to live a longer life. In fact, his passion for this subject has led him for many years to offer a free weekly class which he calls his “stress, health, and longevity” class.
Hasan claims that the idea for the class came to him during a discussion with a friend about how to deal with some of their personal and health problems. After the discussion, he wondered if there might be other people interested in this subject. “I thought, if I’m going to instruct one person, why not more than one?” he said.
Hasan has been an engineer in this county for more than 40 years. Initially moving to the area in 1974, he has worked for the Ventura Regional Sanitation District and served as the Utilities Superintendent for the City of Oxnard.
In 1984, he launched his own engineering company located in midtown Ventura. Hasan Consultants specializes in civil and environmental engineering, planning, surveying, and traffic and transportation. As a former restaurant owner, he also knows a little about food.
Hasan thinks that Ventura County is fortunate because it has great access to fresh food, especially produce. “Food is one of the most important things when it comes to longevity,” he explained. “Good food gives us energy. Junk food takes away our energy.”
He admits that our dietary habits here in the U.S. challenge our longevity. “With the advent of new technologies, our food consumption saves us money,” he stated, “but there seems to be little or no criteria for anything that’s released in the food market. Research should be done before it’s put out, not after.”
He also realizes that for most of us, knowledge of nutrition is complex and confusing. After all, how many of us really understand the ingredients on a label, and whether these ingredients are helpful or harmful? As he noted: “The public cannot be an expert on everything. There should be a group of people who decide this. The FDA does this with drugs, but with food, it’s even more important.”
When it comes to longevity, Hasan insists that the real key is to have a plan and be proactive about your own life. Beyond building a retirement fund, longevity is about planning for good health and happiness. “In our new society, you must take charge of your own life,” he said. “You need to be proactive for yourself, because what’s the benefit of an accidental 100 years if your living is not good? A planned 100 years is much better.”
Hasan emphasizes that good longevity is really a mindset. Some of our current negative reactions to aging come from watching older people suffer. How do we counteract this? “Start questioning,” he suggests. “It’s so simple to live long. All you have to do is ask the question: What are the factors in your life that you need to live long? You plan it that way so that you have everything available at that age, and then there’s the planning and sticking to it.”
Hasan’s class on longevity focuses on research, and brings together a group of people to discuss how to use that research to make those important healthy choices. What Hasan does best is put the pieces together for his students and bring clarity to the subject. “I organize it and put it together to explain what is going on so that people can understand it better.”
One of Hasan’s students, 86-year-old Ron Cameron, talks about how the class has been helpful to him. Cameron, an electrical engineer and mediator, met Hasan ten years ago. “I liked him as a person,” he recalled, “and when he recommended that I come to his class, I thought I would give it a try.”
Cameron believes the class provides a powerful collective sense of learning about health and longevity. “We motivate one another,” he said, “and that motivation comes from our collective research about new industries, new foods, new drugs. We learn what seems to produce the best results for most people.”
He cites such personal health benefits as learning to deep breathe, which Cameron has used to lower his blood pressure. He’s also been introduced to a variety of new healthy fruits and foods which Hasan often brings from his own back yard. “We discuss the advantages of these,” Cameron explained. “In this way, we have become more conscious of what we eat and why we eat it.”
Some typical subjects in the class include information on good nutrition, proper exercise, and available foods in local farmers’ markets. Sometimes Hasan will invite someone over 100 to come talk to the class. Some class time is always devoted to answering questions and engaging in discussions. Hasan emphasizes that the purpose of the class is to find tangible ways to work at longevity and to make longevity more meaningful. It’s not just living long, it’s about enjoying the time one is given to live.
Beyond information gathering, however, he also wants to encourage his students to make healthy choices. “It’s not what we don’t know,” he said. “It’s more about what we know but do not practice that’s causing our problems with longevity.”
Hasan’s class meets on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org call 805.218.5574.