Since most of us want to live a long, fulfilling, disease-free life, we'd love to know how to make that happen. Does it have to do with a diet full of organic broccoli and not a lot of ice cream? Is regular exercise the trick? Daily meditation to relieve stress? Vitamins? Is it our genes? I'm sure you're thinking it's probably a combination of all these, but there's more to it than that. Before discussing what will help us live a long, healthy life, let's first go over some myths about what people commonly think about longevity.
- "If I try really hard, I can live to be 100." False. About one in 5,000 Americans will live to be 100, so your chances are low when it comes to hitting triple digits. Evolutionarily speaking, we're only designed to live until our children have children, and sadly enough, by 80, we've already served our procreation purposes.
- "Treatments exist that can slow, reverse, or stop aging." False. Unfortunately, cell damage can't be prevented.
Even though there's no fountain of youth to help us all become centenarians, there are some habits to help us live the fullest life possible. Author Dan Buettner, National Geographic researchers, and The National Institute on Aging studied five places known as "Blue Zones," whose populations live considerably longer lives — from Sardinia to Okinawa. In these five areas, the researchers found four commonalities. Learn them when you read more.
- These people don't "work out." In the Blue Zones, people's lives are set up in such a way that they're naturally encouraged to do physical activity. Friends' houses, stores, and jobs are within walking distance, and they do yard work and have their own gardens.
- They have the right outlook on life, and take time to slow down to reduce stress. They also focus on their sense of purpose, and continue doing something important every day of their lives (retirement isn't in their vocabulary).
- The secret to longevity has nothing to do with the notion of dieting, and has everything to do with eating wisely with a focus on plant-based foods. These groups have strategies to avoid overeating, and yes, these cultures drink wine.
- There are strong social bonds in the Blue Zones and family comes first; caring for children and aging relatives is deemed a priority. They tend to be part of a faith-based community. They surround themselves with healthy people.
Well, this seems doable. Eat well, move your body every day, take time to slow down, and make it a priority to spend time with family and friends. Here's looking for a healthy 100th birthday!