Friday, June 8, 2012

GOAL: Live to 110 years of age

Cutest centenarian ever!
I just finished a book called The Blue Zone that talks about the four areas around the globe where there are the highest percentage of centenarians (people who live to 100 years of age). The four areas are Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; the Nicoya Pininsula, Costa Rica; and the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, Southern California. This book interviewed many centenarians and their families over the course of several years to figure out what were the characteristics that set them up for a long, healthy life.

I am interested in this because of a couple of reasons. Just recently I realized that I want to live to be a centenarian. I wondered how does one do that? Also, even if I don't end up living that long, I want to have the best possible quality of life for as long as I can.

This book touches on both of those topics.

In a nutshell, here are the principles that people in these Blue Zones lived by:

  • Surround yourself with family and friends. Almost all of the centenarians interviewed lived with their children and grandchildren and also had a consistent social obligations from playing cards with friends, to morning group exercises, to going to church. Each area had different customs, but all of the four areas were consistent in that they all put a great deal of emphasis on being with other people everyday. 
  • Don't let stress get the better of you. Maybe it comes with age, maybe these people were born with a stress-free attitude, or maybe it is part of their cultures. One thing is for sure, the centenarians had a very care-free way about them. They also had downtime, either everyday or every week. It was built into their lives. Costa Ricans would rest everyday in the late afternoon. The Seventh Day Adventists would have a day of rest every weekend. No work, no homework, just family and fun activities.
  • Be active every day. The stories of the centenarians in this book tells of them chopping wood into their late 90's, riding bicycles, walking for miles everyday, gardening into their 100's, sitting on the floor cross legged and getting up and down with ease and grace. (How many elderly people do you know that can do that?
  • Eat unprocessed foods. All of the four cultures ate completely differently. But they ate real food, food that was culturally theirs. They didn't eat fast food. They made just about everything. The centenarians in Costa Rica ate eggs, coffee, tropical fruits, corn and beans. In Okinawa they ate fish, rice, seaweeds, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. In Sardinia, the people ate a diet of whole grain breads, beans, garden vegetables, fruits, and goat's milk. The individual foods were different, but the principles were the same- whole foods cooked at home.
  • Spend time in the sun. When the sun touches our skin it starts a chain reaction in our body that ends up producing Vitamin D. Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin but a hormone that controls the absorption of all other vitamins and minerals as well as the function of our immune system. These centenarians all lived in temperate to tropical climates that allowed them to get outdoors and get Vitamin D for a large majority of the year. Since they were accustomed to working outdoors (farming, shepherding, relaxing) their entire lives, they were inadvertently making plenty of Vitamin D. 
This book really struck a cord with me. It's so SIMPLE!!!  How did we stray so far from what seems to create a happy and healthy life? I feel like I have been getting back to basics as of late. I feel the need more so now than ever to be happy and healthy. I have been thinking recently that health is about much more than the food you eat. It's the whole picture. 
"People talk about curing cancer and heart disease, and of course it is an important and worthy goal that can happen soon enough. But there are simple things everyone could be doing right now that would save so much money and suffering- like drinking enough water everyday, exercise, and eating healthy food. But hey, " Wareham said, suddenly catching himself in is fervor, "everybody has his own idea about these things- it's their lives, after all. You can tell somebody what to do, but it's up to them whether they do it. But you can tell them how good you feel."
~quote from The Blue Zone 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...