Continuing on in our theme of living a healthier and longer life we look at the next 3 common traits of cultures with a high amount of centenarians (people living to 100 or older). Genes dictate about 10% of your longevity and health, the other 90% is lifestyle! This means the power is in your hands to create a healthy and long life. Thankfully none of this is rocket science so it’s easy to start to make changes.
- Relax: The Seventh day Adventist community and the Sardinians take regular time to slow down and pray, the Okinawans have a form of Ancestral veneration in which they take time to pay respects to there predecessors. Taking regular time to reflect and slow down is crucial. Constantly being on the go and rushing fires up or sympathetic nervous system and triggers and inflammatory response. This response is linked with many diseases states from Alzhiemer’s to cardio vascular disease to joint degeneration. Taking time to quiet the mind and spiritually connect through prayer and meditation is something that people of faith have done for centuries but unfortunately in our day and age less and less people are reaping the benefit of such activities, or rather non-activities.
- They eat less: Okinawans have a saying that they say before each meal to remind them to stop eating when they are 80% full, this is because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register the stomach is full. They also eat off smaller plates to reduce the amount of calories per sitting. Digestion is a fairly intensive process for the body to perform, which is why appetite is often low when you get sick as your body needs to focus its energy on the immunity and healing process. It is clear that being significantly overweight isn’t good for longevity but neither is being too underweight so take heed with this piece of advice. Eating enough food to maintain muscle mass but not too much that you put on fat
- They eat a plant-based diet. This point also reduces the amount of calories you consume until you are full and also means each mouth full is more nutritious . Most of these cultures eat a wide variety as well as large amounts of vegetables. The Okinawans consume a large amount of tofu, which has all essential amino acids and is a good source of iron. They still eat small amounts of meat and fish but supplement it with nuts, seeds and beans.
- Family and connection. Sense of belonging and connection is vital. In our modern world we may have more connections but it can be easy to let deep, meaningful connections slide. These cultures spend time with their children and taking care of their aging grandparents. The Seventh day Adventists reportedly schedule up to 24 hours per week to spend with family, friends and God. Make sure you proactively spend time investing into others and with people who support, love and challenge you. Don’t let yourself get caught up with being so busy that you don’t foster meaningful relationships!
If you missed the first part of this series go and check it out here and keep an eye out for our third and final instalment, the final three points might surprise you.