Learning From Longevity Cultures: Part 2

PART II

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 disease states from Alzheimer’s to cardiovascular 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 ageless and fewer 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.

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The secret of Longevity! | I got this in an email and prompt… | Flickr

Learning From Longevity Cultures: Part 1

Watching a TEDx Talk by Dan Buettner on longevity inspired me to write this.

The following three blogs are a summary of his talk with a few of my own ideas.

If you want to watch the original talk head over to YouTube and search his name otherwise stay tuned for a summary of his main findings. Scientists believe humans can live about 90-100 or so years and there are communities around the world that have a high rate of people who are living into their tenth decade. The NZ life expectancy is about 81 years which means Kiwi’s are missing out on 10-20 extra years. What would you do with 10 years?

The main thing a lot of people say when talking about living longer is that they don’t want to be in pain or incapacitated. But what if those years were full of life and joy? What else would you be able to achieve and how much more could you make an impact in other peoples lives with an extra decade or two? The majority of people in these long-lived communities, or Blue Zones (Seventh-Day Adventists in California, the residents of Sardinia, Italy, and the inhabitants of the islands of Okinawa, Japan) are not only living longer but are doing so in great health. In this three-part series we will cover the nine common principles you can learn from these cultures so you can add life to your years and years to your life.

They don’t exercise:

no, this doesn’t mean what you might hope it does! A sedentary lifestyle is not good for you. People in these communities set up their lives so they are nudged toward movement. They live in houses with steps and don’t have conveniences like premade food. They spend a lot of time and effort physically preparing food, cutting and collecting wood, fishing or farming their own food, and have more physically involved jobs. Basically their day to day is exercise but if you work a sedentary job exercise is still the next best thing so that you can minimise the impact of sitting all day. On top of regular exercise try to integrate more movement into your day by simply parking further away and walking to work or the shops. Yep, this will mean leaving home earlier, but convenience might be slowly killing you!

They live with Purpose:

In our culture we tend to gear our entire working life toward retirement at which point we become sedentary, giving up mental and physical challenges and along with it, losing a sense of purpose. Sure, your work capacity will decrease as you age but make sure you retire TO something and not FROM it. In Okinawa they don’t have a word for retire, they have a word ikigai, which means, “the reason you get up on the morning.” This could be a hobby, going to night school to learn a language or how to cook, picking up an instrument, joining a club or group, writing a book, being involved in your family’s life, the list goes on.

To be continued…

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.The secret of Longevity! | I got this in an email and prompt… | Flickr

 

Eat Slowly

Here you are in the midst of modern society. No time. Rushed. Distracted. And eating… really, really fast. It seems like half the time you’re not even chewing our food properly! It’s time to discover eating slowly and what it can do for your health and well-being.

Learning to eat slowly is one of the simplest yet most impactful things you can do to improve your health. But it’s not always easy, so let’s explore why it’s so beneficial and worthwhile.

 

Hunger satisfaction

 

Eating slowly gives your body time to realize that it’s full. It takes 20 minutes from the start of your meal before your brain sends signals that it’s satisfied with the amount of food and nutrients you consumed. Imagine the extra calories you’ve been eating simply because you haven’t given enough time for your body to realize it longer needs food!

Eating until satisfied is different from eating until you’re full. Satisfied can be around 80% full, which is what you should aim for. When you take the time to slow down and take in each bite mindfully, paying attention to the tastes and textures of the food, you end up feeling way better about what you eat… even if it’s just a sandwich.

 

Improved Digestion

 

Before you even put the food in your mouth, your body’s digestive processes are already at work. As soon as we see, smell or think about food we begin to produce saliva which contains enzymes to break down the food and moisten the mouth to aid in swallowing. Your stomach then starts to secrete more acid and your small intestines start to prepare for movement and food transport.

When we eat fast, we tend to take larger bites and chew less before swallowing. Food that isn’t properly broken down can lead to indigestion and other potential GI problems. Anyone who’s experienced either can tell you it’s not pleasant.

 

Smaller portions

 

A study served lunch in two different ways to 30 average weight women. The meal consisted of a huge plate of classic pasta and a glass of water. All women were instructed to eat to the point of comfortable fullness. During one visit they them to eat as quickly as possible. On the other visit, they were asked to eat slowly and down their utensils between each bite.

Here’s what they found when they compared the difference:

  • Fast eaters: 646 calories in 9 minutes
  • Slow eaters: 579 calories in 29 minutes

That’s 67 less calories in 20 more minutes… which may not seem like much until you add up the three meals a day… 7 days a week. Do some simple maths and you’ll quickly realize that that adds up to 1407 extra calories a week!

On top of that, they found that when the women ate quickly they reported more hunger an hour earlier than when they eat slowly. This means that slow eating leads to less food consumption and more long-lasting satisfaction – which is both good for the wallet and the waistline!

What’s interesting is that they took the same study and compared the amount of water that the participants drank to find that the fast eaters drank an average of 289 mL and the slow eaters drank 409 mL! So they conducted a similar study, only this time they controlled water levels, and found that ate the same amount of food, but an hour after the meal the slow eaters reported less hunger and desire to eat.

So they concluded that drinking more water helps reduce portion sizes, while eating slowly seems to decrease hunger levels for longer. On top of that you get the other incredible benefits of drinking more water such as balancing body fluids, energizing muscles, helping your kidneys and bowels work better and improve skin appearance!

At the end of the day, if you’re eating slowly and drinking more water, you’ll consume less food and feel more satisfied.

Of course, eating slowly is not the end all be all for weight loss and health, but it will definitely help you with portion control and hunger satisfaction.

Here are 5 pro tips to eating slowly:

  1. Put down your utensils between bites
  2. Set aside time to eat
  3. Eat high-fiber foods (fruits and veggies)
  4. Set a minimum number of chews per bite
  5. Eat from smaller plates or containers

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Woman in Purple Top Eating Pizza · Free Stock Photo