Like most people, as I get pulled kicking and screaming into middle age I am always interested in ways to live longer and healthier. Accordingly, I just finished a great book on the subject – THE BLUE ZONES: LESSONS FOR LIVING LONGER FROM THE PEOPLE WHO’VE LIVED THE LONGEST.
Author Dan Buettner has been analyzing the habits of people who live in areas where people commonly live healthy past age 100, and he tries to break down the common factors that seem to lead to a vibrant old age. He travels to these “Blue Zones” in Sardenia, Okinawa, California, and Costa Rica to learn the secrets.
I would encourage you to read the book (I read the Kindle edition). It is a fast and interesting read, but here are a few highlights on how to reach age 100 while still enjoying life. Most are certainly not suprising, yet most of us don’t follow the tips:
- Walk – don’t run. Walking 5 miles a day or more was a common trait among the elders. It keeps you healthy and slim, and unlike running which can damage joints, it builds bone mass, a key to living longer. Many elderly break bones because of low bone density, so keep your bones and joints healthy is key to longevity.
- Stay slim. It appears part of the key to living longer is to be slightly underweight. Blue Zoners ate smaller meals and took in 2000 calories or less per day.
- Cut down on the meat. Most of the Blue Zoners were either vegetarians, or they ate meat infrequently, maybe a couple times a week. And somewhat suprisingly, those who ate meat tended to eat pork, which seems to offer some benefits.
- Foods you should eat more of: nuts, green vegetables, berries, beans, fish. citrus. No real suprise here, but Blue Zoners particularly ate a lot of nuts and beans. These seemed to be key foods.
- Have a purpose. Perhaps one of the most consistent attributes of Blue Zoners was their place in their family and community. Many worked well into old age. There is a surgeon in Loma Linda, CA that still practices. They tended to have very active family lives in which they still played a key role, and/or were active in churches and community organizations. They have a reason to live.
And I was particularly pleased to read a glass or two of wine a day is truly a good thing too.