Three young men walked out of a convenience store the other day, all drinking a soft drink and eating a bag of chips. Something really struck me about them. At first, I assumed this group of youth were well into their twenties, but I overheard them discussing their current highschool classes.
Ever notice that people of the same age as you look much older than you or much younger? Why is that? How is that?
I recently heard an interview on the radio titled “How to Live to Be 100,” the concepts stuck with me and I decided to do some more research. There is plenty of evidence on the internet discussing some of the world’s cultures with the longest life expectancies, the commonalities boil down to three major and tremendously important aspects.
- Their diets are high in vegetables and involve locally grown foods
- They move their bodies
- They’re socially engaged and community driven people
Let’s take a minute to break these down.
Eat Your Vegetables!
What is it about vegetables? What is so surprising to me today is how few vegetables people eat.
They are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, and they make you feel good. Most of them grow towards the sunshine, giving you abundant energy as they are alive – a bagel is not alive. The best part is they contain antioxidants, protecting your cells from oxidative stress (which can harm our DNA and destabilise the cells in our Healthy Body) and ultimately can slow the aging process down. Eating spinach, for example, has been shown to prevent aggressive stages of prostate cancer in men, along with having anti-inflammatory properties and contributing to our bone health.
In our evolutionary terms, sugars were a treat and rare to come across. We’re programmed to gorge as much sugar as possible due to the high calories. This goes back to our hunter gatherer years when calories were hard to come by, so if we came across a fig tree, we’d eat it up! The problem today is that these sugars are readily available to us everywhere, we’re simply programmed to consume more of them then we can handle.
The Okinawans of Japan have some of longest life expectancies in the world, and are five times more likely to reach 100 years of age than the rest of the country. A long time researcher of the diet of the Okinawans, and co-author of The Okinawan Program, Dr. Craig Wilcox indicates that “The Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. They eat three servings of fish a week, on average … plenty of whole grains, vegetables and soy products too, more tofu and more konbu seaweed than anyone else in the world, as well as squid and octopus, which are rich in taurine – that could lower cholesterol and blood pressure.”
How much do we need? Five to seven servings of vegetables a day will go a very long way. While that may sound like a lot, it is easy to do once you get into the habit of it. Plus the radical changes in your energy will keep you coming back for more. 1 cup is a serving. To make this simple, have a large salad with your lunch and have 2 or 3 more at dinner. I travel a lot and I can assure you that vegetables are low on people’s radar in our western world.
Get your Healthy Body Moving
The inhabitants of the towns with the longest life expectancies all share the trait that they’re always moving. They live low stress lives, are relaxed, and are always using their bodies. Whether it’s walking across the town to their friends or relatives, doing light physical chores, or moving for work, they’re all moving their muscles.
We are meant to move, all of the time. Would you agree with me that many people sit in their cars from 1 to 3 hours a day and then sit at their desk for 8 hours? All this sitting affects our organs, hormones, lymphatic system and slows down our digestion. We have only recently as a species began to live sedentary lives, and only now are we seeing the damage it can cause.
Get a pedometer and walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. We are so used to jumping in the car, taking the elevator when we can walk. If you don’t move it you lose it. I am a big believer in working out every day! The best part is I feel amazing, and so can you. Ask yourself; how do you feel from one to ten each day?
Take it Easy
Find ways to relax in your life. Sure your career may be important, but if you are stressing every day it may slowly be wearing you down. So many people in our culture work hard all day every day though their school years, jump right into stressful careers, and work even hard to try moving their way up the corporate ladder. They justify it by saying “one day this will all pay off and I’ll have the freedom to do what I want.”
Once we reach that point of supposed “freedom,” many of us find the stress has caused so many health problems and ailments that joy is a long ways away. Why not craft your life to feel gratitude and to enjoy every single moment we have on this planet from day one? Your health is vitally important. You can make simple changes to help yourself get the most out of this life.