A study funded by the National Institute on Aging, headed by adventurer Dan Buettner and other researchers stated the four geographic regions or what they called “ The Blue Zones” with groups of people who have been reported enjoying long life span and living a healthy lives: the community of Seventh day Adventist in Calif, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, the Barbagia region in Italy, and Okinawan citizen of Japan.
This article will attempt to unfold the secrets of these groups of mighty people. It is undeniably astonishing how they maintain their long and vigorous life. As each of their secrets revealed, readers are expected to be inspired with their healthy ways of living.
Theory of Aging
An interesting theory conjectures with caloric restriction. The free radical theory of aging which states that certain damages from metabolizing food into energy can greatly affect the vital body molecules, organs, tissues, DNA, and other parts and systems of human body. The damage can accumulate over time making our protective shields against diseases and premature aging become weaker and weaker as the time goes by. Therefore, people die at early age and never experience to be respected in their society as one of the centenarians, people reaching the age of 100 years or more.
Another, aging rate evolves over time that according to theories, organisms, by virtue, can live longer because of the genes that code to slow premature aging, except of course for some uncontrolled situation like getting involved in an accidents leading to death.
In the statistical sense of human population, life expectancy is the projected number of years remaining at a specified age and gender. It is reported in countries with up to date modern obstetric facilities that women live much longer than men. However, there is no clear medical evidence for this claim; traditional arguments speculated that men, in general, consumed more drugs, alcohol, and cigarette. To explain further, the largest percentage of men in the United States died with these common health problems: cancer of the respiratory system, cirrhosis of the liver, coronary heart disease and emphysema. All of which are the long term effect of smoking and drinking.
Did you know that while Okinawans in Japan was reported to be one of the regions which have more centenarians, Japan also ranked with a higher rate of cigarette smoking?
As reported, the first world countries life expectancy is ranging from 77-88 years of age, and for the third world countries with lower life expectancy of only 35-60 years of age. The overall access to health care plays an important role in prolonging ones life. However, it is very sad to imagine how some third world countries are neglected to have access to these health privileges that each and everyone must have.
The 5 Secrets of Long and Healthy Life
Another factors contributing to life expectancy are genetics, exercise, diet and lifestyle, psychological and social life. For better understanding, each aspects are well-explained to know how all of these are linked to longevity.
Genetic is considered to be familial components to longevity. In short, it runs in the family.
The AKEA researches claimed that Sardinians, residents of mountain region in Italy, found that they have small red blood cells which protects them from malaria and prevents from blood clotting. The Human Genome Project is working to identify variations of genes and determine which type of therapies including specific diet interventions, focused exercises, and particular food compounds can help to prolong life.
The researches study the group of centenarians as a study model and compared the human longevity to rodents that have same gene as human. The genes can influence lifespan by around 50% and the longevity may still depend on the environment, ethnicity, age, and sex of the study population.
Likewise, there is genetic theories concluded that lifespan is determined by the genes we inherit from our parents and it is determined from the moment of conception. Take for example the longevity of twins wherein they have closer lifespan than any other normal siblings. On the contrary, there are also genes that cannot metabolize cholesterol and increase the risk of heart attack and some gene mutations are harmful and have greater chance to develop cancer. It is worth to remember that there are several causes of gene changes like exposure to toxins, radiation and free radicals.
2. Dietary Habits
The forces of globalization level the social norms through adapting modern Western pattern diet and lifestyles of industrialized countries which pose threat in reducing the life span of people.
The Journal of the American College of Cardiology found out that low-calorie diet can delay aging and increase longevity. Therefore, the Western pattern diet – the sweet-meat diet which is high in calories, sugar, and sodium, is always criticized being a culprit to various diseases like obesity, heart diseases, and diabetes.
Take a look how low caloric intake makes one of the main secrets of Okinawan centenarians who have 80% extremely low of chance to have hormone cancer in ovaries, breast, prostate, and colon. It has been part of their cultural practice called hara haci bu which means eating moderately that is low in calories until they are 80% full.
The dietary interventions of choosing higher intake of fiber diet, more on plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits, and moderate consumption of good fats can lead to healthy longevity. Women, in particular include natural estrogens through their diet. Meaning, large quantities of soy which has plant estrogens known as flavonoids, other plant based vegetables like broccoli, onions, and legumes with natural estrogens are regularly taken by women.
In general, the probability of living a longer and healthy life may depend on the quality of food consumption that becomes very essential in this modern age of high stress and environmental pollution. As the dietary concepts change over time, the choice of diet will establish healthy eating habits. Therefore, the secrets of Okinawans and other centenarians when it comes to dietary habits are based on the two assumptions: first, the more natural and raw the vegetables and fruits are and less processed, the better; lastly, eat less calories and eat moderately.
3. Physical Activity and Daily Exercise
In a study conducted in relation to physical activity of elder people age 50 years or more, exercise can add more years to their life. For instance, men who were just moderately active and doing physical activity can add 1.3, while women can add 1.1 years of their lives, while men who were very active can enjoy the added 3.7 years of their lives and women can have additional 3.2 years.
It is not too late to get started increasing the physical activity. Begin in brisk walking every day for at least 30 minute session and do some stretching work. It will surely double the benefits from boosting the immune system and adding few more years of life spending with family and loved ones.
4. Lifestyle Factor
Eating fewer calories can increase in lifespan, avoidance of smoking, moderate alcohol use and regular exercise. The super-sized portions of fast foods, processed meat, and overcooked vegetables kill some beneficial enzymes.
The co-author of the book “Living to 100” stated that since American embraced the Western diet, too much alcohol intake and smoking, they live less than 10 years than they should be.
Therefore, lifestyle factor is important indeed to more likely increase life span of individual, most especially those who are living in industrialized countries.
5. Psychological and Social Aspects
Supportive social network and the stress-relieving participation in spiritual community of the Seventh Day Adventist in Loma Linda, Calif have showed remarkable outcome by adding more years of their lives.
Same medical research was conducted by University of Colorado at Boulder in 1999 wherein they found that regular churchgoers may live seven years longer than those people who do not pay regular visit to church.
According to Dr. Richard Hart, president of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, the spiritual sense and sense of personal values of their members enhance their ability to maintain good health habits.
Worldwide Vision of Long Life
There is a reason to be in a festive mood when federal officials of United States announced two years ago that life expectancy of Americans already surpassed 78 years. This is very clear evidence that little by little, even 1st world countries that totally embraced modern sweet-meat diet, are also working hard to prolong their lives.
As many scientists continue exploring the answer on how to increase life expectancy, people are also dedicated to look for ways on preventing premature aging by investing on some medical alternatives. However, let us also consider the most essential factors for longevity: the gene aspect that we have no control over with, lifestyle and dietary habits that we can still have a chance to modify into healthy practices by eating raw-plant based vegetables and fruits, and daily physical activity and exercise which can lessen everyday stress.
There is no surprising on this article because the secrets for long life are very practical and common that everyone can emulate the best practice of achieving everyone’s dream towards long and healthy living. What is difficult is to embrace a lifestyle that is far beyond from what we used to adapt for a very long time. Unhealthy and short-lived, that’s how many people opt to live. Now, the moment you finish reading this article, the rest is up to you to live longer the way you want to exist.