It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like the idea of living a longer and healthier life. While the average life span has gown to be impressively long, I think most would agree that life is still too short. Everybody has different advice about what to do to live longer, there are some common themes.
National Geographic writer Dan Buettner studied the four cultures with the longest and healthiest average life spans to find some common characteristics. Those cultures were the ones developed in Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, California; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. In these areas the rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer were significantly lower than the average rates in America and diabetes really wasn’t an issue at all meaning. Buettner reports that he found that people who were considered likable tended to live longer. By likable he means that people want to be around you, typically meaning compassionate, giving, interested and interesting. But don’t fret if you don’t feel as if you are extremely likable at this moment, you have time to become that way! Another important part of living long is having a sense of purpose. This is of course something that develops with time, but should be a thought in the back of your mind, not as a source of stress but as a means of guidance. Identify things that you like to do and that give you great pleasure, they are likely to help lead you on a more fulfilling path. Buettner also found that leading a social life is crucial to your overall health and happiness, even if it means skipping a trip to the gym or eating a bit less healthy. As far as physical activity goes, Buettner who was once himself a world champion cyclist, recommends finding physical activities that you enjoy and that don’t hurt too much. Adjust what you are doing based on your age and abilities. Pushing yourself too far, or doing something you don’t enjoy really isn’t helping you very much in the long run. As far as eating goes, moderation is key. Don’t worry about strict dieting, just remind yourself to take it slow and eat in moderation. Eating with others and controlling your proportions is a good way to do this. Another way to eat less is to eat a big breakfast and to avoid eating much meat. Another surprising discovery of his was that those who go to church tend to live longer as they are typically more social, risk averse and have a way of ridding themselves of church, even if you aren’t particularly religious it is an avenue to consider. All of Buettner’s findings have been fairly widely accepted.
In addition to these general tips there are a variety of foods that have been connected with longevity. Increase your water intake. Water is one of the easiest ways to help you feel better and even look better. You should aim to drink eighty-four ounces of water each day. There is a reason why you’ve been told to stay hydrated your whole life, it’s key to a healthy life. As Buettner suggests restrict your calories. Only do so to a healthy level, but you don’t want to over eat, it will bog down your system and obesity is a gateway disease to all sorts of other problems. You want to make sure that the calories you do consume really count for something. Eat more fish. Fish is very good for you. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish help to keep your cells functioning well they also promote good vision, emotional balance and positive mood. Don’t neglect your fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are high in dietary anti-oxidants which help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as help to fend of cognitive impairment. Anti-oxidants help to prevent too many free-radicals from building up and damaging cells and tissues, while still allowing them to cleanse the body of toxins. The best antioxidant fruits and vegetables are blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, spinach, raspberries, brussels sprouts, plums, broccoli, beets, avocados, oranges, red grapes, red bell peppers, cherries and kiwis. It is also key that you balance protein, good fats and carbohydrates. Eat high quality carbohydrates rich in whole grains, balancing proteins and good fats. Eat lean meat, low fat cheese, nuts, and soy to your diet and rid yourself of too much saturated fat.
To all you Bay Area natives like me, there is good news San Jose residents now have the longest average life span in the United States and California has the most cities out of the top twenty longest living cities. Why this is the case is up for debate but it likely has something to do with people living in accordance with Buettner’s findings.