From Ann Tyndall's
PROLONG THE PRIME OF YOUR LIFE
How You Can Live a Long and Happy Life
The Long-Lived Peoples of the World
Certain areas of the world have an unusually large number of people living to be over 100 years old (centenarians), and in those areas, those individuals who are in their seventies, eighties and nineties are extraordinarily active and involved with the pleasures and challenges of life. The geographic locations are scattered throughout the world, in the highlands of Georgia in the Soviet Union, Vilcabamba, Ecuador, and in Hunza, West Pakistan. There have been exaggerated claims for longevity in those areas, with some individuals claiming to be over 130 years old, though there are few official records to prove age. Recent studies have identified populations with more verifiable ages and it's interesting to compare the lifestyles of these populations. The small, remote island of Okinawa, Japan has the world's largest population of healthy older adults. Other concentrations of healthy older people are found in Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, Nacoya, Costa Rica and Loma Linda, California.
Scientists have been interested in these populations for years and have done considerable research to determine what factors are responsible for the unusual longevity of these people. Genetic inheritance plays a key role in longevity, but it was found that when the long-lived people were removed from their environment and moved into the city, they died at the same rate as other individuals, indicating the strong effect of environment. Now that modern science has conquered most of the killer infectious diseases, we are dying of predominantly lifestyle diseases, or maladies that are precipitated or worsened by our sedentary and indulgent habits. With this in mind, we could learn a great deal from the long-lived peoples of the world by investigating their eating patterns, exercise habits, personality traits and personal relationships.
Most of the elderly groups studied lived in areas with clean air and water, and a slower pace of life than most of us experience. Few ever stopped working, though they worked fewer hours than before (four or five hours a day). They walked several miles a day and some of them lived in mountainous terrain. They claimed that they enjoyed physical exertion, though they never worked to exhaustion. The majority of them were married, though some had had two or three spouses. Very few of those studied smoked but many of them enjoyed alcohol in moderation every day (wine and sometimes vodka). All populations had one thing in common: They ate very little sugar and very little processed food.
On the Greek island of Ikaria, people are three times more likely to live to be 90 than in the United States. Ikarians eat a version of the Mediterranean diet that has lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, potatoes, nuts and fish. They eat large amounts of wild greens and there are 70 different types of greens that are high in antioxidants, including fennel, chard, sorrel, kale, dandelion and spinach. They also drink tea morning and night, which lowers their blood pressure. Most surprisingly, they have no cases of dementia, which affects 40% of Americans who reach 90.
Okinawins say "Hara hachi bu," which means that you eat only until you feel 80% full. This is consistent with research that shows that longevity is increased with calorie restriction. Their diet is mostly vegetarian with fish. They garden, spend time in the sunshine and enjoy close family and community ties. They eat seaweed and green tea.
Those in Loma Linda, California were Seventh Day Adventists who are vegetarian, non-smokers. They consume no alcohol or caffeine and they have strong family ties.
The people of Sardinia, Italy consume large amounts of goat's milk and goat cheese and they drink mineral water.
Eight hours of sleep and daily naps were important in all groups. Research is growing that shows the importance of sleep in overall health. Older people do not decrease their need for sleep as they age, as may have been thought before.
By following the best of their practices, you can live longer, too.
The Prime of Your Life Longevity Diet
In this book you will find a chapter detailing the diet followed by most of those who became centenarians. It was lower in calories than the American diet, averaging 1500 to 2000 calories a day, compared to the American average of 3000 to 4000. This was reflected in the lean body composition of the subjects studied. Most of the food eaten (70%) was vegetables and dairy products. The remainder was fruits, nuts and grains. Meat was rarely eaten and when it was, it was eaten in small amounts, perhaps more as a garnish (as in Asian food) than as a main course.
Numerous studies have shown that vegetarians have a lifespan of five to ten years longer than meat-eating groups. They have extremely low rates of hypertension, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. Groups that consumed the highest intake of beef had the highest incidence of cancer, particularly of the breast and colon.
Alcohol, in moderation, has been correlated with longer life. Individuals who drank one-half liter of
wine a day (about two glasses) lived longer than those who drank more or did not drink at all. Alcohol relieves stress, stimulates the appetite and stimulates the production of high-density lipoproteins, which return fat from the arterial walls to the heart (a benefit).
The Prime of Your Life Longevity Exercise Plan
All of the long lived populations studied had an active lifestyle that included walking several miles a day as part of their daily routine. Many of them engaged in other activities such as gardening, tai chi, dancing and swimming, but overwhelmingly, the one exercise they all had in common was walking. Even a small amount of movement in the day is beneficial and preventive against disease. If there isn't time to walk 30-50 minutes a day, just 10 minutes could be squeezed in and that's still better than being sedentary. Recent studies that described the dangers of sitting suggest that just moving around or standing up every 30 minutes can give beneficial results. In this book you will find a simple exercise plan for adding years to your life.
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