How do I become 100 years old?
Take a look at your current lifestyle!
Do you live in a way that would make you very old?
You might ask yourself: How do I turn 100? In good health? What if you could follow a simple program to help you feel younger, lose weight, maximize your mental acuity, and keep your body functioning well for as long as possible – probably well beyond your 90th birthday?
Have you ever heard of the bestseller ‘The Blue Zones’?
It is actually a detailed guide to what the writer encountered when traveling as part of a major anthropological and demographic project to five areas around the world to follow people, sometimes even 100 years old.
How do I turn 100: What can these “blue zones” teach us?
Researchers estimate that in Western European countries today the average life expectancy of a man is nearly 79 years, and that of a woman almost 83 years. On the one hand, this will only increase in the future through new technologies and medicines that will allow us to live longer. On the other hand, our poor lifestyle is a major brake on this growth.
The aim of the writer was to find populations in the world with the highest number of people over 100 (people who are over 100 years old) and who live in areas that are considered the ‘blue zones’. He then wanted to learn lessons from how these populations live and then spread this knowledge so that it can be applied by everyone.
Researchers noted that although they come from different parts of the world and have different races, nationalities and religions, people in these blue zones still share a whole list of common behavioral and lifestyle characteristics. The researchers reported that …
Some lifestyle features such as family coherence, avoiding smoking, eating plant-based foods, practicing moderate and daily physical activity, social involvement and being integrated into the community were things that occurred in all people who took part with surveys.
Where are these so-called “blue zones”?
The five blue zones, where researchers have discovered the world’s longest-living people, include:
- Sardinia, Italy (a small island off the coast of Italy, in particular, an area called the Nuoro province)
- Ikaria, Greece
- Okinawa, Japan
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, California (an area where a religious group, the Seventh-day Adventists) lives
If you have an average lifestyle, eat processed foods daily, and have an agenda full of responsibilities that leave little time for exercise or relaxation, you probably never achieve the average lifespan and can shorten your life by up to ten years.
Let alone that you become 100 years old. The researchers conclude that by making changes to your diet, training routine, attitude and view of the world, everyone has the opportunity to significantly extend their lifespan.
But what is even more impressive than the average age that people reach in the blue zones?
Their quality of life of course!
They age in a much better condition and statistics show a considerably lower risk of developing heart attacks, strokes, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
These people not only live longer, but they also tend to live much healthier and happier lives. They have strong connections with their family and friends. They are active. They wake up in the morning and know they have a purpose and the world, in turn, responds in a way that motivates them.
Seven important lessons that we can learn from people from the “blue zones”, in other words: How do I turn 100?
1.) How to become 100: Learn to appreciate real foods, and especially vegetable foods
People who turn 100 are usually not vegans or vegetarians. Their menu consists of their own domestic or locally grown foods, and then it is mostly about vegetable food. The traditional inhabitants of for example Nicoya, Sardinia and Okinawa eat nutrient-rich foods that they grow in their own garden, supplemented with smaller amounts of animal protein and some legumes, whole grains, sweet potatoes and corn tortillas.
Foods that are especially prominent in the diet of the residents of the blue zones include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and legumes
- Healthy fats such as olive oil
- High-quality dairy products, such as grass-fed goat milk and homemade cheeses
Fermented products such as yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso and natto
- Whole grain cereals, such as Durham wheat or locally grown (organic) corn
Eating many foods with lots of antioxidants – what the people in the blue zones actually do – ensure that you get disease-fighting nutrients and naturally regulate your body’s hunger signals, so you know exactly when you’re full. This diet also reduces inflammation in the body, which is crucial because we know that inflammation is the cause of most diseases and conditions.
Vegetable food provides lots of fiber, antioxidants, potential natural substances that help prevent cancer (insoluble fiber), cholesterol-lowering agents, and also essential minerals. This is probably a reason why people in the blue zones, who eat this healthy and healing diet, are less likely to experience heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, dementia and cancer.
The centenarians in the blue zones are not necessarily vegetarian (although the Seventh Day Adventists do avoid meat for religious celebrations). Most of them simply had no meat at their disposal.
In most of the blue zones, meat is usually eaten only a few times a month, while sheep or goat milk, eggs and fish are eaten much more frequently. Usually a few times a week. Some people in the blue zones only eat meat on special occasions such as during holidays or parties, or when they can get meat from nearby farmers.
And the moment they eat animal products, they get more nutrients because their food is always grown locally, fed with grass, raised in the pasture, caught in the wild and not harmful substances, which are commonly used meat processing industry. For example, their meat and dairy products never contain antibiotics and/or growth hormones.
How can you mimic their diet? By eating a lot of vegetables (four to six servings each day) plus one to three pieces of fruit. Eat a variety of healthy (organic) foods including nuts and legumes, which provide proteins and healthy fats. Only eat high-quality animal products (and this is not necessary with every meal and not every day).
Also, add natural superfoods to your diet. Think of fresh herbs, traditional spices and high-quality tea. And don’t forget to include probiotic foods that are fermented in your diet because these foods offer you healthy gut flora. As you know, good health starts with your intestines.
This also increases your immunity.
2.) How to become 100: Avoid processed, packaged foods
When researching the eating habits in the blue zones, it is really noticeable how little sugar, pesticides and artificial ingredients they consume compared to our European diet. The diets in the blue zone only contain small amounts of natural sweeteners, while refined carbohydrates and artificial flavors are simply not eaten simply because they are not available there! Given the high level of diabetes in the Western world, this would be much healthier for many people and could even work as a natural course of diabetes.
It is not the case that those who live in the blue zones never take a ‘treat’, they simply choose to eat or drink antioxidant-rich treats. For example, locally made red wine (1- 2 glasses per day) or sake, small amounts of coffee or herbal tea or simple desserts such as locally made cottage cheese and fruit. Soft drinks, sports drinks, candy bars, packaged cookies and all other processed treats are not included in their diet.
A dietary evaluation of the diets in the blue zones showed that the nutritional profile was similar to the Mediterranean Diet and that it is mainly foods that have a low glycemic index, are almost always free of added sugar and are rich in healthy fats.
To be able to age healthily, it is advisable to follow a diet that contains a low amount of saturated fat and lots of fruits and vegetables that are rich in phytochemicals. The diet is characterized by a high intake of monounsaturated fat, vegetable proteins, whole grains (fish is not always present), a moderate intake of alcohol and very low consumption of red meat, refined grains and sweets
3.) How to turn 100: Create a pleasant environment for a healthy life.
In Europe, and many other developed countries, the popular solution for a growing waistline is to go on a ‘diet’ again, but none of the hundreds of thousands of people living in the blue zones have ever been on a diet and none of them have ever been bothered of being overweight! Instead, healthy eating was just a way of life. And that is the greatest common denominator of all those centenarians.
According to the book “The Blue Zones”, a secret of good food in the long term is to mimic the environment and the habits of the world’s surviving people.
The amount and type of food we eat are usually less in company and you often mirror yourself with the people around you. If people around you stop eating because they are full, you probably also stop eating earlier. Under certain circumstances, we often eat way too much. Much more than we need. Consider eating with friends, family, certain packaging, plates, names, labels, lights, colors, candles, shapes, and smells. Fill your fridge with healthy food, get rid of things that can tempt you and make sure that you can prepare these healthy and delicious meals yourself!
These kinds of changes can help you to limit your sugar intake and you will also receive much less processed food with artificial sweeteners, chemicals and preservatives.
4.) How to become 100: Stay on a healthy weight
Most over-100s in Nicoya, Sardinia and Okinawa have never had the chance to develop the habit of overeating because they have been eating small portions for most of their lives and almost always eating meals made up of only fresh, organic, unpackaged foods.
They also pay attention not to eat too much, because there must also be enough food left over for the other family members and because too full a feeling makes you tired, slow and terribly moody.
In fact, all centenarians in Japan carefully adhere to the traditional cultural rule “Hara hachi bu”, which teaches people to eat until they are 80% saturated. In Okinawa, nicknamed “the land of the immortals”, people eat on average three to four times as many vegetables as the average European eats.
These centenarians stay slim throughout their lives with an average body mass index of 18 to 22. They traditionally eat a low-calorie diet with few to no calories by being aware of their hunger, staying active, and satiating with high quality.
How can you control your own hunger signals?
Ensure a good night’s sleep. A shortage of sleep can cost you years of your life and we know that sleep helps regulate hormones that play a major role in appetite, “fullness”, and in fat storage. Populations in the blue zones receive adequate restful sleep.
They sleep eight hours or more, which helps them keep stress and cravings under control.
Can you not sleep and do you feel that you are always tired?
Eliminating stress, exercising more and eating healthily can all help.
5.) How to become 100: Go exercise, but keep it fun
A hundred-year-olds in the blue zones lead an active life, but they never set foot in the gym and are not afraid of exercise. Being active is part of their day and way of life: they walk almost everywhere (usually a few kilometers every day), they do odd jobs with their hands instead of machines and their groceries are taken on foot.
They are usually active by doing exercises that they enjoy, such as Yoga, Tai Chi or by exercising and playing games with friends.
Many of them also have jobs that require physical work such as working in agriculture – which is, of course, a great contrast to sitting at a desk all day. And almost all of them centenarians love gardening, which gives them some exercise and which means you spend time relaxing in nature. In addition, they are also busy with their own fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit.
By consistently staying active in a healthy way, you get a longer lifespan because inflammation in the body is reduced, you improve heart health, you build up resistance to stress and you keep your bones and muscles healthy.
So whether it’s a quiet workout, running, yoga or high-intensity interval training, just do what you enjoy most and try to move every day.
6. ) How do I become 100: Ensure a healthy network
According to the author of the book “The Blue Zones,” this is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do to change your lifestyle for the better: Surround yourself with family members and very close friends who share your values and standards. For residents of the blue zones, this is very common because social solidarity is an important part of their cultures.
According to the writer, people in the blue zones have better and stronger social networks, they are much more involved with others and they are more willing and able to express feelings, including sadness and anger.
Other aspects of intimacy are also expressed better and are not cropped up.
This network around them reinforces healthy and positive behavior and reduces chronic stress, which is one of the major causes of the development of chronic diseases.
There is much evidence that acute or chronic psychological stress can cause a chronic inflammatory process that over time can increase the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, mental disorders, autoimmune diseases and digestive problems.
For example, people from Okinawa have ‘moais’, which are groups of people who spend their entire lives together and talk, cook and support each other every day.
People from Sardinia spend their days in the local bar, where they meet friends to drink some red wine or enjoy the annual grape harvest and religious ceremonies in their village to which the entire community has been invited.
Sardinians have been geographically isolated in the Nuoro Highlands for 2,000 years, so they work together and interact as a means of both support and entertainment.
Seventh-day Adventists try to work together weekly, or even daily, as this strengthens their beliefs and ties with each other. These are all examples of natural fear remedies that, especially when you are older, keep you sharp, social and cheerful.
7.) How to become 100: Spend more time on family and nature
For the people who live in the blue zones, the family seems to be everything. During the weekly Sabbath, which the Seventh-day Adventists practice, they spend a lot of time on family, God, friendships and nature.
While chronic stress can devastate your life, Adventists claim that their routine relieves their stress, strengthens their families and social networks, and also provides consistent exercise because the whole family participates in outdoor activities, walks, and other activities together.
Old people’s homes do not exist in the blue zones because people are expected to own older family members. Older people even play a crucial role in the blue zones and remain an important, active part of the family well into their 90s. A combination of family duty, community expectations and genuine affection for the elderly also keep centenarians alive longer …
Older people also have a better chance of building a social network and receive frequent visitors. They seem to experience less stress and also live a purposeful and meaningful life.
Living a longer, healthier and more pleasant life is not due to one thing, such as healthy eating or even having good genes, but a combination of all sorts of healthy habits.
How does your lifestyle relate to those in the blue zones? What can you deduce from their routines, diets, views on exercise and beliefs?
Did you know that research shows that 1 in 3 just gains from a diet instead of losing weight? (source)
Discover how you lose several kilos per week with tasty and easy to make slimming recipes!
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