When discussing this topic with patients and friends the common response is “I don’t want to live that long!”. Why is that? Because most North Americans envision all the negative associations with aging.
Why wouldn’t you want to live for as long as possible if you can do whatever it is you wanted to do without any physical and/or mental limitations?
Throughout my workshops on nutrition and exercise, I will always highlight certain cultures that live to 100. The fact that they function and feel great throughout their lives is the most important aspect of these cultures.
From his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, Dan Buettner describes these cultures in detail.
According to Buettner, ‘in the Blue Zones (Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Loma Linda, Calif.; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica), people live 10 years longer, experience a sixth the rate of cardiovascular disease and a fifth the rate of major cancers.’
He discusses 9 habits that are very simple to perform by anyone and coins the term Power9.
- Move naturally (activities you enjoy).
- Cut calories by 20 percent (I don’t espouse calorie counting but remember the Practice “Hara hachi bi,” the Okinawan reminder to stop eating once their stomachs are 80 percent full).
- Plant-based diet (don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian).
- Drink red wine (in moderation= 2 serving or less).
- Plan de Vida: determine your life purpose.
- Down shift (reduce stress).
- Belong / participate in a spiritual community.
- Put loved ones first / make family a priority.
- Pick the right tribe (you are a product of those people you choose to have around).
Unfortunately, when many of these cultures begin to adopt our typical North American culture of poor nutrition, chronic stress and inactivity many of the lifestyle-related disease that are seen in our culture will be quickly seen in these cultures.