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Want To Live To 100? Top Tips To Do Exactly That
Although life is sometimes tough, it’s all worth it and no one wants to check out early. Would you like to make it to 100? A healthy 100?? You can, you know; it happens every day. In fact, on the Greek island of Ikaria, it is quite common to live to be 90 and beyond. These island inhabitants have extremely low rates of heart disease, cancer, dementia, and depression. Why do these people live longer than most Americans and Europeans? Perhaps it’s because the island has very limited transportation, which means people have to walk quite a bit. Perhaps it’s their diet, which uses tons of olive oil, vegetables, fruits, and very little processed food. Or is it the herbal tea that comes from mountain herbs such as rosemary, purple sage, mint, and spleenwort? Perhaps it is a combination of these items.
The residents of the Okinawa, Japan, also live active lives, often into their late 90’s and 100’s. Many believe that their low rates of hormone-related cancer and heart disease come from their low calorie diets that consist mainly of fresh fish and vegetables. They consume very little dairy or other types of meat, but eat plenty of sweet potatoes, tofu, and seafood, including octopus and squid, which are known to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Although there are many characteristics that play a role in a person’s life expectancy, such as genetics, smoking habits, and economic status, diet seems to play a large part in terms of decreased chronic disease and increased longevity. So keep reading to find out the top 10 things you can do to increase the odds that you can make it to the centenarians’ club.
1. Portion Control
Many of the centenarians that are alive today have been through a long list of amazing events: the Great Depression, several wars, man landing on the moon, and today’s technology. This means that these people have certainly learned to adapt and roll with the punches. Needless to say, portions sizes have changed dramatically during this time. A small drink used to be 6 to 8 ounces, now it’s 12 to 16 ounces! If you want to live to be 100, try eating portion sizes like they did in the old days- smaller, but more frequent meals. Eat only until you are about ¾ full and take your time when eating. In this case, less (calories) is definitely more (years).
2. Drink Alcohol in Moderation
In a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical &Experimental Research, showed that subjects who drank heavily and smoked showed early aging of the brain. This study was in the October 2013 issue of this journal. Other studies show that drinking one glass of red wine per day is actually adds years to your life and improves your health as well.
3. Don’t Act Your Age
In Okinawa, residents are honestly thought of as youngsters until they hit about 55. They also have a ritual where they start to” turn the clock back” on their 97th birthday called kajimaya. Don’t think that because you are 30 you shouldn’t swing on your kids swing set, or because you are 50, you shouldn’t move to another country, or that because you are 75, you really can’t stay up all night and dance at your granddaughter’s wedding. Why not? Always keep looking for new experiences, trying new technology, meeting new people, and looking for plain old fashioned fun.
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4. Get Plenty of Sleep and Sex
Yep, you read that correctly! You need plenty of both to keep your body young, healthy, strong, and functioning properly. Most Americans live in a constant state of sleep deprivation and their television habits drastically cut into their sex lives. One study performed by Duke Medical Center in North Carolina showed that a woman’s past enjoyment of her sex life was one of the top predictors for an increased longevity. Additionally, a lack of sleep upsets your hormonal balance and often leads to heart disease, depression, and weight gain.
5. Move That Body
No matter how you like to get your exercise, yoga, tai chi, dance, walking, or Zumba classes, getting some exercise today offers benefits for many tomorrows. There is a definite connection between cardio workouts, dumbbells, and longevity. Although cardio keeps your heart muscle in shape, strength training keeps bones strong, rejuvenates the stem cells, and encourages circulation. If you haven’t gotten much exercise lately, don’t worry, it is never too late to start. In fact, one study showed that when women between the ages of 65 and 75 began strength training programs, such as lifting light weights once or twice per week, they had denser bones, more muscle strength, as well as improved memory skills.
6. Think Plants
Although gardening is good for the soul, in this case, we are talking about your diet. All centenarians appear to consume a mainly plant based diet, high in fruits and vegetables, but low in sweets, red meat, and refined carbs. Plants are the best source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, which fight free radicals, which cause cell damage and aging. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegan, but try to make about 80 percent of your diet whole, organic fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
7. Skimp on Stress
Limiting the stressors in your life as much as possible, as well as learning to manage the stress you do encounter, is a big factor in increasing your number of birthdays. Stress is known to cause inflammation in the body and increase your stress hormone, cortisol, which research has shown to accelerate the aging process. Be sure you make time to laugh and have fun, at least a few times per week, and consider practicing stress management techniques such as yoga and meditation.
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8. Eat Breakfast
This sounds trite, but studies show that your body’s metabolism is greatly impacted by your circadian rhythm, so eating breakfast has a huge impact on the way your body processes food throughout the day. Eating breakfast can give us lower levels of insulin, triglycerides, and glucose all day long. This means you will have much lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, all things that tend to mean an earlier death. All these benefits from one little meal.
9. Stay Connected
Keeping in touch with friends and family also seems to have an impact on the number of years you stay on this planet. In Okinawa, centenarians will tell you that family forms a part of their “ikigai” (their reason for living). Rarely do you see centenarians living as hermits. Studies show that feelings of loneliness weaken the immune system. In fact, in one study involving more than 7,000 women, people who felt that they had no friends were as much as 5 times as likely to die from breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. So keep that Facebook account and put more minutes on your cell phone plan, and call up your family and friends for Sunday dinner.
10. Eat More of These
In addition to eating a mainly plant-based diet, most centenarians eat regular amounts of the following foods:
- Fatty, oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel
- Red wine (one glass per day only)
- Olive oil
- Seafood (shrimp, octopus, crab, squid)
- Herbal teas
- Raw, organic honey
- Dark chocolate (no more than 1 ounce per day)
Also, many of those who live past 90 say that they generally followed the old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.