by Aimee Hughes
Longevity seems to be the health buzzword these days, and for good reason. Americans in particular are obsessed with staying youthful, but it’s often the villagers living in remote parts of the world who seem to have exceptional health and live to be over one hundred years of age. As Westerners we want to know what these people do every day to increase their lifespan. The truth lies in living simply, having good friends and eating right. The following tips are from centenarians around the world who have found a fountain of youth in their very own backyard.
The majority of centenarians in the world live by modest means. This translates directly to their diets, which are plant-based, consisting of a variety of legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Modest living means modest eating and even fasting from time to time. Eating less in general is simply good practice. “Hara hachi bu” is a reminder used by Okinawans, meaning eat until you are 80 percent full. The old adage, eat like a king by day and a pauper by night is one the wise ones around the world adhere to. Practice eating a large breakfast, a moderate sized lunch and a light dinner.
Staying active is every bit as important as having healthy eating habits, but it’s not the sort of intense gym activity we’re accustomed to these days. Find something you enjoy; whether it’s taking your dog on long walks in the park or tending to your vegetable garden, these types of low intensity physical activities are actually more beneficial in the long run.
In addition to eating habits and moderate exercise, having a life purpose is at the top of the longevity list. Centenarians across the globe are happy people who have reason to get up in the morning. Think about your life purpose. Make a personal mission statement. Another way to keep curiosity in peak condition is to keep learning. Perhaps you’d like to learn Italian or take a flamenco class. A key to long life is never losing your childlike curiosity.
While most of us aren’t living in a quaint, peaceful village in Sardinia or a brisk mountain town of Ecuador, we do have the tools to create quiet places for ourselves and greatly reduce the stresses of modern-day living. Yoga and meditation are great practices that can be done privately or in group settings. Deep breathing techniques, adequate amounts of clean drinking water, restorative sleep and laughter are great ways to relieve stress. Schedule time with friends and family who make you laugh or read a book that tickles your funny bone. Journaling or painting, or simply making a point to resist rushing through the day are all ways of promoting good relaxation.
Have a social network
Having strong emotional ties with friends and family protects us from isolation, depression and even mental illness. For human beings, love and intimacy are as essential as food and water. Spend more time cultivating connections with your parents, siblings, cousins, grandparents, friends, coworkers and neighbors. It takes a village to create a long happy life.
Your spirituality and personal faith are secret elixirs in your life. Faith allows us to find inner peace, accept life as it is and come to terms with the disparity between expectation and reality.
Smoking is a surefire step to the morgue. If you do smoke, seek help to quit!