6 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People

I came across this book called "50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People".  It really fascinated me as it completely captures the idea of why I personally exercise and train.  Now that I'm well into my 30's (and barely hanging on....), I am really drawn to any research or science that is in the field of  longevity and anti-aging.  I love the age I'm at, and if I had the choice, I'd stay this age forever.  How much would you be willing to pay to stop the aging process and stay your current age forever?

People often ask me what my fitness goals are.  I seem to surprise people when I don't reply "Bench Press 120kg, have 10% Body Fat or Run a Marathon".  No, my fitness goal is actually to be able to play Soccer with my Grand kids!  You see I want to be that old dude that is able to kayak (painlessly), play 18 holes of golf (without pain), have sex (definitely without pain) and continue to actively participate in life well into my 50's, 60's, 70's and so on.  Who says I can't run a half marathon when I'm 75?  I hope I still can.

To sum up this book, I'll relay the 6 most powerful secrets that will help you slow the aging process.  Author Sally Beare (a nutritionist) travelled the world and examined the lifestyles of 5 traditional people groups who are famous for their long healthy lives (many of them are still working, exercising and actively leading healthy lives past age 100).

1) Only Eat Until 80% full

The Okinawas say “Hara hachi bu” which means “belly 80 percent full”.  So instead of eating until you are actually full, you should stop just short of being stuffed. There has been a good bit of science done to support this.
It may be that there is some value in calorie restriction, or that it just keeps our body fat down, or that if you always eat till you feel full you train your stomach to expand and need more and more to feel satisfied.
I know my biggest problem is that I'll finish eating whatever is on my plate.  So even if I'm full and there's still food left over on my plate, I can't help but continue eating until my plate is completely empty.  So, if you're like me, don't fill your plate so much and serve yourself less.

I wonder what the Okinawans would think about the ‘all you can eat’ buffets? They’d probably think it was the worst idea ever.

2) Drink 5 cups of Green Tea per Day

 The book says that green tea was the basic drink of choice for the long lived people of Bama, China and Okinawa, Japan. The author says that you need about 4-5 cups a day to get the maximum effect. Green tea basically has the most antioxidants you can get from any one food type.

The people of Bama, China already knew what this Harvard Health newsletter confirms:

“A study of 40,530 Japanese adults found that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke and a 16% lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day.

3) Eat 7 times more Vegetables than Meat

 It’s interesting because all the groups of people the author studied ate meat, dairy and animal products.  But that doesn’t mean they ate like the average modern person. Even though these 5 healthy people groups ate meat they had a different ratio – they ate way more veggies and fruits than meat. They also ate a lot of fish, it wasn’t always read meat.

In essence though: We can all agree that vegetables should be the highest volume food type we eat.

4) Exercise!

You just knew this would be in there!  

Moving and exercising was by far one of the most shared traits of the long lived people groups. Most were farmers who had daily chores. One woman in the book was over 100 and every day walked up a few hundred stairs to sell her eggs in the village. A Study shows that smokers who exercise live as long or even longer than non smokers who don’t exercise!  That’s how important moving, sweating, and exercise is – we all hear how bad smoking is but apparently not exercising is even worse.

5) Be Part of Something Bigger than yourself

Selfish people die younger than people part of a group and a movement. The healthiest people in the world were surrounded by a community, by old friends, by child, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  

Find something bigger than yourself. For many people its something spiritual like church and religion. For others it’s a movement like organic food, a community gym, or yoga.

People who volunteer for something live longer than those who don't. But what’s most interesting is that the science shows that people who volunteer for their own personal satisfaction don’t live any longer than people who don’t volunteer at all. It has to be selfless.

6) Low Stress

The traditional groups she studied lived extremely low stress lifestyles. They didn’t have monthly bills, mortgages, hec's fees, or debt.  If we know anything about health we know that stress kills faster than smoking and potato chips.  I recently read that stress is the basic cause of more than 60% of all human illness and disease. Say what!!!  If that is even remotely true than we all seem to have our priorities on health all out of whack.

So there you have it folks.  Start putting these into practice and and not only will you give yourself a chance at a longer life, but a life that is higher in quality!