Located in Sterling, VA (703) 421-1200

August 2017

Tips for a long and healthy life

I have mentioned The Blue Zones many times in past articles. The Blue Zones is a book about the most long lived (and mostly healthy) population centers on earth. Researchers have tried to discover what lifestyle practices these elderly people have followed to enable them to live for 100 years or more. Blue Zone locations include the Japanese Island of Okinawa, Sardinia off the coast of Italy, and others.

So, what are the common traits and practices of these "successful" centenarians? Some of these are explicitly mentioned in the book and some are my observations:

-They eat whole foods in moderate portions. Some eat meat and some don't. Some drink alcohol and some don't. Some eat grains (whole grains, locally made) but none eat highly processed, boxed, refined and enriched food stuffs you find in your grocery store. None of them drink many calories - it is mostly water, coffee, tea, and wine for some. None of them eat out much. None of them stop at Starbucks for a mocha frappucino. None of them have ever done low carb, or low fat, or any other diet fad.

-They move around a lot. The don't sit too much, and if they do, it is often on the floor. They are constantly bending, squatting, gardening, hiking, walking, and lifting things (firewood, animals, etc.). However, few if any ever jogged a day in their lives. None of them have ever been to an exercise boot camp.

-Yes, they strength train! (albeit mostly within the course of their day). Body weight squats dozens of times per day to get up from the floor or while gardening, hauling items to and from their homes. They lift light things often and heavy things once in awhile.

-They have social networks. I doubt any of them know about Facebook or Twitter, but they have intimate groups of live friends to share their days with.

-They get outside a lot. These centenarians get plenty of fresh air, sunshine (with critical Vitamin D), and often get their hands dirty ( with critical beneficial bacteria) with gardening, or other outside work.

-They have purpose. As the book mentions, all those centenarians interviewed have a reason for living. It could be tending their land, seeing their offspring, helping friends, etc.

So, there you have it. This is the best, and only, blueprint we have for living well to a very old age: Eat less (and less junk), move more, lift heavy things once in awhile, don't sit too much, get outside and get your hands dirty, have good friends, and have a purpose in life!

Make some small changes today and you can maximize the quality of your remaining years, however long that may be.

Posted August 02, 2017 by Tim Rankin