Around the world, there are pockets of humanity that defy ageing like no others, and they seem to have the formula to a long, healthy life. Communities like Okinawa, Japan and Ikaria, Greece have been studied for decades, and the facts point to food, exercise and social relationships as the true fountain of youth.
Here are the top 10 essential components of a long, healthy life;
- Active lifestyle – Scientists see one common thread in all communities where people live exceptionally long: being active. People in these communities are up and about. Climbing over hills and walking long distances is part of their daily chores.
- Strong social connections – Social and family bonds are very strong in such communities. Families stay together or close by. There is a culture of interdependence in the community and people naturally come to each other’s aide. In Ikaris there is no word for “privacy”.
- Low pressure lifestyle– A consistent finding is that the stress level in communities with exceptional longevity is much less compared to other normal communities. Attitudes towards wealth and status are laid back. The elderly are respected and loved, and sought for their wisdom.
- Healthy sex life after 65 – Couples usually remain married for life and if a partner dies the surviving partner quickly remarries. Couples have sex well into old age.
- Cat naps – Napping in the afternoon is common. Sleeping habits are very healthy with regular waking and sleeping hours. It is common to see a pattern of sleeping for 7-8 hours at night followed by an hour or two of nap during the afternoon.
- Positive attitude – Exceptionally long-lived people have a special attitude. They smile easily, are quick to forgive, and are not hyper competitive. They have a cooperative mindset and have a happy and optimistic orientation.
- Moderate meat consumption -Meat eating is either absent or not dominant part of the diet. If meat is present in the diet it is product of a local farm or otherwise raised naturally. Portion size is small and no more frequent than once or twice a week. In communities where olive oil is part of the diet it is mainly used as a topping in unheated form. Milk is rarely part of the normal diet with the exception of yogurt.
- No processed foods and no sugar – Processed food and added sugar is completely absent from the diet. A daily spoonful of honey may be consumed as a medicine or tonic in some communities. Whole grains, vegetables, lentils, and pulses dominate the diet, with fish being added in some cases.
- Herbs as food and medicine – Locally grown herbs are part of the regular diet. Rather than consuming pills for daily ailments herbal teas are used instead.
- Sense of purpose – I would argue that nothing is more important than having a purpose in life. Knowing what you love to do, having passion and avoiding distractions that deviate from the meaning in your life. The Japanese in Okinawa have a word to describe this “purpose of life”. The word is “Ikigai“, meaning “The reason for which I wake in the morning.”
Where People Live the Longest Around the World
1. Okinawa, Japan
In Okinawa – an archipelago 360 miles off the coast of Japan – you’ll find the world’s highest prevalence of proven centenarians: 740 out of a population of 1.3 million. Okinawan seniors not only have the highest life expectancy in the world, but also the highest health expectancy: they remain vigorous and healthy into old age, suffering relatively few age-related ailments.
Secrets of Longevity: Widespread gardening provides an opportunity for exercise, sunlight and nutritious food, and Okinawans follow an old adage that says “eat until you are 80% full” instead of gorging. They also have a sense of purpose, a positive outlook on life and close social support groups called moais.
2. Sardinia, Italy
Sardinia is an island 120 miles off the coast of Italy where the men – mostly farmers and shepherds – are particularly long-lived. In fact, just one town of 1,700 people, Ovodda, boasts five centenarians.
Secrets of Longevity: Although part of the reason for Sardinia’s longevity may be genetic, they also have the opportunity to follow that healthy Mediterranean diet, as well as consuming lots of goats’ milk and cheese. They walk a lot, but they also take time for leisure, and maintain a positive attitude and sense of humor about life.
3. Loma Linda, California
60 miles east of Los Angeles, Loma Linda is a community that includes about 9,000 Seventh-Day Adventists – a religious group that is significantly longer-lived than the average American. Adventist culture is focused on healthful habits such as vegetarianism, and warns against alcohol and smoking.
Secrets of Longevity: Besides the healthful habits integral to their belief system, Adventists eat lots of nuts, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and tend to maintain a healthy weight. They nurture emotional and spiritual health, value their family relationships, and prize volunteering.
4. Nicoya, Costa Rica
The remote Nicoya peninsula has an inland community in whichmiddle-age mortality is surprisingly low: a man at age 60 has about twice the chance of reaching age 90 than a man living in the U.S. They also have the lowest rates of cancer in Costa Rica.
Secrets of Longevity: Their plan de vida or sense of purpose in life encourages a lifestyle that is physically active, with plenty of time outdoors as well as time spent on family and spirituality. They sleep 8 hours. And their diet includes not only nutrient-rich foods like colorful fruit, beans, rice and corn, but also water that’s naturally high in calcium and magnesium.
5. Ikaria, Greece
Ikaria is a Greek island 35 miles off the coast of Turkey. Like Nicoya, they’ve got a lot of nonagenarians: people there are three times more likely to reach 90 than Americans are. According to the Blue Zones website, “Chronic diseases are a rarity in Ikaria. People living in this region have 20% less cancer, half the rate of cardiovascular disease and almost no dementia!”
Secrets of Longevity: Boasting a mineral hot springs, Ikaria has been a health destination for centuries. Its residents stay active through walking, farming and fishing, but they also make sure to take time out to nap and socialize. In addition to their Mediterranean diet, they eat a lot of wild greens and drink an herbal tea that’s full of nutrients. Their community lifestyle also encourages good health habits and regular social engagement.
The facts are clear – we need to slow life down, get our hands dirty, nurture strong relationships friends and family, eat healthy food, breathe clean air, get back to nature and create self reliant homesteads and communities. If you’ve forgotten what this means and how to do it, head on over to SelfReliantMillionaire.com and take part in one of our many Health, Wealth, Homestead and Freedom courses.