Did you know people from Ikaria in Greece live eight years longer compared to the average American? And that’s not all. They experience 20 percent less cancer and 50 percent less heart disease, and have almost no cases of dementia. Sardinia, an island off Italy’s coast has more male centenarians than anywhere else on earth and Okinawa in Japan is home to many longest-living women in the world. Here’s what they owe their longevity to. Here are a few tips for a long and healthy life.
1. Eat Small Meals
Eating small portions is a dietary secret of many people who live to see a 100. Overeating and inactivity, as a combination, is the primary reason for numerous diseases. It is important to keep some empty space in your stomach by eating less. Almost two out of every three adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese and a key area in obesity treatment is reducing energy intake.1 But, metabolism differs among individuals and following a diet that works best for you will ensure that you live longer.
2. Consume Seafood
Seafood is an extremely healthy source of many essential nutrients such as protein, amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Seafood contains functional components that are not present in terrestrial organisms. These components include n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, which aid in the prevention of arteriosclerotic and thrombotic disease.2 Although being a vegan helps in longevity, it has been observed that people who ate a serving of fish a day actually lived longer than vegan Adventists.
Practicing meditation plays a pivotal role in increasing longevity and overall health. Breathing exercises (pranayama), a prerequisite for meditation, has amazing health benefits. It can rapidly bring the mind to the present moment and reduce stress. By inducing stress resilience, it enables us to rapidly and compassionately relieve many forms of suffering.3 Yoga is another practice that has a positive impact on a long and healthy life. Combine pranayama, meditation, and yoga for best results.
4. Exercise Regularly
After diet, the second most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle is exercise. Exercise can reverse the effects of the aging process on physiological functions to an extent and preserve functional reserve in the elderly. Many studies indicate that maintaining a minimum quantity and quality of exercise decreases the risk of death, prevents the development of certain cancers, lowers the risk of osteoporosis and increases longevity.4
5. Avoid Red Meat
Red meat consumption has been associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. Substituting other healthy protein sources for red meat is linked with a lower mortality risk.5 Instead, consume vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, fermented products like yogurt, and other healthy foods that increase health and your lifespan. If you’re a meat lover, eat seafood and limit red-meat consumption.
6. Do Group Activities
As we get older, a sense of loneliness often creeps in. Many studies have found evidence that loneliness among persons aged 70-90 years is associated with subsequent decline in health, function, and longevity. It has also been found that severe loneliness was significantly associated with a poorer cognitive function.6 So, irrespective of whether you’re old, middle-aged or young, spend time outdoors with friends and involve in group activities. It could be a game, exercises, or just a stroll in the park.
7. Pursue Your Interests
During our younger days, we are inclined to various hobbies and interests. Over time, most of them are forgotten and may be collecting dust in your attic or your basement. Revive those old interests or pick new hobbies that suit your age and physical ability. Gardening is a wonderful hobby that exposes you to the beauty of Nature and teaches you simple lessons of life that we often overlook. Many study findings suggest that having hobbies and a purpose in life not only extends longevity, but also healthy life expectancy among community-dwelling older adults.7
8. Enjoy Life
Long life is a blessing only if you’re happy and enjoy life to the fullest. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured. Research shows that older people with an active lifestyle are less likely to develop many diseases, including heart-related problems and even dementia, and have a longer lifespan. Such people are happier and less depressed and are better prepared to cope with loss, such as the death of a loved one.8
|↑1||Raynor, Hollie A., Matthew R. Goff, Seletha A. Poole, and Guoxun Chen. “eating Frequency, Food intake, and weight: A Systematic Review of Human and Animal experimental Studies.” Frontiers in nutrition 2 (2015).|
|↑2||Hosomi, Ryota, Munehiro Yoshida, and Kenji Fukunaga. “Seafood consumption and components for health.” Global journal of health science 4, no. 3 (2012): 72.|
|↑3||Brown, Richard P., and Patricia L. Gerbarg. “Yoga breathing, meditation, and longevity.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1172, no. 1 (2009): 54-62.|
|↑4||Gremeaux, Vincent, Mathieu Gayda, Romuald Lepers, Philippe Sosner, Martin Juneau, and Anil Nigam. “Exercise and longevity.” Maturitas 73, no. 4 (2012): 312-317.|
|↑5||Pan, An, Qi Sun, Adam M. Bernstein, Matthias B. Schulze, JoAnn E. Manson, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies.” Archives of internal medicine 172, no. 7 (2012): 555-563.|
|↑6||Zhong, Bao-Liang, Shu-Lin Chen, Xin Tu, and Yeates Conwell. “Loneliness and Cognitive Function in Older Adults: Findings From the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series B 72, no. 1 (2017): 120-128.|
|↑7||Tomioka, Kimiko, Norio Kurumatani, and Hiroshi Hosoi. “Relationship of having hobbies and a purpose in life with mortality, activities of daily living, and instrumental activities of daily living among community-dwelling elderly adults.” Journal of epidemiology 26, no. 7 (2016): 361-370.|
|↑8||Participating in Activities You Enjoy. National Institute on Aging. 2017.|