What if you could keep partying, travelling and having great sex into your 90's and beyond? Sound appealing? Most of you are saying NO! but whether you like the idea or not, you are more likely to live longer regardless of your plans so you might as well live well I say.
Several years ago I came across a TED talk that pretty much changed my life. I found it so interesting that I have followed the speaker, study and regular blog ever since; something I rarely have the dedication to do. I’ve also shared these 9 principles many times to friends and it’s one of my go to sound-like-a-smart-guy conversations.
Most of these principles are really simple and applicable to your life immediately. And I encourage you to take the time to read this now and then circle back to it later. Come on: 5 minutes to change your life!
In 2004, a producer named Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and some researchers to identify pockets around the world where people live longer and better lives. They called these areas the blue zones. What they found was the highest concentrations of centenarians (people living to 100 and above) in the world. In fact people were living past 100 at rates 10 times greater than in Australia and other parts of the western world. It’s a facinating study and worth your time to investiage further. I will leave links at the end of this piece.
So what are the 9 principles to increase your longevity and health?
The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. A great example is the people of Okinawa who don't sit in regular chairs and are constantly getting up and down from the floor at 100 years old. But if that's too radical a change for now, just start walking more and taking the stairs.
The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy. This to many people is their career but I encourage you to explore purpose beyond worklife.
Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.
“Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day. Ask my family, I have lived by the rule for over 6 years - just need to translate it to my beer intake 🤦♂️
People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour. I have made it part of my purpose in life to actively avoid situations that I know will induce stress.
Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home too.). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).
The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.
All but five of the 263 centenarians interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Research showed that attending faith-based activities four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy. This is not necessarily an endorsement of religion in my opinion and I think there is a need to think more laterally about this rule. Faith and mysticism are ingrained into our being so observance of the principals of enlightenment are more the message here for me.
Read more about the project and the 9 principals here: https://www.bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/
Watch the TED Talk here: