5 Things to Learn From the People Who Live the Longest
Have you wondered where people live the longest? All of us want to live a long and healthy life. So, I went on a quest. Actually, someone had already discovered these places, so my “quest” was a simple Google search.
I came to know that people in the Blue Zones lived the longest. These Blue Zones were found by National Geographic writer Dan Buettner. There are a total of 5 Blue Zones, and they are Okinawa (Japan), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), Sardinia (Italy), and Loma Linda (United States).
These are the places where people usually live to be a hundred. So why do people live the longest in these places? Let’s face it: we can never know what exactly will make us live longer. It’s not just the gene lottery. Some studies show that genes cause only about 25 percent variation in life expectancy.
What about the other 75%? That is based on things like your lifestyle and diet. So how about we learn from the people who live the longest? Let’s see the five things they do differently from us:
They Have a Plant-Heavy Diet
So ditch your steaks and burgers. We’re going to spinach island now! Just kidding. This doesn’t mean that they don’t eat non-vegetarian food at all. It just means that they have it less often than we do. They mostly eat meat about five times a month.
As society developed, people got richer, and they could afford luxury meals. So, what we have now is a bunch of people who eat a lot of meat (first world problems). If you can cut back even a little bit of meat from your diet, it would decrease your chances of getting cardiovascular disease and bowel cancer. You could try substituting proteins with plant-based food, like beans (fava, black, soy) and lentils.
They Don’t Over-Eat
When rodents and yeasts were given less food, they lived longer. Restricting food intake also protects against diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease in rhesus monkeys. This also showed that in humans, it causes changes that protect against these effects that come with aging.
Another 25-year long study in rhesus monkeys shows that eating 30% fewer calories than normal led to a significantly longer life.
Okinawans follow old teaching called Hara Hachi Bu. They eat until 80% of their stomach is full. They leave 20% to be empty. This is a method of calorie restriction.
It is important to note that calorie restriction has not been well-researched yet, and there is not enough evidence that any of the calorie restriction methods work. Some studies, like the ones mentioned above, show a significant change in longevity, but other studies tell a different story.
They Are Physically Active
Dan Buettner found that the people in the Blue Zones don’t hit the gym to be healthy. They just work and do some moderate physical activity. They constantly move while doing their daily chores and that us enough physical activity for them.
Studies suggest that moderate physical activity is a preferable physical activity. People in the Blue Zones are not doing physical activities on purpose. It just so happens that their tasks need physical activity. Sitting in a chair for hours is not great for your health. These people can move around frequently, which helps to keep them healthy. So remember to get up and take some steps once in a while. It contributes to better health.
They Have Moderate Wine Intake — Regularly
People in four of the five Blue Zones drink wine regularly. Wine is considered beneficial due to its antioxidant properties and polyphenols. People in Sardinia have Sardinian wine, which is very high in polyphenols.
The polyphenols present in wine also help to prevent cardiovascular diseases. The moderate recommended amount of alcohol is 30 g and 15 g for males and females, respectively. This mostly lines up with what the people in Blue Zones do.
They Live Their Life on Purpose
Dan Buettner writes that people in the Blue Zones live a life with a purpose. One recent study of about 7000 people over age 50 found that a purpose in life was a significant factor for the longevity of life.
People in the Blue Zones have a vital purpose in living their life. This might contribute to their long life. Ask yourself some questions to know if you have a purpose in life. Do you want to keep learning new skills? Do you keep developing new hobbies? Do you help other people often, and does it make you feel content? If yes, then you might be on the right track! If you are constantly motivated by goals, this study shows that your heart and digestive health will be much better than someone who doesn’t have goals in life.
That said, no matter what the data shows, in the end, your chances of living a long life are entirely dependent on you, not anyone else. Individual chances are different from probability that comes from statistics.
You might eat no carbs, no sugar, exercise for hours, eat the best diet ever, and die in a car crash at 25. On the flip side, you might smoke a pack of cigarettes a day, eat all you want, never do any physical activity, and live to be a hundred.
What these studies do help in doing is finding the best ways possible to increase your chances of living a long and healthy life.