He answered, “If I tell you, it won’t be a secret anymore.”
Obviously, his mind was still sharp and so was his body; he drove until he was 99. While he preferred to remain aloof, his daughter revealed his secret. She attributed her father’s longevity to his excellent coping skills, a nutritious diet and a physically active lifestyle.
You may have noticed she didn’t mention his genes. While many people assume genetics play an important role in how long they will live, research says otherwise. The way you live is what determines how long you will live.
To be truthful, there is no secret to living a long life. You simply have to imitate the people who consistently live to ripe old ages.
The five places on Earth where people live the longest are known as Blue Zones. Researchers developed the expression by using the colour blue to indicate on a world map the areas with the most people who live to 100 and beyond.
The Blue Zones are the island of Ikaria in Greece, the city of Loma Linda in California, Costa Rica’s Nicoya region as well as the islands of Okinawa, Japan and Sardinia, Italy.
Although these regions are spread across the globe, most of them have one aspect in common — they’re relatively isolated. For example, Nicoya is a peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean on Costa Rica’s western shore.
The peninsula is 80 miles long and until recently was only accessible by ferry. Isolation means less access to processed or fast foods, neither of which nourish your body.
With that in mind, you may wonder how an American city could possibly make the list. California’s Loma Linda is home to 23,000 people, but 9,000 are Seventh Day Adventists and their Church places considerable importance on health. Research proves that compared to average Americans, the Adventists have much reduced rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. They also live longer.
Apart from isolation, there are six other traits that appear in many Blue Zones. This would suggest they are the most effective ways to live to the century mark and beyond. In no particular order, they are family comes first, don’t smoke, derive most of your nutrition from plants, partake in constant moderate physical activity, create strong social bonds and eat legumes.
Helping family gives a person meaning, assuming their family isn’t a source of conflict and stress. Not smoking is obvious and, while eating meat can be healthy, too much red meat isn’t good. Simple activities such as walking or gardening keep your body fit.
A network of supportive, non-toxic friends combats loneliness and depression, which lower life expectancy. You’ll feel like your life still has purpose if you have strong social bonds. Legumes reduce the risk of heart disease and provide nutrients.
There you have it. The power to live longer is now in your hands.
Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing. For more information about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit: www.canoetoneworleans.com.