As a doctor I have always been interested in knowing the secrets to a long life. Many people who lives long lives have very few if any diseases, apart from an old body (if you can consider that a disease) and remain surprisingly sprightly even in their 90s. Many others bravely tackle their medical and age related challenges and live a long life aided by modern medical treatments. So it was extremely exciting to find an article in The National Geographic Traveller magazine (Indian edition -May June 2022) which spoke about food and lifestyle habits of people who had a greater chance of living long lives (Centenarians) in certain areas of the world. The article quoted from research done by Dan Buettner, a longevity researcher who called the 5 specific areas of the world, where people were more likely to live up to a 100 yrs, the BLUE ZONES. The article seemed to suggest that these elderly people were living long lives because they were healthy rather than because of modern medicine.
These geographic areas are the following:
1. Greece- Icaria
2. Italy – Ogliastra, Barbagia, Seulo of Sardinia.
3. Japan -Okinawa.
4. Costa Rica – Nicola peninsula
5. USA – Loma Linda, California (Seventh day Adventists)
While the article highlighted the various food cultures of the people in these areas, I was more interested in Buettners “Power of Nine”,the factors/cultural/societal habits that were common to the people who lived in these 5 areas. Lets have a look at these habits.
1. Moving naturally – daily walking and gardening.
2. Purpose – motivation to get up in the morning.
3. Down shift – activities like prayer, meditation and naps and evening drinks with friends)
4. The 80% rule – to always eat only until 80% full.
5. Plant slant – significant portions of beans and greens and small portions of meat.
6. Wine @5 – moderate drinking.
7. Belong – to be part of some faith based community.
8. Loved ones first – to have close family ties.
9. Right tribe – strong social circles.
Many of these points are what I suggest to patients who have clinical depression. It would seem that happiness could be the answer for a long life if one were to remain physically active and eat right ( if you have read about what my grandfather had told me mentioned in my earlier article on longevity). Stress release by exercise and being physically active, stress control by meditation and living in a supportive/encouraging and positive social environment and consuming moderate amounts of alcohol could hold the key to a long life.
I hope and pray that you will incorporate these factors into your life and live long!