Do you want to live a century? Well the answer may just be in the food you eat. Okinawans live longer than any other population.
I have always been interested in living a long time, isn't everyone? I have studied the lifestyle of the Okinawan Islands for a few years now, trying to learn their secrets to longevity and health and It's not just about living longer. These people have the lowest cancer and heart disease rates in the world and their risk of hormone-dependent cancers is extremely low. This all equals a better quality of life for a longer period.
Their diet consists of three servings of fish a week, vegetables, whole grains, tofu and konbu seaweed. They rarely eat any meat.
I don't think anyone would argue that genetics play a huge part in determining longevity, but our environment, the food we eat and our activity levels are also factors . Being female helps your odds of living a long time. 85% of centenarians are female. Diet determines about 30% of how long we live. Some people even say it can add a decade or more to your life. In other words...It's pretty darn important.
Let's not discount the difference in the way of life for the Okinawans. They can be found working on their farms during the day and bicycling everywhere they go.
So, maybe we should all start eating the Japanese Okinawan way? Well, not so fast! Professor John Mather, a director for the institute of Aging and Health at Newcastle University says that while it would not be harmful to switch to the Okinawan diet, the Mediterranean diet shows a lot more promise. "There is not enough research on people who adopt the Japanese diet in non-Japanese settings," he says. "It is true Japan holds the [longevity] record at the moment, but if you go back a little it was Sweden or New Zealand."
The Japanese eat little dairy, while in the Mediterranean diet cheese and yogurt are consumed. Mather seems to be more interested in the study of the people in the Nuoro province of Sardinia or the Greek island of Ikaria, where one in every three people live past the ripe old age of 90. Ikarians drink lots of herbal teas and eat a diet of vegetables, with little meat or dairy and lots of olive oil.
In the US, the Seventh Day Adventists live the longest and their diet consists of mostly vegetables.
The Okinawans youngest generation have seen some changes since the US airbase arrived, along with its fast-food restaurants and decline in health.
Some think caloric restriction is the key to longevity. Many believe that if you reduce you calories by as much as 40% of the western average diet, that this can help you live longer and with fewer chronic conditions.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and fish and little in the way of dairy and meat is thought to help you avoid molecular damage.
What about all the folks in the Guinness Book of World Records? What have they eaten to live to such ripe old ages? Misao Okawa who is 115, loves mackeral with lots of vinegar. The oldest person to have ever lived was a French woman named Jeanne Calment. She died in 1997 at 122. She drank red wine every day and loved chocolate. She was often found saturating her food in olive oil. Great Britain's oldest man was 109 and he claimed to have smoked till he was aged 70 and loved his whisky.
My personal take on this is, do everything in moderation and I think a lot of people would agree with me. If you like wine, drink a glass. Just don't drink a whole bottle. I can't say I would advise smoking at all. I just don't see how that could be healthy and I do believe in adding more vegetables and fruit to your diet and not consuming as much meat. Watch the sugar and the size of your portions. Get as many vitamins as you can during your day and get some activity in, no matter how busy you are. Oh, and for goodness sake, laugh a little and don't take yourself or others so seriously. After all, it's only life and none of us will get out alive!
If you know how to live to be a hundred comment below and let us all know! If you don't know and you still have a comment we welcome that too:)