Are the secrets of longevity something elusive like the fountain of youth?
Actually, the longevity secrets have been accounted for – by centenarians, and scientific studies that spanned many decades.
Before we look at them more closely…
Let's deal with the greatest misconception right now.
"It's all in the genes" does you no favors, as good genetic endowment is NOT as important to health and longevity as other variable factors.
Many think that everything from disease to immune deficiencies, from bone strength to muscularity, from talent to obesity - it's all heredity.
The genes we are born with count for about a third or less of the variation in longevity.
The way we proceed through the years, the way we interact with community, the way we nourish ourselves, maintain our physical strength, and how balanced our approach to life is – these are more important determinants of longevity.
Let's look at social involvement for a moment. I think of it as important enough to have written a separate page about it (Social Health).
The Okinawans in Japan obviously know something about secrets of longevity. They remain socially very much involved in their 60s, 70s and beyond. Their numbers of centenarians are nothing short of amazing.
Another one of the secrets of longevity is habits – or habitual daily activities that give you a sense of good energy and wellness.
Centenarians of different cultures have much of this longevity lifestyle in common.
They include lots of walking, eating fresh vegetables and fruits, singing or listening to music, or just sitting quietly, spending time with family and friends – and helping and supporting others.
Having studied the secrets of longevity for quite some time now, I can tell you what the great majority of long-lived seniors are saying:
There aren't any secrets of longevity. Really.
These seniors are simply doing a lot of things RIGHT –healthy food in moderation, physical activity (exercise) throughout life. I call it a prudent or longevity lifestyle.
And yes, some luck is required, such as few or no accidents, or no diseases brought on by infections.
What about other diseases? Due to their lifelong healthy "longevity lifestyle" they didn't have to worry about the "diseases of affluence."
I have touched on several items of "how to live longer," but I'd like to come back to the two things I truly believe have as much to do with longevity as anything...
Let me deal with diet first.
You may already know from my other writings that I advocate a diet that is predominantly based on whole foods, mostly plants.
I have come to enjoy this nutritional lifestyle, and I believe I owe superb health to that. That, and regular exercise.
Okay, how does all this relate to you, dear senior reader?
Chances are you're with the majority of Americans who follow the Standard American Diet (SAD). That is probably not a good thing – the diet, that is.
But I've got some good news for you!
From a decades-long study called the Longevity Project we have now convincing evidence:
It is not too late for you to make changes.
Shocking as it may sound, you can STILL change and improve your health by simply starting to put health-promoting, nutrient-dense (not calorie-dense) foods in your mouth.
The study suggests that unprocessed foods, plant-based, are a healthier choice.
Some of the plant foods that can boost longevity are
I wish I had a magic wand.
But knowing that the Standard American Diet is the root cause for the fact that Americans now are the sickest and most overweight people on earth, I feel like I need to put some urgency into my pages.
After all, it's the senior population I'm trying to help. The clock is running.
Please, stop poisoning your body!
Instead, feed it the best organic plant-based whole food you can find!
This will at least keep you from shortening your life, and most likely extend it. Science confirms this.
A word about exercise…
All those in the know about the secrets of longevity have this in common. Daily moderate to strenuous physical activity proves to be a longevity booster.
Why is that?
A strong, flexible body is less prone to falls or other injuries. These can cause an unfortunate chain reaction of events that more often than not end in a shortened life.
A strong, healthy body has an immune defense system that wards off disease.
Since, by and large, we have become a sedentary society, we do need regular exercise to make up for the lack of physical labor.
Finally, there are no guarantees. Even adhering to all the secrets of longevity cannot prevent an unlucky person from being run over by a drunk driver or being struck by a deadly infection.
John Robbins, author of the classic "Diet for a New America" and a human being I greatly admire, wrote "Healthy at 100."
It's well worth reading.
With a little luck and a truly healthful diet, combined with regular exercise, I like my chances of living a long, vibrant and fulfilling life.
How about you?
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