This summer I came across a life-changing article by one of the world’s longest-serving physicians and educators, Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara.
At age 104 Dr. Hinohara is somewhat of a legend in the medical field, and his article outlines what he believes to be his “secrets” to longevity.
Some of his advice makes a lot of sense, like keeping stress levels at bay and staying busy by serving others…while other bits of wisdom left me scratching my head…like eating cookies and milk for lunch!
But hey, it’s hard to argue with someone who’s still working 18 hours a day at age 104.
My own Grandmother whom I’ve written about before, lived to be 103 and many of her “secrets” mirrored Dr. Hinohara’s.
Their stories inspired me to write today’s post: How to Live to be 100: The Artful Science of Longevity.
If you’ve ever wondered which practices have been scientifically proven to increase your chances of longevity, then these next 8 tips could change your life…
Longevity Tip #1: Stop stressing about stress
It’s true that most elderly centenarians lead fairly low-stress lives. However, it is highly likely they have experienced significant stress throughout their long lives.
Many centenarians, like the pockets found in Okinawa, Japan, have endured unthinkable stress and trauma like wars, famine, and the loss of spouses or children.
Though emotional traumas can certainly create health issues, it appears to be “all in how you look at things”.
Dr. Nir Barzilai, a gerontologist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine told Scientific American she found centenarians have an amazing ability to roll-with-the-punches, to accept a situation as it is, process it, and move on.
Those who get stuck in stress or grief appear to have shorter lifespans.
The same appears to hold true for those who worry about stress.
Science has shown it is our reaction to stressful circumstances, not necessarily the circumstances themselves, that causes ill health.
Therefore, if you spend all your time worrying about stress you will likely make yourself ill. Conversely, if you experience stress without focusing on it, your health will remain strong.
That’s the power of the mind-body connection…it’s all in how you look at it.
Longevity Tip #2: Eat less and include plenty of fruit and vegetables
It’s been long-proven those who eat fewer calories live longer.
But…ultimately it comes down to more than just calories.
I believe calorie restriction works for longevity, because you naturally eat fewer calories when you:
A: cut out processed foods, and
B: address emotional overeating
In addition, by including plenty of naturally low-calorie, nutrient-rich, cell-protective fresh fruits and veggies, you help ensure long life and a sound mind.
By eating mindfully—eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and savoring each bite—we allow our brains time to catch up with our stomachs, which prevents overeating and binging.
Longevity Tip #3: A little booze may fuel longevity
You’ve probably seen the reports and studies on how red wine may help you live longer.
And they do have merit.
The antioxidants in red wine, such as resveratrol, do have an anti-aging effect on the cardiovascular system.
Likewise, groups of thriving centenarians like those found in Sardinia and Russia, drink alcoholic beverages regularly.
Then there are the negative studies proving alcohol disrupts blood sugar, causes depression and heart disease (how confusing is that?).
When it comes to alcohol, knowing its effects on your body and practicing moderation are the best policies.
If a drink leaves you feeling relaxed and energized and you have no history of addiction, then moderate amounts of alcohol may be fine.
However, if you feel depressed and demotivated from drinking, or have a family history of addiction you may want to consider alternatives.
Longevity Tip #4: Enjoy nature, get dirty
My Grandmother, who I mentioned above, spent a significant amount of time walking outdoors and appreciating nature.
Now science is validating nature’s health-boosting effects.
Being around trees is good for your immunity, heart and waistline; while spending time running around barefoot or playing in the dirt helps build a healthy microbiome, fight free radicals, and promotes healthful sleep.
Bottom line: get outdoors and live longer.
Longevity Tip #5: Walk, walk, and walk some more…
My Grandmother walked everywhere, and centenarians around the world do the same.
Walking promotes longevity because it’s a natural movement that strengthens your whole body without too much wear and tear on your joints and heart.
It also offers a wonderful opportunity to get out and enjoy nature, breathe fresh air, chat with a friend, and allow your brain to relax and regenerate after a long day of left-brain thinking.
Plus, besides all the physical health benefits, research has proven walking helps improve cognitive function and boost creativity too.
Perhaps it’s time to turn in the gym membership and sought-after six-pack for longer life and more pleasurable exercise…
Longevity Tip #6: Create close ties with family and friends
In the New York Times Best-Selling Book: “The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From The People Who Have Lived the Longest”, longevity expert Dan Buettner observed one BIG commonality in centenarians from every culture:
They had close connections with their families and felt valued within the family unit.
The roles and relationships vary from culture to culture family to family, but there is an unmistakable connection between family bonds and longevity.
Studies like this one, have also surfaced in the last year linking the satisfaction of a person’s social life to their health and well-being.
So if you’re not super-close to your family, it appears strong ties to friends and co-workers also contribute to long life.
Longevity Tip #7: Nurture your spiritual side
However, if you’re not a church-goer you may still be able to reap the benefits.
Scientists believe the health benefits of religion come from the social support network, therefore those who are not religious may experience the same benefits from a variety of uplifting weekly social interactions.
Mindfulness meditation has also been proven to increase longevity by reducing the aging effects of stress (for a fascinating look at how this all works, check out this CNN report entitled: “Can Meditation Really Slow Aging?”)
Making the BIG connection…
Have you noticed a pattern in today’s tips and research?
Our relationship to stress, people and our purpose in society have HUGE bearing on our longevity.
Though I truly believe the way we eat and how we detoxify our bodies will impact us more than generations past, it appears longevity has more to do with attitude than anything.
I highly recommend you check out the article that inspired my research on this topic by Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara, and that you pick up a copy of “The Blue Zones”…it will change the way you look at your life.
Blessings on this life journey!