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Uncovering the secret of longevity through research on centenarians!

When investigators were studying the lifespan of Danish twins, they discovered that genetics only determine 10% of a person’s lifespan. The remaining 90% depends on our lifestyle. In other words, finding a suitable and proper diet for your body can significantly improve your health and lifespan.

Famous individuals and fitness experts constantly present new diet plans and claim to know the secret to the best diet. However, this abundance of information ultimately leads to confusion, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed.

Fortunately, research conducted on the diets of the healthiest people on Earth (those who have lived to be 100 years old) can help alleviate this confusion and reduce stress. This diet is called the “Blue Zone diet”. With the help of the information you will read today about this diet, you can find the best diet for yourself and improve your health.

how many 100 year-olds in the world

The diet that helps you live 12 years longer

In 2004, Dan Buettner (a longevity expert) traveled worldwide in collaboration with National Geographic to discover the healthiest places on Earth. He dedicated a decade of his life to this research. He and other explorers discovered 5 regions where people had the fewest diseases and the most extended lifespans. They called these regions the “Blue Zones.”

Throughout these investigations, scientists sought to understand why the inhabitants of these 5 regions have happier, healthier, and longer lives, living up to 100 years. One key factor they discovered was that their living environment (their possessions, architecture, and land) helps them make healthier decisions without much thought.

Another critical factor was the shared diet among these individuals. This diet is called the “Blue Zones diet.” Dan Buettner, a bestselling author and longevity expert, published the results of this decade-long research in his book: “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.”

Buettner claims that an average American individual if they adopt the lifestyle of the people in the Blue Zones, can live 12 years longer. The Blue Zones diet was developed by examining and analyzing over 150 studies.

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Here is a brief look at some of the diets in different Blue Zones:

The people of Nicoya (Costa Rica) have the lowest rate of middle-aged mortality. 70% of their diet comprises beans, squash, and corn tortillas. This combination provides sufficient protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids.

The most extended lifespan among women is found in the women of Okinawa (Japan). Okinawan women typically live up to 90 years. 60% of their diet comprises sweet potatoes, rich in beta-carotene (a source of vitamin A) and antioxidants.

The men of Sardinia (Italy) have the most extended lifespan among men. The men in these regions consume 1 or 2 glasses of Cannonau wine daily. The antioxidants and flavonoids present in this type of wine may contribute to their heart health.

In Loma Linda (California), people follow a diet recommended in the Christian Bible, which includes whole grains, oats, beans, and nuts. All of these should be simmered. These foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which may help reduce factors that threaten heart health.

Dan Buettner recommends some principles that people in blue zones adhere to, which he also suggests to the general population:

  • 95% of your food should be plant-based. When you’re 80% full, stop eating
  • Eat half a cup of beans daily
  • Breakfast should be your largest meal, and dinner should be your lightest
  • Eat a handful of nuts daily
  • Cook most of your meals at home

List of dietary regimens for the oldest people in the world

Foods that should be consumed maximally

  • Various types of beans
  • Vegetables (spinach, kale, beet greens, fennel, cauliflower)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Various types of nuts (almonds, cashews, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  • Barley
  • Various types of fruits
  • Green tea or herbal tea
  • Turmeric (both as a spice and as a tea)

Foods that should be consumed minimally

  • Meat (maximum 2 times per week)
  • Dairy products (should be avoided as much as possible)
  • Eggs (maximum 3 eggs per week)
  • Sugar (should be avoided as much as possible)
  • Bread (bread made from 100% wheat is acceptable)

Foods that should always be eaten

  • Bread made from 100% wheat
  • Beans
  • Fruits

Foods that should never be eaten

  • Sugary drinks
  • Salty snacks
  • Processed meat
  • Packaged sweets

A lifestyle that prolongs life

Dan Buettner said none of the 100-year-old individuals he interviewed had a specific diet plan or never exercised. Instead, they lived in an environment designed for healthy decisions. In other words, their healthy lifestyle was not a chosen activity.

Our problem is not that we need to know the characteristics of a healthy diet. The problem is that we spend the most time thinking and choosing our diet plan. Instead, we can design our environment to make healthy food more accessible.

Small decisions like not buying unhealthy food or placing an apple on the kitchen counter can result in a 10-pound weight loss or gain over a year.

In addition to a healthy lifestyle and suitable living environment, other factors can play a crucial role in the longevity and well-being of centenarians. Some of these factors include:

1- Social connections: Individuals who live long lives usually have strong and active social relationships. Positive relationships with family, friends, and the community can contribute to longevity and overall physical and mental health.

2- Managed stress: Managing stress and livelihood can significantly impact health and longevity. Practicing stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and exercise can help control stress levels.

3- Sufficient sleep: Adequate and quality sleep can also be essential factors in longevity. Studies have shown that those who get enough sleep generally have better physical and mental health.

4- Mental activity: Centenarians usually have active and exercised minds. Engaging in mental activities such as reading, solving puzzles, playing brain games, and learning new skills can help maintain mental health and increase longevity.

5- Avoiding smoking and moderate alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can be risky for health and longevity. Instead, it is better to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.

6- Physical activity: While intense and stressful exercise programs may not suit everyone, regular and moderate physical activity can help maintain health and longevity. Walking, swimming, endurance exercises and resistance training can be suitable options.

7- Healthy nutrition: While a healthy diet is not the sole factor in longevity, it holds significant importance. Consuming healthy foods and maintaining a balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, yogurt, and dairy products, can contribute to maintaining health and increasing longevity.

8- Self-care: Taking care of oneself and monitoring health can help identify diseases and health issues early on. Regular visits to the doctor, health screenings, necessary vaccinations, and dental care are among the care measures that should be taken.

To have a long and healthy life, it is necessary to focus on a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of life. This includes healthy nutrition, regular physical activity, stress management, strong social connections, and self-care. By adhering to these factors, one can achieve health and longevity.

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