- Aging & Longevity
Do you want to live longer? Places where you can live a 100 years! UPDATE: One of the centenarians died 1 day before...
There are only a few special places in the world where biological clock can be fooled. Here, locals live longer than average and they easily reach 100 years old. One such place is in the US, another in Europe and a third in Asia.
The longevity is two times higher than elsewhere and the incidence of the deadly disease (cancer, arthritis, or cancer) is rare. In these "fountains of youth", people not only live longer, but their quality of life is better. Scientists have discovered several "fountains of youth", which they named "Blue zones".
Jeanne Calment was a French lady who died in 1997. What is so special about her? She holds the record for the longest life: 122 years and 164 days. The second and the third place belongs to two Americans, Sarah Knauss, born September 24, 1880, who lived 119 years, 97 days and Lucy Hannah, who lived for almost 118 years.
Today, on a top 10 oldest person alive we have:
Three Japanese – on the first, second and last place: Jiroemon Kimura (115 years, 336 days), Misao Okawa (115 years, 16 days) and Mitsue Nagasaki (113 years, 184 days)
One Italian, on the third place: Maria Redaelli-Granoli (113 years, 352 days)
And six Americans, all born in 1899: Elsie Thompson, Jeralean Talley, Susannah Mushatt Jones, Bernice Madigan, Soledad Mexia and Evelyn Kozak.
There is one single man and nine women in this top 10
April 2nd, UPDATE: Maria Redaelli-Granoli died one day before her 114th anniversary.
Places where you can live longer
The secret recipe of youth is a continuous challenge for researchers. Mixtures of synthetic substances meticulously combined, herbal cocktails, antioxidant supplements which inhibit aging, these are tricks easy to find in drugstores to deceive the biological clock. In some places around the globe, however, the phenomenon is natural.
The top three destinations: Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan) and Loma Linda (California, USA).
Inspired by an interesting mix of elements that offer locals a longer life for, the international community of scientists is looking for the answer for the big question: Why do residents of these regions live longer and healthier?
Sardinia, a man's paradise
Eden is not one and the same for men and women. Sardinia is an ideal destination for men who want to live longer. In Sardinia, an island of nearly 1.4 million inhabitants, it’s not unusual to be 100 years, especially if you are a man. However, not the entire island is a "fountain of youth", but a more isolated area, in the mountains. Here, most men are shepherds. In this isolated place, the number of centenary men is ten times higher. What is their secret?
A group of American researchers was interested in the phenomenon and highlighted the following conclusions. The population, especially the men, is shepherding, which involves physical activity. There are very rare cases in which elderly people were living alone. Usually in the same home there are at least two other family members. The Sardinian society values the elderly. In the local culture, life's wisdom comes with age, and the younger ones respect the elders.
Here, the men are not only reaching to be 100 years old, but they are energetic. They walk daily, and even ride their bike for miles. Have a similar diet in products from local agriculture: goat cheese, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, vegetables and olives. Particularly in the diet is the fava bean. Another specialty of the area is the Cannonau wine, a dark red wine with the highest concentration of antioxidants in the world.
Benefits for the residents of Sardinia
- Fava bean
- Wheat unleavened bread, locally called notamusica
- Cheese of sheep fed with grass, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids
- Cannonau wine rich in antioxidants
- Cereal crops
- The cultural isolation
- Plant-based diet and vegetables
- Regular physical, but moderate activities
- Pleasant climate
We talked about the ideal destination for men. Now it’s the women’s turn to discover their Eden. It is precisely in the land of the rising sun. In Japan, home to the famous geisha, is another "Fountain of youth".
Researchers believe that 10-20% of the length of our life is influenced by genetics; the rest is up to the environmental influence and our own decisions when it comes to lifestyle.
In Japan, life expectancy is about 85 years old, and the "Fountain of youth" is located in the archipelago of Okinawa. If you are a woman and want to live longer, the largest island, in the North, is your destination - here we have five times more centenarian women than anywhere else. They have a very low rate of breast cancer cases, colon cancer, and a low rate of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, or dementia.
One important element: the social network. The Japanese have a close-knit social network. Regardless of the difficult moments, someone is always close. Moral support and socializing is associated with a healthy lifestyle.
Physical activity is a must. The Japanese think that everyone has a reason to wake up in the morning. Whether they are masters of karate at the age of 102 years, fishers, or if they babysit their great-grandchildren, these people live every day without paying attention to age. They know what to live for, no matter what age they are.
Benefits for the residents of Okinawa
- Vegetable based diet. One of their favorites is tofu. They consume vegetables and fruits that have strong colors: tomato, cucumber, spinach. The food portions are small, to reduce the consumption of calories. It is said that the ideal would be to stop when you are 80% full, not 100%.
- Social network
- Care and respect for senior citizens
- The principle of "ikigai", to find that a purpose in life
- Spirituality, faith and prayer
- Daily exercises
- The family is the basic nucleus
Loma Linda, the "religious" fountain of life in the US
In the US, only one person in 5,000 will live to their 110 birthday. There is only one "blue zone" in the US, Loma Linda, California.
Here, in Loma Linda is a strong community of Adventists. Maybe it's the religious life; the diet - they eat what is written in the Bible: vegetables, seeds, green plants and no meat. Or the social network – they attend many church activities.
In a research about the American lifestyle, people who used to go to church at least once a week lived 7-10 years longer. And it's not just the relationship with the divinity. It’s the social networking and taking part in various activities.
What is interesting in Loma Linda is the fact that, in this community, residents are white, black, Hispanic and Asian. Thus, it is demonstrated genes have a very small contribution when it comes to life expectancy. What makes the difference is the lifestyle.
For women in Lima Linda life expectancy is 89, nine years over the average. Men have even a better advantage, with 11 years over the life expectancy.
Who wins the genetic lottery?
Dan Buettner, an American author, has conducted numerous studies about these "Blue zones", one of them for the “National Geographic”. In his studies, Buettner shows that man is not programmed for longevity - "he is scheduled for what is called procreative success". More precisely, it's about the age at which we become grandparents. "After this age, the evolution effect dissipates completely". Thus, a person of 65, ages 125 times faster than a 12 year child.
The adult life is divided in two. It’s the active period we work, and then follow the retirement, associated with physical inactivity. So, the church activities, visiting a friend, shopping, work the garden or around the house, cooking, everything that involves continuous movement and networking, is a key to longevity. Equally important is the diet and the way we eat.
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