Sunday, 24 November 2013

Friday, 15 November 2013

Secrets of longevity...

is in the nature, in strong faith and in your family.

It's not a new thing. Our ancestors have known these for so long. The subjects of longevity and food pharmacy have always been my personal interest. Recently I read a book titled Blue Zones and it is the latest edition to my list that I called mind-changing non-fiction, alongside Toxic Childhood,  Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, Rich Dad Poor Dad and Anticancer: A New Way of Life.

This book is about a group of National Geographic researchers/ scientists that studied 4 places that have the highest concentration of centenarians (people more than 100 years old). These centenarians are healthy, functioning, some still working elderlies, with no heart disease or cancer whatsoever, and are as energetic as 60 year-old Americans. If you are still thinking whats the big deal, ponder this. Chance of you meeting a centenarian in America is 1 in 5000 but at these places it's 1 in 200. 

The places are:
1. Okinawa, Japan
2. Sardinia, Italy
3. Loma Linda, California
4. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

The scientists studied their lifestyle, diet, habits, values, soil, water, air, stress level etc. Of course each population is unique, but there are a few common factors:

1. All have strong faith either to God or ancestors. They call this external locus of control. This helps them in dealing with hardships and stay positive.

2. They are non sedentary. They walk miles everyday to get provisions, to tend sheeps, to visit relatives. They wake as early as 4am and retire early at night. They are very connected to the nature.

3. They have strong family support. 5 generations live near each other in one neighbourhood. They visit each other daily. Walking, of course.

4. They eat fresh foods. Local. Mostly from their own backyards.  Different population have their own "superfoods". The Okinawans eat tofu, sweet potatoes, mugworth. The Sardinians eat pecorino cheese, drink goats milk and red wine. The Adventists eat nuts, tomatoes, and big succulent berries. The Nicoyans eat rice, beans, tortillas and tropical fruits. The fruits that Nicoyans consume are similar to our fruits- papayas, bananas, oranges. The key is eat fresh local food. Processed foods and fast foods are unknown to these centenarians.

5. They all have 'ikigai' or in english- reason of waking up every morning. If anyone lose this, their health will deteriorate very quickly. They actually do have a study on this- teachers and policemen lost their roles in society after retirement and once they stop working they decline rapidly. Some of the centenarians are still healthy and working (in their farms, none worked in an office) because they still feel they are useful and providing sustenance to their families.

This strengthened my beliefs that health and longevity do not depend on costly healthcare, medicines or supplements. Definitely not the shakes, meal replacements, collagen drinks, pill sunnah or whatever there is in the market. 

Would like to share an excerpt from the book, a story from Costa Rica.

Down the block, in a general store stocked with canned goods and wilted produce, he bought sweet corn bread. This was not for him."It's for my son" uttered 101- year old Don Faustino in his soft voice. "It's his favourite". This bit of thoughtfulness conjured images of a little kid receiving a much-awaited treat until Jorge reminded me that Faustino's son is 79.

And in Loma Linda the author met with a 93 year-old cardiothoracic surgeon who was still operating! (google Dr Ellesworth Wareham). Imagine the good eyesight, strong back and fine motor control af his hands to be allowed in a surgery.