A Key “Secret” to Living to 100 anni Plus, Joy!
The data shows that at least 50% of the US population is struggling with chronic illness and life expectancy is on the decline, the idea of living to 100 anni, may seem like a dream to most people.
Yet, in many other parts of this world, life expectancy is actually rising, and centenarians are far more commonplace than you might imagine.
In Y 2015, there were 679 people at or over the age of 100 living in Wales.
Sardinia boasts the highest number of centenarians anywhere in the world, has 6 centenarians for every 3,000 people. That is literally 10X more than in the US, where the ratio is 1 centenarian per 5,000.1
While you’d think most centenarians would advocate a certain diet, their longevity secrets typically center around social and emotional factors, such as joy, expressing love, nurturing strong family and social ties, and being involved in the community.
Centenarians also overwhelmingly cite stress as the most important thing to manage.
Israeli physician Dr. Nir Barzilai of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine notes: “The usual recommendations for a healthy life, not smoking, not drinking, plenty of exercise, a well-balanced diet, keeping your weight down apply to us average people. But not to them. Centenarians are in a class of their own.”
The majority of centenarians do not feel their chronological age; on average, they report feeling 20 years younger. They also tend to have positive attitudes, optimism, a zest for life and a good sense of humor. As cheerfully noted by a centenarian in Sardinia, the secret to living to 100 is to “not die before then.”
Living is easy, if you’re willing to do it.
Based on years of data from studying centenarians, Dr. Barzilai reports that when analyzing the data from his particular pool of centenarians, at age 70, shows:
- 37% were overweight
- 8% were obese
- 37% were smokers for an average of 31 years
- 44% reported only moderate exercise and
- 20% never exercised at all
Despite this, centenarians as a population have lower rates of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Depression and other psychiatric illnesses are almost nonexistent.
Dr. Barzalai emphasizes we should not disregard the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices.
He explains: “Today’s changes in lifestyle do in fact contribute to whether someone dies at the age of 85 or before age 75. But in order to reach the age of 100, you need a special genetic makeup. These people age differently. Slower. They end up dying of the same diseases that we do, but 30 years later and usually quicker, without languishing for long periods.”
It is worth noting that our diet has undergone enormous changes just in the past 50 years or so.
An individual celebrating their 100th Birthday today was raised on a very different diet than a child born now, or even 30 years ago. These differences are a major reason why people in their 30’s and 40’s are struggling to stay alive today, while centenarians seem more or less impervious to health issues that plague many of the rest of people.
Public dietary guidelines, issued for the 1st time in the US in 1980, have also done a great deal of harm by leading the entire population down the wrong food path.
The guidelines have even had international ramifications, as nations that do not have the resources and scientific expertise to duplicate the process simply model their own guidance after the US.
In Y 1965, Americans ate about 40% of their calories as carbohydrates, and another 40% of their calories came from fat.
The 1st Edition guidelines issued in Y 1980 called for a diet lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates, and by Y 2010, Americans had brought their fat consumption below 35%, and increased carbohydrates to 65%. The advice to eat a carbo-based diet low in saturated fats has been followed ever since, and the results have been devastating health wise.
Skyrocketing obesity and type 2 diabetes rates are a direct result of following these recommendations, as are rising rates of heart disease.
Today, overwhelming amounts of evidence show sugar, especially fructose, and hydrogenated vegetable oils are primary drivers of metabolic dysfunction and disease, the very ingredients people been told to load up on and eat for the past 37 years.
To that we have to add the rise of genetically GE (engineered) food, which started with the Flavr Savr tomato in 1994.
Then the 1st insecticide-producing crop was approved in Y 1995, followed by the 1st herbicide-resistant crops in Y 1996, after which pesticide use skyrocketed and health statistics dove.
In terms of diet, today’s centenarians have had a clear and distinct advantage.
They/we were raise on Real food, not raised on artificial stuff. So, for the first 50 or 60 years of their life, the majority of a lifetime for most humans, they ate Real food, and when it comes to creating a foundation for health, there is little that can compete with a Real food, unadulterated, non-GMO diet.
Perhaps this is why so few commonalities in terms of specific food choices can be found among centenarians, most say they eat a bit of everything, including home-baked sweets and foods commonly shunned, like cheese and eggs, which are actually really healthy for you.
In Sardinia, which has the highest percentage of centenarians in the world, there are no major grocery stores selling processed food and no takeout or fast food restaurants.
Households grow their own fruits and vegetables, and food is always prepared fresh, from scratch.
The locale forces daily walking, and lots of it, up and down steep, sloping cobbled streets and hills. The Sardinian culture also favors socializing, which is another major, if not the most important, longevity factor.
The Big Q: What have researchers found when mining the minds of centenarians for clues to their longevity?
In interviews and surveys with centenarians, including the ones interviewed in “How to Live to 100,” these themes dominate, as follows:
- Keeping a positive attitude and a sense of humor.
- Strong social network of family and friends
- Exercising moderately but regularly walking, biking, gardening and swimming.
- Clean living, such as not smoking or drinking excessively.
- Living independently
- Faith/spirituality/having a sense of purpose in life
- Staying mentally active and always learning something new
- An active lifestyle with physical work and/or lots of walking
The importance of social support, which most centenarians give credit to for their longevity, has been scientifically verified. An American meta-analysis of published studies found strong social support is the # 1 factor that determines longevity and survival. The influence of social support on mortality is so great, it surpasses the influence of weight and even negates the influence of smoking tobacco.
Happiness is Key factor.
Research confirms happy people live longer, about 35% longer, according to one study. So, them it is no surprise that centenarians are a happy and optimistic group of people. Positive thoughts and attitudes seem to somehow do things in your body that strengthen the immune system, boost positive emotions, decrease pain and provide stress relief.
It has been scientifically shown that happiness can affect your genetic expression.
A team of researchers at UCLA showed that people with a deep sense of happiness and well-being had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger antiviral and antibody responses
While part of longevity may depend on the DNA we were born with, an even larger part depends on epigenetics, over which you have a great deal of control.
Diet, physical activity, environmental exposures, thoughts and emotions all exert epigenetic influences every minute of the day, playing a central role in aging and disease.
There is a common belief is that money has an influence on longevity.
If more affluent, one can afford to buy all the things that bring you health, right?
There is no evidence to suggest this is true.
On the contrary, living a “hard” life, meaning a life of physical activity, if not hard labor, preferably outdoors, is something most centenarians have in common.
Growing and/or eating fresh food, socializing with family and friends, appreciating life in general and cultivating a sense of purpose, getting up every morning on purpose, are other commonalities that centenarians share, no matter where they live.
For many, the 21st Century lifestyle is a big negative, meaning if you want to live to 100 anni, you have to take proactive steps to not always take the easy way out, because “convenience” is killing us: from processed foods that cut our time in the kitchen to elevators that let us skip the stairs, to cars that transport us from point A to point B, even if the latter is mere minutes away, to social media that gives us the illusion of socializing while ignoring the person sitting right in front of us.
The tools to live to 100 anni are available to everyone, they are complicated, but one has to implement them.
Eat healthy, Be healthy. Live lively.