Secrets to a Long and Happy Life
“Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.” – Jeanne Calment
It seems as though almost everyone has a theory about how to live to be 100. Jeanne Louise Calment is one whose advice I can’t ignore. Ms. Calment – once the world’s oldest woman – passed away in 1997 at the ripe old age of 122.
Of course, there must be more to living a long, healthy life. But where do you look for guidance? Well, the Boston University (BU) School of Medicine is a good place to start. Their New England Centenarian Study has been running for more than 15 years… and about 1,600 people 100 years and older are currently enrolled in their study.
Despite of the wide-ranging advice our elders offer for a long life, centenarians actually have quite a bit in common. Some you can control, others you can’t. Two factors you can’t control are…
- Being female – women are far more likely than men to reach 100.
- Family history of longevity – A long-lived close relative increases your chance of a long life. (This is especially true for those over 106.)
But those two factors leave a lot of wiggle room for other factors. Here are some of the other common traits centenarians share…
- They’re mostly close to their “healthy” weight… especially men.
- They handle stress well – usually better than the average person.
- The women often had a child after turning 35.
- Their children tend to be outgoing and secure.
- Few of them smoke.
- Many are people of faith.
Lifestyle choices play an important role in a long life. The BU team cites the Seventh Day Adventists living around Loma Linda, CA as an example. With a life expectancy of 88 years, they’re the longest-lived group in the U.S.
They also tend to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, avoid cigarettes and alcohol, and spend lots of time with their families.
The BU team has found that people who live long lives tend to stay healthier longer than average. And much of that, I believe, comes from making simple – but healthy – choices.
For example, there are very few overweight people in Okinawa. As a group, Okinawans are also the longest-lived people on Earth. They practice a philosophy called “hara hachi bu.” This means roughly to eat only till you’re 80% full.
Healthy lifestyles may also explain why American men are less likely to reach the 100 mark than women.
Until recent decades, men were far more likely to smoke and drink heavily than women. American men also seem generally less willing than women to seek medical help… but prefer to “tough it out” when they’re not well.
So where does all this leave you? What should you do to boost your chances of reaching the century mark? Just follow a few simple guidelines…
- Stay active.
- Eat a balanced diet, and take supplements to fill any nutritional “gaps.”
- Watch your weight and blood pressure.
- Practice meditation, Tai Chi, or another stress reducer.
- Take care of your body. Seek medical help when you’re sick.
- Don’t smoke, and drink only in moderation.
- Enjoy time with friends and family frequently.
These steps are pretty simple. In fact, they sound remarkably like the advice my grandfather’s doctor would have given his patients. And I’ll bet if they took his advice, at least a few of them lived to be 100.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team