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Live To Be 100

January 30, 2010

What do Seventh-Day Adventists in California, the residents of Sardinia, Italy and the inhabitants of the islands of Okinawa, Japan have in common? They enjoy the longest, healthiest lives on the planet.

Dan Buettner, world-renowned explorer and a writer for National Geographic, assembled a team of researchers to seek out these hotspots of human health and vitality,” which he calls Blue Zones, to figure out what they do that helps them live so long.  In these Blue Zones he found people who reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States, where people suffer a fraction of the rate of heart disease and cancer than we do and where people are getting the extra 10 years that we’re missing.  Then he took teams of scientists to each location who know how to identify lifestyle characteristics that may explain longevity.  Here are the nine common denominators- the Power9 that all the world’s longevity all-stars share:

  1. Move (find ways to move mindlessly, make moving unavoidable)
  2. Plan de Vida (know your purpose in life)
  3. Down Shift (work less, slow down, rest, take vacation)
  4. 80% Rule (stop eating when you’re 80% full)
  5. Plant-Power (more veggies, less processed foods)
  6. Red Wine (consistency and moderation)
  7. Belong (create a healthy social network)
  8. Beliefs (spiritual or religious participation)
  9. Your Tribe (make family a priority)

These findings from these Blue Zones are fascinating and simple.  When I read this I immediately thought about how these 9 commonalities fit very well with how our ancestors lived once upon a time.  Can you imagine being a hunter-gather 10,000 years ago before running water, electricity, freezers, and transportation other than your own two feet? Here’s how it may have looked:

  • You would always be on alert for predators, food opportunities, and dangerous situations.  You would spend your day moving naturally, testing your physical abilities to run, jump, throw and lift.  You lived everyday constantly being nudged into activity, or else you didn’t survive.  Move your body everyday!
  • Everyone in your tribe/community had a purpose and contributed in some way. Unlike today, the elderly became more counted on and valuable as they aged for their wisdom, teaching, and skill.  The most dangerous years of life today are the day you are born, and the day you retire.  What is your purpose? If you don’t know, take some time today to create a purpose statement. It might be the most important thing you ever do.
  • Most of your diet consisted of plants and green stuff.  If 2/3 rds of your regular diet is not live, whole, nutrient packed food like vegetable then you are definitely shaving years off of your life.  Undisputedly, veggies are hands down the cat’s pyjamas when it comes to adding lifespan, health promoting, disease preventing, energy boosting, and calorie crunching.  Get a daily variety of colors and kinds of veggies in your body everyday.
  • Food was scarce.  Everyday you woke up in the morning there was a chance that you might not eat that day.  You worked hard for your food, and always shard with your tribe. You filled your belly when you could, usually with plants, lean meat, nuts, berries, seeds, some fruit, and times of starvation were not unfamiliar to you.  Now, with zero effort, you can drive up to a fast-food joint and someone will throw a bag of empty calories in your window.  Forgive me if I’m wrong, but not many people in our society today are worried about IF they are going to eat lunch today– Right? Our body’s have incredible defence mechanisms against periods of famine, but absolutely no genetic defence against chronic overfeeding. Eat foods that your ancestors would eat (not packaged industrialized crap) and eat only until you are satisfied– not bursting at the seams.
  • Every tribe worked together, ate together, partied together and knew each other well.  You especially spent time with your family everyday and connected with loved ones.  We are social beings that have innate requirements to feel connected, respected, and accepted– like you belong.  It feels nice to know we’re not alone. We all need someone to listen sometimes, or to know that someone cares.  The reason social media has become so powerful is because it can satisfy some of these needs.   Find time today to connect with your family and loved ones.   Find people with common interests and beliefs and spend your time with them.  I believe that you become the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most.  Who are you hanging with?

For the first time in human history our children are projected to not outlive their parents.  As a nation we’re getting fatter every year…. Obesity is up 60% in the last 9 years! Chronic disease is on the rise.  Dining room table sales are way down because families do not sit down and connect at dinner time.  Is this because of bad luck? A massive genetic shift?  I don’t think so.   We are products of our environment.  Every day, hundreds of marketing messages rinse over our psyches –many of them encouraging us to eat things that aren’t good for us.  We have engineered physical activity out of our lives and networked electronics are replacing face-to-face human contact.   We live in environments of sickness.

The key to getting those extra 10 years we’re missing and to start getting healthy is to follow the example of the world’s longest-lived people and our ancestors.  We must follow their example and learn to build an environment that produces healthy happy people who thrive.

Watch this video of Dan Buettner to help inspire new healthy change in your life.

Now get busy!  You’ve got many years of life to build!

Your health coach,

Dr. Ryan Hewitt

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