National Geographic author Dan Buettner* shares how three entirely different cultures live longer, healthier lives. In this article, he asks what habits these cultures share that promote longevity, and what can we learn from them?
“What if I said you could add up to ten years to your life? A long healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits. If you adopt the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are you may life up to a decade longer. So what’s the formula for success? Funded in part by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, scientists have focused on several regions where people live significantly longer. In Sardinia, Italy, one team of demographers found a hot spot of longevity in mountain villages where men reach age 100 at an amazing rate. On the island of Okinawa, Japan, another team examined a group that is among the longest lived on Earth. And in Loma Linda, California, researchers studied a group of Seventh-day Adventists who rank among America’s longevity all-stars. Residents of these three places produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more healthy years of life. In sum, they offer three sets of “best practices” to emulate. The rest is up to you.” (Buettner, 2005)
According to National Geographic, these rural farmers in remote Sardinia, Italy attribute their longevity to a healthy, active lifestyle. Men share the work burden with their spouse, reducing their stress levels. They drink red wine (in moderation) and eat pecorino cheese** and other foods rich in omega-3.
Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California practice healthy habits related to their faith, reports Buettner. They eat nuts, vegetables, and beans, but no junk food or caffeine. They also strictly observe the Sabbath, taking a day to simply rest from their active and busy lives.
Okinawans in Japan also base their lifestyle on purpose. They keep lifelong friends and value community, especially their elders. Senior women are often considered spiritual leaders in their villages as well. They also eat small portions and stick to a whole, plant based diet.
All three of these varying cultures have these traits in common though: None of them smoke, they put family first, are active every day, they are socially engaged, and they base their diet on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These practices from around the world provide us with a guide for living our best lives every day. At WELLTRAX, we strive to live by these principles of health, and we can help you adopt them too. From fitness to nutrition to a balanced mindset, we’ll put you on the path to enjoy a long and happy life. The rest, as Buettner writes, truly is up to you.
*The excerpt in quotation marks was written by Mr. Buettner in 2005 for National Geographic. The rest of this post is a summary of his writing intended to convey the basic ideas of this article. They are not his words, and he has not endorsed them in any way. To read the original and unabridged version, subscribe to National Geographic for access to their archives. We give full credit to Mr. Buettner for his work.
**A hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk.
Buettner, Dan. The Secrets of Living Longer. Publication no. 5. 5th ed. Vol. 208. N.p.: National Geographic, n.d. Print.