Aging is a part of our lives we can’t avoid. Most of us dread it, not so much because we’re living longer, but because life tends to become difficult. Health problems, lack of mobility, a slowing, shrinking brain are the nightmares we associate with old age.
This is not true for all! Indeed, as we’re living longer, many into their 90’s and beyond, many are not physically aging in the ways they imagined. These superstars have a number of things in common. While some have some peculiar advice (don’t wear make-up?), the collective information came up with consistent results.
Doctors have compiled responses and weighed in based on the “Blue Zones,” which are the areas around the globe where people live the longest – Japan, and its diet of sushi, rice, and low fat sits at the top – they’ve come up with the following conclusions. Read on if you’re interested in staying sharp, mobile, and happy. Just make sure you check with your doctor before you make lifestyle adjustments.
More than anything, this one has the best benefits, and many 100 + seniors agree this is important. Daily exercise, be it a walk, a bike ride, or if you’re really in shape, a Pilates session, promotes mental acuity as well as keeps you fit and mobile. You don’t need to be reminded of the benefits of exercise to your overall health, but you should know that the better shape you’re in, the better you’ll age.
Be a People Person
Relationships were reported as a major plus. While some did not totally agree, chalking marriage up to more trouble than it’s worth, most say family, friends, being around kind people and being kind yourself is one of the best ways to be happy and healthy for the long run. Those who outlived their friends stressed the importance of continuously making new friends, in order to maintain a full social life.
Simply Be Happy
A surprising number of seniors recommended simply being happy. Having a sense of humor and laughing was one of the most popular responses – don’t take things so seriously, enjoy yourself. Others said do what you love, and to never retire as long as you were doing something you really enjoyed. Reinvent yourself at any age, is the overall idea.
Emma Morano, who was the world’s oldest person until she passed in April 2017, said ending her abusive marriage in 1938 contributed to her longevity. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told The New York Times. Morano, who lived in the northern Italian city of Verbania, also had a few unusual diet quirks: she ate two raw eggs per day, plus lots of cookies. In fact, CNN reports that Morano loved cookies so much that she’d hide them under her pillow to prevent others from eating them.
A Balanced Diet
While many report a plant-based diet is a key to maintaining a long healthy life, the majority also ate meat. Grains were a popular choice for breakfast, and vegetables were a staple in most dinners. Sound dull? An astounding number of seniors ate chocolate every single day. Phew! Studies also show drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day is linked to good heart health and lower rates of dementia.
Still, others said cookies were the key to a long life. Another said ice cream, still another bacon, and eggs. The mention of a weight controlled diet was not ever uttered. In fact, most considered the notion of eating a balanced diet, not a perfect diet, the way to go.
Alcohol Is Not Always Bad
While many attribute their long lives to refraining from alcohol, a number reported that was the very reason for their longevity. Evidence shows 1-2 drinks a day could be good for brain activity, too. Some took the advice a little far, downing three Miller High Lifes a day, claiming this was the key to a long life! The verdict is out on that one, but go ahead and assume that’s not the best dietary habit.
Lifestyle and Purpose
The way older seniors lived were directly related to their health near and after age 100. Some patterns arose in the way seniors live. For example, a not very surprising find was that almost no one smoked. Most promoted a long life was the direct result of engaging in activities they loved. One woman took up fencing at 85! Being social, engaging in the world, and keeping interests was advice across the board.
Maybe a chocolate bar and a martini every day isn’t the model of good diet, but what these things do is stimulate happiness, which lowers stress and balances brain functions, which arguably beat out the negative health repercussions. Happy people live longer, so if that’s the case, go ahead eat that chocolate. It’ll save your life!