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The Cardiologist's Wife - Tips on Living a Long Life
Apr 11, 2018

Beyond having a retirement fund, most people probably don’t think about how they will live out their golden years. Some do dream of traveling or spending time with their grandchildren but unless they take steps to safeguard their health, they might not be able to accomplish those things. Blue Zones are areas around the world where people routinely live to be 100. But they aren’t just living longer, they remain healthy, active and mentally alert until the end without medicines, supplements or special devices. If you are wondering whether they have tapped into the fountain of youth, you’d be right, but not in the way you expect.

National Geographic funded a study headed by journalist Dan Buettner of the world’s longest living people to discover their secrets - what they are doing that the rest of us aren’t. Buettner and his team have identified 5 places around the world where there are concentrations of people having the highest life expectancy or the highest number of people who live to be 100. These places are Sardinia, Italy, Ikaria, Greece, Nicola Peninsula, Costa Rica, Okinawa, Japan and Loma Linda, California. Though these places are scattered around the globe, the residents share nine common traits that enable their long, healthy lives. Hint: there is no magic pill.

1. Long-lived people remain active their whole lives. Each and every day, they walk nearly everywhere they go, they garden and grow their own food and don’t rely on riding lawnmowers or hire help to clean their homes.

2. They share a clear sense of purpose and motivation in their daily lives.

3. They live low stress, happy lives by maintaining strong family ties and getting plenty of sleep. Stress has long been known to contribute to many conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

4. They limit the amount of food they eat. They eat small but nutritious meals, giving their bodies exactly what it needs but no more. Contrast this with the exaggerated portion sizes in the U. S.

5. They eat a plant based diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish but little meat. They avoid processed foods which are filled with chemicals that poison our bodies.

6. They drink alcohol in moderation (except for the Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda). One or 2 glasses of wine a day have been shown to have health benefits.

7. Most centenarians belong to some type of faith based community. Studies show that attending such services four times a month add 4 to 14 years to your life expectancy.

8. They have family centered lives, putting loved ones first. There are more likely to be several generations living together or nearby.

9. They associate with other healthy people who share similar behaviors. Studies show that lifestyle choices can be contagious; in other words, if your friends smoke, you are more like to smoke and vice versa.

The main take away is that a long, healthy and fulfilling life is a process you must work at every day. There are no quick fixes but it can be done with a commitment to yourself and your family. The Blue Zones website (bluezones.com) is filled with helpful interesting information on how to transform your life. There are recipes, exercise and stress reduction tips and ideas on how to make your community healthier.

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