The world’s longest-living people show us how to maintain the telomeres that protect our DNA
In recent years, much research has been conducted on length of life, especially on those cultures that not only live longer on average than other peoples, but thrive; having less physical and mental deterioration as they age. Many of these people live in areas dubbed “blue zones.”
It’s often suggested that improvements in farming, habitation, cooking, sanitation, improved nutrition, etc., have increased human longevity. However, these factors are widespread, yet longevity on a grand scale eludes most cultures.
Interestingly, in 1842, M.A. Quetelet reported that the average life span was between 32 and 33 years in Belgium, France, and England; yet he also recorded the presence of 16 centenarians in January 1831 in Belgium. The oldest among them was 111 years old.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, life expectancy currently ranges from 54 in Afghanistan to nearly 90 in Monaco with the United States ranking 46th at just under 81 years. Centenarians, on the other hand, live for 100 to 110 years and supercentenarians for 111 to 122.3 years.
Some examples of areas where living to be 100 is commonplace are Loma Linda, in California; Nicoya Peninsula, in Costa Rica; the island of Sardinia, in Italy; the island of Ikaria, in Greece; and Okinawa, Japan. These areas became known as blue zones after a groundbreaking study into the world’s longest-lived peoples. Demographic work by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, and later Dan Buettner, looked at the commonalities of people living in these areas that may explain their longevity.
Lifestyles Of The Long-Lived
* They have naturally active lifestyles based on walking, gardening, etc.
* Food is their medicine and rarely do they take supplements.
* They have a sense of community and purpose.
* They are social, spending a lot of time with family and friends who live close by.
* They stop eating when they are 80 percent full, eat less, and don’t count calories.
* The majority of their diet is plant based. Meat is only eaten several times a month and in * small portions (3 to 4 oz.). Fish is eaten a bit more frequently and is wild-caught.
* They drink alcohol in moderation during meals with friends and family.
* They commit to a life partner and their families come first.
* They surround themselves with people who support positive behaviors.
* They belong to a religious community and regularly attend services.
The basic dietary blue zone fundamentals are simple. The majority of their foods are plant based (95 percent), with the remaining 5 percent consisting of animal products, including dairy.
In blue zones, people generally don’t watch much TV, go on diets, or work out at gyms. Instead, they socialize with family and friends at least eight hours a day, get their exercise through routinely active lifestyles, and have largely escaped the hyper-busy hustle and processed foods of modern lifestyles.
Superfoods Of Centenarians
People living in blue zones eat a largely plant-based diet with plenty of whole grains. Common foods include:
Beans (all varieties) are eaten daily (1/2 cup).
Fruits (Avocados, Bananas, Bitter melons, Papayas, Plantains, Tomatoes, etc.)
Vegetables (Kombu, Wakame, Sweet potatoes, Squash, Yams, etc.)
Nuts and seeds
100 percent whole wheat bread
Telomeres And Blue Zones
Beyond their shared lifestyle patterns, researchers believe they may share longer than average telomeres.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of each chromosome strand that protect your DNA from unraveling or fraying. You can think of them as the aglets at the end of shoelaces.