10 Habits for a Healthier Life & Greater Longevity
Seemingly everybody is seeking the “magic bullet” that will extend life and add more healthy years to it. But as we’ve seen, it’s not just one thing that’ll do the trick… If you’re like me, you’re left wondering “what are all the things that will help us live healthier and longer?” Or in other words, “What increases longevity?” Luckily, some very smart minds are working to find the solutions. One team of researchers has identified the characteristics mostly commonly shared by Earth’s longest-lived populations. Coincidentally, their findings also support those of another team that researches a habit we’re a fan of: fasting. Here’s a look at ten things you can do to increase your chances for a longer and healthier life, and ways to help bring some of those habits home.
Where do people live the longest?
The inspired researchers at Blue Zones have made it their mission “to empower everyone, everywhere to live longer, better.” In the beginning all they really knew was that most longevity factors are actually due to lifestyle and environment. In fact, a previous study on twins had shown that genes determine only about 20% of how long the average person lives.
Therefore, their first aim was to find the regions of the world with highest life expectancy rates. If they could find places with the highest proportions of people who reach age 100, they could then study the habits of these long-living individuals. Working with expert demographers, the group found five concentrated areas of high life expectancy. If you haven’t guessed by now, they called these areas the Blue Zones.
The 5 Blue Zones of the World
- Okinawa, Japan
- Ikaria, Greece
- Barbagia region of Sardinia
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Seventh Day Adventists – Highest concentration is around Loma Linda, California.
Finding Healthy Habits
Blue Zones’ team of experts searched for evidence-based common denominators that spanned the various groups. The Blue Zone Venn diagram below is an example of comparisons they made between the populations. In the end, the team found nine factors that met their criteria and correlated to greater longevity.
Around the same time another scientist, Dr. Valter Longo at USC’s Longevity Institute, was busy studying the effects of diet on life expectancy. More specifically, he was examining the impacts of fasting on longevity. During his studies he investigated the blue zones around the world while piecing together the perfect diet.
Dr. Longo very carefully looked at the diets of the centenarians. His observations led him to the same conclusions regarding the benefits of a primarily plant-based eating routine. This expanded his knowledge about the benefits of both fasting and feeding, and led him to state:
“Nutrition is clearly the most important factor you can take control of to affect how long you live, whether you will be diagnosed with certain major diseases, and whether you will be active and strong or sedentary and frail in old age.”
Ultimately, his NIH-backed research culminated with the development of the Prolon Fasting-Mimicking Diet. This 5-day meal plan is designed to allow you to eat while your body is still in a fasted state. Ultimately, this increases longevity by kick-starting cellular rejuvenation in the body. Read my ProLon review to learn more about Dr. Longo’s history and my results from fasting for five days. The point is: fasting has also been proven to improve health and longevity.
Learn more about how ProLon FMD is scientifically-designed to help you rejuvenate and increase your longevity.
In broad terms, the Blue Zone team found that the shared attributes fell into four main groups. Not surprisingly, “fasting” also falls into one of those groups, as you’ll see. Here is a quick summary of those four categories and the healthier lifestyle habits that increase longevity.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these habits that lead to a healthier life, and think about how we can implement them today.
1. Live With Purpose
“Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.”
Studies show that people tend to live longer lives when they know “why I wake up the in the morning.” The most famous name for this theory is Ikigai from Okinawa. Read this previous post to learn more about how you can find your purpose.
2. Reduce Stress
“What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress.”
Everybody gets stressed now and then. The trick is to manage it and let it go. Some examples of how long-lived people from blue zones minimize stress are: Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors. Adventists pray. Ikarians take a nap. Sardinians do happy hour. One of my personal favorites ways to destress is to simply practice gratitude.
3. Have Faith
“Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.”
The Blue Zone researchers found that over 95% of the centenarians they interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Regardless of the denomination, this trend indicates that regularly practicing faith and being part of a community with purpose is good for us.
4. Live With Loved Ones
“Successful centenarians in the blue zones put their families first.”
Families within the long-living populations tend to keep aging parents and grandparents at home, or at least nearby. This lowers disease and mortality rates among children and translates to longer lives overall. They also commit to life partners; a behavior that can add up to 3 years to life expectancy. And finally, they invest lots of time and love into their children. In turn, this encourages the offspring to care for the elderly when the time comes.
5. Right Tribe
“Your social circle should support your healthy behaviors.”
Research shows that smoking, obesity, and loneliness are contagious. But so are happiness and good health! Your social network has a great impact on the quality of your life. Therefore, build the social network that shares and supports your healthy habits.
Further improve the quality of life by practicing Ubuntu.
Click here to learn more about how “I am because you are.”
6. Eat More Veggies
“Eating a plant-based diet is beneficial to health and longevity.”
Among centenarians, vegetables are central to their diets. Instead of meat, they consume significant amounts of beans such as fava, soy, black and lentils. In fact, meat is eaten an average of only five times per month. Moreover, the servings sizes are only 3-4oz (think “deck of playing cards”); much smaller than the typical American portion. Try reducing the amount of meat you eat; Crispy Baked Tofu makes a great substitute.
Dr. Longo kept this in mind when designing the FMD meal plan. Although ProLon’s ingredients are all-natural and plant-based, it is scientifically-formulated to provide your body with essential nutrition while still tricking it into a fasting state.
7. Don’t Eat Too Much
“Hara hachi bu” – This 2500-year old Confucian mantra from Okinawa is repeated before meals to remind them to stope eating when their stomachs are only 80% full.
The idea here is to eat only to satiate your hunger, and not until you are stuffed full. That last 20% gap could make all the difference between losing weight or gaining it. And as we know, leaner people tend to have less health risks than those who are obese. Blue Zone populations typically eat more in the morning, and their smallest, last meal of the day in the late afternoon or early evening. And no late-night snacking!
8. Cheers to Good Health
“Almost all Blue Zone residents drink alcohol moderately and regularly.”
Multiple studies indicate that moderate drinkers tend to outlive non-drinkers. This means having 1-2 glasses (of wine) per day, with friends, and with food. But this should be a steady habit, not an average… You cannot save up all week just to drink 14 on the weekend!
“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”
On top of any weight loss, extended fasting kicks off autophagy, protection of healthy cells, weakening of cancer cells, stem cell and immune system regeneration, and more. Check out our posts on fasting to learn more about its benefits and how to fast safely and correctly at home. Needless to say, ProLon is a great way to fast, especially because you actually get to eat while still getting all the benefits.
10. Move Naturally
“The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms.“
Their environments and lifestyles necessitate consistent motion and “exercise”. Their physical activity is simply part of daily routines, so they move without thinking about it. For example, farming can be labor-intensive at times, yet these groups clearly reap the health benefits of gardening. In our sitting-centric lives, we need to make it a point to regularly hit the gym, the pavement, and perhaps the punching bag. But also, enjoy the yardwork and household chores, too! Apparently those are the ones that matter most.
Eating -and Fasting- to Prolong Life
I love all the advice listed above, because they are easy to implement at home. That counts for fasting, too. I admit I could never make it through a week-long water fast. But that’s where ProLon comes in! During the five-day fast, your cells kick-off autophagy, so get rid of waste and become more efficient. People report feeling invigorated, energized and focused; and I agree. Additionally, the week of ‘fasting while eating’ led me to a better relationship with food. If you’re like me, you’ll desire more vegetables and smaller portions. So ProLon may start processes that directly promote longevity in your body, but it also helps you start other healthy habits from above, too. Win-win!
Yes, it really works! That’s why Jennifer Aniston uses ProLon and Gwyneth Paltrow made an episode about it! Click here to learn more.
To Many healthy years
They say that if you make it to age 100, you have to have won the genetic lottery. Even without modern medicine; proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits give most of us the potential to live well into our early 90’s. The Blue Zone research shows that following their habits above can add 10-12 years to one’s healthy life expectancy. Adding in fasting should increase that even more.
Certainly, there are other factors that contribute to how long one thrives. But it is good to know there ten scientifically-proven habits that we can easily adopt into into our everyday lives to increase our odds. So when not fasting, eat moderately with family and friends, be thankful for the purposeful life you’ve been given, and raise your wine glasses to the ways you can all maintain a longer, healthier life.
Let me know if you have any questions about these healthy habits. (Or if you want to join me on my next fast!) Just drop a comment in the box below. Thanks!
The ProLon 5-day Fasting-Mimicking Diet is scientifically formulated to provide nourishment while keeping your body in a fasted state, so you can increase your longevity while losing weight.
Learn more about its many benefits here.
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