Societies with the secret to longevity

Imagine a place where joints ache less; minds and memories remain stronger; digestion problems are few; a good night's sleep is the norm; and energy levels stay shockingly youthful. Places like this do exist today, and the following information will tell you where they are located and reveal their longevity secrets.

Societies with the secret to longevity

These societies are not as uncommon as you think. They exist in Okinawa, on the sun-drenched Mediterranean island of Crete and even in the modern 7th-Day Adventist households of America. What do these people have in common? Primarily, a healthy attitude and an even healthier diet. The foods people eat every day in these Shangri-Las of longevity might amaze you.

On a single day in Okinawa, the average person eats nearly a dozen helpings of fruit and vegetables, seven servings of noodles, rice and grain, plus tofu, fish, seaweed and green tea. Dairy foods and red meat are rarely seen — or eaten.  At night, friends knock back a glass or two of a fiery alcoholic drink made with hot peppers.

The menu is similar on Crete, where poultry and fish replace soy foods as the primary protein and locals sip their own homemade red wines.

The story is the same with 7th-Day Adventists, except they eat eggs and nuts for much of their protein.  Many 7th-Day Adventists are vegetarians who also abstain from alcohol, tobacco and coffee. Notably absent from their diet: Salty, sweet, processed foods; buttery treats; juicy steaks; ever-flowing soda; and super-size portions.The payoffs for a life free of cheese-drenched french fries, breakfast sweet rolls and mega-gulp drinks?

Life expectancies

  • Healthy-eating 7th-Day Adventists live up to 9.5 years longer than other Americans, say researchers who tracked the diets and health histories of over 34,000 members of this Christian denomination.
  • Okinawans have the longest life expectancies in the world — the average man lives to be 77, the average woman to 85. And more people on Okinawa have celebrated their 100th birthdays than people from anywhere else — 35 in every 100,000.
  • On Crete, the healthiest eaters were 25 percent less likely to die during a four-year study than their fellow countrymen who opted for more modern meals.

"We think diet plays an extremely important role in how long people in these parts of the world live and in how long they remain healthy, active, independent and happy," says Bradley Willcox, MD, of the Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu and lead researcher of the Okinawa Longevity Study. "A low-calorie, low-fat, plant-based diet is the key to maximizing life expectancy and minimizing the risk for all of the debilitating health problems that come with aging."You'd be surprised how much food many healthy people eat. Their secret: eating the right foods. In fact, what you put on your plate and in your mouth counts even more than whether or not you were born with longevity genes. "You could have Mercedes-Benz genes," says Dr. Willcox, "but if you never change the oil, you are not going to last as long as a Ford Escort that you take good care of."

We can all benefit from following the examples of these healthy societies.

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