People celebrating their 100th birthday are among the fastest-growing segment of the population. In the year 2000, the UN estimated just over 180,000 Centenarians throughout the world but by 2050 that number is expected to soar to more than three million! What are we doing differently now than in previous decades? What’s the formula; who holds the key?
Longevity studies and literature devoted to healthy lifestyles cram bookshelves and magazine racks. We all want the secrets for reaching 100 and even if it’s not a personal goal we are somehow fascinated by those who have achieved it. So what better source of advice than the people who’ve made it, right? Maybe… Despite reams of research, there’s no simple formula. There are, however, choices we can make to help us live longer and healthier – and most are surprisingly simple.
These are just a few of the tips Centenarians share as their secrets for a long life.
Fresh organic foods
The people of Okinawa, Japan have a history of living past 100 – it’s common for elder Okinawans to be seen fishing, biking, and enjoying traditional family meals. Up to four generations gather to share homegrown foods and soups made with fresh garden veggies.
Dr. Laila Denmark (age 114) says, ‘eat right and do what you love. Whatever you love to do is play, doing what you don’t like to do is work. I have never worked a day in my life!’
After your morning coffee tries switching to tea – it’s packed with age-resisting antioxidants (polyphenols) that help the body fight heart disease, cancer, and premature aging.
Try being a weekday vegetarian
Limiting our consumption of red meats and replacing them with fruits and vegetables can help the body resist cancers resulting from insufficient whole plant fiber. Another approach is to substitute red meat with salmon, tuna, and sardines that all contain heart and brain-healthy omega-3s.
Advice from one of the oldest ladies in the world Besse Cooper who lived to 116 years of age shared that we need to mind our own business and don’t eat junk food. Treat others how we want to be treated, work hard, and love what you do.
One of the best predictors of long life, according to psychologist Dr. Howard Friedman is conscientious! Dr. Friedman’s research into longevity finds that people who are thoughtful, organized, and routinely put things away tend to live longer. He says in being conscientious, we produce slightly more serotonin – the feel-good brain chemical that helps us sleep better and avoid risky or less-than-healthy behaviors.
Lend a helping hand
Research shows that people who volunteer live not only longer but happier lives than people who do not. Volunteers have fewer aches and pains, experience less depression, and have overall healthier, happier dispositions.
Advice from Ruth Gruber (age 101) is to look within ourselves for the tools to survive. Ruth says, ‘ I have two tools, my words, and my images… I used my typewriter computer and camera to fight injustice. Whenever I see a possibility of helping people in danger, I want to help them.’
Be an optimist
Mayo Clinic researchers have found that optimists live an average of twelve years longer than their pessimistic counterparts! Brilliant advice in support of optimism from three centenarians:
- Anne Lamont (100) says, ‘think positive, enjoy your children and enjoy your life!’
- Jennie Cascone (age 100) says, ‘be good, don’t complain, just get up and do! Keep on working, keep on going, and have a good time.’
- And wise words from Bel Kaufman (101), ‘Laughter keeps you healthy… you can survive by seeing the humor in everything… you can’t laugh and be angry, you can’t laugh and feel sad, you can’t laugh and feel envious.’
Centenarians also say keep your brain active, have a circle of relationships, and find solace and strength in faith or religious beliefs. Whether you are a senior or not, the wise advice of people who’ve reached this admirable milestone can provide encouragement to all of us.