Life expectancy has always been high in some remote corners of the globe. Some distant and isolated villages in China and Tibet for example, have always reported cases of folks living to over 100 years old. There are no official birth records to back up their claims but if ever you see photos of these people they really do appear to be extremely old.
So why is it then that some cultures live longer than most others? Do they hold the secret to leading a long and healthy life? I don’t believe there’s a single answer to that question but healthy diet, healthy lifestyle, exercise, positive outlook, faith, family and companionship must all be contributory factors.
As far as diet goes, it’s a well known fact that the best food is natural and balanced produce. Fresh vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruits are included in most healthy diets. Beans are pretty good for us too, and also nuts in moderation. Furthermore, just about any foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for the health. A lot of people don’t know this but eggs which come from free range chickens contain omega-3 fatty acids? Now, omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many cold water fish and in pecorino cheese. Red wine in moderation is also touted by some octogenarians as a key to living longer but like all alcoholic beverages it has to be in moderation.
Another big mistake we make is the huge portions that we serve ourselves all too often. Eating until we’re fit to burst takes an awful strain on the body’s digestive system. The smaller the portions the better, even if it means eating an extra meal or two a day. It’s a whole lot easier on the body than cramming in one or two heavy meals that’s for sure. And smoking? No healthy article would be complete without some mention on the dangers of the tobacco weed. Cigarettes, pipes, cigars etc, make no contribution to longevity and even those folks that do live to a ripe old age as smokers, are certainly not as fit as they would have been if they hadn’t smoked.
Social factors also play a part. Faith in a God or spiritual principle, long term friendships and a happy family all contribute towards lessening life’s work and burdens and consequently play an important role in living healthier and longer lives.
I can’t stress enough how important an active lifestyle is. Many of us are far too deskbound or armchair-stuck these days. It appears to be a normal part of a modern life style but it doesn’t have to be.
Take a country like Japan for example, where many people are still living rural lives far away from the concrete jungles of modern society. They don’t have all the creature comforts that many of us have come to depend on. There’s little automation in their daily chores as they go out to fish, milk the cows and goats, mend the fences, chop wood, trim trees and hedgerows, roping and rounding up animals, and of course, doing all their cooking from fresh organic produce. Phew! Sounds tough doesn’t it, and it is of course, but as they do these things throughout their lives it keeps them fit and healthy. Think about it, they are in the fresh air, they get daily physical exercise, they’re working amongst their friends and family members in close-knit communities, most have a faith in some kind of higher power, or god, and all this equates to them being some of the oldest and healthiest living people on the face of the planet.
Just remember, there are things that we can all do personally to improve our chances of living, not only a longer life, but a healthier one too. Diet, exercise faith, and active participation in our communities can all help our wellbeing and purpose.
Andy Maingam is a proficient writer and webmaster for Look at Food dot com where he writes on such issues as Living Longer and Healthier [http://www.lookatfood.com/] lives, plus a piece on Health Food Supplements [http://www.lookatfood.com/health-food-supplements.htm]. He also has many other food and healthy eating related pieces on the site.