The author Sally Beare looks at the nutrition and lifestyle of the world’s five most long-living populations in places like: Okinawa, Japan; Bama, China; Campodimele, Italy; Symi, Greece; and Hunza, Pakistan. Beare has tried to identify common denominators, provides authentic recipes and describes a plan on how to put everything together to live a good and long life. The short answer to the “secret” to a long life is a healthy diet and a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
ORGANIC VEGETABLES. None of the long-lived populations are vegetarians. But even if they eat meat, they have a different plate model than what is normal in the modern world. For example, they eat significantly more organic vegetables and fruits than meat. They also eat a lot of fish.
VEGETABLES AND EVOLUTION. From an evolutionary perspective, it is not entirely clear what is “natural” for man. Like other herbivores, humans have flat teeth, small gaps and weak stomach acid. At the same time, the human brain began to develop in earnest as we began to eat meat.
FRUIT IS NOT WHAT IT ONCE WAS. Today’s fruit is cultivated and genetically modified to be as sweet as possible. Apples 100 years ago did not taste like they do today. This has made the fruit less useful than it originally was. According to Beare, fruit is largely sugar and water with less and less nutrition.
GREEN TEA. Green tea was the basic beverage chosen by the long-lived populations of Bama in China and Okinawa in Japan. Beare says that you need about 4-5 cups a day to get maximum effect (should be brewed for five minutes). If you are a coffee drinker, green tea is also a good substitute as it also contains caffeine.
EAT SLOWLY AND IN MODERATION. Okinawa’s expression “Hara hachi bu” means “stomach 80 percent full”. Instead of eating to maximum, eat until you feel full. Studies on rats have shown that those who stop eating when they feel full lived longer than those who eat to their limit. It takes 20-30 minutes before the body understands that we have had enough. If you eat slowly, this is a natural slowdown. In addition, you chew the food more, which gives the body a better opportunity to use all the nutrients in the food.
EXERCISE AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS. Exercise and training were by far one of the most shared characteristics of the long-lived ethnic groups. Most were farmers who had daily chores. Others go hundreds of steps every day to sell their eggs. A study shows that smokers who exercise live the same length or even longer than non-smokers who do not exercise. In addition, they usually live in smaller villages with a stress-free existence where they have time to have a good social interaction. Several studies have shown that married people live longer than unmarried people. For the unmarried, a dog can prolong life.
OKINAWA LIVES ON TOGETHERNESS AND HEALTH. The people of the island of Okinawa, Japan, have no pension and instead work as long as they can. The community is the safety net. They prepare their food carefully and eat until they are almost full before they stop. The plate contains vegetables, fish, whole grains, soy products and sweet potatoes. Once a month they eat pork. They also eat food from soil that was once below sea level, where nutrients probably come from trace minerals from seawater and seaweed such as seaweed and kelp.
STRESS IS THE MOTHER OF MOST DISEASES. There are studies that show that meditation can reduce the risk of getting cancer. There are also studies that show that those who meditate regularly get 80% fewer heart diseases than the average. Of the environmental factors that lead to disease, stress can be high on the list.
FOOD 10,000 YEARS AGO. Eat food that humans liked 10,000 years ago. Beans and legumes are a good alternative to meat because of their protein content. Organic eggs are preferable to industrial eggs. The Hunza people have eaten a lot of berries, nuts and salt – but not something that is industrially produced, which is often what is consumed today. The same applies to organic and cold-pressed olive oil (the Compodimele population in Italy) which has a fungicidal effect. The Hunza people do not eat breakfast and are occasionally subjected to involuntary fasting due to limited food. This may be what the body has evolutionarily evolved to become accustomed to.