Why Are Oldest Living People Healthiest?

I would say for health and longevity to copy the traditional diet of the Okinawan people. These people are historically the longest living healthiest people.

Their women live longer than any on the face of the earth. Okinawa is nicknamed ‘the land of immortals’, obviously for good reason. But, it’s not just the food. Other factors play into health and longevity.

For example, they have close family ties. Old people are taken care of and not put into old folk homes. They don’t really exercise either, but stay busy doing things they love.

Apparently, the Okinawan people who stick to their traditional diet have less cancer, heart disease and dementia like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than do we Americans.

‘The traditional diet in Okinawa is anchored by root vegetables (principally sweet potatoes), green and yellow vegetables, soybean-based foods, and medicinal plants. Marine foods, lean meats, fruit, medicinal garnishes and spices, tea, alcohol are also moderately consumed. Many characteristics of the traditional Okinawan diet are shared with other healthy dietary patterns, including the traditional Mediterranean diet, DASH diet, and Portfolio diet. All these dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, among other age-associated diseases. Overall, the important shared features of these healthy dietary patterns include: high intake of unrefined carbohydrates, moderate protein intake with emphasis on vegetables/legumes, fish, and lean meats as sources, and a healthy fat profile (higher in mono/polyunsaturated fats, lower in saturated fat; rich in omega-3). The healthy fat intake is likely one mechanism for reducing inflammation, optimizing cholesterol, and other risk factors. Additionally, the lower caloric density of plant-rich diets results in lower caloric intake with concomitant high intake of phytonutrients and antioxidants. Other shared features include low glycemic load, less inflammation and oxidative stress, and potential modulation of aging-related biological pathways. This may reduce risk for chronic age-associated diseases and promote healthy aging and longevity [1 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24462788]’.

What I have learned people who live the longest have in common…

  • They eat plant-based diets
  • This means they eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes
  • Eat very little meat and animal products in general
  • They avoid sugar, processed and refined foods
  • They don’t stuff themselves at the dinner table
  • Usually they drink very little if any alcohol
  • They are active like taking long walks and gardening, etc.
  • Have a strong sense of purpose
  • Involved community affairs
  • Close family ties
  • Friendships
  • Are Religious or spiritual (meditation)
  • Diet may influence health and longevity more than our genes

Some of the longest living people come from…

  • Abkhasia, Russia
  • Vilcabamba, Ecuador
  • Hunza, Pakistan
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, USA
  • Sardinia, Italy

Okinawan people eat less rice, sugar and grains like wheat than main land Japanese. Their staple is the purple sweet potatoes as their starch. They eat vegetables and tofu with less animal products than the Japanese.

Okinawans do eat very little pork, yet more than Japanese do. Okinawans have been ‘westernized’ influencing them away from their traditional diets. Their life expectancy has noticeably gone down. It is thought it is because they eat more bread, white rice and higher fat intake.

How we do things in the good old USA may not be conducive to health and living longest. Everything’s done in a hurry. We work too hard and worry too much. Family ties aren’t as strong as they used to be. Also, we eat way too much animal protein with its bad cholesterol and processed and refined food.

How do we change this around? Good question that deserves a rational answer. We learn to live a lifestyle like those who are healthiest and live longest.

Source- 1 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24462788
Website Title Mechanisms of ageing and development
Publication Year 2014
Article Title Healthy aging diets other than the Mediterranean: a focus on the Okinawan diet
Date Accessed March 15, 2019

Note- consult your doctor before you change your diet.

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