Courtesy Chalmers ButterfieldSteve Martin used to do a joke about how to become a millionaire.
“First, get yourself 1 million dollars,” Steve would crack.
That kind of thinking jumped into my mind as I started to read this National Geographic piece on how to live to be 100 years old. Researcher Dan Buettner has done a study of centenarians from some of the planet’s biggest pockets of human longevity and found some pretty simple answers. His research is now out for public consumption in his book The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest.
Among those populations groups that have much higher rates of hitting the big 100 are Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula; areas of Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda, California. Buettner calls each of these areas a Blue Zone for its higher rate of longevity. And while they’re all very different cultures, there were some surprising similarities in the lives of the 100-year-olds that Buettner thinks attributes to their long lives.
Some of those overlapping factors include:
• "We know that people who make it to a hundred tend to be nice," Beuttner says. More specifically, he found that the 100-year-olds tended to have a lot of social dimensions to their lives, regularly seeking out encounters with friends and family. "They … drink from the fountain of life by being likeable and drawing people to them."
• "You look in the blue zone in Okinawa, these people are consistently eating off of small plates," Buettner adds. Along with eating less food each day, many of the 100-plusers had diets high in plants/low in meats.
• "The research is really quite overwhelming in showing the longevity and health benefits in reconnecting with your religion … and investing in your family," Beuttner says.
To summerize his ideas for several TV appearances to promote his book, Buettner compiled this Top 10 list for living to 100.
Courtesy Blue Zone1. De-convenience your home – lose the remote, buy a light garage door and lift it yourself, use a shovel instead of a snowblower
2. Eat nuts – Have a can of nuts around your office or home, eat a handful daily
3. Drink Sardinian wine – Sardinian canonau wine has the world's highest levels of antioxidants. Drink a glass or two a day
4. Play with your children – this is excellent low intensity exercise and will strengthen a family. Both associated with longer life expectancy
5. Grow a narden – This proven stress reducer will put your body through the range of motion and yield fresh vegtables
6. Hour of nower – Downshift daily with a nap, meditation, prayer or a quiet walk - destressing is a proven way to slow aging
7. Eat tofu – Arguably the world's most perfect food, eaten by the world's longest lived women. Contains a plant estrogen that makes skin look younger
8. Get a tan – Doctors are rethinking the notion of slathering yourself with sunscreen. Up to half of Americans are Vitamin D deficient - a condition that can double your chance of dying in any given year. A tan not only looks healthy, it is.
9. Donate your large dinner plates - eat off 9 inch plates as the Okinawans do and reduce calorie consumption at dinner by 20-30%.
10. Write down your personal mission – Know and putting into practice your sense of purpose can give you up to a decade of good life.
Still, there are no guaranteed keys to being able to live a long life, other researchers point out. A myriad of factors impact us over the course of our lives, some we have control over and some that we don’t.
But it seems that Buettner is trying to make us more aware of things that we do have some control over to help us live longer, better lives. So what do you think? Would you want to live past 100? What steps will you try to take to make that happen?