How to live to 100: Eat right and be nice

Looking for longevity: What kind of lifestyle choices can we make today that can improve our odds to live to be 100 years old? That's the main question asked in the Blue Zone project.
Looking for longevity: What kind of lifestyle choices can we make today that can improve our odds to live to be 100 years old? That's the main question asked in the Blue Zone project.Courtesy Chalmers Butterfield
Steve 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.
Dude, do these things to get to 100: Wayne and Garth, through this altered photo on the Blue Zone website, give you the top ten habits to adopt to live to be 100.
Dude, do these things to get to 100: Wayne and Garth, through this altered photo on the Blue Zone website, give you the top ten habits to adopt to live to be 100.Courtesy Blue Zone
1. 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?

Dan Buettner's Blue Zone website
National Geographic information on Blue Zones

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

MrsDe's picture
MrsDe says:

My mother's mom is 97 and my father's dad is 94. They are both going strong! Neither of them smoked. My two other grandparents did and died in their 70s. My living grandparents still have good strong minds. I attribute it to our many games of cards and dominos. They can still beat me. They also have lots of friends whom they write daily. I agree that having close human contact can lengthen your life.

posted on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 1:15pm
zephyr's picture
zephyr says:

All i can say is i never want to live to be one hundred....i would hate to have people to help me now so i wouldnt be happy when im one hundred and peope have tp help me.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 8:33am
nelson.robin's picture
nelson.robin says:

man they while why wouold a 60 to 80 year old person be trying to lift a grauge door they'll brake there back lol i can already see im not go life to be 100 years old cause im not losing me remote any time soon.....

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 8:40am
Looney_Tooney's picture
Looney_Tooney says:

I Think Living Til 100 Is Way Too Long
Suck Even More If Ur Suffering Frm Some Illnesses or something

U Kno Wat Im Sayin!!

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 8:54am
twila_08's picture
twila_08 says:

I really don't think that I want to live to see 100. Because I will feel like I'm suffering even though some people don't. My great great great grandpa is 105 and he lives by himself but nurses come to check on him. He lived longer than his son. It's lovely but i wouldn't want to put myself in that situation.
Twila Turnage

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 8:58am
LEE's picture
LEE says:

i think that it'll be cool to live until i'm 100 or over.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:01am
shanee's picture
shanee says:

i dont believe that in order to live until 100 u have to just eat right..i mean yeah thats a big part of your health but i think that your life is only determined by whether god wants u to live that long.

posted on Thu, 04/17/2008 - 9:10am
maniacs5...'s picture
maniacs5... says:

Boy, this is a tough decision. My grandma is still alive and just turned 101, BUT, if she had a choice, I think she would chose to go now if she could. Two years ago my dad, his brothers, and sister had to make the tough decision to put her in an assisted care living arrangement (nice term for nursing home) as she had gotten to the point of falling down frequently and she lived alone. She had broken bones several times in the recent years during the falls and they were afraid one time she would fall and not be able to contact anyone and no one would know! She absolutely hates it there as she does not have the freedom to go walk through the woods and do her flower gardening she sooo loved.

If I could guarantee that I would not be a burden on anyone, would be independent until death, and social security would still be there, then and only then would I want to live beyond 100 - but so would everyone else - then social security goes BUST!

This is a TOUGH one!

posted on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 11:53am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

wow it is amazing that your grandma is 101 years old!

posted on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 12:19pm
ciara fineday's picture
ciara fineday says:

this is pretty tough, but i wanted to know why your grandma cant choose whether she can choose to die or not. thats kind of weird.

posted on Tue, 04/29/2008 - 12:35pm
order flowers online's picture

Everybody want to live as long as possible but sometime it becomes really sad when you live more than 100 years and see with your naked eyes that your sons or daughters are dying. Most in this case the pain and agony is intolerable. I don't want to see in such a situation really.

posted on Tue, 08/24/2010 - 1:01am

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