Old Age and Longevity

(Based on the book: Healthy at 100 – by John Robbins)

There are four prominent areas in the world which have the largest populations of men and women aged above 100. Many of them live healthy even up to 150 years. The lifestyles of people in these regions were investigated by several scientists in great detail. These regions are Abkhazia, Vilcambia, Hunza, and Okinawa.

Abkhazia, in South Caucasia, is a part of Georgia, the region spanning Europe and Asia, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Vilcambia,  a village in the Ecuadorian Andes, is on the west coast of South America.  

Hunza, is  a mountainous area north of the Gilgit-Baltistan valleys of Pakistan.

Okinawa, a group of more than 150 Japanese islands, is  in the Chinese Sea.

The common conclusions arrived at by these investigators.

Diet: People in these regions eat a very simple natural diet, which includes much more fruit and vegetables than consumed in other parts of the world.  They treat their diets as the secret to their longevity and as their medicine. They eat well, but just enough, neither too much nor too less. They do not eat any processed or junk food. The food is mostly plant-based, they take enough sleep but no intoxicants.

It is observed that North Americans eat ten times more meat, poultry and eggs, and dairy products but less than half vegetables and grains than people of Okinawa. Surprisingly, Okinawans eat about 24 times more soya products. The white wheat flour  used in junk foods loses between 60 % and 95 % of vitamins and rare micro-nutrients in this process. The loss of proteins is more than 25 %, and about 95 % of the fiber is lost.

In all the four regions known for long-living people, between 65 % and 75 % of their calories come from carbohydrates,  15 % to 20 % from fats, and the rest mostly from plant proteins. Their daily intake is about 2000 calories, of which plants provide from 90 % to 99 % of the total. They do not consume any salt, sugar, or processed food. These people do not have any obesity, characteristic of the majority of western populations.

Body-mind relation: These people rightly believe that there is a strong connection between the human mind and the body. The human body is born to move, and regular exercise is essential for good health. It prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. They laugh frequently at social events, often at themselves. Their lives have individual as well as community goals. However, they are mostly content with even small gains. Overall, they are polite, humble, co-operative, and grateful, and avoid all excesses.

Value of relationships: These people believe in the healing power of relationships. They smile while talking and talk briefly. They do not expect something from others when doing their duty.  They love all to avoid loneliness, give to others, celebrate small joys of life, volunteer for good causes, respect themselves and respect others.

No cultural bondage:  These people respect their traditions and cultural values. However, it is common to break free from cultural trance, if advised by their elders. Seniors are highly respected and looked after. Generally, grief and fear of death are ignored.  They spend time mostly with elders, love nature, read good books, write, or meditate, help the ill and the dying.  

Arnold Toynbee says: “A society’s quality and durability can best be measured by the respect and care given to its elder citizens”.

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