Living beyond 100 years with good physical, mental and emotional strength is now a very real possibility. Australia is the second longest-living nation after Japan.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2800 Australians are 100 or older, of whom 75 per cent are women. This number is expected to increase to 12,000 by 2020. However, physical frailty, weak bones, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and diabetes remain real challenges.
Research presented by Dan Buettner in his book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for living longer from those who’ve lived the longest, identifies Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and the Seventh Day Adventist Community of Loma Linda (California) as the best examples of quality longevity. Here are some secrets to their success:
The common dietary theme of these groups was a lean, mainly plant-based diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans and legumes with small amounts of protein from fish, pork or meat as a side dish. High levels of antioxidant-rich green and red vegetables slowed their ageing processes. Beans, legumes and nuts provided vitamin B and fibre for digestion and anti-dementia properties.
The Sardinians’ Mediterranean diet and the Adventists’ vegetarian diet helped protect against cancer. Research from the Adventists showed legumes reduced colon cancer by 30 per cent. The Japanese group consumed soy, miso, bitter melon, ginger, turmeric, garlic, ginseng and green tea which reduce diabetes and cancer risks and help protect cells in the ageing process.
Research has shown the greatest impact on ageing common to all these groups was calorie restriction. Restricting your calorie intake by 20-40 per cent has been proved to extend life span by up to 50 per cent.
The Costa Ricans drink very “hard” water, with a high calcium and mineral content which is heart-protective and strengthens brittle bones. The Sardinians drink goats’ milk, which is heart-protective, as well as moderate amounts of red wine. Reservatrol from grape skins increases longevity. Reservatrol is readily available in tablet form in Australia. Okinawans drink high levels of green tea and a study by the Adventists suggested male members who drank five to six glasses of water daily had a 60-70 per cent reduction in fatal heart attacks.
Val Allen is a naturopath who practises at Perth Natural Medical Clinic.
© The West Australian
More Health news: thewest/lifestyle.com.au