Want to stretch out your life? These are the necessary changes to make.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to order a bottle of longevity direct from Amazon? You know—a magical elixir you could drink up each night in a shot glass, and each swig would assure a long, healthy life. Okay, it’s fun to dream. Although there’s no fountain of youth-type potion that can be ordered, there are many secret lifestyle habits you can learn from the world’s longest living people, so listen up.
Life expectancy of Americans is now 76.6 years old, according to a 2021 study. That age has decreased since 2019, at which point an average life was 78.86 years of age. That’s not a very impressive lifespan when you consider that one woman in France, Jeanne Louise Calment, was recorded as having lived to the incredible age of 122. Calment lived 43.14 years longer than most Americans, which is quite a big difference.
Blowing out 122 candles is not a common occurrence, and Calment was actually the oldest person in the entire world, making her the only individual on record to kick up her heels and celebrate more than 120 years on planet earth. Was it something stuffed in her birthday cakes? We know staying fit, getting the right amount of sleep, and eating the right foods play a huge part in maintaining a healthy life, but let’s learn some secret changes you may not be aware of that you can easily replicate in your own everyday life.
We’re going to explore the best-kept secrets from the world’s longest living people that promote longevity and an overall healthy lifestyle.
Eat smart, but don’t overdo it
Among the world’s longest living people is Jiroemon Kimura, who lived to the ripe age of 116 years old. He had the best mindset, believing “eating light to live long” is key (according to journalist Kanoko Matsuyama from Bloomberg News, via BBC).
Livestrong reports your food consumption should be less as you age, and just how much you eat changes based on how much daily exercise you get. For instance, an older active male should consume 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day, compared to an inactive male who only needs around 2,000 to 2,200 calories. An active female’s daily calorie intake should be within the 2,000 to 2,200 range, but an inactive female should only consume 1,600 calories.
It’s critical to stay mindful of portion control, but in addition, there are many easy tweaks you can incorporate into your daily diet that are known to promote longevity. For example, green tea is a super easy addition to your morning routine or a soothing beverage to enjoy in the afternoon. This drink can potentially help you avoid heart disease and diabetes. According to AARP, research has proven that at least 5 cups of green tea each day can result in 23% fewer deaths in women and 12% fewer deaths in men.
Also, fruit (that’s completely ripened) is chock-full of health benefits. Specifically, you should choose bananas for fiber, and blackberries, watermelon, and pears for antioxidants. Watermelon with a deep red hue contains the antioxidant lycopene, which helps to decrease your risk of heart disease and cancer (via AARP).
Keep your mind active
Kane Tanaka is the oldest person on earth. At 119 years old, one of her biggest secrets is keeping her mind active by playing puzzles and board games. Tanaka will turn 120 in January.
According to a previous study, researchers found that individuals who take part in games like checkers, puzzles, cards, and crosswords a minimum of every other day did much better with memory tests and cognitive tasks. According to the director of science initiatives for the Alzheimer’s Association, Dean Hartley, the study’s findings relate to research that suggests doing these brain exercises could prolong dementia onset in certain individuals (via WebMD).
Surround yourself with family and loved ones
Kimura, the 116-year-old we spoke of earlier, apparently surrounded himself with family throughout his life. This included his kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and even great-great-grandkids.
According to Highland Springs Specialty Clinic, research proves that time spent with loved ones is instrumental in reducing anxiety and stress, promoting a healthy lifestyle, and even longevity. Be sure to make fun plans with those you love on a regular basis (from the friends you call family to your blood relatives).
Treat yourself to some guilty pleasures
Of course, it’s really important to stay on track with healthy habits, but everyone needs to indulge in some guilty pleasures every now and then. Calment, the 122-year-old we previously mentioned, enjoyed having port wine and chocolate. Tanaka is quite fond of fizzy drinks and chocolate.
Kudos to both of these smart women, because according to Michigan State University, self-care can be about the act of treating yourself. The art of self-care means paying attention to your own mental, physical, and emotional health and state of well-being in some way. Whether it’s the occasional food delight (like dark chocolate, which is actually brimming with nutrients and antioxidants), listening to your favorite music on a leisurely walk outdoors, taking a bubble bath, or going for a massage, self-care can result in a happier and healthier you. So, take a cue from some of the world’s longest living people, and indulge.
Drink black coffee on the daily
According to the blue zones—aka destinations across the globe where the world’s longest living people reside—sipping 2 to 3 cups of black coffee daily will really perk up your life in more ways than one. In fact, that’s what residents in the original blue zones do. The blue zones website also encourages you to enjoy your coffee (or tea) time with loved ones so you can catch up, get social, and share some solid laughs.
Get active, and enjoy hobbies
The world’s longest living people in the blue zones also place a major emphasis on getting up and going regularly. Calment also lead an active life filled with hobbies, as she reportedly enjoyed biking, tennis, swimming, piano, and the opera (via research from Eden’s Gate).
We all know the benefits of physical activity are aplenty. According to Mayo Clinic, getting in regular exercise can help ward off or manage diseases and health conditions, including depression, anxiety, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and stroke. Exercise will give you a mood boost, help you get better shuteye, and manage your weight. In addition, taking on new hobbies like drawing, sculpting, pottery, sewing, painting, and quilting has proven to help keep your brain strong.