To be given the grand title of “centenarian” one must live to the ripe old age 100.
Once upon a time this seemed to be an incredible feat but Australians over the age of 90 are now the fastest growing group in the population. In Australia today there are approximately 3000 centenarians but this number is predict to drastically increase to over 75,000 by 2055.
This has promptly a lot of research into determining the sort of characteristics (if any) that centenarians have in common.
So what’s the secret?
Well first the good news. There actually doesn’t seem to be a typical life pattern shared by these centenarians. Genetics is NOT the biggest determinate as many had siblings who died at a much younger age. Neither is ethnicity or gender. Some were very active, others were lazier. Some were vegetarians, other loved junkier food.
There are however several critical traits that have become evident in studies and they are as follows:
1) No Smoking
Very few centenarians have ever smoked (but that’s not to say some have). And this makes sense seeing as cigarette smoking is the largest cause of premature death and disease here in Australia. Tobacco deaths don’t however just occur in old age – the effects begin when smokers are around the age 35. A smoker shaves about 25 years off their life expectancy and 50 per cent of those who die from smoking-related causes die in middle age.
2) You Are What You Eat
Whilst a few centenarians are revered for the fact they love their coffee and chocolate for the most part these folk EAT WELL.
In Okinawa Japan there is a community with the world’s most healthy centenarians and their diet is relatively simple. They eat lot of grains, vegetables and fish. Also they have a diet low in eggs, dairy and meat and they drink lots of water.
Much like the saying: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper, most centenarians DO NOT OVEREAT.
3) Avoid All Softdrinks
Very few centenarians have ever spoken about their love for this sugary and sweet (whether with natural sugar or artificial chemicals) drink. This is because soft-drinks contain an alarming amount of sugar and calories or in the diet alternative lots of harmful additives that have absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. Some alcohol is fine but soft-drinks are a definite no-no.
4) Have an Outgoing, Sociable Nature
It’s all in the attitude. For the most part those who make it to over 100 are extroverted, good natured folk who like to take everything in their stride. They also have a resilience that has helped them get through good times and bad. They maintain a positive attitude, even though hardships and are able to more easily overcome obstacles. This also has a positive impact on stress levels and undoubtedly LESS STRESS has a positive impact on life.
5) Exercise Regularly
For the majority of centenarians exercise has played a vital role in keeping them in good health. Whether it’s more vigorous physical activity or just talking a long daily walk many tout the numerous benefits of exercise: better fitness, more alert minds and help in maintaining a leaner physique.
6) Sleep well
Now you have a good reason to get to bed earlier. In a study 71% of centenarians reported having 8 hours of sleep or more. But it’s almost common knowledge how important sleep is to our livelihood. Decades of clinical research have already shown that a good night’s rest helps support nearly every system in our body, including: our skin (both its health and appearance), help in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar levels , along with its positive impact on cardiovascular health and cancer prevention.
In a nutshell if you want to increase your chances of living a long and healthy life consider embracing some of these secrets given to us by centenarians. We may not get to 100 but we will be providing ourselves with the best opportunity to reach a ripe old age.
Postscript – And yes we can confirm that the image of the older Japanese woman (whose gorgeous face is featured in this blog) is indeed plus 100 years old. Such a fantastic achievement!