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The editors at Best MHA Programs decided to research the topic of
Beyond 100: What We Can Learn from People Who Pass the Century Mark
Most people don't make it to their 100th birthday. In fact, only one in 5,000 people are expected to live that long. What are their secrets to centenarian success?
An Island of Longevity: Okinawa, Japan About the Okinawan people
Okinawans are less prone to disease. They have extremely low rates of developing:
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Colon cancer
- Inflammatory diseases
- Autoimmune diseases
Common features of the healthy Okinawan body:
- Clean arteries
- Low cholesterol
- Low homocysteine levels
This is a result of eating:
- Low calorie foods
- Fruits and veggies
- Omega-3 and Monounsaturated fats
- Tons of fiber
- Tons of flavonoids
- Tons of calcium
Okinawans also have lower rates of bone fractures
- 20% fewer incidents of fracture than mainland Japanese
- Japan has 40% fewer incidents of fracture than Americans
These people often engage in healthy activities for the mind and body, as well.
Unsurprisingly, Japan overall tops the list of countries with the highest concentrations of people ages 100+.
Highest Rates of Centenarians: Top 5 Countries
- United States
- United Kingdom
Is it their lifestyle or genes?
A New England study of centenarians found certain lifestyle traits to be common:
- No smoking
- Healthy weight
- Regular exercise
- Healthy diet
In some cases, individuals with unhealthy lifestyles have also been recorded to live long lives.
These people are exceptions or flukes.
WebMD's centenarian survey results reflect similar lifestyles:
- 89% keep their minds active
- 88% laugh often
- 82% keep physically active
- 81% try to remain independent
- 80% eat healthy foods
Apart from lifestyle, genetics do come into play. Despite how much lifestyle is a factor, genes do tie in.
- Genes are seen to count for anywhere from 10-50% of a lifespan
- Usually, it is about a third of a lifespan
Tips from centenarians:
- Louis Charpentier
- "I don't eat very much," says Charpentier, "but I always eat a fruit, a vegetable, and a little meat, and I always make sure that I get sardines and salmon at least once or twice a week."
- Maurice Eisman
- "If I could leave any message, never stop learning. Period."
- Marianne Crowder
- "I think the worst thing is stress, and you can avoid a lot of it by the way you manage your life."
- Alice Herz-Sommer
- "My twin sister was a terrible pessimist, she died when she was not yet 70 because she never laughed, never. Laughing is beautiful though."
Eating well, playing well, and getting out often are surefire ways to improve personal health. Even if you have the genes of centenarians, you can't count on reaching 100 without the right lifestyle. Ultimately, you need to take charge of your life to live longer.