If you are planning on living forever you may want to consider relocating to a new locale. Where? Well, Dan Buetter, author of “Blue Zones: 9 lessons for living longer from the people who’ve lived the longest”, has done the work for us. He has travelled the world tracking the 5 best places to live to increase your life expectancy.
The following places were outlined as the top five places to keep you alive and kicking:
#5 Okinawa, Japan
For women specifically, Okinawa Japan is one of the most fruitful places to live.
In 2013, Misa Okawa was named The Guinness World Record Book holder for being the oldest woman alive at the age of 115. Misa is among one of the 50,000 centurians from Japan, making Japan one of the best places to be if you want live forever. And, Okinawa just so happens to be a leader when it comes to longevity.
A diet rich in vegetables and fish leads researchers to believe that the cause of longevity in Okinawa, and Japan at large, is attributed to their healthy diet. The Japanese culture on average consumer 25% less calories than their North America friends. Naomi Moriyama, co-author of “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen”, says that the Japanese diet, “concentrates the magnificent energy of food into a compact and pleasurable size.”
The Okinawans are also known to lead a low stress lifestyle. They are not run by clocks and alarm systems and have no concept of rush hour. Most Okinawans take time to meditate daily.
And, lastly genetics plays a role. The Japanese people are less genetically predisposed to a variety of harmful diseases. And when they do get sick they use natural medicinal products to treat their ailments.
#4 Nuoro highlands of Sardinia
If you are a male you may want to check out home in a Sardinia, in Nuoro to be precise. Sardinia, a Mediterranean island 120 miles off the coast of Italy hosts the world’s longest-lived men. In a cluster of 17 villages in island’s highland Nuoro, Province, you find nearly 10 times the number of centenarians per 1000 people than you do in America.
The male population of Nuoro is comprised of mainly farmers, labourers and sheep herders that maintain a lifestyle rich in physical activity. Walking is a standard part of their lives. Sardinian centenarians walk long distances their entire lives and suffer from half as many fractures as their Italian counterparts.
Sardinians consume milk and cheese, not from dairy cows but from goats. The goats in this region have a unique quality. They eat dwarf curry, a plant currently used in the U.S. to make anti-inflammatory drugs. Sardinians also consume large quantities of dark red wine, fava beans, and barley.
A positive attitude could also be the answer to their life lengthening success. They take time out of their days to stop and enjoy the simple beauty of their surroundings and spend a great deal of their life in nature’s bounty. They foster a sarcastic sense of humor, and a unique outlook and perspective on life. This attitude helps them shed stress and diffuse arguments before they start.
#3 Nicoya Pennisula of Costa Rica
Just across the Taiwan Friendship Bridge, which spans the alligator-infested Tempisque River, lies an 80-mile-long finger of land, the Nicoyan Peninsula. The tropical sun dominates this area, located just south of the Nicaraguan border, along the Pacific coast. Until 2003 Nicoya was an isolated region accessible only by ferry until the Taiwan Friendship bridge was constructed.
Nicoyans drink hard water. High amounts of calcium and magnesium, essential for bone and muscle strength, can be found in Nicoya’s water. By drinking and cooking with this water, people here get their daily intake of calcium throughout their entire lives. The Nicoyans also eat rich, colorful fruits. The maroñon, a red-orange fruit with more vitamin C than oranges and the anona, a pear-like fruit rich in antioxidants are the Nicoyans nutrient dense longevity foods.
You may have heard of the common term “raison d’etre”, meaning “reason for being”. This approach to life is a necessity in Nicoyan society and known as their “plan de vida”. The plan de vida gives them a sense of purpose and nourishes a rich lifestyle with community at the core of their value system.
#2 Loma Linda, California
If you want to reside in North America you should check out Loma Linda, a town 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Loma Linda contains about 9,000 Seventh-day Adventists that are the longest-lived people in America. The Adventists, which came to California in the 1840s, built a culture focused on health by encouraging vegetarianism, and discouraging alcohol, smoking and soda. The Adventists also managed various water treatment centres, or spas, where people came to relax and unwind.
Adventists have reduced rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, including lung, heart disease and diabetes, compared to the average American which stems from their diet rich in nuts. Further studies linked drinking 5-6 glasses of water to heart health, decreasing the rate of heart attacks.
The Adventist culture is known for their altruism. The practice of volunteering has been known to stave off depression and positively contribute to a rich social network.
#1 Ikaria, Greece
Also known as the island of long life, Ikaria Greece is home to oldest living people in the world. Deep within the Aegean sea, 35 miles off the coast of Turkey lies the Greek island of Ikaria. People are three times more likely to reach age 90 here than in the U.S.
Chronic diseases are a rarity in Ikaria. People living in this region have 20% less cancer, half the rate of cardiovascular disease, and almost no dementia! It could be attributed to the emphasis on daily napping, which has been proven to reduce your chance of cardiovascular disease by up to 35%.
People traditionally have farming or fishing jobs and live in a mountainous terrain, which keep them active throughout life. Physical activity is a staple to the Ikarian lifestyle.
They eat a variation of the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, whole grains, fruit and a little fish. Goat milk and wine are also traditional here and loaded with antioxidants. They also drink tea. Many of the teas in Ikaria act as mild diuretics and are prescribed by doctors to lower blood pressure.
So, in the end what did we learn? You don’t necessarily have to move to change your lifestyle just learn from the people that have got it right. Eat healthy, a diet with ample vegetables and less red meat. Incorporate physical activity into your everyday life. Spend time with your community. People give us rich social connection that helps us thrive. And, if you are lucky, make like an Ikarian and take a daily nap!