Pillars Of Longevity
There are millions of people in the world who have lived very long, healthy lives, following certain values and habits. Researchers have been observing the lives of old people who have lived to be 100 and beyond – those old people who seem to have lives that, though filled with many ups and downs, have come out smiling. They are happy, flexible, mentally sound and content. But what have kept these people going for so long – are there pillars of longevity? Or are they just lucky to have reached a good old age? Maybe it is because of their genes.
Healthier lifestyles along with excellent strides in the medical field have enabled many people for example in the USA to live longer lives. However, there are some people who live way past the expected lifespan years of 81 for women and 76 for men. Strong genes are important, they go a long way.
There are pillars of longevity in Ikaria, Greece
Researchers have traveled all over the world to find some really old people – to find out what were the factors that allowed them to reach their golden years, still all ‘put together’. They also wanted to examine the kind of environment they lived in. One author, Buettner, who wrote a book, Blue Zones, studied a place in Greece called Ikaria. This is an 88 square mile island which is situated just 30 miles off the Turkey coast. In his book, he wanted to shed light on the people who lived there, their values and their habits. He found that on this island, there are ten times as many siblings who live on Ikaria who are over the age of 90 compared to any other places across Europe. What they discovered, in their research, was that the people who lived there, the Ikarians, seemed to have far fewer incidents of cancer, depression, and dementia as well as cardiovascular disease than other parts of Europe. What they noticed with the Ikarians was that they lived the Mediterranean diet way of eating, very healthy, filled with vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, beans, healthy fats, and fish and sea types. Then they noticed that the habits and values of the Ikaria people were also observed in four other parts of Europe as well, namely Sardinia in Italy, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, Loma Linda in California and Okinawa in Japan.
In conclusion of the research on why people live so long in these areas, the researchers put together 10 pillars of longevity which they believe, all the people of Ikaria and the other 4 places in Europe had in common as far as longevity was concerned.
Ten strong pillars of longevity proven by real people beyond their 90s
- They were always physical:
- Those people who lived such long lives said they were forever moving. No, they weren’t well-known athletes who participated in triathletes and all kinds of marathons. No, they just were on the move all the time, being physically active from all the activities that life demanded from them.
- These people were farmers or fisherman; they were active people living in the villages. They did not jump onto buses or Uber facilities to take them around; they walked all over the place to do their business, visiting their friends, going to the markets, etc.
- Ok, so modern city living calls for different measures, right? Today, we have moved quite a bit away from the quiet still life in the cities where our work takes us. But you can still be very much on the move, finding exercises that you really enjoy and can stick to. People who are out there exercising sometimes can’t do it properly because they no longer have the right flexibility and muscle strength any longer. It was the Greek philosopher, Aristotle who said, we are what we repeatedly do.
- You need to make a habit of excellence. If you want the champ body and the champ health, you need to start with routine, sticking to your routine. You need to use your body to its fullest capacity. Free running is such an exercise. Run around your built-up area, making use of any structures you come across like staircases, benches, ramps. Jump over them, run along them, do pulls up, pull and push to give your body a full conditioning workout.
- Very little stress:
- Stress is not enjoyable, really, it just takes a toll on the body, tiring it out, aging it. It’s like a fish trying to swim upstream. When life throws stressful things at you like environmental factors, radiation, genetic predisposition to disease – the price you pay for the energy that you use to swim upstream is a major stress. People with high pressured jobs are swimming in this stream, using up heaps of energy and taking big risks which can take a toll on their health.
- A stressed-out brain looks the same as an old brain – depleted connections between the nerve cells. It is believed that stress raises the temperature of the body, which results in thermal injury to your intra-neural connections. Another thought is that stress interferes with the cortisol receptors in your brain which can cause a chemical imbalance, killing off nerve cell connections. Whatever it is, the results are disturbing, sometimes devastating.
- Denying you have stress in your life is not good either, and can damage your health. We all need to find ways to get rid of stress, whether it’s praying or exercising or taking anti-anxiety supplements – we have to deal with stress.
- Eating nutrient dense foods:
- Food from the oldies researched from Ikaria found that they ate plenty of plant-based foods, being predominantly vegetarian, enjoying the foods that grew naturally – olives, nuts, and seeds with small amounts of meat, fish, and dairy.
- They also relied on home cooked meals, made from the local ingredients, growing herbs in their own gardens.
- It appears as if processed foods did not pass over their lips because their food was naturally grown and nutrient dense. They ate optimal diets which gave them fiber, antioxidants and vital omega 3 which is so excellent for the brain and heart. They ate organically grown apples, not apple juice or applesauce, they ate natural oats, not fortified, sugar added puffed oats. Get the picture?
- Building on family and friends:
- Scientists say that getting to a ripe old age does seem to run in some families, thanks to genetic inheritance. To fully express the favorable genes, those who had reached over 90 were known to be supported by living optimal lifestyles within optimal environments – close bonds to family, friends, and work were all key to wellness.
- Researchers say close relationships are equal to physical fitness and good nutrition. Happiness hasn’t got so much to do with your material possessions as it has to do with people being rooted in rich and satisfying relationships from within the workplace, to within the family, to friends.
- Everyone needs to reach out and connect. Those people who live healthy, long lives are usually active members of their social circles, involved in hobbies and activities that challenge them and where they have fun times, supporting and connecting with each other in good times and bad times. In times of joy or in times of sorrow, they all rally around, supporting and encouraging; it keeps them mentally motivated and content.
- There is faith, love, joy, hope, and peace:
- These people loved their faith and gathered together with their friends and family to draw from their beliefs. They love and live in close communities, building strong bonds of fellowship with their families.
- They are filled with joy because they love their jobs and their lives as they work and play together.
- Because they are satisfied and accomplished, they are filled with peace – all healing that comes is self-induced from these physiological factors in their lives.
- Put negativity behind you and be an optimist:
- The mind is surely exposed to innumerable emotions every day, good ones and bad ones, and they influence stress which keeps on surviving when danger seems to threat.
- As the mind imagines negative obstacles along its path, it considers the actions and feelings in any given situation.
- If you are someone who believes that your best days are ‘over’, you are not living to your full potential. Some people believe that they don’t have the resources to create a better tomorrow for themselves – they resign themselves to the fact that it just won’t happen. But there is one tool – an open mind.
- Because nothing is forever or certain, never put a value on anything other than yourself.
- When you lose that open mind, you lose your purpose.
- Your future holds plenty of opportunity for you than you could ever imagine. No successful people got where they were without pushing past their failures of the past. Look at successful ‘failures’ – Winston Churchill, Walt Disney. These people realized that the world offered them something much bigger than their being rejected.
- Even though setbacks can seem like mountains impassable, consider the hurdles you have already overcome and survived. Look for the positivity and beauty in each opportunity that comes your way. It is a chance to explore the unknown, exploring beyond your comfort zone. Because when you realize what separates the happy and successful from the unhappy and down-and-out, you have the willingness to take risks, striving for progression.
- Embrace change and opportunities as your chance to grow and learn. Whether it’s a blind date you are anticipating, an inspired idea, or an unexpected career move, embrace it. Here is your chance to learn and grow.
- Too many individuals are afraid of their potential and never recognize the level of greatness they are fully capable of. Some people won’t even try and strive to reach their utmost levels because they sitting comfy in their own mediocrity. They say they’re fine to be unnoticed, they’re fine not ruffling any feathers, and they’re fine from staying safely within the opinions of others. But deep down, how they long to break out!
- Have a purpose in life:
- In order for you to have a rich and satisfying life, you need a purpose. That means you need to be authentic, truthful, introspective, adventuresome, fun, giving, supportive and clear about where you are going – that is also what gets people to live long and rich lives when they have a purpose and they are working to that end purpose. It makes them motivated and prepared.
- You need to be true to your purpose in life, doing what makes you feel fulfilled and happy and not trying to make other people happy. What you get back is satisfaction, happiness, pride, and gratitude.
- Hormone therapies are anti-aging therapies:
- There are heaps of studies that come out of the National Institute on Aging which points to hormones that work together for a long life – if they are in balance. This isn’t about getting rid of wrinkles. This is about stopping the aging of the body as a whole, it’s about what keeps it functioning, mentally and physically at its peak; it about what is going on the inside of your body.
- There are amazing hormone therapies that contribute towards anti-aging. But you must get these from professional people because you need to know the right way to use them. It’s not simply replacing decreasing hormones, it’s more about maintaining a good body condition and hormone therapies can achieve this.
- Detoxification is an age-old practice:
- Whether it’s part of religious purification rites or just part of natural healing detoxification, detoxification is definitely a pillar to a long and healthy life. The reason detoxification is a strong pillar is because it gives the mind and body rest against the onslaughts of life; to clear it of the garbage accumulated over time, giving the body time to rebalance.
- Sleep is a huge part of the longevity lifestyle. When we don’t get enough sleep, our work is affected, our relationships with other people are affected, our decision-making is affected and our general well-being cannot function at its peak.
- When we don’t get enough sleep, we just simply depress our immune system, raising the stress hormones and contributing to an increase in weight.
- Sleep is vital for good memory, cognitive performance, and mood control.
These 10 pillars of longevity and the principals by which the above groups of people have lived have actually been adopted by the business, Healthways. The researchers who came back from Ikaria work with Healthways to try and encourage businesses in cities to draw up plans for better infrastructures to encourage people to also achieve and take from the 10 pillars of longevity. They have discovered that plenty of very wise knowledge has come from the little island of Ikaria – they are trying to establish these kinds of pillars to positively influence people’s lives.
The secrets of highly effective, long, and contented lives
Some of the people from Ikaria put down their long lives of over 100 down to “living in moderation”, not overdoing anything, eating well, sleeping well, not overdrinking or eating and exercising regularly. It is as simple as that, and yet, highly effective. As mentioned above, genetics and behaviors certainly do play a role in factoring in whether you will make it to your 100th birthday, or not – maybe even older. However, these are not guarantees. As increasing numbers of people are reaching their triple-digit birthdays and figuring it all out by researchers has taken on new importance.
In the USA, the centenarian figures are growing too – between the years 1980- 2010, the numbers of these aged people rose from ±32,000-53,000. When some of these oldsters were questioned about achieving such wonderful ages, many of them echoed what others from Ikaria had experienced in their lifetimes, they ate well, they slept well, and they didn’t overdrink or overeat, exercising regularly. One old lady said, “We just stay busy all the time and that has helped”.
It’s as simple as that!
Studies are confirming that people’s lifestyles are simply what are getting them to reach such excellent ages. They are people who don’t smoke, they are all lean and not overweight with high levels of good cholesterol, their stress levels are managed excellently, they are exercising more, and they are busy. Today’s people are taking better care of their lifestyles, they are becoming more educated, and the more educated they become; the more they follow their doctors’ advice. The world also has started moving away from the traditional ways of institutional care, and older people are moving into lifestyle villages, where they seem to live lives similar to those of the Ikarian oldsters. They are traveling, they are exploring, they are spending time with and making new friends at their lifestyle village, and on top of it, they have peace of mind that their health is taken care of right there on the premises. Their purpose is life is being fulfilled.
Live life to the fullest – because what you put in is what you get out
Yes, the fountain of youth for the people of Ikaria is all about their way of life – their contented and busy lifestyle in a close-knit community – these are the over 90s, with many of them seemingly on their way to reach their century. They are not surprised by their old age – they expect it to be like that. They share much in common, strong pillars of longevity that have held them all together – pillars of health, exercise, hard work ethics, connecting with others and many other positive attributes.
It is possible for each one of us to live to be over 100, sure. It might mean a change of lifestyle, focusing on your diet and your nutritional needs. You can also bask in your own fountain of youth if you are prepared to make some changes. A tree needs to build strong, firm roots because it can start reaching for the sun and the skies. And like the people of Ikaria, we need to build solid foundations in our life before we too can reach for the stars and fulfill all our aspirations.The world we are living in today is growing more abundant all the time. What about your life? Is it abundant, built on strong foundations with strong lifestyle pillars to sustain you? When the winds of adversity and stress blow your way, there are pillars of longevity to rely on that you can count on to take you well into your golden years – they’ve been proven true.