In my quest to find an answer to the question “ How can I keep from, getting old?” I stumbled upon the book “Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples” by John Robbins. The core of this book is the study of four cultures that have a history of producing long-lived people. Specifically, it looks at the Abkhasia of the Caucasus, the Vilcabamba or Ecuador, the Hunza and the centenarians of Japan. It also discusses the China Study in some detail, which was the largest anti-cancer prevention study ever undertaken. In short, the book discusses what these cultures have in common and provides informed opinions about the reasons they are able to achieve extraordinary longevity.
It was interesting reading and experiencing a kind of change of perspective about getting old as something to be avoided at all cost. This book explores aging in a healthy and natural way, and we see intimately into the lives of people who experience aging as an exchange: of wisdom for innocence, and valued experience for muscle tone.
I’d like to share what I took away from this book.
- Have a positive attitude toward aging that is lacking in our society. People in these societies cherish their old folks. There is a preservation of the social role of older people in the family and the village community. The psychological comfort of the elderly, due to the higher rate of inclusion in the affairs of the family and village, is greatly increased. People of this age are respected. Old people are invited to family celebrations, where they are given a place of honor. These societies are trying to protect their older citizens from stress, and are committed to providing better living conditions, nutrition, and care than those societies with lower rates of longevity.
- Are in denial. Centenarians have very low level of anxiety, and are often “in denial” about the fact of aging. 80% of centenarians surveyed believe that they are not very old. Centenarians seem to have triggered a defense against awareness of the fact of aging and the inevitability of death; they think they will live forever!
- Are all mentally” in la- la land”; nothing makes them too upset, too stressed, too angry, too hateful, too depressed, or too scared.
- Have high level of intelligence and sense of humor. They are laughing their age off!
- Don’t “think old.” They are willing to have contact with others, they are not hypochondriacal, and unlike many older people, do not dwell on the distant past. They have a youthful way of thinking that manifests high intensity, vividness and emotional needs.
- Are sexual and have regular sex with their younger wives (you know, compared to their 110 years, a 95 year old wife is a spring chicken!).
- Exercise regularly, calling it physical labor and as a result have well-developed muscles with enough preserved tone that age-related changes in bone (osteoporosis) are expressed slightly.
- Eat a low calorie diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables (picked fresh and eaten almost immediately), as well as nuts and some whole grains. They consume very few animal products, but include fermented dairy products made from cow, goat or sheep’s milk, and more rarely, fresh meat, with the fat removed.
- Die from old age at home, not hooked up to tubes and machines in hospitals or assistant living facilities.
Yay, centenarians! When I grow up, I want to be just like you!!!