The Centenarian People: Living Beyond 100 years
It has long been a goal of mine to live beyond 100 years and perhaps even beyond 120 years. There are only a few people in the world who have achieved this degree of longevity and I find this very fascinating. It appears that there are a variety of factors to consider which determine whether someone will live a long healthy life. Diet of course is very important but more important is mental and social wellbeing. There is also the genetic factor, but this may change depending more importantly on epigenetics, which are how your genes are expressed. (You may have a gene for cancer, but if it is turned off it doesn’t matter).
There are a few lifestyle traits that are considered to be the most important factors for living a long time. The underling feature of them all is having an optimistic outlook of life, loving the people around you, and being the happiest version of yourself.
Mark Sisson: 7 Characteristics Associated with Long Life (and How to Cultivate Them)
Social Connections, Being Conscientious, Don’t Worry too Much, Optimism, Easy to Laugh, Happy, Extroverted
Forbes: 7 Life Secrets of Centenarians
A Positive Attitude, Diet, Exercise, Faith, Clean Living, Loving Family, and Good Genetics.
Long Life: ‘Extraordinary Centenarians’ Reveal The Secrets To Reaching 100
“The main thing they all had in common was that they all go with the flow… they have a remarkable ability to adapt to change and that is a huge thing,” cooper said. “They don’t sweat the small stuff but they take things on, embrace life and move forward.” “Mind your own business and don’t eat junk food. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, work hard and love what you do.”
Mentally Stability and Enlightenment
One universally consistent trait among centenarians is a sort of calmness with the world. They do not get stressed out; they are comfortable with their surroundings. This peacefulness allows internal systems to remain stable with reduced stress hormones which then help to keep systemic inflammation down. Inflammation is one of the primary drivers for a whole host of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. So with inflammation reduced, the risk of dying from many diseases is also reduced. Research is showing how much relaxing can improve the expression of the stress genes and improve immune function. Mediation has a similar effect. There is clearly a mind body connection that centenarians possess which allows them to remain immune to disease for a prolonged time.
Over the years there has been much speculation and investigation over the diets of centenarian people. What do they eat to make themselves live so long? There is a large degree of variation in diet when they are interviewed and it appears that there is no universally consistent trend. However it is safe to say most of these people having lived 100 years ago would have been eating a lot less of the food that has been created in the last 50 years. Which are mostly the refined processed products with a high glycemic index (especially sugar) which now constitute a high proportion of the average person’s diet in the western world.
The Centenarian Diet: Mother Nature Network
Here is a nicely displayed info graphic of centenarians. The main comparison is between the Okinawans and the Americans who represent the majority of the centenarians in the world. While their diets vary, the main consistent trend is the moderate to high consumption of vegetables.
- 3-7 servings of vegetables daily
- 2-3 servings of meat
- Low-glycemic index carbohydrates
- Green Tea
10 Dietary Favorites from those aged 100+: BBC
A selection of centenarians’ staples.
Herring and orange juice, vegetables, custard cakes, alcohol, sausage in bread, bread, dripping, salt, porridge, boiled rice and chicken, cottage cheese, donkey milk.
“Britain’s oldest woman Florence Baldwin, who turns 113 on Tuesday, puts her longevity down to a daily fried egg sandwich. It’s one of many dietary tips from those who have reached three figures. “
“If there’s one thing we can say about centenarians, it’s that nothing bothers them.”
What do Centenarian’s Eat? : Birgit Care
- 80% of their diet is eaten uncooked
- They eat a diet high in vegetables, nothing processed or packaged.
- They eat lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, beans and nuts.
- They stop eating before they feel full.
Paul Jaminet makes a convincing argument that while centenarian diets may vary significantly supercentenrian diets follows two main principles.
1) Calorie-restriction and intermittent fasting.
2) High (saturated and monounsaturated) fat low-carb diets.
These two principles follow in line with the biohacking keto paleo idea of optimal health. This makes sense that eating the way we have adapted to eat for thousands of years would be better for us. There has also been excellent research done on fasting to increase lifespan.
What Can we Learn From Centenarians Diet?
While investigating what centenarians eat one thing becomes perfectly clear, humans are pretty well adapted to eat a wide variety of food items and still do pretty well. Living to 100 these days is becoming increasingly possible with advancements in technology and research into the subject of longevity. Humans are very adaptive and can probably endure significant amounts of what may be considered inappropriate food items. There is science that shows smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol is bad for our health and yet we still find examples of people doing both and living over 100. Can we really use these people’s diet as a reference to our own wellbeing or are they simply genetic outliers?
Add Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years
If you live longer in agony and have miserable existence what’s the point? We don’t just want to live longer, we want to feel younger and operate at a high level for our whole life. If eating dirt and grass made you live longer, would you eat it? Probably not because it’s disgusting. Most Centenarians ate what they wanted without consideration of recommended food guidelines. A hundred years ago this would be great for most people as processed foods pretty much didn’t exist. They would then by default be eating some pretty good food. This is no longer the case as we are bombarded with food options, many of which are processed and not good for us. We need to figure out what optimal food is to provide perfect health. Food should make you feel good, have high energy, keep you free of disease, and provide you with a clear sharp mind. If you are not performing optimally, you need to change it up to find what works best.
The Life and Health of Jeanne Calment: 122 years old, longest confirmed human lifespan
Calment’s remarkable health presaged her later record. At age 85 (1960), she took up fencing, and continued to ride her bicycle up until her 100th birthday. She was reportedly neither athletic nor fanatical about her health. Calment lived on her own until shortly before her 110th birthday, when it was decided that she needed to be moved to a nursing home after a cooking accident (due to complications with sight) started a small fire in her house. However, Calment was still in good shape, and continued to walk until she fractured her femur during a fall at age 114 years 11 months (January 1990), which required surgery.
Calment smoked from the age of 21 (1896) to 117 (1992), though according to an unspecified source, she smoked no more than two cigarettes per day.
Calment ascribed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance for her age to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed onto her skin, as well as a diet of port wine, and ate nearly one kilogram (2.2 lb) of chocolate every week. Calment reportedly remained mentally intact until her very end.
What Can we Learn From Centenarians Lifestyle?
The one thing that is universally true about centenarians is their easy going behavior. Not only does this provide a host of benefits which improves their biomarkers for disease, it’s a much more enjoyable way to live. If you are stressed out, fighting people, and are anxious; you are not going to enjoy this life. You need to figure out how to let go, relax and enjoy the ride. This isn’t to say that you let people walk all over you and control your life but instead to pick your battles wisely.
“If the problem has a solution, worrying is pointless; in the end the problem will be solved. If the problem has no solution, there is no reason to worry, because it can’t be solved.” – Zen Proverb
The Future of Centenarians: The Bottom Line
The research and understanding of the centenarian diet and lifestyle is varied. There are some consistent trends such as eating lots of vegetables, some intermittent fasting, loving your family, and being in general a happy person. I’m sure as time develops we will see more research done as there will be an increasing number of centenarians in the coming decades. It will be interesting to see if there will be more to understand of these rare people. Let them be a guide for us all to live a long and excellent life!
“Eat your vegetables, have a positive outlook, be kind to people, and smile.”
― Kamada Nakasato 102-year-old female from Okinawa
For more information on living a long healthy life check out : Fasting for Autophagy: Living Long and Healthy