Turning 100 years old is worth celebrating. But what does it truly take to reach this advanced age? It’s no surprise that diet, lifestyle and social connections play a major role. Read this blog to learn more!
Going from 0 to 100 may seem like a goal reserved for a few special individuals but researchers predict that the number of people becoming centenarians is on the rise. In fact, by 2050 it’s estimated that the world’s centenarian population will grow by eightfold!1
There is something fascinating about looking into the lives of centenarians. How does somebody get to the triple digits? What are the lifestyles, diets, and health practices of centenarians? And the ultimate question, what changes do I need to make to my current health care plan so I can blow out 100 birthday candles?
These questions, and more, have been on the mind of many researchers. So much so, that they’ve narrowed down 5 places around the world where people live to be over 100 years old and narrowed down on the longevity secrets of centenarians.
Now I know what you’re thinking, it must be genetics, right? Nope. Interestingly, genes only play a 20% role in determining how long someone will live. That means, the what you do in your day to day determines your average time on Earth.2
The Blue Zones2
The blue zones are areas around the world where individuals live to 100 more frequently than other places.
The 5 blue zones are:
- Loma Linda, CA, USA
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Sardinia, Italy
- Ikaria, Greece
- Okinawa, Japan
While it’s important to identify these communities, what’s even more important is to understand what these centenarians do daily. Lo and behold the Power 9 – nine powerful evidence-based health habits common among centenarians to go from 0 to 100 and beyond.
The powerful health habits of centenarians:
It’s easy to think that centenarians are spending copious amounts of time at the gym or running countless marathons. Think again! Centenarians are more active because they live in environments that allow them the opportunity to move often. They walk to places more often than relying on vehicles.
First and foremost, centenarians follow the 80% rule when it comes to diet. Most centenarians eat until they are 80% full. This keeps their weight in check.
Centenarians enjoy a variety of foods and limit a few. Staple foods in their diets are lentils and legumes, especially fava beans and soy. While centenarians still eat meat, they limit its intake. Pork is only consumed an average of 5 times a month and all other meats are portioned.
While meat is limited, wine is not. In fact, 4 out of the 5 communities enjoyed 1-2 glasses of wine every day – with friends and with a meal. Cheers to that!
“Stress is a silent killer” but not for centenarians! Yes, they still get stressed but they also have a daily routine set in place, for stress management. Various stress management techniques of the Blue zones include prayer, taking a nap, participating in happy hour and remembering ancestors.
Where you live can also determine how old you’ll live. Living in a community where you can easily walk,3 have access to fresh fruits and vegetables over processed food,2 and are in a mixed-age community3 can help increase longevity.
Purpose, Family and Community2
Another factor centenarians all have in common is that they have a purpose. They wake up in the morning knowing what their role in their community is, which can extend life by 7 years.2 Centenarians are also known to not just be physically active but be mentally active as well. Research shows that some centenarians still worked, or at least volunteered in their community to keep their minds sharp and active!4
Centenarians give their families the utmost importance. Older, aging parents are close by or at home, they commit to one partner and are attentive to their children.2
They also have a robust, supportive social circle which supports healthy lifestyle choices!2
Reaching the age of a centenarian may not be as difficult as it seems. Move more, be more mindful of your diet, find a purpose and a loving group of individuals who support you, and you’ll be ringing in your 100th birthday in good time!
- Stepler, R. (2020, May 30). World Population Ages 100 and up to grow eightfold by 2050, UN projects. Pew Research Center. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/21/worlds-centenarian-population-projected-to-grow-eightfold-by-2050/
- Buettner, D., & Skemp, S. (2016). Blue Zones: Lessons From the World's Longest Lived. American journal of lifestyle medicine, 10(5), 318–321. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827616637066
- Washington State University. "Centenarian study suggests living environment may be key to longevity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 June 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200617145256.htm>.
- Super agers and centenarians: The search for protective factors. Simons Foundation. (2021, September 14). Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://www.simonsfoundation.org/2021/09/14/super-agers-and-centenarians-the-search-for-protective-factors/