Copyright (c) 2011 Free Spirit Health
Is it any surprise that Baby Boomers are fascinated with living to be 100 years old?
I am on the tail end of that generation so I still get to mock my elders for a little while as they obsess in the mirror at deepening wrinkles and commit to various diet programs and exercise regimes. Not that I don’t do the same. I turned 50 this year so I’m like the twin born 2 minutes earlier than my brother and lording my age over him his entire life.
What’s fascinating is to consider whether we have any control over our fate or if we are simply at the mercy of our genes and environment. In the book The Blue Zone by Dan Buettner, the author sites something called the Danish Twin study which suggests that only 10% of our longevity is based on genetics. That means 90% of our longevity is determined by our lifestyle choice.
The premise of Buettner’s book was to study four “blue zones”—areas of the planet with a higher percentage of people living past 100 to collect optimal lifestyle patterns that can be distilled into a formula for living longer.
These lifestyle suggestions based on the research done in conjunction with National Geographic and the National Institute on Aging can be summarized as follows:
Lead a naturally active life, gardening, walking and maintaining relevance by working at what you love past retirement.
Limit stress through prayer or meditation.
Eat wisely. None of the Blue Zone cultures were strict vegetarians, but all were 80% vegetarian and they limited the quantity of food they ate. Also, all of them drank wine just about every day.
Finally, stay connected through faith or friendships. In other words proactively surround yourself with the right tribe.
Nothing on this list seems extreme or out of whack. I would guess that there are very few surprises on this list of healthy suggestions for most baby boomers. But is simply identifying what it takes to live to 100 enough to get there?
The difference between the people that live in the Blue Zones and the rest of us is fairly profound. They were brought up in a culture that promoted a healthy lifestyle from an early age. Their subconscious was programmed with healthy habits.
For those of us brought up in the suburbs of America, for example, we were programmed with unhealthy habits. I have a vivid image of the contents of my lunch box: a hostess ding dong, a slice of bologna on white bread, a bag of fritos and a small carton of chocolate milk. I watched about 5 hours of television every day after I got home from school. I’m not making excuses for our culture or criticizing my mom–she was merely a product of our advertising culture in it’s infancy– I’m stating a fact. Look at the obesity and diabetes statistics in this country and it is obvious that our subconscious programming is out of whack.
Pointing out regions that have culturally ingrained healthy habits and suggesting we adopt those habits is extremely useful information as it ratifies common sense and much of what the alternative health community has been advocating for years, but it is only one step in the process of living to be 100 years old. The tricky part is adopting those lifestyle suggestions. We are all fighting years of ingrained subconscious programming. The subconscious is a real part of who we are, so in a way, what I’m suggesting is that we kill a part of ourselves (the negative subconscious) in order to live to be 100.
Living to 100 through subconscious suicide, now there’s a book title for you.
What is really needed is a roadmap on how to change our unhealthy habits into healthy habits. We could move to one of the blue zones in Sardinia and apply for citizenship, but our subconscious baggage will travel with us. There is really nothing left, since we do not have the benefit of being brought up in a healthy environment and culture, we must create our own.
I think I’ll start by having a glass of red wine.
Jim Witcher is a recovering attorney, entrepreneur, small business owner. He is passionate about his family, living healthy to 100, photography, travel and having a good time. Ways to Live to 100 and other fascinating exposes on health, longevity and the meaning of life can be found on Jim’s popular blogsite Free Spirit Health.