Sunday, April 12, 2015

why cheat ?

There was something in the title of this article that initially sounded appealing:  a "cheater's guide" as if this information would give you (dear reader) an edge to living well and long.  But it did not sit well with me, because there is no need to cheat to have the benefit.  And (not less importantly), cheating is unfair and is simply not ethical.   My impression of "cheating"  that might give you a temporary advantage, lives in a "win-lose world".  In a world where "win-win" is allowed, there is no need for cheating.

I do understand that sometimes there is a perceived need to have a provocative eye-catching lead to grab eyeballs;  boring headlines are ignored.  But there seems no need to endorse fundamentally unethical behavior.  Do something else, please.

The short version of the article consists of four things to do:
1. Find Your Tribe
2. Eat Smart
3. Seek a Purpose
4. Move It 


The Cheater's Guide to Living to 100
April 3, 2015 – 5:00 AM
(Dollar Photo Club)

Four super-simple secrets to living longer, healthier and happier—from longevity expert Dan Buettner and centenarians around the world

By Ginny Graves

You turn 50 and suddenly you’re pegged as “middle-aged.” But what if it really was the middle, and you could expect to live to 100 or even 120? Don’t laugh. There are 53,364 centenarians in the U.S. today, according to the latest Census Bureau figures, and experts estimate that number could skyrocket to 600,000 by 2050. Better yet, many of these oldsters will defy the doddering stereotype. Take Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Michigan. She was still bowling at 104 and getting around with the help of a walker last May—when she celebrated her 115th birthday. Last year, UnitedHealthcare polled 104 people who’ve reached triple digits and found that not a single one felt sad or burdened, or even particularly old. On average, they said, they felt more like whippersnappers of 83.

Interested in joining this club? Enter journalist Dan Buettner. He has spent over a decade studying the healthiest, longest-living people around the world, from residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa to the Greek island of Ikaria—so-called “Blue Zones,” or longevity hotspots (Sardinia, Loma Linda, Calif. and Nicoya, Costa Rica are the others), where people live to 100 or older at much higher-than-average rates.

“These aren’t the frail elderly,” he says. “They’re still working, riding bikes, socializing, having sex and enjoying life.”

Since 2009, Buettner has taken the Blue Zones lessons to a few U.S. cities, transforming their residents’ health. Now, he’s letting the rest of us in on their secrets in his new book, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People (National Geographic Books). Here are the most important longevity-boosting habits of centenarians around the globe. Adopt even a few, and you’ll stand a better chance of celebrating your 100th birthday.

1. Find Your Tribe
“Who you hang out with trumps just about everything else when it comes to your health,” says Buettner. He found that the people who live longest surround themselves with people who support healthy behaviors, and other research backs that up: When psychologists at Brigham Young University reviewed 148 studies on social relationships, they found that those with stronger connections were half as likely to die as those with weaker ties during the study periods. One explanation: “Health habits—both good and bad—can spread like a contagion,” says Noah Webster, Ph.D., an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Life Course Development Institute for Social Research.

Buettner uncovered especially strong evidence of the longevity-boosting effect of friends in ultra-old Okinawans, who form moais (rhymes with “doe eyes”)—groups of lifelong alliances. It’s a concept he has introduced in American cities, including Redondo Beach, Calif., where Joan Edelman lives. More than four years ago, Edelman and her husband met a handful of strangers at a Blue Zones get-together and formed a beach-walking moai; they’ve walked four miles four days a week ever since. “There are 13 of us, ranging from our 40s to 80s,” says Edelman, 67. “We’ve become very close. When someone has a crisis, we show up.”

Centenarians from Blue Zones also take advantage of the life-giving power of social connections in other ways: They belong to a faith-based community (attending services four times a month can add up to 14 years to your life, Buettner says) and have close-knit families.

“Extended families live near each other, if not together, and they invest time and energy not only in their children but in their parents, grandparents and life partners,” Buettner says. “Just committing to a life partner can add up to three years to your life, according to our research.”

2. Eat Smart
The world’s most robust 100-year-olds stick with diets that are 95 percent plant-based, says Buettner. “They eat a little meat, but mostly fish,” he says. British researchers tracked 65,000 people for 12 years and found that those who ate seven or more portions of vegetables and fruits every day lowered their risk of dying from the two leading causes of death—cancer and cardiovascular disease—by 25 percent and 31 percent.

“Protein, especially from animal sources, activates two sets of genes that accelerate aging,” says Valter Longo, Ph.D., director of the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute, whose studies have shown that people with the highest protein intake have the highest risk of cancer and mortality compared with those who eat the least.

Never learned to love veggies? Take a page from David and Beverly Van Dillen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., who formed a monthly potluck moai a couple of years ago. “We have a group of 12 people, and we support each other in healthy eating and share our favorite recipes,” says Beverly, 70. Since increasing their vegetable consumption, she’s been able to discontinue her cholesterol and blood pressure medications, and David, 69, has lost 40 pounds. “We feel better, we look better and we’re objectively healthier—and we have a great new group of friends we truly enjoy,” he says. (Go to for a longevity-boosting recipe.)

Blue Zones centenarians approach eating differently, too, says Buettner. Before every meal, Okinawans invoke a 2,500-year-old Confucian mantra, known as hara hachi bu, to remind themselves to stop eating when they’re 80 percent full. People in the Blue Zones also eat their largest meal in the morning and their smallest at night.

As for beverages, most Blue Zones centenarians have a glass of wine a day—a habit that research shows boosts longevity.

3. Seek a Purpose
Very old Blue Zoners share another trait: They have an activity, passion or career that motivates them and gives their lives meaning. “Okinawans call it ikigai, and those who live in Nicoya, Costa Rica, call it plan de vida, both of which mean ‘Why I wake up in the morning,’” says Buettner. In one 14-year study, researchers found that the 569 participants who died had scored lower on ratings of life purpose and social relationships than those who survived. Their conclusion: Having a purpose in life provides a buffer against mortality, no matter your age.

Sense of purpose can come from a variety of sources, but volunteering is a common one. “There’s growing evidence that it not only keeps you healthier but might help you live longer,” says Webster. For some people, a sense of purpose evolves naturally—they discover they love singing in a choir, tutoring children or building model trains. For others, it’s less clear. “I looked into everything, from volunteering to a drum circle,” says Beverly Van Dillen. “Then I realized nothing gives me more satisfaction than helping our daughter with our grandchildren, who are 2 and 3.”

Having a sense of purpose might contribute to longevity by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. “Chronic stress leads to inflammation, which is associated with every age-related disease,” Buettner says.

4. Move It
It’s no surprise that physical activity also keeps Blue Zoners young. What is unexpected: “They don’t exercise, per se,” says Buettner. “Instead, their lifestyles encourage physical activity.” They garden, bake bread from scratch and walk to the store or to work.

Of course, structured exercise is healthy, too—it can extend life expectancy by 4.5 years, according to a 2012 study by the National Institutes of Health. If you don’t already have a regular routine, consider starting a walking moai. Brian Mattson, 44, of Albert Lea, Minn., has participated in one since the Blue Zones crew came to his town seven years ago.

“We walk every Tuesday and Thursday. If I miss a few days, I’ll start getting texts saying, ‘Where are you?’” he says. “We didn’t know each other when we started, but now the group is so much more than exercise. It’s social support and relaxation and friendship. Turns out, this one activity checks a lot of boxes on the Blue Zones list.”

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