I recently read a book “50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People” by Sally Beare which examines the lifestyles of five traditional people groups who are famous for their long healthy lives (in other words a lot of them are still healthy past age 100).
As a nutritionist she studied people from Okinawa, Japan; Symi, Greece; Campodimele, Italy; Hunza, India; and Bama, China. These specific people groups have 2 or 3 times the amount of people living past age 100 and 70% less of many chronic diseases like heart attacks.
Let me highlight the 5 secrets I found most relevant to our every day life:
1. Only Eat Until 8 Parts Full:Okinawans say “Hara hachi bu”which means “belly 80 percent full”.So instead of eating until I actually feel full I should stop just short of being stuffed. There has been a good bit of science done to support this.
It may be that there is some value in calorie restriction, or that it just keeps our body fat down, or that if you always eat till you feel full you train your stomach to expand and need more and more to feel satisfied.
2. Eat 2 times more vegetables than meat:It’s interesting because all the groups of people the author studied ate meat, dairy and animal products. Just like in the book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” Weston A. Price says in his exhaustive studies none of the world’s healthiest people groups were vegetarian.
But that doesn’t mean they ate like the average modern person. Even though these five healthy people groups ate meat they had a different ratio – they ate way more veggies and fruits than meat. They also ate a lot of fish, it wasn’t always red meat.
I have read a lot of health books and the only thing they all have in common is saying we should eat lots of vegetables. From Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paleo advocates, to the USDA recommendations, to the most hard core Vegan, everyone agrees- Vegetables should be the highest volume food type we eat for Eating Healthy.
I try to be sure every plate of food I eat keeps this ratio – 2 times more vegetables than meat. I just use my eye to estimate when my plate
looks like there is a ton more vegetables than anything else.
3. Drink 5 Cups Of Green Tea A Day: The book says that green tea was the basic drink of choice for the long lived people of Bama, China and Okinawa, Japan. The author says that you need about 4-5 cups a day to get the maximum effect. Green tea basically has the most antioxidants you can get from any one food type.
A tremendous amount of modern science backs up what the Chinese have known all along. If you are a coffee drinker, green tea is also a great
substitute that still has the caffeine.
Or you can rotate between coffee and green tea to maximize the health benefits of both. But it seems more likely that green tea is better for you and can actually have the same ‘pick-me-up’ effect as coffee.
4. Movement Daily: Moving and exercising was by far one of the most shared traits of the long lived people groups. Most were farmers who had daily chores. One woman in the book was over 100 and every day walked up a few hundred stairs to sell her eggs in the village.A study shows that smokers who exercise live as long or even longer than non smokers who don’t exercise. That’s how important moving, sweating, and exercise is – we all hear how bad smoking is but apparently not exercising is even worse.
5. Sprouted Bread:
Everyone argues about eating carbs, wheat, and grains. Interestingly the healthiest people groups in the world all had some levels of carbs in their diet, whether it was the Okinawans and rice or the Hunzas and their sprouted bread. There are a ton of health benefits when you simply sprout the bread before cooking it. Scientists found that sprouted bread reduced the blood sugar response and increases the glucagon response compared to regular bread.
I personally love Ezekiel sprouted bread. It tastes as good as regular bread and it’s healthier. I love to put some good grass fed butter or almond or cashew butter on top.
PS- STS is having a charity work out on Saturday, 10am for Toys for Tots. Please come in, workout, and donate a toy.
PPS- Give the gift of health and fitness this season- STS has gift certificates available!