Health and Longevity – The benefits of a truly healthy lifestyle

So what exactly is health? In my opinion, I believe that health is the idea where a person’s quality of life is enhanced when they’re free of illness, injuries and pain. Given the ever-increasing incidences of chronic disease such as Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease, the idea of an enhanced quality of life may remain just that, an idea.

The good news is that optimum health is readily achievable. Can we increase our chances of avoiding cancer and cardiovascular disease just by proper eating and an active lifestyle? Absolutely! The best examples of this is via the observation of a number of cultures and groups of people in existence, that have been extensively studied, who are “going against the grain” so to speak, in terms of reversing the trend of chronic disease and generally living longer, disease-free lives.

In 2004, a team of researchers established a longevity project called ‘Blue Zones’ to identify pockets around the world where people lived not only longer, but better in terms of optimum health and well-being. Once ‘Blue Zones’ were identified, teams of scientists would go into these areas to identify lifestyle characteristics that might explain why these people live longer and healthier lives.

So where are these ‘Blue Zones’? Let’s look at three examples:

Sardinia, Italy:

It has been discovered that the mountain villages, on this island in Italy, have produced more male centenarians than any place else in the world.
Many of these males are shepherds, tending to herds of goats in mountainous regions of Sardinia. Studies have shown that, due to the nature of the terrain along with the amount of movement required to tend to their herds, the Sardinian Shepherds can burn up to 490 calories per hour, which is equivalent to a brisk walk of 5.63km/hr or 90 minutes of gardening.
The red wine in Sardinia, known as Cannonau, have been found to contain a high level of antioxidants known as flavonoids, which exert health benefits to areas such as the cardiovascular system. A glass or two per day is normally consumed. Flavonoids are also found in brightly coloured fruits (such as blueberries and strawberries) and vegetables (such as tomatoes, spinach and sweet potato).
Emphasis on family is crucial to a typical Sardinian. Sardinia’s strong family values help ensure that every member of the family is cared for. What we can learn from this is that people who live in strong, healthy families suffer lower rates of depression, suicide, and stress.

Loma Linda, California USA:

A large group of Seventh-Day Adventists living in an area of California known as Loma Linda were studied over a 30 year period
Their life expectancy is between 9-11 years longer than an average American.
At least four major studies have confirmed that eating nuts has an impact on health and life expectancy and in the case of the Seventh Day Adventists, they consume nuts at least 5 times a week.
Nature walks form a very important part of the Adventist lifestyle.
Spending time with like-minded friends. Seventh Day Adventists tend to spend time with lots of other Adventists. From this they achieve wellbeing by sharing each other’s values and supporting each other’s habits.

Okinawa, Japan:

Okinawa is the home to the world’s longest-lived women
The Okinawan people have the lowest disability-free life expectancy in the world
They have five times as many centenarians (people living over 100)
Low incidences of breast/colon cancer and cardiovascular disease
They practice a controlled-eating system known as Hara Hachi Bu. This is where one stops eating once they’re 80% full.
Exercise includes long walks, gardening and martial arts. Karate masters in Okinawa still teach at the age of 90!
We can learn from the individuals in ‘Blue Zone’ areas and perhaps incorporate a lot of their techniques and marry them into our own lifestyles in order to achieve optimum health.

Victor Tuballa- Naturopath and Herbalist

Victor Tuballa Natural Therapies

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