In Australia, the average life expectancy is 85.7 years for women and 80.3 for men, which seems pretty OK, besides the clear reverse sexism. It’s certainly a lot better than it used to be, so it seems churlish to complain about dropping off the twig at eighty.
But there are places in the world where people have a strong chance of living far past Australian averages: where crossing the 100-year threshold is a common occurrence and folks seem to possess some kind of secret to good health and long life.
Well, it turns out that in these places, folks possess some kind of secret to good health and long life. There are no guarantees of course, but residents of these five spots can definitely teach us something about keeping mind and body together longer.
Inhabitants of these Japanese islands are five times more likely to make it to 100 than in the rest of Japan–which is already longer-lived than most of the world–,two factors are given credit for that remarkable performance. Firstly, a healthy local diet involving a little fish and a lot of tofu and sweet potato – naturally some of you might think dying young is preferable, but we’re just sharing information here. Secondly, Okinawans’ strong sense of community means the elderly maintain strong social networks between themselves and with other generations, which is known to reduce stress and improve a sense of belonging.
The Italian island of Sardinia has one of the world’s highest percentages of 100-plus citizens, which has been partly attributed to, again, the healthy local cuisine. Sardinians benefit from organically grown vegetables, pure groundwater and fresh milk, living well on the food they grow themselves. Also, life in Sardinia’s pure mountain air is great for the body as well as the soul. Plus, a glass a day of wine seems to do its bit. Which shouldn’t displease too many of you.
In the elevated town of Nicoya, in Costa Rica, residents drink calcium-rich water, eat a diet rich in unsweetened dairy, whole grains and fresh veggies, and tend to do physical labour their whole lives. In addition, the philosophy of plan de vida, or “reason to live”, is based on a powerful focus on family ties, with the oldest members of the community living with their families and benefiting from the support systems that provide.
America isn’t a shining beacon of longevity, but the city of Loma Linda, California, bucks the trend with its 9000-strong Adventist community, whose version of Christianity includes a philosophy of life that has boosted their life expectancy well above average. Their concept of a “sanctuary in time” – a weekly break from life’s stresses to focus on family, friends, God, or whatever is important to you – seems to work to ease the burden of life. Also, they…eat a lot of nuts. Which…sure.
On the Greek island of Ikaria, a whopping third of inhabitants live past ninety. Unsurprisingly, the themes of strong family bonds, an active lifestyle and healthy diet recur here. But locals also say their longevity is down to Ikarians’ commitment to continuing their passions into old age. Seems like refusing to give up doing what you love just because you’re old, is a great way to stay young.