Several factors appear to affect life expectancy. Research has shown that genes predict about 25% of a person's lifespan, with diet, environment, exercise and other factors in our daily lives predicting the rest.
According to the professors of the School of Medicine of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Lina Paschou (Assistant Professor of Endocrinology), Melpomeni Peppa (Professor of Endocrinology), Evanthia Kassi (Professor of Biochemistryς-Ενδοκρινολογίας), Αναστασία Θανοπούλου (Επίκουρη Καθηγήτρια Παθολογίας), Εριφύλη Χατζηαγγελάκη (Καθηγήτρια Παθολογίας-Μεταβολικών Νοσημάτων) και Θεοδώρα Ψαλτοπούλου (Καθηγήτρια Θεραπευτικής-Επιδημιολογίας-Προληπτικής Ιατρικής) δεν μπορείτε να αλλάξετε τα γονίδιά σας, αλλά η βελτίωση της διατροφής θα σας κάνει πιο υγιείς και θα μπορούσε να κάνει τη διαφορά στο προσδόκιμο ζωής. And οι μελέτες δείχνουν ότι ακόμα κι αν ξεκινήσετε μετά τη μέση ηλικία ή αργότερα να κάνετε βελτιώσεις, μπορείτε ακόμα να προσθέσετε μια δεκαετία ή περισσότερο στο προσδόκιμο ζωής σας.
Έχουν εντοπιστεί 5 μέρη στον κόσμο όπου οι άνθρωποι έχουν εξαιρετικά μεγάλο προσδόκιμο ζωής, συχνά ζουν μέχρι τα 100 ή και περισσότερο. Αυτές οι περιοχές, που ονομάζονται «Blue Zones» περιλαμβάνουν τη χερσόνησο Nicoyan στην Κόστα Ρίκα, την πόλη Loma Linda στην California και τα νησιά Okinawa στην Japan, τη Σαρδηνία στην Italy και την Ικαρία στην Ελλάδα. Με την πρώτη ματιά, οι δίαιτες, ο τρόπος ζωής και οι συνήθειες των ανθρώπων σε αυτές τις «Blue Zones» μπορεί να φαίνονται αρκετά διαφορετικά μεταξύ τους.
Many of the people of Sardinia live in mountainous terrain, where they hunt, fish and gather their own food, such as goat's milk, barley and garden vegetables. Loma Linda's longtime residents are part of a tight-knit community that avoids caffeine and alcohol and follows a largely vegetarian diet, while in Ikaria people eat a typical Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of meat and seafood. Okinawans have historically consumed a plant-based diet. They get many of their calories from sweet potatoes and fresh vegetables, which they often harvest from their gardens. Meanwhile, the centenarian Nicoyans tend to eat a traditional Mesoamerican diet rich in starchy plant foods such as corn and beans.
But while their eating habits are different in many ways, they share at least four common parameters. You can incorporate these common centenarian nutritional principles into your life by doing the following:
1. Eat legumes often. Legumes are especially popular with people living in the 'Blue Zones'. Soy is an important part of the traditional diet in Okinawa, as are fava beans in Sardinia and black beans in Nicoyan.
2. Eat a handful of nuts daily. Nuts are rich in vitamins, fiber and minerals and are a dietary staple for many residents of the Blue Zones. Walnuts and almonds, for example, are popular in Ikaria and Sardinia, while in Nicoyan they love peanuts.
3. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. People in most "Blue Zones" tend to eat most of their calories early in the day rather than later. Okinawans traditionally eat a big breakfast, a modest lunch, and don't even have dinner.
4. Eat meals together with your family. In the Blue Zones it is common for families to eat at least one daily meal together, usually lunch or the last meal of the day. Although it's difficult for families with busy lives to take meals together often, it's worth trying to do it as often as you can. Families that eat together tend to eat more nutritious meals while eating more slowly. They eat more fruits and vegetables and their children are less likely to develop obesity.
Of course, diet alone is not the only factor associated with a high life expectancy, the professors conclude. Research has shown that people who live in communities where longevity is common typically have strong ties to friends and family, a sense of purpose outside of themselves, and a positive outlook on life. They engage in high levels of physical activity and spend a lot of time outside the home, gardening, farming or socializing with other people in their communities.