By Sara Novak, Planet Green
Only one in 6,000 people reaches the century mark and just one in 7 million lives to be 110 or older. Is it a fluke that some people live so many years or are there commonalities that allow them to push on well after a century of life? The New York Times recently took time to talk to a group of centenarians and find out their story and in my research I’ve found a few traits that seem to show up in most centenarians.
Crediting a Healthy, Low Impact Lifestyle
As you might expect, centenarians are usually free of many of the diseases like heart disease and diabetes that cause ill health later in life. They’re often amazing at dealing with stress so that it doesn’t reflect on their well being. Centenarians don’t abuse cigarettes or drink too much and they are rarely, if ever obese. They tend to eat very little meat, regularly exercise, and spend a lot of time with their friends and families according to a study at Boston University.
Genes Are Only Part of It
Without a doubt, genetics plays a major role in unusually long lives. Centenarians often have others in their family that have lived past a century. But genetics isn’t the only component. Based on studies at Boston University, it’s 70 to 80 percent environment and 20 to 30 percent genes.
Where Do Centenarians Come From?
While the US has a high rate of centenarians, this doesn’t always mean a high quality of life. Quality of life is sometimes surpassed by the need to keep people alive. It’s not about just living past a century, but being functional the whole time. The Seventh-day Adventists live an average ten years longer than others in this country, to an average age of 88 with a higher percentage of unusually long lives. They don’t smoke, tend to be lean and fit, and get regular exercise. They eat a largely vegetarian diet and spend a lot of time involved with family and religion, which scientists think helps them manage stress according to a story in the LA Times.
In Okinawa, an island of Japan there are more centenarians than any other place in the world. Their diet is filled with whole grains, vegetables, and fish. They eat very little meat and dairy. An Okinawan staple is tofu and bean curd.
Dominica has the second highest rate of longevity in the Western Hemisphere. Out of a population of 70,000, 21 Dominicans are more than 100 years old. Tourism minister Charles Savarin attributes Dominicans’ longevity to the island’s pristine environment. He says:
Many people still drink water straight from the rivers. The water is naturally filtered and entirely without chemicals. There are no industrial plants emptying into the streams and the sea. Most of the country is heavily forested so that we may have more oxygen here than anywhere else.