A Centenarian is a person who lives to be 100 years old. There are certain areas of the world that have higher populations of people who live to be 100, but there are people in all parts of the world who also live that long. Living to be 100 is no easy task. As a human being we are constantly battling against forces that are trying to recycle us back into the earth. Those forces include disease, trauma, malnutrition, and gravity.
There are three societies that have been studied because of their abundance of centenarians. Those are the Sardinians from Italy, The Seventh Day Adventists from Loma Linda, California, and a group of Japanese on the island of Okinawa, Japan. These cultures are actually very different in relation to their native diets but very similar in their customs and attitudes. In each culture there is a very strong sense of family. Families live in multi-generational homes, with great grand parents, grand parents, parents and children all living together. This strong family unit helps to disperse many family responsibilities and also helps to maintain culture and customs within the family.
One very important similarity of all centenarian cultures is that the older members of the family still have a sense of purpose. Purpose is critical for all people to feel validated and important. No matter what that purpose is for you, if you have something to get up for in the morning for, you are more likely to be happy and fulfilled in your life and less likely to be depressed. The extended family unit also helps create purpose for the older members of the family that may not be able to do as much physical work but can watch young children and be role models and teachers to the younger members of the family.
Another key aspect to centenarian cultures is they all prepare most of their food from scratch. What they are eating may be different, however they tend to eat food grown from their own gardens, and foods that has been minimally processed. Eating foods that are minimally processed reduces the amount of toxicities, preservatives, and bad fats a person is exposed to. By reducing this toxic load it allows your bodies physiology to work more optimally and spend more time keeping you healthy instead of trying to heal you. Living close to the earth also helps to keep your body exposed to many of the microbes in your environment. Like it or not we live in a sea of organisms that we must live symbiotically with and those organisms actually help to make us healthy. These organisms help with the metabolism of our food, the production of vitamins and the absorption of nutrients and minerals into our bodies.
The third similarity of each of the cultures is their activity level. They are all hard working cultures that are very active within their homes and communities. Many of their activities involve work and chores that keep them active and moving. Movement is a key aspect of health. Moving the body fires many nerve pathways to your brain, which recharges your brain and helps with mental acuity. Movement also helps to drain your lymphatic system, which is the sewage system of your intracellular fluids, removing waist products from cellular metabolisms. It is the difference between living in a swamp and living by a mountain stream. Keeping that fluid moving prevents the collection of waist products and decaying matter, and keeps a fresh stream of fluids moving to the tissues to nourish them.
Even though we live in Bozeman and not one of the centenarian cultures, it is still possible for us to be centenarians. We have the ability to choose to follow many of their same customs and principles too. Being healthy always starts with a healthy diet. However it is not always about what we are putting in our bodies, but how our bodies are using what we put in. Start to think of your food more along the lines of what it is doing to help your physiology rather then how it tastes and you will start to see great improvements in your health. Eating healthy is actually very easy. There are 3 basic requirements. Eat many green leafy vegetables. Eat high quality organic meat that lived in its natural environment like grass fed beef. Eat high quality fats because fat is the preferred energy source of the body and necessary for healthy brains and hormones. Be sure to limit eating foods that spike your blood sugar such and sugary foods and refined carbohydrates.
Excess carbohydrates in the body are very inflammatory. Inflammation is what causes cells to break down and also causes pain. Inflammation in our brains is what leads to brain degeneration, and neurological disorders. Diabetes is a disease caused by the body no longer being able to regulate its blood sugar balance. This causes an accelerated degenerative process in the body, leading to heart disease, arthritis, and nerve damage.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine is also very important to our health. That does not mean you have to go to a gym and spend hours on a treadmill. It does mean you have to actively move your body on a regular basis. Walking is one of the best exercises for body. Walking is a cross-crawl activity that helps to rejuvenate brain cells, It helps move body fluids, and it increases heart rate and cardiovascular activity. Walking also helps to get oxygen into the body and to all of our cells. Oxygen is the most important element that our body uses. If we don’t have it for a few short minutes we will die. Taking deep breaths allowing our diaphragms to expand and getting air into the bottom of our lungs is absolutely essential for good health. Concentrate on breathing through your nose as often as you can, especially when you are walking, I bet you will be shocked by the difference you feel when your lungs are full of oxygen.
Living to be 100 should be everyone’s goal. We don’t want to just live that long, but we want to have an active, fulfilled, purposeful 100 years. If you eat well, move well, and think well for all your life, and you have a good supportive loving community around you, you too will be part of the centenarian club.
Dr. Phil Cameron DC is the owner of the Bozeman Wellness Center. He is a Chiropractic Physician and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He treats every patient based on his or her individual health care needs and strives to help each patient Live Healthy, Live Naturally, and Live Optimally. Visit www.bozemanwellnesscenter.com for more information.