How to Live to 100

A recent article by Dr. Mark Liponis[1] listed several things that can increase your life expectancy. Three items of advice were related to food:

Eat a heart-healthy diet. A Mediterranean diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish and whole grains reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The average lifespan in France, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Israel rank in the top 25, whereas the U.S. is in 45th place.

Drink up. Moderate wine consumption (up to 5 ounces a day) have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other beverages like green or black tea, as well as coffee, also contain substances that lower death rates from cardiovascular disease.

Watch your waist. There are virtually no obese centenarians. Excess body weight contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. (Learn how to stay trim.)

Other suggestions for living longer were related to life-style:

Read the Newspaper. Centenarians keep abreast of current events and remain engaged in society. Isolation can lead to deterioration and loss of function. Mental activity will help to keep your brain in good working order. (Try some Puzzles)

Buy a farm. Studies show that living in the country extends life compared to living in urban areas. Is it just the clean air that makes farmers live longer? Not necessarily. Farmers are always physically active. Staying physically fit is important for longevity.

Get Married. According to a 2006 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, people that never married were 58 percent more likely to die earlier than an age-matched group of married people. Divorced or separated people were 27 percent more likely to die earlier than married people.

Have Children. Women who have children after age 40 are four times more likely to live to 100. Men who father children and start raising a family at a younger age also live longer.

Have Faith. Dr. Liponis points out that most centenarians have some kind of regular religious practice or belief, and that researchers have found that clergymen and nuns tend to be long-lived.

The article by Dr. Liponis is based on statistical correlations which sometimes can lead to strange conclusions. I know a married couple, both in bad health, who keep alive hoping to outlive each other because they do not agree on the disposition of their assets after they die. That is an incentive for longevity. I just hope that it is not too late for me to become a clergyman.

[1] Parade Magazine, March 9, 2008, p. 10.