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Being a centenarian, or living to be 100 years old, has become more accepted and is even a goal for some people. With the advancements in medical research, safety and health awareness, it is conceivable for many more people to live well beyond this age. Seatbelts, quitting smoking, diet, and exercise are major contributors to continuing life’s journey past one hundred years.
Breakthroughs in cancer and heart disease research have offered less invasive and more effective options to raise the survival rate for many people. With science now opening new windows of research, it promises continued innovative new methods of treating illnesses and conditions that have plagued mankind for generations. The elderly are now candidates for procedures that would not have been considered safe or wise in the late 1900s.
An individual's state of mind is key in maintaining a healthy life that allows the body to continue to rejuvenate on its own. It is now understood that aging does not have to equal deterioration. Our bodies continually replace damaged cells with healthy ones. The disruption in this process that causes a cell to reproduce an “imperfect” cell is what eventually leads to disease and death. This happens when the body is overloaded, due to stress, fatigue, physical or emotional disharmony.
Healthy lifestyles along with preventative and holistic medicine practices have been shown to increase longevity all over the globe. Herbs, vitamins, and minerals offer a way to maintain balance in the body even by those who live in stressful environments.
Something as simple as flossing your teeth regularly can prevent heart attacks and strokes. Research has shown that the bacterial infection of gum disease can be spread through the bloodstream and cause inflammations throughout the body, including organs and arteries. It is also believed that flossing lowers your risk of developing diabetes, respiratory illnesses and reduced cognitive functioning.
Much research has been done to discover the guidelines used for those who have live to be 100 years old. In the early 2000s, Dan Buettner, a National Geographic writer, extensively explored the world to find clusters of extraordinary longevity. He discovered five places that are referred to as the “Blue Zones” where the inhabitants seem to live longer and age better. In these areas, people living to be 100 years old was the rule, rather than the exception. The sites were Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan and Loma Linda, California, USA.
The commonalities were in lifestyle as well as diet. Smoking was not a part of life in any of the zones. Family was very instrumental in the social structure. The societies themselves were very interactive and the families extended out into the social network. Natural physical activity, such as gardening, continued throughout life and did not subside in the elderly. Plant-based diets, high in legumes, whole grains, soy and nuts were found in every culture. With the exception of high polyphenol wine in some regions, the drinking of alcohol was almost non-existent. Cultural isolation, living closer to nature, faith, gratitude, sunshine and hard water were also recognized as important factors.
In living to be 100 years old, faith and happiness play a significant role. Pets have come to be recognized as invaluable in lowering blood pressure, providing a sense of purpose, comfort, joy and companionship for the elderly. Quality of life is always at the forefront when aiming to become a centenarian.