How old is old? Is old the new young?
Over 30% of people would like to live past 90 and they have a real chance of doing so if they change to a healthy lifestyle.1 The Western average is, at best, 100 centenarians per million people. In Okinawa, where they eat 30–50% less than Westerners do, they have 700+ centenarians per million people. Their most mentioned secret to longevity is simply, 'eating less'.
Personally, I rate your stage of life from the human potential of 120 years. This means age 1–49 is young, 50–79 is middle-aged, 80–99 is elderly, 100+ is legendary, and 110+ are The Super-Centenarian World Champions. As evidenced by the world's oldest people, the longest lived people in good health, and the world champion centenarians, living long, healthy lives free of drugs and disease, your health is in your own hands.
"My patients want to feel better, get back their energy, their libido. People come in and have terrible diets; terrible lifestyles and they want quick fixes. You have to do some lifestyle modifications." - Dr Richard A. Bligh, Medical Director, St Louis Center for Preventive and Longevity Medicine, USA
Why is no one is pushing the 'eat less' message?
Why do you not hear about this everywhere? Why is this not shouted from the rooftops by doctors and health ministers everywhere? Simple: there is no money in it. No one will make money selling an idea like this, so no one is going to spend money educating the population on how to eat less. The food manufacturers will not like it, as less food will be bought. The pharmaceutical giants will not like it, as fewer people will get sick, so fewer drugs will be sold. The vitamin pill makers will not like it, as people would be healthier. If you eat less you become less of a consumer. For starters, the benefits of a low calorie diet are low BMI, decreased cell damage and clean arteries.
Families would be healthier and parents would live longer, in better health. People would experience stronger, healthier and more satisfying lives. Joy and gratitude for what we have would grow. Equity and sharing would increase, as people realise that they don't need to stuff more in, they have more energy to give, and can share more instead.
The focus could move to thriving, not just surviving. When you are vital and healthy, you have far more energy to help others. You are not just surviving your own illness.
People would experience stronger, healthier and more satisfying lives.
"The toxic environment of Western diets cause hormonal imbalances that encourage overeating." - Robert Lustig, MD, paediatrician, University of California, USA
Golden Rule No. 1: Eat Less
People are always asking me where I get my energy. Here's a supertip: eat less and get more (energy that is). It's amazing how 'leaving a little space for God' (as I heard someone put it so poetically) makes such a huge difference to your energy levels throughout the day. Practice hara hatchi bu. Remember? It means, 'push yourself away from the table when you're three quarters full. It likely that the leaner you are, the longer you will live. You'll be giving the body exactly what it needs and not stressing it any more than need be. You have the total and utter power to influence your aging process every time you put something in to your mouth. It is not up to anyone else. It is up to you.
More than 33% of US centenarians who were questioned in a 2011 poll credited their longevity to good living. They said they had made a specific decision to eat well, limit alcohol, exercise regularly, manage stress in their lives and, of course, avoid smoking. Nearly 50% said the best advice they have is to, 'spend more time with your families.'
Dorothy de Low, aged 100, competed at the 15th World Veterans' Table Tennis Championships in Mongolia in 2010. The Hurstville great-grandmother was at her 11th tournament since taking up table tennis at age 50. Eating less lowers your risk of almost every disease as you age and the body changes the way it delivers your energy and vitality.
Young Elvis was one of the most incredible looking, talented and vital young men of the 20th century. He died much too soon, aged 40; obese, depressed and drugged, after years of junk food that included fried sliced banana and peanut butter sandwiches and greasy doughnuts. It does not matter the state of your health currently, or the age you are right now. Eating less, while maintaining a full nutritional intake, starts to heal your body immediately. You grow younger and healthier and you get sharper and more energetic every day.
"A quality breakfast, a light supper and eating to 70% full in three meals, are good preventive prescriptions to illnesses." -Cao Yanjian, an established longevity expert during the Qing dynasty
Tips for success when eating lessEat only when you are hungry.Eat a plant-based wholefood diet. This means reducing or eliminating animal foods such as meat and dairy.Eat three meals per day, well-spaced out and planned in advance.Eat a soaked homemade muesli, full of healthy nuts and seeds, for breakfast for a sustained energy boost that will last until lunchtime.Instead of nibbling on food between meals, drink water.If you 'just gotta eat' between meals, eat raw fruit or vegetables.Eat slowly - you will not eat as much as you would eating at pace.Eat raw, sprouted, fermented, soaked, steamed and cooked foods.Start using smaller plates and bowls.Swap coffee for a healthy variety of herbal and green teas.Don't be fooled by advertising by any of the 'fast food' so-called 'restaurants'. It is all a treat, nice once in a while, but not healthy.Eat more high fibre foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and well prepared legumes and wholegrains.Fast one day each week to get a real appreciation for how little you actually need to eat Eat at the table with friends and family, and talk instead of watching television.Prepare your meals ahead of time.Clean out the house and cupboards of all the processed foods.Consider eating less meat, or none at all. I stopped eating meat when I was 18, nearly 30 years ago.Improve your cooking skills.ENJOY YOUR FOOD!
Eat Less, Live Long by Jason Shon Bennett is published by The Exceptional Health Company