The average American lifespan is around 78 years. Living to 100 is a rare occurrence, but it’s not impossible! Becoming a centenarian requires longevity throughout old age. If you’re wondering how to live to 100, then you’ve come to the right place. Here we go through diet and lifestyle tips for living a healthy life and increasing your lifespan.
Read on to find out tips for how to live longer.
The World’s Longest-Living People
Before we dive into tips for how to live longer, let’s first take a look at some of the world’s longest-living people. The New York Times bestselling book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner dives into the nutrition and lifestyles of the communities with the longest life expectancies in the world. These communities include the people of Loma Linda, California; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; and the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. These communities can show us a lot about healthy eating habits and lifestyle routines that contribute to longevity.
Let’s get into strategies that you can employ in your daily life to increase the chances
Diet for Longevity
The foods we eat on a daily basis make a significant impact on our health and influence our longevity.
Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Antioxidant-rich foods are crucial for supporting a long and healthy lifespan. Antioxidants are tiny particles that mitigate oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can be described by the accumulation of waste particles or reactive free radicals, which damages living tissue and slows down cellular activity. High levels of oxidative stress are connected to a higher risk of chronic diseases that can impact longevity.
In particular, antioxidants can help improve vascular function, fortify the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow throughout the body. Antioxidants can also fight against conditions like type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.
The healthiest diet for longevity is one that is abundant in fruits and vegetables, which are packed with antioxidants. Incorporate fruits and veggies like apples, oranges, blueberries, strawberries, spinach, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and beets into your daily routine.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Fiber offers tons of health benefits that can improve longevity and increase your chances of living to 100. Fiber is abundant in foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Eating plenty of fiber helps promote healthy digestive function by improving the gut microbiome. Healthy bacteria in the microbiome produce compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect on organs throughout the body.
Moreover, fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugar, which prevents blood sugar spikes that can damage the metabolism.
Get High-Quality Protein
The body requires protein to build neurotransmitters, hormones, muscle tissue, and enzymes. High-quality protein is a critical part of a healthy diet that increases your chances of becoming a centenarian. The building blocks of protein, amino acids, provide the raw materials that the body requires to carry out nearly all biological processes.
Many older adults don’t get the protein they need and the balanced ratios of essential amino acids that the body requires to function optimally. Here are a few strategies for ensuring that you’re getting enough essential amino acids.
- Eating lean meat and dairy products: Lean meats and dairy offer optimal ratios of essential amino acids. Examples include egg whites, chicken breast, and nonfat Greek yogurt. Always choose meat and dairy products that are low in fat.
- Fish: Fish is an excellent source of protein and also offers healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Varied plant proteins: Though no single source of plant protein offers optimal ratios of essential amino acids, you can combine different plant proteins throughout the day to meet your essential amino acid needs. Good sources of plant protein include legumes, whole grains, and soy products.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the digestive systems of older adults tend to be less efficient at breaking down protein particles into individual amino acids. Supplementation may be an effective method for ensuring that you’re getting the essential amino acids that the body needs to maintain muscle tissue and support nearly all biological processes.
Eat Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are a critical part of a diet that increases your chances of becoming a centenarian. Eating plenty of healthy fats helps reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of disease, and support a healthy cellular structure. Moreover, increasing your intake of healthy fats increases satiety, helping you feel fuller for longer.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats have health-promoting benefits. You can get monounsaturated fats from olive oil, avocado, pumpkin seeds, and pecans.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that have particularly potent effects on the body’s functioning. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and Arctic char. Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can also be found in food sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and pecans.
Cut Out Junk Foods
When eating all of the above healthy foods, it’s simultaneously important to avoid junk foods on a daily basis, saving them for special occasions only. Here is a quick list of foods to avoid to promote a healthy life:
- Saturated fat: A high consumption of saturated fat increases cholesterol levels and is a significant predictor of heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death for Americans. (1) Saturated fat is found in fatty meat products, dairy products, and fried foods. Limit your intake of saturated fat by steering clear of foods like fatty cuts of steak, bacon, deli meats, whole milk, butter, cream, and prepared foods that use these ingredients.
- Sodium: A high consumption of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, in turn increasing the risk of heart disease. To reduce your intake of salt, steer clear of preserved meat, packaged food products, and restaurant foods.
- Added sugars: Added sugars have been isolated from the original source and artificially added into other food products. A diet high in added sugars is connected to metabolic conditions like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Stay away from foods like candy, soft drinks, cookies, ice cream, pastries, and even sauces and other condiments. Always check the ingredients label and nutrition facts before purchasing a packaged food product.
- Refined grains: Like added sugars, refined grains spike blood sugar levels and contribute to insulin dysfunction and metabolic conditions. Refined grains are whole grains that have undergone processing to remove nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Steer clear of foods like white bread, white rice, and white pasta.
Lifestyle Changes for Longevity
In addition to diet changes, lifestyle factors like stress levels and alcohol use also play a defining role in living a long life.
Stay Physically Active
Staying active is key to living a long and healthy life. Aim to incorporate both aerobic exercise and strength training into your routine. Aerobic exercise improves heart health, reduces blood pressure, and increases circulation. Strength training stimulates muscle development, which is particularly important for supporting longevity. A higher muscle mass through old age is connected to a higher metabolism, lower risk of injury, sustained independence, faster recovery times, and higher quality of life.
Reduce Stress Levels
Did you know that keeping stress levels low can help you live a longer life? Excess stress triggers a physiological response that causes oxidative stress, inflammation, and hormonal imbalances. Chronic stress can even contribute to high blood sugar levels and metabolic dysfunction. As a result, keeping stress levels in check can actually increase your chances of living to 100. Here are a few tips for managing your stress levels.
- Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate stress levels, raise cortisol levels, and worsen oxidative stress and inflammation. Aim to get around 8 hours of sleep every night.
- Try yoga or meditation. Yoga and meditation have been shown to help increase mindfulness and improve physiological indicators of stress. Even a few minutes per day of meditation can make a difference in stress levels.
Maintain Your Social Network
Maintaining social connections is important for improving your chances of living to 100. Keep up with loved ones and routinely meet with your friends. Humans are social beings and thrive on regular social contact. Maintaining your social network can help alleviate loneliness and symptoms of depression while also providing a sense of purpose through old age.
Cut Back on Drinking and Quit Smoking
You won’t see a 100-year-old Okinawan or Sardinian throwing back drinks and chain-smoking cigarettes. Both alcohol and cigarettes introduce toxins into the body. In excess, alcohol wreaks havoc on your health, increases systemic inflammation and oxidative stress, and increases the risk of developing heart disease and liver disease.
If you choose to drink, stick to the maximum daily recommended intake, which is 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women. The type of alcohol you choose to drink also makes a difference in your health. Red wine is a good choice of alcoholic beverage and is consumed in moderation in Mediterranean diets, like the Sardinia diet. Red wine contains polyphenols like resveratrol that may promote longevity.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can help you live a long and healthy life. Obesity leading up to older adulthood is an important predictor of lifespan and longevity. If you are struggling with excess weight, strive to reach a healthy weight for your height.
You can encourage weight loss by eating anti-inflammatory foods that encourage healthy metabolic function. When your metabolism is working well, the body converts food into energy more efficiently.
Learning how to eat to live through mindful eating can also facilitate weight loss. Mindful eating entails savoring each bite, eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and listening to your body’s cues of satiety.
Watching your calorie intake helps you ensure that you’re consuming less energy than you burn. Creating a calorie deficit will encourage weight loss. Finally, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine and building muscle can help you burn more calories, increase your metabolic rate, and maintain a healthy body composition.
How to Live to 100: Conclusion
If you want to live to 100, healthy habits are the key to increasing your lifespan. Eating a balanced diet rich in protein and antioxidants, staying physically active, reducing stress levels, and maintaining your social network can help reduce your mortality risk.