You might know by now, I’m quite interested in the elderly among us. Especially the healthy ones. Old and healthy, who says no to that?
Quite often becoming old is associated with defects, and aging as such is no fun. But being old, and healthy seems to be something magical.
I came across this article the other day and suddenly realized that a few months ago I purchased the book “How to Live to 100?” “by doctor William Cortvriendt (a Dutch book). He went through tons of recent studies that indicate how to grow old in a healthy way. I found it a fascinating book and would like to share with you 12 tips from William Cortvriendt how to live up to 100.
Avoid refined sugars
This is a well-known fact, and a study on aging does not seem to be complete without this key rule. High glucose levels in the blood can cause ”cross-linking” in the tissues of our body. This means that sugar and proteins will clump together and this may cause an accelerated aging process and disease as well. By removing sugary products (especially soda) from your diet, you can prevent accelerated aging.
Also, wheat bread is not a good plan even the whole wheat version according to William Cortvriendt. The fiber in wheat bread is almost always extremely finely ground. As a result the barrier is eliminated and the enzyme amylase can set the sugars in the starch free. This can cause fluctuations in the blood sugar levels, possibly causing diabetes.
Cholesterol is not the problem
William Cortvriendt states that cholesterol does not come from our diet, but it is produced by our body due to improper diet- and lifestyle habits. The best way to lower your cholesterol is through exercise, avoiding omega 6 fats and to avoid sugar (completely).
Fats are your friend
There really are no bad fats (except trans fats). However, there are bad combinations. Never eat too much omega 6, because that can cause infections. It is better to eat foods rich in omega 3, such as walnuts and flaxseeds. Even saturated fat is not so bad. This type of fat is made of hormones and these serve as building material for body cells. It is, however, important to consume this in small amounts. Not over heated extra virgin olive oil is a great choice if you want to age healthy. The problem we are facing nowadays is that there are too many low-fat products that are flavored with sugar. According to William Cortvriendt this has probably led to an increased number of cardiovascular diseases.
Too much animal protein is not good for the body. Plantbased proteins are more friendly for the liver and kidneys. If you do want to eat animal proteins, then fish is better than red meat. William noticed in many different studies that people who eat mostly vegetables have a lower risk of disease and an early death.
Don’t go out for dinner too often
No matter where you go out for dinner (a cheap or an expensive restaurant), it is often much less healthy than when you cook at home. In restaurants cooks very often use liquid margarine and often the food is flavored with lots of salt (not the healthy salt). Too much processed salt is very bad for your body and especially for the arteries. At home you can make your own food, you control how you flavor it and you can focus on keeping mostly vegetables on our plate. Vegetables are the key to a longer life. It is proven that vegetables can extend your life and keeps many illnesses at bay. So make sure that vegetables are the stars on your plate.
Avoid becoming overweight
Obesity is more than just not being able to fit into your favorite jeans. It can lead to many diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Obesity also often causes an early death. Counting calories, however, will in the long run not work. You will probably gain back the weight again. Instead, it is much better to eat whole foods and leave out all processed foods. Especially soft drinks and fruitjuices are fattening. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and make sure you stop eating when you are 80% full. You can not do this by eating in front of the television or computer, but to eat slowly and mindfully. Snacking is allowed according to William, but it is best to snack on some blueberries or a piece of dark chocolate. Use exercise to build muscles so that you will burn calories when you are resting.
Sitting is fatal
According to William Cortvriendt we are dealing with an epidemic of inactivity. A little bit of exercise a day can already mean a lot for your health. It prevents osteoporosis and you will create stronger bones as well. Moving your body works even better than the drug metformin that is prescribed for diabetics. Even the risk of cancer will decrease if you move. Not to mention the fact, you are much more happier when you exercise. A brisk walk of 30 minutes per day is already sufficient to bring out the positive effect. A gym is not necessary. Everything counts. Do not overdo it though, as too much exercise can be harmful. If you exercise more or less 5 to 7 hours per week, you’re good.
Stay mentally active
You hear it often, once people retire, their overall health is suddenly deteriorating. Not only physically, but also mentally. According to William Cortvriendt the aging of our brains will show when we struggle with memory and the speed of our thinking is going down. Funny fact is that our vocabulary will still increase over the years. Omega 3 fatty acids and exercise are a must to keep brains healthy, however you do have to use your brains, literally. Continue to use your brains, for example by playing games or learning to play a music instrument. The best for your brains seems to be dancing. Apparently, moving to music is something challenging for the brain, with a younger spirit as a result.
Herbs can prolong your life and prevent diseases. Curcuma is an example. In combination with black pepper and a little bit of oil, this can prolong your life. Also, cinnamon can prevent the Alzheimer disease. And parsley contains ”apegenine” that has the ability to destroy tumors. William advises not to overdo it, because also natural herbs can have side effects.
Avoid synthetic supplements
According to William vitamin pills do more harm than good. Especially antioxidants supplements can cause cancer. There are two supplements we most likely need though, B12 supplements ( if necessary) and a daily dosis of vitamin D will most of us do good.
Water alone is not enough
It is a good thing that we’re all getting more aware about our water intake these days. But if you drink more than two liters of water a day, we lose the necessary minerals. This can be easily prevented by adding 1/5 of orange juice or a bit of lemon juice to your glass of water. By doing so, you are actually making a homemade isotonic sports drink which will keep your electrolyte levels balanced. The body indicates when you are thirsty. You can check if you drink enough water by simply looking at the color of your urine. If this is dark yellow, you probably drink too little.
Chocolate is good
Several studies have shown that you are 37% less likely to have a heart attack, 20% less likely to have a stroke and you will have 31% less chances of getting diabetes if you eat chocolate. Cacao will also decrease your blood pressure by more or less 10%. Yes, you do have to buy the dark chocolate, with a minimum of 70% cacao.
The most interesting part of the book is chapter two, about the ” blue zones ”. These are the five geographical regions in the world where the number of people over 100 year is significantly higher than in the rest of the world. Some examples include Sardinia, Okinawa and Nicoya Ikaria. Dan Buettnet wrote a very interesting book on this, The Blue Zones. One of my favorite books. The elderly in the blue zones have some very interesting common habits.
- fruits and vegetables are the most important part of a meal
- they don’t drink too much
- they eat until they are 80% full
- they do not use supplements
- they do not sit still, but move daily or still go to work (many still work after retirement)
- good social contacts are part of their life
The book ends with a recap in the form of a table of all the different parts of the book and the negative or positive impact on the health.
”How to Live to 100? ” is a book that perhaps might be a bit too scientifical if you just started reading books on health. I found the book very interesting although I was already aware of most of the stuedies and facts. I would definitely recommend this book if you want to know the basic health rules.
This book is not available in English (I believe only in Dutch), so I hope you enjoyed this review! It is like reading a Dutch book without having to learn the language, right?
photos by the green creator (c) (copyright)