Places Where People Live Long

| Saturday, June 11, 2011
By Owen Jones

Most people do not look forward to death. They would like to live a long life and endeavour to stay eternally young. The peoples of each country spend billions every year on health care and beauty products.

Some individuals believe that the length of time you live is written in fate and there is nothing that you can do to change it, others think that we just have a certain number of heart beats, but most people believe that genetics, diet and lifestyle are the main influences.

However, there may be another feature worth looking into: your place of residence. There are a couple of places around the world where individuals appear to live longer, on average, than is normal for their country or globally.

Take the city of Okinawa in southern Japan. Okinawa has more than a million inhabitants, 900 of whom are more than 100 years of age. Japan has an aging populace in general, but nowhere there matches Okinawa for longevity and the percentage of centenarians is between four and five times higher than in the UK or the USA.

Not only do Okinawans live longer, but they also tend to remain healthy until their dying days, which is everybody's dream. Diet is considered to be the main reason why Okinawans live such long, healthy lives. They consume a lot of fish, tofu, soya and seaweed and swill it down with plenty of tea.

This makes their diet low in saturated fats and pretty low in salt. However, it is also a widely-held belief in Okinawa that one should only consume until one is 80% full not 100% This may put less strain on the digestive system, but no one is quite certain yet if this has a bearing on living a longer, healthy life.

Then there is Loma Linda in California, the USA. The citizens of Loma Linda live an average of five to ten years longer than the residents of neighbouring towns. The town is mainly Seventh Day Adventist, which preaches vegetarianism, no smoking and no alcohol. Some will look to these reasons as the factors for living longer.

However, this does not account for why nearly everybody, even the smoking, alcohol-drinking, meat-eating inhabitants, lives longer. Others put the longevity down to religious belief, but researchers are mystified. Maybe going to church and relying on God relieves believers of some of the stress of daily life and stress is famous to be a cause of major diseases.

Another strange location is Owoda on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. It is just a village of less than 2,000 inhabitants but it has far more than the average number of 100 year olds than elsewhere. What is even stranger is that there are as many old men as old women which is not the standard anywhere else in the world.

The famous Mediterranean diet and the pleasant climate are thought to be factors at play here, but it may also have something to do with their genes. The inhabitants were virtually isolated for hundreds of years and marriage among relatives was not unusual. Normally this is not recommended because it can cause abnormalities. It looks like the abnormality that inter-marriage caused for the Owodans is longevity.

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