For long life, face the future with a smile

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: January 19th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A small number of the world’s population is currently one-hundred years old or older. These people have a significant number of habits in common… habits and traits that may, doctors say, help them live a long and healthy life.

According to the Boston-based New England Centenarian Study, worldwide about one-hundred-thousand people have reached the centenarian mark.

Recently, a photojournalist used interviews and interactions with the fifty oldest members of this rare group. He sought to uncover similarities between the lifestyles of elderly people from Mongolia and those from the United States’ upper Midwest.

He found personality traits of humor and optimism, despite the hardships they faced during their lives… coupled with faith and a diet full of fresh vegetables, fish and whole grains… were common to nearly all of them.

His observations are supported by recent medical findings, which show that genes play only a partial role in longevity… about one third. Specialists in aging say many of the factors that lead to a longer life are behavioral and include how one handles stress, controls food intake and builds a social network.

Super-centenarians also avoid over-eating and over-indulging in alcohol. Very few have ever smoked.

An optimistic attitude with faith that stressful situations will be resolved, combined with a real sense of purpose in life, can help people to continue to explore life as they age. These are factors researchers from the International Longevity Center say may be the real fountain of youth.