The Best Quotes From “Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived People”

Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived People is a book with an intriguing premise: It looks at the societies on earth where people tend to have the longest, healthiest lives and tries to figure out what they’re doing right. In a time where we’re constantly hearing conflicting advice about how to take care of ourselves, that seems to be a smart, results oriented way to try to figure out what really works. Unfortunately, the end of the book got a little hippy-dippy, so I can’t give it an unqualified recommendation, but still — there’s a lot of great information that needs to get out to people in this book. It’s probably worth a read. In the interim, I decided to post the best quotations from the book. Enjoy!

A century ago, the average adult in Western nations spent only 1 percent of his or her life in a morbid or ill state, but today’s average modern adult spends more than 10 percent of his or her life sick. — xv

Throughout the industrialized world, people are living longer, but they are getting sick sooner, so the number of years they spend chronically ill is increasing in both directions. — xv-xvi

For the vast majority of their lives, the old people in Vilcbamba have had no experience with processed food. They have known nothing of the artificial preservatives and other chemical additives that are found in so many modern foods.

Vegetables are picked fresh from the gardens, with their full nutritional value intact. Fruits are eaten the same day they are plucked, often on the spot. The Vilcamban diet is almost entirely vegetarian, made up primarily of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, beans, and nuts. Once in a while they will consume milk or eggs, but these are usually quite scarce. The vejos eat almost no meat, and never any butter. Their overall diet is very low (by contemporary American standards) in calories. There are no overweight people in Vilcamba.

Their protein comes from vegetables, wholes grains, and a variety of beans. Their carbohydrates are always unrefined and come primarily from whole-grain cereals such as corn, quinoa, wheat, and barley, and from tubers including potatoes, yucca, and sweet potatoes. Their fat comes mostly from avocados, seeds, and nuts.

The diets of the Vilcambas are remarkably similar to the diets of the Abkhasians. In the Vilcabamban diet as in the traditional Abkhasian diet, protein and fat are almost entirely of vegetable origin. The diets of both regions are low in calories. And both cultures depend almost entirely on natural foods rather than processed of manufactured ones. — P.36-37

Government figures show that American children now obtain an incredible 50 percent of their calories from added fats and sugar. — P.38

And we can see that the diets of the world’s exceptionally healthy and long lived peoples have a great deal in common:

* They are all low (by Western standards) in overall calories

* They are all high in good carbohydrates, including plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

* They are all “whole-foods” diets, with very little (if any) processed or refined foods, sugars, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, or other chemicals.

* They all depend on fresh foods, eating primarily what is in season and locally grown rather than relying on canned foods or foods shipped long distances.

* They are all low (though not super-low) in fat, and the fats comes from natural sources, including seeds, nuts, and in some cases fish, rather than from bottled oils, margarines, or saturated animals fats.

* They all derive their protein primarily from plant sources, including beans, peas, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. — P.79

One of the most telling of all the differences between the traditional diets in Abkhasia, Vilcabamba, Hunza, and Okinawa and the modern American diet is that they are all much lower in overall calories. Even with their very active lifestyles, the average man in these regions consumes only around 1,900 calories a day. In the United States, in contrast, where lifestyles are far more sedentary, the average man consumes 2,650 calories per day. — P.80

According to the authors of the Okinawan Centenarian Study, the elder Okinawans who have attained the most phenomenal health and longevity statistics ever fully documented eat an average of seven servings of vegetables a day, seven servings of whole grains per day, and two servings of soy products per day. They eat fish two or three times a week. Their consumption of dairy products and meat is nearly nonexistent. And they eat very little sugar or added fats. — P.90

Nearly a third of all calories in the average American diet today come from refined sugar and corn syrup. Food manufacturers put such massive amounts of refined sugars in foods for a simple reason — to stimulate appetite….People eating highly refined and processed foods typically consume 25 percent more calories than those on a more natural diet. — P.93

Jim Fixx, the nation’s leading spokesperson on the health benefits of running, had tragically died of a massive heart attack while running along on that country road. Only fifty-two years old, he paid a terrible price for his belief that he didn’t have to pay much attention to nutrition, for thinking that exercise alone : would protect him. An autopsy revealed that three of his coronary arteries were more than 70 percent blocked, and one was 99 percent obstructed.

You may have heard the Jim Fixx story before. He became the butt of late-night jokes as overweight comedians made fun of the fact that the running guru died of a heart attack. Sedentary people often want to believe that exercise isn’t that important. They comfort themselves by telling and retelling the Jim Fixx story, as if the moral was that there’s no harm in being a couch potato. But to do that is to miss the point entirely.

The real moral of Jim Fixx’s tragic death is that while exercise is wonderful and necessary for a healthy life, it cannot make up for poor eating habits. — p.184

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