2010 is here, a completely new decade. What are you going to do differently this year? What goals will you make for your health? And how will you ensure that you actually follow through with your goals? For starters, life changes begin with bite-sized steps towards health; you don’t have to change everything in one day!
These 6 centenarian practices will help you live to 100. Start small! Just choose 3 life-changing practices to be your goal for 2010. The trick is to be consistent every day and work your way up to the full goal.
*1. Take a 20-minute walk every day*
In my two decades of investigating the daily activities of centenarians, I found that every one walked for at least 30 minutes a day, and most walked more than an hour. Aside from the proven benefits to your heart, walking is the perfect gentle exercise for improving digestion and encouraging cleansing of the lymphatic system.
Start small: Start with just 5 minutes and build your way up to 20 minutes or more.
*2. Eat 5 vegetables of different colors every day*
The countries with the highest number of centenarians generally have very little meat in their diet — and many more vegetables. Numerous studies show that the different pigments in the skins of vegetables are powerful antioxidants crucial for maintaining health, preventing cancer, and protecting against environmental toxins; an estimated one-third of all cancer patients developed their disease as a result of insufficient whole plant fiber in their diets. Get started with this rainbow of produce:
* Green: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and dark leafy greens like kale
* Yellow/orange: carrots, squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes
* Red: hot red peppers, red bell peppers, and beets
* White/light: cauliflower, maitake mushroom, and daikon radish
* Dark colors: eggplant, seaweed, and black mushrooms
Start small: Start with just two different veggies, learn some recipes, and before you know it, you’ll be up to five a day.
*3. Drink 2 cups of herbal tea a day*
In addition to being a delicious, low-calorie drink, tea is the beverage most commonly enjoyed by centenarians around the world. To maintain optimum health, drink decaffeinated tea with herbs that help support your liver, lymphatic system, bowels, urinary tract, and skin by cleansing and preventing a buildup of toxins and wastes in the body.
Some of the best herbal teas for detoxifying and getting healthy are ginger, dandelion, chrysanthemum flower, milk thistle, hawthorn berry, and turmeric. Green tea also has many health benefits, and even with its caffeine content, (which is much less than coffee) is still an excellent choice.
Go big: This being a relatively simple practice, you can take on a bigger challenge: drink tea instead of coffee — and get the health properties without loads of caffeine. Even black tea has a third less caffeine, and beneficial polyphenols to boot.
*4. Stop eating when you are three-quarters full.*
Something that almost all centenarians have in common is that they eat less. Many centenarians had very modest means, and as a result, they were eating less than average. They often stopped eating once they were three-quarters full. Many studies show that less food — calorie restriction — increases life span in animals. For example, excess animal protein increases the risks of cancer and kidney disease; excess fat leads to obesity and a higher threat of heart disease and stroke.
Eating in this way also improves your overall digestion, allowing you to absorb the nutrients from your food.
Start small: Follow the three-quarters rule for just one meal a day. See if you notice a difference between that and eating to full capacity.
*5. Commit to a cardio workout.*
In many years of clinical practice and research, I have never met a centenarian that lived a physically inactive life. Cardiovascular exercise is critical to attaining your health goals and the key to a healthy heart.
Effective moderate exercises include general calisthenics, racket sports, swimming (with moderate effort), cycling (at a moderate speed of 10 miles per hour or less), canoeing, and rowing (at a speed of about 2 to 3 miles per hour). A gentler overall workout is tai chi, which is also easier on the joints and balances your energy. Grow your longevity by exercising for 30 minute-session, 4 times or more per week.
Start small: Begin by exercising only five minutes a day, but do it every day. Incrementally increase the time by five minutes each week. By week 6, you’ll be up to 30 minutes.
*6. Breathe your way to 100*
In many cultures that have a thriving population of centenarians, it is a custom to practice mediation and other special breathing methods every day. Breathing correctly is important for dispelling the toxins and wastes from your body; in fact, it is estimated that we expel only about 30 percent of toxins in our bodies through defecation, urination, and perspiration — the rest is all respiratory. And yet, many of us have forgotten how to breathe and take shallow breaths from the top of the lungs, accumulating toxins and wastes in the body. Practice deep, slow, rhythmic, breathing daily to detoxify and de-stress: three times a day, close your eyes and breathe slowly for 10 counts.
Go big: One of the most effective ways to reduce stress, protect your heart, and lengthen your years is to meditate. Find a meditation practice that works for you and begin with 5 to 10 minutes a day.
I hope these tips bring you many healthy years! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
Dr. Maoshing Ni is a doctor of Chinese medicine and an authority in the field of Anti-Aging Medicine. A brush with near-death from an accident as a child left him determined to pursue health and healing. He was taught tai chi and qigong early on to help him rehabilitate and began his medical training with his father, a renowned physician of Chinese medicine and Taoist master. From this passionate youthful beginning, Dr. Mao, as many of his patients know him as, continued his training in schools of Chinese medicine in the U.S. and China. He went on to receive two doctorate degrees and wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on nutrition, as well as carried out a 20-year study of centenarians in China.
A board certified anti-aging specialist with the American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners, Dr Mao is co-founder and currently in a group practice at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, California. In addition to his practice, Dr. Mao is co-founder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Los Angeles.
Dr. Mao has lectured internationally on various topics including women?s health, longevity medicine, diet and nutrition, herbal therapy, stress management, meditation, lifestyle enhancement, integrative cancer care, tai chi, qigong, Chinese yoga, spirituality and conducts longevity retreats throughout the world.
Dr. Mao has has been featured on radio and television as well as on the pages of The New York Times<, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. He is the author of the bestselling book, Secrets of Longevity and the most recent Secrets of Self Healing. His other works include Ageless: Smooth Passages through Menopause, Chinese Herbology, Tao of Nutrition, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, and Harmony Tai Chi. He was also on the editorial board for the best selling book, Alternative Medicine: the Definitive Guide published by the Burton Goldberg Group.
He is currently featured as an expert on Yahoo Health, where he writes a blog about longevity. For medical appointments with Dr. Mao and his associates, please visit www.TaoOfWellness.com