My guess is there are not many people who would be opposed to living a long life, especially if mental and physical capabilities would not be crippling in the last few decades. Incredibly, the formula has been discovered. Right now there are five zones across the globe where people are achieving incredible longevity and wellbeing. Researcher and writer Dan Buettner has named the areas “Blue Zones” in which people are most likely to live past their 100th birthday. People in the 100 and over club even get the special title of centenarian. The zones include the Nuoro Province of Sardinia in Italy, Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, Nicoya in Costa Rica and Loma Linda in California. The United States made the list thanks to a Christian denomination known as the Seventh Day Adventists.

Buettner was obsessed with finding these zones and researching the lifestyle and diet practices shared among the various groups. The five commonalities shared by all five areas include plant- based diets, moderate and daily physical exercise, community social integration of all ages, avoidance of smoking, and family coherence. It appears so simple. Just do these five things and you will likely achieve a long and happy life. Unfortunately for Americans, our environment and culture is not conducive to achieving many of these lifestyle behaviors. Here is my take on how to be American 101: eat a load of cheap processed foods in as many meals you can fit in, and have a busy schedule that leaves little time for relaxing and exercising.

I have personally struggled with the American diet, which for most of my life resulted in obesity. In high school I had finally had enough, and a friend convinced me that I could lose weight and feel better with a vegan diet. I did it, and after six months of being vegan I went from 250 pounds to 180 pounds. I felt physically and emotionally better.

I do not claim to be vegan now, but my framework for understanding the relation of health to diet has changed. I aspire towards a plant-based diet, and I have kept my weight down since the lifestyle change.

For those wanting an alternate approach, the number one change is to replace a diet dominated by processed foods and meat with a plant-based diet. Our body in every sense was designed to be fueled by plants and this is supported by anatomical evidence. The design of the digestive system is incredibly similar to chimpanzees and gorillas that consume 95 percent plant diets. For those who put faith in a meat diet and may be bored with science, check out how the traditional Eskimo diet resulted in high amounts of cardiovascular disease and low life spans. Christian theology supports a plant-based diet, God’s original intent before sin and the fall of man was a plant-based diet. There were not too many steaks and burgers in the Garden of Eden. Moving towards a plant-based diet will require learning some new recipes and changing your plate composition, yet the outcome is health and life.

A diet more focused on plants may seem daunting, but just consider the implications. Ultimately it is a personal life choice we must all decide for ourselves. It is more than just your health.Supporting local vegetable farmers is crucial to local economies. Do you want to support unsustainable factory farms that waste resources, or mass meat/dairy production that results in massive outputs of methane gas? Research for yourself the ramifications of your diet choices on yourself and the world. Decide for yourself how long and healthy you want your life to be, and how important the health of your environment is to you.

Joshua Curtis

Staff Writer

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