Last week, a story made the rounds about an Indonesian man who reportedly died at the golden age of 146. And everyone’s wondering: what was his secret to living longer?
World’s Oldest Man?
First off, itâs hard to know if Saparman Sodimejo, also known as Mbah Gotho, was quite that old. If he were, there would be no record of it: Indonesia didnât start keeping birth records until 30 years after his supposed birth date.
But that doesnât mean Sodimejo didnât live a very long life. He was certainly a centenarian, and outlived four wives and five children. And, surprisingly, he did it without paying much mind to the food he ate or advice to quit smoking. According to his grandson, Sodimejo was a heavy smoker and almost never took ill.
A TownÂ Where PeopleÂ Are Living Longer
Most scientists agree that the maximum lifespan is about 115 to 120 years. But, as Iâm sure youâre aware, itâs not that common. And, although Sodimejo may have defied all the odds, he is certainly not alone. For example, along the western coast of southern Italy lies the town of Acciaroli, where a population of 2,000 has had 300 people celebrate their 100th birthday. The townârather unsurprisinglyâhas very low rates of heart disease and Alzheimerâs, while many inhabitants smoke just like Sodimejo.
“Secrets” to Living Longer the Healthy Way
As much as geography and genetics play a role in healthy aging, there are scientifically backed measures anyone can take to extend their livesânone of which, by the way, include cigarettes!
1. Be Active Every Day
The centenarians of Acciaroli all tend to get plenty of exercise. It is believed they spend lots of time hiking and hill walking to get from town to their homes, meaning they lead a very active lifestyle. This has benefits for both the heart and mindâa number of associations between exercise and longevity exist. One such form of exercise, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), has been shown to reverse the cellular aging process better than other varieties.
2. Eat the Mediterranean Diet
Although it might not have been the case for Sodimejo, the people of Acciaroli also eat a healthy diet. Based on where they live, they subscribe to a Mediterranean diet thatâs high in vegetables and healthy fats from fish and olive oil. Omega-3s in particular, which are found in high amounts in freshwater fish, could slow oxidation in the brain, promote nerve cell connections, and delay conditions like Alzheimerâs. Furthermore, the omega-3s from fish are the primary natural source of docosahexaenoic (DHA) fatty acid. DHA, a key building block in the brain, is known to improve vision and help treat Type 2 diabetes, dementia, and coronary artery disease, among other things.
3. Limit Stress
Another key to longevity that seems to span from the shores of Italy to Indonesia and beyond is limiting stress. According to what Iâve read about the people of Acciaroli, not much has changed in their lives over time. Their society has remained relatively laid back, and has avoided the stresses most of the rest of the world has adopted.
Sodimejo, according to his grandson, also played it pretty cool. Never one to get too worked up, he took every day as it came, and led a pretty relaxing life. You can try and limit the impact of stress on your life by getting better sleep, eating a Mediterranean-style diet, increasing activity, or participating in meditation or mindfulness.
Living Longer, Feeling Good
Now, you might not live till 146, but by following the above tips for health and well-being, you could at least set yourself up for a longer, more enjoyable life. After all, if you want to live longer, donât you want to feel good, too?
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