It’s a common concern for women who struggle with eating and appetite to fear reduced life expectancy. We all want to live as long as possible in order to enjoy our retirement years, our children and grandchildren. The good news is that while what you eat and how you move do impact your weight and health, they aren’t the top factors in longevity.
A low fat, gluten free diet isn’t what it takes to live to 100 says Susan Pinker in her TED talk on longevity. Instead the top two factors in how long you will live are social integration and close relationships. Whether you are lean and whether you exercise are well down her list.
Dan Buettner of the Blue Zones research asks eight questions that he says predict longevity. Of these eight, the only ones that have to do with eating or exercise are: Do you eat three servings of vegetables a day? And are you active at least 45 minutes a day? Keep in mind that a serving of vegetables is about 1/2 Cup cooked or 1 Cup raw, and activity includes daily time when you are moving such as doing housework -no complicated rigid diet involved.
Other strong factors include getting good sleep, having contact with a faith community, and putting importance on time for relaxation, and relationships. According to Dan, having a strong sense of purpose alone adds 7 years to your life.
I’ve included Susan’s TED talk and Dan’s hour long talk at the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation where he goes over these eight questions at the beginning, and his 2011 TED MED talk where he talks about the connections between the longest living people, and how we can influence our own longevity and that of our society.
My own conclusion is that it’s time to stop obsessing over our weight and get on with building relationships and living with purpose.