According to the CIA World Fact book 2009 and the 2006 revision of the United Nations World Population Prospects report, for 2005-2010 the countries with the lowest life expectancy (where people die early) are Swaziland, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Malawi, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau etc. There are other African countries like Cameroon and Nigeria where average life expectancy though slightly better, is just 50 years.
The main reason given is the fact that these countries suffer from very high rates of HIV/AIDS infection. But many disagree with the reasons given. They argue that it is poverty and stress that result in high mortality rate both in adults and infants. According to the report, Swaziland has the lowest life expectancy with people expected to live to an average of just 32 years of age. Rather than looking at countries with the lowest life expectancy, let’s look at countries with the highest life expectancy rate and try to understand what makes them grow to a ripe old age.
Japan tops the world as the country with people that are most likely to grow to a good old age with an average of 82 years. Other countries in this category are Hong Kong, Iceland, Switzerland, Australia and Spain. The question is; why do they grow to an old age whereas others are struggling to reach just 50 years of age?
Lifestyle (You Are What You Eat)
Eating habits greatly contribute to living long. It is believed that a breakfast of oatmeal, cranberry juice and a banana and a lunch of things like salad including cucumbers, tomatoes and either chicken or fish. A lot of vegetables and lean meat, as well as much fruits is really healthy. Like the Japanese of Okinawa, eating a diet which is high in grains, vegetable and fish is very important. Drinking lots of water or milk, or an occasional glass of wine is very healthy and a good practice to stay healthy, strong and live longer.
According to a Cardiologist, people should eat much fiber and vegetables because, he explains…“If you eat more fiber, fruits and vegetables, it will push out the bad stuff.” Soft drinks like Coca Cola, Pepsi etc are completely discouraged. Water or pure fruit or vegetable juice or milk is perfect. It is as well believed that an alcoholic drink occasionally can help. Although some studies are believed to have suggested as such, it is not something that all agree with. Experts say it is good to have a treat by eating some of the things you avoid once in a while but not in excess.
Simple Exercises and sports
To live long, you have to live an active life both mentally and physically. It is very important not to be overweight that is why exercises and sports come into play. It is very important not only to eat well, but to keep in shape as well. Being active can include just doing regular things like cooking for yourself, keeping the house clean and in order e.g vacuuming and scrubbing dishes; walking or biking rather than taking the Bus or car, as well as daily exercises to keep your muscles strong and flexible.
Keeping your brain and mind active and fresh
Studies show that focused attention, like doing puzzles or reading, will help keep your mind young. Watching TV programs that help you work your brain is very important. Having a better mental faculty helps keep you young. Maybe that is why teachers mostly “stay young”.
Enjoy yourself (reduce Stress)
We live in a stressful world, therefore try to take time for yourself and enjoy what you do. Try to reduce job stress. It is also important to have a relationship and/or friends. Studies show that married people or people in a relationship live longer, healthier lives, which probably can be attributed to the psychological benefits of having close peer relationships. Experts agree that having good friends and family is key to reaching age 100.
For those who believe in a God, spiritually helps. A recent survey of centenarians shows that the majority of them believe in something and either prays or meditates or engages in another spiritual practice every day. Maintaining a positive attitude and taking time for introspection will increase your odds of long-term health.
Age is a blessing!
By Larry Bate Takang (Editor-in-Chief)