Today, I will be talking about longevity because it is one of my passions! I get excited about wellness tools that help people lead a vital, energized, healthy, and joyous life. I will discuss Ayurvedic keys to optimal health as they align with information from John Robbins’ book on longevity, Healthy at 100.
Longevity became a personal interest of mine after I lost my mom to breast cancer ten years ago when she was only 67 years old. I was completely devastated! I had the huge honor of caring for her until she took her last breath, which was an immense blessing. Losing my mom early left me dumbfounded ; she seemed to lead such a healthy lifestyle and I didn’t understand why this happened to her. My mom ate fairly well, participated in triathlons, exercised regularly, contributed positively to other people’s lives through her work, and had a healthy, loving community around her. As a result of losing my mom so early, I have become committed to learning about specific health factors that enhance longevity and make people thrive into their latter years of life.
In 2014, I decided to supplement my yoga training with intensive schooling in Ayurveda. I don’t know about you, but I feel that life is a gift and I want to live a long, healthy life! Fortunately, I feel younger now than I did when I was in my 20s due to my healthy, balanced Ayurvedic and Yogic lifestyle. I want to share my knowledge to make a positive impact on other people’s health and wellbeing.
Healthy at 100
After reading John Robbins’ book Healthy at 100, I noticed many similarities between the ancient wisdom shared in the book and Ayurvedic principles. He interviewed the world’s healthiest and longest-lived peoples who are centenarians (100 years or older) to find out what their secrets were to longevity. He was curious why some people age with failing health and sadness, while others grow old with vitality and joy? John Robbins is the son of the founder of the ice cream company, Baskim Robbins. One of the reasons that he committed his life to health and healing is because he watched many of his family members die of heart failure due to an unhealthy diet. Through his research, he found the cultures of people who lived the longest were as follows: the elders of Abhasia (the ancients of the Caucasus mountains), the elders of Vilcabamba in Peru, the elders of Hunza in northernmost tip of Pakistan, and the centenarians of Okinawa in Japan.
Robbins found that all of these cultures shared the following characteristics that Ayurveda also shares: eating primarily a plant-based diet with no processed foods; a locally and seasonally grown diet from their own ecosystem; eating a low calorie diet; regular movement or exercise; time spent in nature; having a regular spiritual practice; living with a healthy, loving, and supportive community of people you can count on (many live in multi-generational households with family); choosing to enjoy and celebrate your life by having goals and things to look forward to; and knowing you are doing the work you were put on this earth to do (in Yoga and Ayurveda, we call this our dharma or life purpose). Interestingly, in these cultures, the elderly are celebrated and honored, which is not the norm in the United States.
Many of these cultures live in places immersed in nature, away from the pollution of the modern world, which also contributes to health and longevity. A surprising piece of research from the book showed that feeling lonely or isolated can be as detrimental to your health as smoking cigarettes. This is one of the biggest challenges for Americans as they age. Interestingly, the cultures mentioned above celebrate and honor the elderly, whereas aging in the United States is not honored and is often a source of dread. One quote that inspires me is “People don’t grow old. When they stop growing, they become old. “
What I loved about Robbins’ findings is that they are very similar to what Ayurveda says about the keys to optimal health and longevity. An integral part of Ayurveda is living in tune with nature’s rhythms or what the west refers to as circadian rhythms. These rhythms tell us that there are optimal times to go to bed, wake up, and eat. We should eat our meals when our digestive fire (agni) is high. This helps us properly digest our food and absorb their nutrients.
Ayurveda also strongly recommends intermittent fasting, so we can complete the 4-hour digestive cycle after each meal. In other words, fast between meals and do not snack. This is in line with what Robbins says about eating a low-calorie diet. When we snack, we don’t allow our bodies to completely digest our food and this creates a build up of undigested food (ama). This contributes to toxins building up in our blood and tissues, which can eventually lead to many health challenges like arthritis, constipation and more.
There are obviously more tools to staying healthy in Ayurveda and I wanted to give a brief summary on the similarities between Ayurveda and the book Healthy at 100. Hopefully, you learned some interesting tips on healthy diet and lifestyle choices that can enhance your life!
If you are interested in setting up free 30 phone intro wellness session with me to discuss your health goals &/or challenges (or doing a follow-up), please email me at email@example.com Have a beautiful day!