Published on February 10, 2014
My friend Tai Lopez sent me an email last Friday.
I always open Tai's emails. Just like me – but light years ahead – Tai is an aspiring renaissance man. He is the author of multiple books, a member of MENSA: the high IQ society, a self made millionaire in his 20's, a Certified Financial Planner, CHFC, CLU, and most importantly a student of life with a ton of books (5000+ at the last count and that is no joke – I've been at his library and it is freaking amazing).
Tai has said that he wishes no one ever had seen when he was on Bravo’s “The Millionaire Matchmaker” – but his episode is actually the highest rated yet.
So what was Tai's email subject line? It read: “50 Secrets of the World Longest Living People”. And here is how it started…
“My friend was just hanging out with a wealthy billionaire in Boston.
Two billion or more net worth. He owns his own private 747. But the billionaire is overweight and sick all the time. In the process of making money he neglected his health.
Like the wise saying goes: “What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul.” And I would add, what does it profit us to gain the world but lose our physical health?
Talk about an attention grabber! Then Tai went on to say:
“Today's book of the day, 50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People by Sally Beare, examines the lifestyles of 5 traditional people groups who are famous for their long healthy lives (many of them are still working, exercising, and actively participating in life well past age 100).
As a nutritionist she studied people from Okinawa, Japan; Symi, Greece; Campodimele, Italy; Hunza, India; and Bama, China. These specific people groups have 2 or 3 times the amount of people living past age 100 and 70% less chronic disease.
Let me highlight the 15 secrets I found most relevant to our every day life…”
Well, as you should know if you tuned into last week's podcast “11 Ways To Age Like A Bad-Ass“, you know that anti-aging is way, way high up on my priority list – not only because I want to be around to leap a 30+ inch vertical when my grandkids hit their first home run, but also because I…
…want to play 18 holes of golf (painlessly)…
….have hot, crazy wild sex with my wife (preferably also painlessly)…
…and achieve epic things like racing Spartan events (OK, let's face it, that will never be painless).
Tai has a good way of summing up books that would normally take you a long time to read. That's wonderful for anyone who doesn't have the time luxury to read lots of books. As a matter of fact, you can consider his Book of the Day list a fantastic time-hacking technique.
So how did Tai sum up the 50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People book? Here's what he had to say. If you dig this stuff, I'd highly recommend you go hop on Tai's Book of the Day list. It's not spam. It's good, high-quality stuff that makes your life better.
1. Only Eat Until 8 Parts Full: Okinawas say “Hara hachi bu” which means “belly 80 percent full”. So instead of eating until I actually feel full I should stop just short of being stuffed. There has been a good bit of science done to support this.
It may be that there is some value in calorie restriction, or that it just keeps our body fat down, or that if you always eat till you feel full you train your stomach to expand and need more and more to feel satisfied.
I wonder what the Okinawans would think about the ‘all you can eat' buffet restaurant ideas? They'd probably think it was the worst idea ever.
2. Eat 7 times more vegetables than meat: It's interesting because all the groups of people the author studied ate meat, dairy and animal products. Just like in the book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” Weston A. Price says in his exhaustive studies none of the world's healthiest people groups were vegetarian.
But that doesn't mean they ate like the average modern person. Even though these 5 healthy people groups ate meat they had a different ratio – they ate way more veggies and fruits than meat. They also ate a lot of fish, it wasn't always read meat.
I have read almost every health book ever written and the only thing they all have in common is saying we should eat lots of vegetables. From Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paleo advocates, to the USDA recommendations, to the most hard core Vegan, everyone agrees – Vegetables should be the highest volume food type we eat.
I try to be sure every plate of food I eat keeps this ratio – 7 times more vegetables than meat. I just use my eye to estimate when my plate looks like there is a ton more vegetables than anything else.My favorite technique is to take a huge salad and dump it on top of whatever I'm eating. I make sure it looks like the salad is a mountain on top of the meat.
3. Drink 5 Cups Of Green Tea A Day: The book says that green tea was the basic drink of choice for the long lived people of Bama, China and Okinawa, Japan. The author says that you need about 4-5 cups a day to get the maximum effect. Green tea basically has the most antioxidants you can get from any one food type.
A tremendous amount of modern science backs up what the Chinese have known all along. If you are a coffee drinker, green tea is also a great substitute that still has the caffeine.
Or you can rotate between coffee and green tea to maximize the health benefits of both. But it seems more likely that green tea is better for you and can actually have the same ‘pick me up' effect as coffee.
The people of Bama, China already knew what this Harvard Health newsletter confirms:
“A study of 40,530 Japanese adults found that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke and a 16% lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day.
Last year, a meta-analysis of observational studies—13 conducted in green tea drinkers and five in black tea drinkers—found that people who drank the most green tea had a 28% lower risk of coronary artery disease than those who drank the least green tea. Black tea had no effect on heart risk.Another 2011 meta-analysis of 14 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials found that green tea significantly lowered LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.”
I found it funny that the Chinese ancient proverb says that the green tea leaves should be harvested by virgins and then sipped“slowly in a pavilion, next to a lily pond, in the company of a beautiful woman.” This sounds like a great idea in theory to me. I am not sure where to find a pavilion but could probably conjure up a lily pond and pretty girl (not as sure where to find a brand where the leaves were picked by virgins)…
I can also tell you after I increased my green tea drinking I stayed way more hydrated (which also means lots of quick trips to the bathroom haha).
4. Eat Food With Seaweed: People in Okinawa that ate food from soil that had once been below sea level were the healthiest. This probably stems from the trace minerals left from the sea water and sea plants like seaweed and kelp. These micro nutrients have atremendous positive effect on health.
It could be the iodine, or the fiber, but most likely it's all the trace minerals that are found deep within the sea. When I was on the farm with Joel Salatin we used to feed the cows seaweed. They loved it. We literally had to restrict how much we gave them because a cow can eat a 50 lbs. bag pretty fast. But the change in the health of new cows that we started on seaweed and kelp was almost instantaneous. It was the same for chickens, rabbits, plants, sheep – it was like magic.
So a good start is to buy some Bragg's Seasoning Sea Kelp Delight and sprinkle it on your food. It tastes kind of like salt.
5. Grass fed eggs: This is one close to my heart because when I was just out of high school I went and did a 2.5 year apprenticeship with Joel Salatin who is one of the pioneers of the grass fed movement. In fact in 1978 my other mentor, Allan Nation bought a magazine and turned its focus to the tremendous benefits of grass fed meat, milk, and eggs.
It has taken literally 30 years for the doctors and nutritionists to catch up. I remember when I was on the farm, we sent grass fed eggs and chicken down to the National Institutes of Health and they literally called back and said “Hey our machines are broken can you send some more samples for testing.” The nutritional differences between grass fed and conventional farmed food were so different that they thought they had faulty lab equipment. But they didn't. The grass fed eggs and chicken was just off the charts, especially in terms of the Omega 3 – Omega 6 ratios.
6. Try Apricots: The Hunzas in India were huge believers in the power of apricots, specifically apricot kernels. It's actually become quite a controversial study with advocates on both sides. Some say the Laetrile in the kernels is an anti-cancer agent and others say it's actually toxic. One of the issues is that apricot kernels basically have low levels of Cyanide in them. Ingesting Cyanide is a good way to die instantly. You will have to read the research and decide for yourself.
7. Eat Yogurt: I never realized that someone actually won a Nobel Prize because of their findings on the health benefits of eating yogurt. Élie Metchnikoff studied long lived Bulgarian peasants and the yogurt in their diet. He developed a theory that the natural bacteria in our stomachs could be supplemented with probiotics to increase our health.
8. Get Married Or Get A Dog: The author says that married people live longer. But also adds that if you don't get married at least get a dog. Humans are social creatures, they need to love and feel love. This reminds of the book “The Millionaire Next Door”which found that the majority of wealthy people get married and stay married to the same person.
Lonely people die young. It's a myth that you should get successful before you settle down. I see that myth being spread all over here in Hollywood.But I guess if you woud rather be a hermit at least get a dog!
9. Movement: Moving and exercising was by far one of the most shared traits of the long lived people groups. Most were farmers who had daily chores. One woman in the book was over 100 and every day walked up a few hundred stairs to sell her eggs in the village. A study shows that smokers who exercise live as long or even longer than non smokers who don't exercise. That's how important moving, sweating, and exercise is – we all hear how bad smoking is but apparently not exercising is even worse.
10. Mind Games For The Brain: It's not enough to live long. You don't want to be some senile 100 year old that can't participate in life. Playing games that stimulate the mind is one of the most effective ways to keep your mind young. I have been advocating for years that everyone play at least a few games of chess, backgammon, bridge, checkers, poker, or puzzles every week.
The book “How To Be A Billionaire” talks about how games, specifically playing games of chance, is an activity enjoyed by most billionaires. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates play bridge, Peter Thiel plays chess, and H.L. Hunt played poker. There is something about playing games of chance that teaches you about the fine line between fate and controlling your destiny.
My grandma is 96 and plays backgammon and chess almost every day. Her mind is young and this book says this habit is a huge reason for her mental vitality.
Here is a pic of her beating me at scrabble:
And if you like videos games there is good research that the multi tasking that happens when you play is great for the brain.
11. Sprouted Bread: Everyone argues about eating carbs, wheat, and grains. Interestingly the healthiest people groups in the world all had some levels of carbs in their diet, whether it was the Okinawans and rice or the Hunzas and their sprouted bread. There are a ton of health benefits when you simply sprout the bread before cooking it. Scientists found that sprouted bread reduced the blood sugar response and increases the glucagen response compared to regular bread.
I personally love Ezekiel sprouted bread. It tastes as good as regular bread and it's healthier. I love to put some good grass fed butter or almond or cashew butter on top.
12. Mineral Water Over Distilled: There is always a huge debate about what type of water you should drink: distilled, mineral, reverse osmosis, etc. The Hunzas lived high in the Himalayan mountains and drank water that flowed down rocky stream beds. The author says the trace minerals that accumulate as the water dissolves the rock is part of why the Hunzas live so long.
Distilled water on the other hand is basically 100% free of any extra minerals, just pure H2O and so theoretically does not provide any important minerals like calcium and magnesium. Dr. Mercola seems to agree and goes further in saying distilled water is actually unhealthy.
13. Humming, Singing, Breathing, Meditating, Laughing: Another Nobel Prize was given on the subject of Oxygen and its effects on the human body. In 1931 Otto Heinrich Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology for his study on the metabolism of tumors and the respiration of cells, particularly cancer cells. The healthiest people groups in the world seemed to intuitively know the value of oxygen well before 1931 and regularly practiced deep breathing (which came naturally from rigorous daily exercise outside).
They also did a lot of humming and singing. So next time you are in the shower don't hold back – let your voice be heard. And during the day whistle or hum while you work. One note, Otto Warburg believed pollution to be a huge cause of cancer. So if you are like me and live in a big city like Los Angeles with a lot of pollution consider investing in a powerful air filter for your house.
Another twist on breathing is meditation. The book “Happiness Hypotheses” says that there are only 3 scientifically proven ways to increase happiness: Medication, Cognitive Therapy, and Meditation. Many of the healthiest traditional people groups in this book practiced some form of meditation. Download the Headspace free app and try it for 10 minutes a day. I love it. It helps my hyperactive brain.
And last but not least, the author found that people over 100 years old laugh a lot. She tells the story of how Norman Cousins cured himself of Marie-Strumpell's disease. He believed that human emotions controlled the biology of our body and led to health or sickness. The story goes:
“Told that he had little chance of surviving, Cousins developed a recovery program… with a positive attitude, love, faith, hope, and laughter induced by Marx Brothers films. ‘I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep,' he reported. ‘When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval'.”
My mom loves Dr. Schultz the naturopath and I remember him saying that we should all memorize like 50 jokes to keep ourselves healthy. For me personally I think it's an ABSOLUTE must to see at least 1 comedy show a month. I go down to the Laugh Factory or Improv here in Hollywood. It gives me a natural high for at least 24 hours. A lot more fun and less expensive than a hospital stay.
14. Prayer: The healthiest people groups in the world all had some sort of spiritual life with a common theme of prayer. The question is whether prayer helps the person doing the praying or the person receiving the prayers. A Huffington Post article states:
“In one National Institutes of Health funded study, individuals who prayed daily were shown to be 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those without a regular prayer practice.
Research at Dartmouth Medical School found that patients with strong religious beliefs who underwent elective heart surgery were three times more likely to recover than those who were less religious.
A 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma by researchers at the University of Cincinnati indicates that those who practiced prayer and meditation experienced fewer and less severe symptoms than those who had not.
Other studies show that prayer boosts the immune system and helps to lessen the severity and frequency of a wide range of illnesses.
A recent survey reported in the Journal of Gerontology of 4,000 senior citizens in Durham, NC, found that people who prayed or meditated coped better with illness and lived longer than those who did not.”
So it seems pretty obvious that the person doing the praying gets all kinds of benefits. There is more controversy around the effectiveness on the people receiving the prayer. It does seem that having someone pray for you (even if you don't know they are praying for you) can help you recover from illness faster than the placebo. But that's for another article.
People who volunteer for something live longer than those who don't. But what's most interesting is that the science shows that people who volunteer for their own personal satisfaction don't live any longer than people who don't volunteer at all. It has to be selfless.
I remember reading about a woman who had just held her great, great, great granddaughter and was asked “How does it feel?” She answered “Like heaven on earth.” That is the feeling we all want.
So remember humans are social creatures. They say we need to have about 130 friends and be connected into a community. I lived with the Amish with no electricity for 2.5 years and they are the happiest people I have ever met. They are tied into a cause, a religious belief, and a community that is bigger than themselves.
If you aren't careful the modern world's technology will isolate you. We don't have to live near our families or friends, we relocate on a whim, we can withdraw into text messages and Netflix, we don't know who grows our food, who built our house, or who makes our clothes. It's all nameless and faceless these days.
But the beauty of the modern world is we have the choice. Jump on a plane and reconnect with old friends. Like William Yutze an old Amish farmer told me, “Tai, new friends are good, but old friends are better.”
Drive down to an old folks home and just walk in and find someone lonely to cheer up. I have done this and was surprised there is no security at the door. You can just walk in and talk to any of the older people. I realize why there is no need for security at the door, because NO ONE CARES about them. All the wisdom and knowledge locked up for us to learn from and few of us even take 1 hour a month to go do a good deed.
I think it's not just about volunteer work. You need to find a community of people with lofty goals, maybe changing the education system, or fixing the food in public schools, or adopting handicapped children. Start with a facebook group and get involved from there.
I'm as guilty as anyone of getting too wrapped up in myself. Go out and connect to something big and change the world my friend.
16. Low Stress: The traditional groups she studied lived extremely low stress lifestyles. They didn't have monthly bills, mortgages, tuition, or debt. If we know anything about health we know that stress kills faster than smoking and potato chips. I recently read that The American Medical Association has noted that stress is the basic cause of more than 60% of all human illness and disease. Read that again! If that is even remotely true than we all seem to have our priorities on health all out of whack.
I know on a personal note that when I measure my body fat, my weight, my waistline, the biggest predictor of staying in shape is the amount of good sleep I get, which is basically directly related to how stressed I am. I'm not sure dieting, exercising, or lifting weights are even helpful if you are under prolonged periods of stress. You would probably be better off focusing on getting rid of stress before any other health exercise. I'm working on a new article about my experiment with stress, sleep, and weight loss (so stay tuned, the results were pretty stunning I must say).
The question remains how do we remove stress in the modern world. We obviously don't live in one of these traditional villages so we have a different set of challenges. If you examine most modern world stress it relates to two major areas: Money and Love.
So if we dissect our stress those are the two areas to fix. What's the common denominator in both of those? I would say it's fear. The amygdala part of our brain stores our fear memories. So basically we spend our whole adult life stressfully reacting to past traumas and experiences instead of seeing life clearly.
If you get bitten by a little dog when you are 5 years old even when you are an adult the fear of dogs will stress you out. The amygdala fear response is insanely powerful in your mind. If you are not careful it will run your life on it's terms. Even if that means introducing massive stress into your life.
When it comes to money most people are driven by fear. Fear of changing jobs, fear of starting your own company, fear of not keeping up with the Joneses.
The same with love, people fear rejection, fear breaking off an old relationship because they think they won't find someone better, fear being alone. The antidote to stress is the management of fear and building courage is the fastest way to manage your fear. In my own life I have tried many ways to build my courage, some methods have worked and some failed. You can start with cold showers like I talk about in another article. I also recommending reading books like Kon Tiki so that you can get inspired by the courage of others.
But even more powerful is changing who you spend time with. Get a mentor. I lived on a farm for 10 years. I observed that a baby cow learned all the important life lessons from the momma cow without ever a word being spoken. The momma cow's knowledge and success basically just rubbed of on her baby as the baby spent time with her mom. It's the same for us. Humans learn by osmosis, things rubs off on us. For good or for bad.
Add up how many hours you are awake each day. For most of us it's around 16 hours. How many of those hours yesterday did you spend with someone who is 10 to 20 years ahead of you? Who is living the exact life you dream of for yourself? Who has the healthy body and love life you have always wanted? For most of us it's a pretty depressing amount of time.
Allan Nation once told me, “Tai the secret to life is to ignore 99 out of 100 people and then when you find the 1 out of 100 amazing person, do everything they say.” So find a mentor or two and listen to them closely. Find people who achieved the financial goals you want in 20 years, who have the love relationship of your dreams and ask them for advice, and who have the healthy body you have been trying to get. Just make sure you are humble enough to actually listen and implement what they say.
Like Jim Rohn says:
“Listening is a wonderful way to learn. Let me propose to you an outrageous idea: choose a really successful person and take him or her out to dinner. A poor person (and we're all poor compared to someone. No matter how well we're doing) should invest in feeding a rich person. And then do what? That's right — listen.Go ahead, try it. Spend fifty, sixty, eighty, even a hundred dollars. Go for the full nine courses. Start with the hor d'oeuvres, and ask questions. Eat the salad (it will take about fifteen minutes) and will keep the conversation going. The biggest steak in town will take forty minutes to demolish — keep asking questions. Order dessert. See how long you can stretch the meal. Try for at least two hours. If you get someone like this to talk with you for two hours, you can learn enough strategies and attitudes to multiply your income and change your life.But of course you're right. Poor people don’t take rich people out to dinner. That’s probably why they're poor. The ‘guy' says, ‘If he’s rich, let him buy his own darn dinner. I'm not coming up with any money. And besides, if you work where I work, by the time you struggle home, it's late. You've got to have a bit to eat, watch a little TV to relax, and get to bed. You can't spend all that time trying to find a rich man to feed.'And this man is behind on his payments. Behind! He’s a good worker, a hard worker, a sincere worker. But you can work hard and be sincere all your life and still wind up broke and unhappy. You've got to be better than a good worker, you've got to be a good listener.”
The good news is it's not that hard to change. Start taking some cold showers, read some books on the courage of others, and reach out to 3 or 4 people who are where you want to be in 20 years and ask if you can take them to dinner or work for them part-time. Our own stress comes from fear that is self induced. There is a way out that's pretty darn simple.
So what do you think about Tai Lopez, and this book he recommends “50 Secrets of the World's Longest Living People”? Leave your questions, comments and feedback below and I'll reply. And be sure to check out Tai's Book of the Day list. Perhaps you too can soon have 5000+ books hanging around your personal library – or at least a head full of some really good knowledge that changes your life, your wallet, your friendships, your health, your waistline, and of course, your longevity.