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A few decades ago, the thought of living to 100 sounded absolutely absurd to me. Yet, in recent years, it’s become clear that living to 100 is not only possible, but can also be achieved whilst simultaneously maintaining one’s longevity. Take Sir David Attenborough, for instance, who recently celebrated his 98th birthday, and there are 3 easy tips that we can learn from him should we wish to do the same.

Sir David Attenborough’s Journey To 98

“I see no reason whatsoever why I can’t live past 100.” – Sir David Attenborough

1. Quit red meat

“Well, I have certainly changed my diet. Not in a great sort of dramatic way. But I don’t think I’ve eaten red meat for months.”

Speaking to Good Housekeeping, Attenborough added that he’d become much more vegetarian over the past few years than he thought he would ever be. Now, while I do enjoy red meat, it is something that can be exempted from my diet.

Sir Attenborough admits that he adopted a red-meat free diet to better the planet, yet quitting red meat has been associated with many benefits that can promote better longevity;

Reduced inflammation

A 2023 study noted an association between healthy plant-based diets and reduced inflammation. As inflammation is at the core of many chronic diseases, cutting back on red meat can help protect your health.

Reduced cancer risk

Cancer is the second leading cause of death, and with the World Health Organization (WHO) classifying red meat as a possible carcinogen, it may be advisable to watch your intake, especially if you face an increased risk for certain cancers.

In fact, per a study published in the journal BMC Medicine in 2022, compared to individuals who ate meat more than five times per week, pescatarians faced a 10% reduced cancer risk, whereas vegetarians and vegans had a 14% reduced risk.

Reduced Alzheimer’s risk

Per a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, diet plays a significant role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, with Mediterranean diets and traditional Asian diets being shown to reduce risk, especially when compared to Western diets.

Per the study’s findings, meat-heavy diets increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and this may lead to a predicated 50% increase in Alzheimer’s cases in the United States by 2038.

Reduced diabetes risk

Our dietary habits can influence the body’s production of insulin, leading to insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Foods such as nuts and legumes can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes, whereas red meat in the form of total meat, processed meat, or unprocessed meat may significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

2. Spend time in nature

There are few things in life that are as calming as spending some time in nature, and Sir Attenborough agrees.

“There is very strong evidence that people who spend time with the natural world benefit mentally to an extraordinary degree.”

In a video posted to the Mind Organization’s official YouTube channel, Sir Attenborough goes on to explain how spending time in nature has been clinically demonstrated to boost happiness, confidence, and relaxation.

One study found that the association between spending time in nature three to four times a week and a 36% reduced chance of using blood pressure pills. It also found 33% lower odds of using mental health medications and a 26% reduced likelihood of using asthma medications.

If you’re hoping to spend more time in nature but live in an urbanized area with limited greenery, Sir Attenborough recommends adding a flower pot to your home.

3. Find your purpose

“To care for the animals that you see. Don’t waste things, don’t waste food, don’t waste electricity. Look after the natural world, it is the most precious thing we have, and we are a part of it.”

If there’s one person that’s doing their part to advocate for the health of the planet, it’s definitely Sir David Attenborough. A keen advocate for the environment, the 98-year-old spends his time doing something incredibly meaningful, and with purpose, and that’s something we can all learn to do.

Ikigai is a term from Okinawa, an island at the southern end of Japan that’s home to some of the oldest people on Earth. Ikigai is all about having a life purpose, and finding our raison d’être has been linked to improved mental health and longevity. For instance, one study, published in Preventative Medicine, found that participants with a strong sense of purpose reduced their risk of death by 15.2%, compared to those with the least sense of purpose.

With over 50 years dedicated to raising awareness about the state of the planet, it’s no wonder that Sir Attenborough continues to enjoy a healthy and meaningful life.

My references

Good Housekeeping. (2020). Sir David Attenborough speaks exclusively to GH about how we can act now to save the planet. [online] Available at: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/a34232642/good-housekeeping-sir-david-attenborough-exclusive-interivew/

Grant, W.B. and Blake, S.M. (2023). Diet’s Role in Modifying Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: History and Present Understanding. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, [online] Preprint(Preprint), pp.1–30. doi:https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-230418.

Gu, X., Drouin-Chartier, J., Sacks, F. M., Hu, F. B., Rosner, B., & Willett, W. C. (2023). Red meat intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in a prospective cohort study of United States females and males. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 118(6), 1153-1163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.08.021

Hooton, C. (2017). Sir David Attenborough: ‘I see no reason whatsoever why I can’t live past 100’ | The Independent. The Independent. [online] 23 Oct. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/sir-david-attenborough-age-future-100-blue-planet-2-documentaries-bbc-a8015136.html [Accessed 19 May 2024].

Kharaty, S., Harrington, J. M., Millar, S. R., Perry, I. J., & Phillips, C. M. (2023). Plant-based dietary indices and biomarkers of chronic low-grade inflammation: A cross-sectional analysis of adults in Ireland. European Journal of Nutrition, 62(8), 3397-3410. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-023-03242-5

Turunen, A.W., Halonen, J., Korpela, K., Ojala, A., et al. (2023). Cross-sectional associations of different types of nature exposure with psychotropic, antihypertensive and asthma medication. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, [online] 80(2), pp.111–118. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2022-108491.

‌Watling, C.Z., Schmidt, J.A., Dunneram, Y., Tong, T.Y.N., Kelly, R.K., Knuppel, A., Travis, R.C., Key, T.J. and Perez-Cornago, A. (2022). Risk of cancer in regular and low meat-eaters, fish-eaters, and vegetarians: a prospective analysis of UK Biobank participants. BMC Medicine, [online] 20(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-022-02256-w.

‌WHO (2015). Cancer: Carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat. [online] www.who.int. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/cancer-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat

‌World Health Organization: WHO (2019). Cancer. [online] Who.int. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/cancer

www.youtube.com. (n.d.). Sir David Attenborough | Mental health and nature. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h29z-l3XTlk.

October 7, C.M. and 2020 (n.d.). David Attenborough Shares 7 Ways We Can Help Stop Climate Change. [online] The Beet. Available at: https://thebeet.com/david-attenborough-shares-7-ways-we-can-better-understand-the-climate-crisis/

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: davidattenborough/instagram

 

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a journalist graduate and writer, specializing in health, beauty, and wellness. She also has a passion for poetry, equality, and natural hair. Identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to provide the latest information on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle and leave a more equitable society behind.

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