I've learned a lot of interesting things on magazine assignments but a recent trip to Okinawa for Islands magazine promised to reveal the secret to enjoying a very long life. Okinawans are known to have the highest percentage of centenarians anywhere in the world and scientists and doctors have been studying the population for years to find out why.
According to Dr. Makoto Suzuki who we interviewed, it seems there are three main factors to living beyond 100.
1. Exercise - regular and often.
2. Diet - eating well, eating slowly and paying attention to how food is prepared.
3. Regular social contacts with friends and family.
Most of the elderly Okinawans enjoyed a healthy diet of fresh seafood and got plenty of exercise from growing their own vegetables. Friends and relatives visited regularly and one elderly centenarian and his wife even hosted afternoon party get togethers sharing beer, saki and conversation with neighbours.
We were told that researchers hope to find a special longevity gene some day but in the meantime it seems that eating and exercising well and and taking time to be with friends works wonders.