Must watch !! 100-year-old scuba diver breaks world record!

How inspiring! Bill Lambert, 100 years old, celebrated his birthday with a dive, becoming the oldest scuba diver in the world. On the 25th of September 2020, he claimed this world record by completing a 27-minute dive at a depth of 12m/ 40 ft, at a lake in Illinois. He was guided by a member of Lowes Park Scuba dive centre and followed by numerous local news cameras and his daughter.

Oldests scuba diver
The point of SCUBA diving is not to focus on yourself; it’s to focus on the beauty of the underwater world. There’s nothing to accomplish on dives.

“It’s been pretty insane,” said Lambert’s daughter, Deb Steinfeld. “And the fact he’s still doing it and he’s still healthy enough to do it at 100 — he is an amazing guy.”

Bill Lambert’s message is clear,” try new things regardless of age”.

He started scuba diving at the age of 98. Then took a dive trip to Cozumel Mexico but did not submit for Guinness recognition. This time was his second attempt at the world record, having already dived at the age of 99, in the same location, Pearl Lake Illinois.

Bill says before he started scuba diving he was alive, but now, he is living his fullest life. And now his goal is to “live to 101 and break it again!”

Lambert’s final message to the local news was simple: “People should try it. If they like it, pursue it,”

Well, that’s it my friends, I have found my scuba diving role model.

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart Living To 100.

By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish!!!

Climate change is accelerated at an alarming rate. We have now entered a time in history where we need to act quickly for the survival of our planet and, eventually, the human race. The sea is suffocating with plastic, all debris floating on the ocean surface accounts for only 5% of all the plastic trash dumped into the sea; the other 95% is submerged beneath the surface… Having spent many years as a dive instructor in various oceans around the world, I have seen first hand the damage done to the sea. Being aware is not enough. I had to take action NOW.

At first, I wrote a blog, “ Shocking!!! 13 facts about marine plastic pollution!” but as you know, images speak louder than words. So Matilda ( my daughter ) and I have prepared this video that we wanted to share with everyone. 

I hope it inspires you to take action too! ” One plastic bag at a time”, we can all leave the sea a cleaner place.

Take care my friends. Until next week.

Smart Living To 100.

Do you have a caffeine addiction?

Well, the answer to this question is a bit tricky. Some will claim that they need three cups of coffee in the morning in order to start functioning well, others will limit their consumption to one cup a day and some will consume this substance anytime… I personally limit my coffee intake to one cup, in the morning around 11 am, after my 15/16 hours fasting along with a substantial brunch. What is your magical coffee formula?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. But this blog will help you decide how much coffee is right for you, taking into account its chemistry, benefits, addictive effects, and some simple advice to control this powerful stimulant.

Coffee and biscuits
It’s not the coffee he is after…

How does coffee affect us?

Let’s rewind 40 years… I am 15 years of age, on holidays in Spain with my aunt Maruja. I had just demolished a huge plate of delicious homemade paella. I felt packed. For the first time, I was offered an expresso coffee. Feeling like a grown-up, I was delighted,  added sugar, stirred it a few times, smelt it (just to copy the adults) and swallowed it in one go. To this day I can still remember the whole experience, the social acceptance, the wonderful aroma, the bitter taste, but especially the massive rush of energy that invaded my whole body. This was the start of my relationship with caffeine, with its ups and downs.

Caffeine is both water and fat-soluble, which means it can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Caffeine acts on a chemical produced by your brain, called adenosine. According to neurologist Ajay Sampat, M.D., “Adenosine is like a sleep-inducing molecule that your brain makes while you’re awake. The longer you’re awake, the more adenosine you have in your system.”

coffee expresso
I love the smell of an expresso coffee…

The molecular structure of caffeine closely resembles that of adenosine. When we consume caffeine, it binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, blocking its effects, with the side benefit of allowing dopamine to flow more freely. That can bring on feelings of well-being, energy and alertness. With its receptors constantly occupied by caffeine, the body has to produce more adenosine to make you feel tired. To a nerve cell, caffeine looks just like adenosine, but caffeine doesn’t slow down cellular activity as adenosine does, instead it speeds it up. So in time, you need more and more caffeine to bind to those new receptors and block the effects of adenosine. 

Caffeine also causes increased neuron firing in your brain, releases hormones that tell your adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (epinephrine), a “fight or flight” hormone.

Caffeine also affects dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates pleasure centres in certain parts of your brain and makes you feel good…

An important point to remember is that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 6 hours.  This means that having a cup of coffee at 3 pm will still leave some caffeine roaming about your body until 9 pm. In the long run, this could affect your sleep quality, the body’s healing process, disrupt the learning or memory consolidation process and finally create a vicious cycle in which you crave yet more coffee the next day.

Coffee can help you stay awake
She could do with some caffeine…

Why is drinking coffee good for you?

The benefits of coffee are undeniable, from superfood for the brain, performance enhancement, fat loss, and the reduction of heart disease and much more.

Many of the nutrients in coffee beans make their way into the finished brewed coffee.

A single cup of coffee contains:

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
  • Manganese and potassium
  • Magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3)

Some of most important benefits of a high quality coffee are:

  • Can improve energy levels and make you smarter.
  • Can help you burn fat: Caffeine is found in almost every commercial fat-burning supplement, and for good reason. It’s one of the few natural substances proven to aid fat burning.
  • Can dramatically improve physical performance: Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, increases epinephrine (adrenaline) the fight-or-flight hormone, and prepares your body for intense physical exertion. Caffeine is a performance and endurance enhancer, it also strengthens muscle contraction, reduces the exerciser’s perception of pain, and increases fatty acids in the blood, which supports endurance. 
coffee before exercise
Caffeine is a great stimulant before a workout…
  • Can lower the risk of type II diabetes: Studies found that people who increased their coffee intake by over one cup per day had an 11 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researcher Kun Huang, PhD, a professor of biological pharmacy at the Huazhong University of Science & Technology claims to have found three compounds in coffee that seem to block the toxic accumulation of a protein linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. These three major coffee compounds can reverse this toxic process and may explain why coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  •  May protect you from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia worldwide. This condition usually affects people over 65. Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • May lower your risk of Parkinson’s: Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative condition, right behind Alzheimer’s. It is caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in your brain. Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, with a risk reduction ranging from 32-60%.
  • May protect your liver: Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of cirrhosis, which can be caused by several diseases that affect the liver.
  • Can help you fight depression: Caffeine blocks mood-depressing chemicals in the brain. As we have seen before, Caffeine blocks receptors in the brain from binding with a chemical (adenosine) that causes fatigue and depressed mood.
  • May lower the risk of certain types of cancer: Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in your body. Coffee appears to be protective against two types of cancer: liver and colorectal cancer.
  • Increases Longevity: This is my favourite subject, I suppose all the previous benefits contribute to living a longer life with fewer diseases and a lower risk of premature death. Also, people in the Mediterranean blue zones are big fans of drinking coffee. So all these reasons are convincing enough for me. 
Coffee time is very social
“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”
― David Lynch

Why is drinking coffee so addictive?

Caffeine is one of the world’s most popular drugs, by far. If you feel as though you cannot function in the morning without a cup of coffee to kick-start the day, you likely fall into the category of someone who has experienced addiction to caffeine. That was me 12 years ago… within 24 hours of trying to quit coffee, I would feel mentally foggy, with a lack of alertness, general muscle fatigue with no apparent reason, and a vague sense of irritability. Over time a throbbing headache would set in, nausea and other flu-like symptoms making it very difficult to concentrate and to function properly.

Soon after you drink your coffee, it gets absorbed by the small intestine and dissolved in the bloodstream. As we have seen before, it enters the blood-brain barrier and tightly binds to the adenosine molecule. With these receptors blocked, the brain works overtime to produce some of the body’s own natural stimulants, dopamine and adrenaline. So regular coffee drinkers build up a tolerance over time, they produce more adenosine receptors, and in turn require more caffeine to block a significant proportion of them and achieve the desired effect.

The good news is that compared to many drug addictions, the effects are relatively short-term. To kick this habit, you only need to get through about 7-12 days of symptoms without drinking any caffeine. 

How to drink coffee wisely?

  • Keep coffee consumption within safe limits: Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness and anxiety and have profound effects on sleep and quality of sleep, and can also cause stomach upset in some people. So the recommendations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) are to consider 300 milligrams (around two cups of coffee) the upper limit of a moderate daily dose, more than 600 milligrams on any given day ( around four cups of coffee) every day of the year, can very likely be categorized as an addiction.
  • Delay having coffee for at least an hour after you wake in the morning. Soon after waking, your body produces cortisol, a natural energy booster, so save your coffee breaks for mid-morning or the early afternoon, when cortisol levels dip, advises Dartmouth University neuroscientist Steven Miller, PhD. However, Caffeine can interfere with sleep when consumed six hours before bedtime, reducing sleep by an hour and interfering with sleep efficiency and REM patterns. So it is wise not to consume coffee after 3 pm if you are planning to sleep around 9 pm.
  • If you don’t habitually drink coffee, consider drinking it only when you really need a functional boost, such as working late at night.
  • Consume caffeine before exercise as it is effective in increasing alertness especially for your morning workout or before an endurance athletics performance. The sweet spot tends to be no more than 2 cups of coffee prior to the workout or race.
  • It is important to give the body a bit of time after caffeine consumption, say about an hour, before starting a workout or race.  Just monitor its effects on your own body, since those will be highly individual, especially how your GI tract reacts to the coffee intake.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Back: Despite its benefits, caffeine is still a substance with side effects, especially if you have a sensitive stomach or cardiovascular issues. So cutting back or giving up caffeine altogether may lead to a better quality of life.
coffee and longevity
“Coffee is a way of stealing time that should by rights belong to your older self.” ― Terry Pratchett.

Summary

In the last 40 years of coffee adoration, I have had to quit this habit several times. My longest spell with no coffee was 3 years. Now, I have one cup a day and tend to give it up for at least a week every 2 months. This works for me. 

I think from a longevity point of view caffeine in moderation is a wonderful substance, with many benefits for our mind and body. I will definitely drink this poison for many years to come. I hope this helps you to find out for yourself what are the best ways to intake caffeine.

What is your experience of drinking coffee?

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

The 5 Tibetan Rites! Are they key to longevity?

It’s 6.25 am, I’ve just woken up 5 minutes ahead of the alarm clock. This is my best, waking up naturally and letting my circadian rhythm kick in with the first rays of light piercing through the shutters. This is a very special time for me, as all is quiet and peaceful, no cars, no noises, no talking, my body is rested and my mind is still carrying those sleepy brainwaves. After 30 minutes meditation, and my Wim Hof breathwork, I start activating my body and mind with a series of backbends, neck bends and twirling, each one a holy and ancient practice passed down from one Tibetan monk to another. Every day I practice these stretches, called 5 Tibetan Rites, they help me stay in a happy mood, feel energized, and expand my lung capacity. In this blog, I will explain what they are, what are the associated benefits and how to practise them, so that you too can feel their physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Tibetan monk
The 5 Tibetan rites have been practised for 2500 years.

According to these monks, with only 10 to 15 minutes of daily bending and breathing,  these stretches can expand your lung capacity and increase your longevity. 

In 1939, the author Peter Kelder described these techniques in a booklet called “ The eye of revelation” that he published later. At the time only a few people read it and even fewer believed it. He wrote that these lung expanding stretches dating back to 500 years BC, were used by Tibetan monks for millennia to improve physical fitness, mental health, cardiovascular function and, of course, to extend life. These monks had understood intuitively that our ability to breathe full breaths and increase our lung capacity was literally a measure of longevity.

In 2000, researchers from the University of Buffalo compared lung capacity in a group of a thousand subjects over more than a decade. Their conclusion was identical to the monks: “Larger lungs equalled longer lives”.

As we age from 30 to 50, our lungs will gradually lose about 12 per cent of their capacity. From 50 onwards they will carry on degrading at a faster rate. If we are lucky enough to make it to 80, we will have lost 30 per cent of the lung capacity we had in our 20’s. We are therefore forced to breath faster and harder, and these bad habits will lead to high blood pressure, immune disorders, anxiety and more chronic health problems.

But what Tibetan monks, and now western science, have discovered is that these internal organs are malleable, and can be strengthened at any time of our life. So ageing doesn’t have to turn into an inevitable decline in poor health but more into a journey of health, growth and continuous discovery.

According to these monks, the practice of these exercises is based on the body’s energy.  The body has seven energy fields or vortexes, and they control parts of the endocrine system, a network of glands and organs that regulate many of the body’s functions, including the ageing process.

5 Tibetan rites

Now let’s explore what are the benefits of the five Tibetan rites and most importantly how to perform them.

Reported benefits include:

• relief from joint pain and stiffness

improved strength and coordination

better circulation and weight loss

• reduced anxiety

• better sleep

• improved energy

a youthful appearance

How to do the 5 Tibetan Rites

The Five Tibetan Rites are an ancient yoga practice that consists of a sequence of five exercises performed 21 times a day.

While each rite is meant to be practised 21 times a day, you can begin by doing them less frequently.

During the first week, practice each rite 3 times a day. Add 2 repetitions per rite the following week. Continue adding 2 reps per rite each week until you’re doing 21 rounds of each rite every day.

Rite 1:

Stand straight with your arms outstretched and parallel to the floor, palms facing down (your arms should be in line with your shoulders).  Staying in the same spot, slowly spin your body in a clockwise direction. Without bending your head forward, keep your eyes open and cast toward the ground. Gradually increase the number of spins from two to 21.

5 Tibetan rites spinning
Stand straight and start spinning clockwise 21 times.

Breathing: Inhale and exhale deeply as you spin.

PS; It’s best to start with a few spins at first and stop when you feel slightly dizzy. It’s best to avoid excessive spinning, which is said to overstimulate the chakras.

Rite 2:

To do this rite, you’ll need a carpeted floor or yoga mat.

Lie flat on the floor, face up and palms on the floor by your side. As you inhale, lift your head tucking your chin into your chest. At the same time raise your legs vertically, knees straight (If you have difficulty straightening your knees, bend them as needed. Try to straighten them each time you perform the rite), feet flexed. Slowly exhale and lower your legs and head back to the prone position.

5 Tibetan rites bend

Breathing: Breathe in as you lift your head and legs, and exhale as you lower them.

Rite 3:

Kneel on the floor with your forehead tucked down toward your knees. Put your hands on your lower glutes or thigh muscles. Tuck your belly button up towards your spine. Slowly lift your chest and tuck your chin in towards your chest to bring your body erect. Move your head back while extending and opening through your quadriceps, belly and chest – Camel Pose.

Camel pose.

Breathing: Inhale as you arch your spine to open your chest and exhale as you return to an erect position. Like the second rite, the third rite requires deep rhythmic breathing. You can also practice this rite while closing your eyes, which helps you focus inward.

Rite 4:

The fourth rite, sometimes called Moving Tabletop, is also done with rhythmic breathing. If possible your hands and heels should stay in place during the entire exercise.

Sit down on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Your palms are on the floor alongside the sit bones and your fingers are facing toward your feet. Tuck your chin to your chest, drop your head back and raise your torso towards the sky so that your knees bend while your arms remain straight. Hold this ‘tabletop position’ for a few seconds and return to the seated position. Rest for a few seconds before repeating this rite.

Tabletop pose.

Breathing: Breathe in as you rise up into the pose, hold your breath as you tense your muscles, and breathe out fully as you come down.

Rite 5:

This last one is a combination of two standard yoga poses; upward facing dog and downward-facing dog. To start,  lie down on your belly with your palms face down and in line with your chest. Press up into an upward-facing dog by curling your toes under, lifting your heart, and drawing your shoulders back. Look straight ahead of you. Then draw your hips up and back, extending your spine, into downward-facing dog pose. Flow-through the poses back and forth concentrating on your breath and alignment.

Breathing: Breath in as your rise up into upward-facing dog; breath out as you push back into downward-facing dog.

General safety tips

Like all exercise programs, the Five Tibetan Rites should be done with care. Start with gentle movements and a low number of reps.

Take extra precaution if you have:

Heart or breathing problems. Before trying these exercises, talk to your doctor to find out they’re safe for you to do.

Neurological disorders. Disorders like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis can cause poor balance. If you have one of these conditions, these exercises may not be safe for you to perform.

Conditions that cause dizziness. If you’re prone to dizziness, talk to a doctor before trying the first rite. The spinning motion may aggravate various conditions, including vertigo, circulatory issues, or nausea from medication.

Pregnancy. The spinning and bending movements may not be safe if you’re pregnant.

Recent surgery. The rites may cause complications if you’ve had surgery within the last 6 months.

My conclusion;

I believe these 5 Tibetan Rites are the perfect combination of yoga and breathwork. They allow me to maintain high levels of energy right up until bedtime. They only require a yoga mat, 10 to 15 mins per day and they are a great complement to my daily fitness routine… 

In a nutshell, I love them, as they have increased my lung capacity, improved my fitness and free diving capabilities.

As you know living to 100, in a happy, healthy and fulfilling way is all about stacking many modalities, like fasting, exercise, meditation, etc… and much more. I believe finding space to do these amazing 5 Tibetan Rites is essential for your longevity.

I hope you enjoy practising them and share them with friends and family. Until next week, my friends.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

How to conquer your Fear of Failure

Do you avoid situations where you will have to try something new in front of people?

Do you ever put off doing something you know will improve your life, because you are unsure what people will think if you fail?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of the above questions, you’re not alone. Most people are in this self-sabotage boat with you. But there is a way to get out.

 In this blog, we’ll examine fear of failure: what it means, what causes it, and most importantly how to overcome this immobilizing fear so that you can enjoy life to the full, embrace all the challenges and opportunities that come your way.

What is Fear of failure?

“If something is important enough, you should try it even if the probable outcome is failure.”
― Elon Musk

 Fear of failure (also called “atychiphobia”) is when we allow that fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.

 In reality, we all have our own definition of failure, simply because of our different belief systems, values, goals and benchmarks. What looks like a failure to you could be a win for someone else.

Failure is defined as “a lack of success.” We can also think of it as “coming up short.” If we say “he failed,” all we’re really saying is “he didn’t succeed.”

Maybe we should be asking; how much did I fall short by? What am I lacking to succeed? What standards am I reaching? By which metrics am I failing?

This will give us a more concrete view of what you did achieve, and what has yet to happen for you to succeed.

Why do we have fear of failure?

The only real failure in life is not to be true to what one knows best. – Buddha

Disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness, regret and confusion, are some of the first feelings that you could experience when failing. These basic emotions are easy to handle but the underlying cause of our fear of failure is essentially our fear of shame. So failing makes us feel a deep sense of shame, and this is why we have to avoid failure at all costs… even if it means missing out on a lifetime opportunity.

Fear of failure can be linked to many causes. For instance, having critical or unsupportive parents is a cause for some people. Because they were routinely undermined or humiliated in childhood, they carry those negative feelings into adulthood.

Experiencing a traumatic event at some point in life can also be a cause. For example, giving a presentation in front of your school friends and totally freezing… or doing very poorly and being a laughing stock… The experience might have been so terrible that you became afraid of failing in other things. And you carry that fear even now, years later.

What many of us really fear is failing to do something right the first time. This is totally unreasonable as most of us need several attempts to master something that they are trying for the first time. If you recall your school years, giving the “ right” answer the first time is the only action that was rewarded, whereas coming up with the wrong answer was only seen as a failure, given a low grade, a reprimand and even worse contempt from teachers and peers. No wonder most of us still carry this illogical fear of failure into our adulthood.

However, when it comes to starting a business, any successful entrepreneur will tell you that the fastest way to succeed is to jump in, make things happen, and be at ease with failing repeatedly. 

So how do we  train to embrace failure as a key step in learning.

How to overcome our Fear of Failure?

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford

1- Failure stops us only if we let it!  Instead of seeing failure as the end of the world, we can choose to see it as an incredible learning experience! Every time we fail at something, we can choose to look for the lesson we’re meant to learn. These lessons are very important; they are how we grow, and how we keep from making that same mistake again. 

2- Analyze all potential outcomes – Many people experience fear of failure because they fear the unknown. Remove that fear by considering all of the potential outcomes of your decision. 

3- Learn to think more positively – Positive thinking is an incredibly powerful way to build self-confidence and neutralize self-sabotage.

4- Think of the best, prepare for the worst! – In some cases, the worst-case scenario may be a genuine possibility. So although you never set up to fail, you must prepare for the worst-case scenario and how it actually may not be that bad.

5-  Have a contingency plan  – If you’re afraid of failing at something, having a “Plan B” in place can help you feel more confident about moving forward.

6-  Set up a few small goals for yourself! If you chunk down the big task, into small realistic, achievable and less challenging goals, you actually increase your chance of getting them all done and are designed to help boost your confidence.

 7- Don’t focus on the end picture! Taking one small step at a time will help build your confidence, keep you moving forward, and prevent you from getting overwhelmed with visions of your final goal.

8- Use self distancing! This is my most favorite technique

“Self-distancing gives us a little bit of extra space to think rationally about the situation,” says Rachel White, assistant professor of psychology at Hamilton College in New York State. It allows us to rein in undesirable feelings like anxiety, increases our perseverance on challenging tasks, and boosts our self-control.

In a nutshell, the idea is to create space between you and the situation that made you feel bad. Imagine that you can float out and above your body, look back at yourself and see the back of your head. You become the observer and immediately have a different perspective on the situation at hand. With a new perspective, you feel dissociated from the situation and no longer connect with those negative feelings. 

9- Adopt a learning mindset! Ditch your failing thoughts and replace them with a learning mindset.

In conclusion

Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure. – Napoleon Hill

Everyone hates to fail, but failing is part of life. The sooner we learn to see failure as a lesson as opposed to a threat, the sooner we can stop avoiding failure and put our motivation, time and efforts to succeed.

I hope this helps you in your future adventures.

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart Living To 100.

More on regenerative farming; Composting!

I recently came across this wonderful website called Kiss the ground. I dove deeper into regenerative agriculture and learnt a ton of valuable information. I had no idea that we could participate in making our soil the great carbon sink it was supposed to be. This is such precious and valuable information that I want to share it, with the millions or billions of people who like me were unaware of how powerful the soil can be in reversing climate change. And Hopefully, when I reach my 100th birthday we will have learnt this valuable lesson.

Carbon sink soil
The soultion is right under your feet…

If like me you see value in this video, please share it with as many people as possible.

Thank you, and until next week, take care my friends.

Smart Living to 100.

10 best habits to live to 100!

Believe it or not but the amount of people living to 100, or more, is on the increase. This is hardly surprising as science, medicine and technology have advanced so much over the last 100 years. No matter what age you are now, the chances are that you will live to a more advanced age than your parents. So here are 10 of the best habits you can implement and weave in your modern daily routine to assist you along in your journey to your 100th birthday. This does not guarantee living to 100, but it’s a good start. 

Enjoying every moment
Enjoy every single moment with passion.

Here is my miracle list !!

1- Do not smoke!

This is a fairly obvious one that has been around for the past 20 years!! I will not explain the negative aspects of smoking here as I am sure you all know. 

2- Filter the air you breathe!

Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Car emissions, chemicals from factories, dust, pollen and mould spores may be suspended as particles. Ozone, a gas, is a major part of air pollution in cities. When ozone forms air pollution, it’s also called smog. It’s very well known that air pollution can affect respiratory function and health.  There is mounting evidence that suggests inhaling polluted air is also toxic to the brain, particularly for children and adolescents. So here are a few suggestions to reduce the effects of air pollution. 

  • Nose breathe! Your nose is fully designed to filter and warm the air you breathe. With slow, silent nasal breathing you can oxygenate the body far more efficiently than with mouth breathing. The health benefits of nose breathing range from improving sleep, eliminating snoring and sleep apnea, to reducing inflammation, enhancing memory and an overall increase in your immune system function.
  • Wear a mask! In 2020, during this COVID 19 pandemic, wearing a mask has become the norm. There is a huge debate whether these masks offer any protection against coronavirus or air pollution, however, a good quality, a well-fitting mask will offer some protection against these air pollution particles.
  • Cycle more, drive less! I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but air pollution is more harmful inside cars than outside. The inside of the car acts as a box collecting toxic fumes and trapping them inside.
  •  Filter the air at home! You could fit an air filtration system in your home or office to improve the air quality that is inhaled. A good HEPA (high-efficiency particle air) filter is the Pure Zone air filtering device. These air filtration devices simply pull the air in and force it through a filter, in order to retain as many tiny particles as possible, making the air you breathe so much cleaner !!

3- Eat a diverse plant based diet!

When you open the pantry of people living in the blue zones they have real food. Handpicked roots or tubers, pickled food in jars, fresh produce from the farms nearby, some wine locally produced and a vast selection of wild plants and their meat consumption is very occasional. Packaged and/or processed food are very handy and practical in our fast-paced lives, but it comes with a high price to pay. Those foods  ( even the healthy ones ) contain sugar and some sort of vegetable oil. In general, sugar will cause your blood sugar levels to rapidly fluctuate and poor quality vegetable oil will cause your inflammation levels to go up and down during the day. Instead, introduce high amounts of legumes, a wide variety of plants, fruits, nuts seeds. It’s also a good idea to introduce wild plants, herbs and spices, like nettles, mint, thyme, rosemary, turmeric and cayenne amongst others. 

Plant based diet
A diverse plant based diet is key to your longevity.

The Japanese have this amazing practice called Shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing). This is to take advantage of all the polyphenols and essential oils that emanate from plants and trees and have healing effects on the lungs. It is as simple as walking in a forest, breathing deeply, opening your senses to nature and feeling present in the moment.

The scientifically-proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku include:

  • Boosted immune system.
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep

Once you make this a regular practise you will start experiencing other benefits such as:

  • Deeper and clearer intuition
  • Increased flow of energy
  • Increased capacity to observe and understand nature’s processes
  • Overall increase in a sense of happiness

4- Low-level activity all through the day!

  People in blue zones don’t go to the gym,  their natural way to be strong is to be outside all day.. building fences, lifting rocks, working the land, walking for miles to another village, feeding the animals, dealing with cold or heat, and any other activity that demands a continuous movement and body adaptation.

Our modern lives are far from this model, however, we can simulate some low-level activity in our daily routine.  If you are working at a computer all day, try a standing workstation, carry around your office something weighty such as a 5-litre bottle of water, a barbel, a  kettlebell, maybe you can even fit a pull-up bar, take frequent breaks outside, stretch, do 10 air squats every hour, etc.  Before and after work, walk as much as you can, to work, to the supermarket or go for a walk with your friends. 

While there are benefits to mild forms of exercise, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is where exercise for longevity hits full stride. Even more so when you’re older.

“To engage our longevity genes fully, intensity does matter,” Dr David Sinclair reports.

workout
HIIT traning will fire up your longevity genes…

“It’s high-intensity interval training — significantly raising your heart and respiration rates — that engages the greatest number of health-promoting genes, and more of them in older exercisers.”

As Sinclair summarizes exercise for longevity, “Exercise turns on the genes to make us young again at the cellular level.”

So in other words, the lesson we can take from the blue zones is; move as much as possible and incorporate short bursts of high-intensity exercise!!

5- Social engagement!

There is a growing epidemic of loneliness in our modern societies because people tend to interact more digitally than physically with one another.  When you are face to face with someone you are exposed to their pheromones, to the electrical signals of their brain, to their smells (which is not always a good thing!!!), to the oxytocin hormone that they release when you hug them, touch them, or shake their hand. You simply cannot simulate or replace this with digital interaction. In truth,  you need a certain amount of physical exchange and communication with real people. In the blue zones, they eat together, drink red wine, they laugh, they get louder,  they play card games, dominos, or board games together and have a fully emotional, physical and social interaction. I said they drink together… this must be explained.   Drinking one alcoholic drink a day for women and two drinks for men is acceptable. For example, if you drink some organic red wine with no pesticides, it is full of antioxidants and polyphenols that are beneficial to your health.  In general, people in the blue zones drink in moderation and usually wine, so don’t feel guilty about enjoying your glass of red wine. 

A word of caution! At the time of writing this post, social distancing, mask-wearing, no physical contact and limited gathering are the norm.  

6- Fasting.

One of the most powerful ways of increasing your longevity is to eat less. Whether you skip a meal, do intermittent fasting or fasting, eating less equates to improving your lifespan.

Fasting is the wilful refraining from eating for a period of time. After 12 hours without eating the body goes into a phase called cellular autophagy.  This autophagy is a cleanup procedure of cellular debris, a clear out of old cells and a renewal of the body.  Fasting or intermittent fasting is not a calorie restriction diet but more a window of time in which you do not eat at all.  Some of the most popular intermittent fasting techniques are 12 to 16 hours without eating and, for the more seasoned fasters, 24 hours is quite common. In many cultures and religions, fasting is not only synonymous with cleansing or purifying your body but also it is a time to develop your mental clarity and perhaps a certain connection to a higher power. Fasting has many health benefits such as improving your immune system & brain function, speeding up your metabolism, helping to stabilize your hunger, aiding in weight loss, and most importantly improving your longevity.

7- Strong life purpose! Ikigai or Plan de Vida...

It’s essential to have a good reason to get up in the morning. My mantra is…”I, Pedro Gracia endeavour to inspire people to live a joyful, healthy and fulfilling  life until they are 100 or more..” This one sentence sums what my purpose or mission in life is. So when the going gets tough, when I am stressed or feeling low, when I  lose track of my purpose, when life itself becomes overwhelming, this single sentence will remind me what it’s all about.

In the blue zone, people seem to have a mission, a sense of belonging to a larger community, some sort of motivation or vision, that keeps them going. Very few feel tired, almost all of them live their lives, getting up out of bed every single day and living with a purpose.

So how do you find your purpose or Ikigai ( Japanese term for life purpose)?

Very simply answer the following question and make a list:

  • What do you love to do? ( your passion)
  • What are you good at? ( your vocation )
  • What do you get paid for? ( your profession )
  • What can you bring to the world? ( your mission )

So once you have your list of answers, put them in the circles of the Venn diagram ( see down below ) and look at the intersections of this diagram.  Look at the complete picture and find some connections. This will give you some strong indication of your passion,  your mission, your profession and vocation.  Give this some time, let your ideas and impulses a chance to emerge.  With this, you are better equipped to make a plan and find your purpose in life. Take your time to do some soul searching,it’s well worth it !

life purpose or Ikigai
Venn Diagram

8- Low-stress levels.

This year alone many people have lost their job, have fallen ill or lost someone close to them and some others are struggling to survive. So across many populations around the world, the levels of stress are on the increase. Ongoing, chronic stress, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems including mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke can sometimes be caused by stress. Now more than ever is when we need to be kind with ourselves and with one another and be equipped with simple techniques that allow us to regain control, or even totally dampen our stress.  We often rely too much on external sources such as watching a series on Netflix, listening to relaxation music or binaural beats, meditation apps, etc, in order to calm our daily stress.  Don’t get me wrong, these tools are great and with time can help you along the way. But we have an almost instant way to regain a state of calmness. It’s with our breath!   Every hunter-gatherer or tribal society around the globe has practised some type of breathwork to help them cope with their daily challenges. With these next three techniques, you can regain almost instant control over your levels of stress. 

 Box breathing is the first one – slowly breathe in to the count of 4, hold that breath to the count of 4, exhale to the count of 4 and then repeat until your heart beats slows down. 

 Alternate nostril breathing is our second hack to control stress, long and slow  breath in through the right nostril, long and slow  breath out through the left one.  

Finally in third position the  4, 7, 8 technique. Breathing in to the count of 4, 7 count hold and 8 count exhale. 

 So if you practice these techniques you will find it to be second nature and you will be able to take control of your stress levels in an instant !!

9- Engage in some kind of spiritual discipline or belief in a higher power.

Over the last few years, I have become increasingly convinced that caring for one’s spirit is as important as caring for one’s body and brain. Unfortunately in this fast-moving world, it seems that we relentlessly pursue our physical fitness and seem to totally ignore the spiritual disciplines…such as meditation, gratitude, prayer, fasting, studying the great thinkers and philosophers, continually seeking wisdom, journaling, visualizing, solitude, breathwork, yoga, prioritizing family dinners, etc.  After all, as our physical body and brain decline, our spirit could remain as bright and as strong as ever. So it’s of the utmost importance to weave some of these spiritual practices in our busy daily schedule.

The daily practice of meditation, breathwork, fasting and prioritizing my family has made me more grateful for what I have, less materialistic, less judgemental, more compassionate and has opened my connection to a higher power. I think engaging in some kind of spiritual discipline will give you hope, a sense of purpose and the knowledge that you are playing a role in the grand scheme of things.   And this my friends, will boost your longevity by years and possibly decades. Many of the centenarians in the blue zones engage in some sort of spiritual discipline.

Prayer will connect you with a higher power.
Meditation is one of my favorite spiritual discipline.

10- Sex and intimacy.

Research has shown that a person who continues to be sexually active into old age is sending her body a very powerful biological message. The body believes that this person is still active in a procreation sense and will do all it’s best to maintain him/her well and healthy, not only in the immediate future but for many years to come. Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones”, states the following “we know that people who are having sex after the age of fifty, at least twice a week, have about half the rate of mortality than people who aren’t”. A close and loving relationship that includes intimacy, both physical and emotional, is one of the most powerful antidotes to ageing!!

My conclusion!

These 10 habits are easy, free, and can be simply woven into your life. If you are not already practising them, try to introduce them one at a time and see if they are beneficial to you or not. This is not a one size fits all!!!

I hope this is helpful, I can’t wait to hear your comments, feedback and maybe you can share them with friends and family.

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart Living To 100

Jumping on the bandwagon – Travel broadens the mind!

Hi everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, I am Jane Gracia, married to Pedro, joining his quest to live smartly, happily and healthily to 100 and beyond. I believe, in order to keep the mind sharp and create new memories, we must continually strive to do new things, experience new sensations and have more adventures. We have, in the past, lived on a sailing boat and the free nomadic lifestyle it gave us was, in equal measures, enriching and exciting coupled with frustrating and sometimes scary !! But I do believe the more “negative” aspects only served to make the positive ones even better.

Fornells bay in menorca is 5 km long and 2 km wide.
Fornells Bay is deep, measuring 5 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide.

Last weekend we decided we would have a mini-adventure in Menorca, camping in our car, not a roomy van I might add, a Peugeot 206 hatchback!! We were inspired by our daughter, Matilda, who just a few weeks previously had carelessly thrown a few things in the back of the (even tinier) Ford Ka and off she and her partner, Matt, went… What struck me was the mindset of youth. Let’s go exploring and camp in the car, they said.. and that is exactly what they did. I thought to myself, surely if we do “young people’s excursions, activities or adventures, this must act in a very positive way on the mind, keeping us youthful and promoting longevity!!

So, the inflatable mattress was purchased, the back seats removed to create a flat base, a dummy run followed and all fitted perfectly. We are lucky to have a ferry service literally on our doorstep as Balearia run a regular service from Alcudia to Ciutadella. As residents of Mallorca, we are able to obtain a 75% discount on all travel to other islands or to the mainland! Car packed, tickets in our hand.. let’s go!

The crossing was smooth and speedy and we arrived in Menorca one hour and 15 minutes later. Due to COVID 19 restrictions, the ferry was not as full as it would normally be in August so all passengers had plenty of room to maintain social distancing. We have been to Menorca several times but did not know the north coast very well so that was where we headed… The island is small and in 25 minutes we arrived at Cala Morell. It felt a little bizarre because the first thing one usually does when arriving at a new place on a mini-break is to go and check-in at the accommodation… Instead, we had a little drive around looking for an overnight “camping” spot, but all too residential. We didn’t have those very smart sun blocker pads to stick on our windows so we had planned to pin sarongs and towels for a bit of privacy. We reckoned that some concerned residents might call the local police if they were to spot our car parked outside their house all night, festooned in brightly coloured fabric like some type of travelling market !!

So, after a bit of lunch and a swim, we decided to explore a little further along the coast… Cala d’Algaiarens was our next stop and ticked all the boxes. A large sandy parking spot, plenty of other people with the same idea I might add, camper vans galore!! A delightful afternoon on the beach and then we headed into Ciutadella to buy some provisions for our evening picnic…

Ciutadella is a beautiful natural harbour.
Ciutadella is such a beautiful natural harbour.

Fast forward a few hours and picture us ( a few glasses of wine later!!) standing beside our car thinking.. “right, now we have to transform the vehicle into our bedroom!!”. For any of you out there thinking to do this, I have some very important advice.. before you begin the “transformation” be sure you have all you need for the night ahead in one bag, whatever that may be… For us it was toothbrushes and paste, torches and books, reading glasses (vital) and toilet paper (very vital!!). The reason behind this is that once the car has been prepared for sleep and all our belongings were squashed and shoved into whatever space we could find, it is impossible to find anything, and I mean IMPOSSIBLE!! So, the front seats were moved forward and the backrest inclined as far forward as possible, then the inflatable mattress was pumped up, on went the cotton/linen fitted sheet (Just a tiny touch of “luxury”) and up went the makeshift curtains… As we were leaving the windows and the hatchback partially open we threw a giant mosquito net over the whole car… However, despite being plagued by these blood-sucking demons in Mallorca, strangely not one single bite did we receive over there.

Sleeping in our hatchback was fairly comfortable.
Sleeping in our hatchback was fairly comfortable…

So, how did we sleep..? Well, it was a little hot, to begin with, but the mattress was very comfy so that was a plus and I think I would have slept well if it hadn’t been for the noise of fellow campers! Not so much the ones parked nearby but there was a large group of midnight revellers in a wooded picnic area about 50 metres away and they partied until dawn!! However, that didn’t dampen our camping enthusiasm, and our dawn swim as the sun rose was perfection! I did have a bit of a laugh at myself as I hadn’t anticipated the fact that other people would be out there camping just like we were!! What did I think? That we would be on a desert island?

That day was spent exploring the delights of northern Menorca with a stop off for lunch in Fornells. It has many similarities to Mallorca but yet is so different, the countryside, the vegetation, the Fresian cows in the fields!! Menorca is a big cheese producer, so that explains it! We enjoyed a swim and snorkel in Cala Pregonda, such a breathtaking spot, and rounded off the day with supper overlooking the harbour in Ciutadella. To enjoy the full camping experience we decided to sleep on the beach that night and that proved very successful. In the Balearic islands, it is prohibited to pitch a tent, although some people do it anyway, but you can sleep outdoors almost anywhere you fancy… Within reason !! However, if we had been in a tent we wouldn’t have seen the glorious night sky, liberated from light pollution, and more shooting stars than we could count.

Cami de cavalls, is a walking trail that goes all around menorca.
Cami de Cavalls ( Horse’s trail) goes all around menorca…sorry couldn’t find a horse..😂

Menorca has a pathway called the Cami de Cavalls (the horses’ trail) GR223, and this path winds its way all around the island, staying as close as possible to the coast. On Sunday, we decided to have a taster walk, as one day when we have the time, this circumference trail is one we really want to explore. We headed off westward from Cala d’Algaiarens and walked for hours, stopping to swim, picnic, and admire the beauty of the coastline.

That evening we cracked it with our choice of camping spot!! True, it was a Sunday evening so definitely fewer people were camping out, but we found a parking spot in a large sandy layby, a short walk to the beach and the best news of all.. it was empty !! We had the camping prep down to perfection and had the best sleep ever.

Me and my adventure buddy on the cami de Cavalls trail in Menorca
Me and my adventure buddy.

We stayed only 3 days in Menorca, but it gave us so much. The thrill of stepping away from home comforts and camping in nature, the beauty of this gem of an island and the excitement of discovering it. The perfect undiluted time together, no interruptions and no distractions. We will return!

Stepping out of our comfort zone, and giving new experiences to both our body and brain has become one of our favourite strategies to keep us youthful on our journey to our 100th birthday and beyond !!! You should try it too.

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart living to 100.

PS: We were really inspired by Marissa Peer’s youtube video. Here it is, I hope it inspires you too.

Superfoods are good! Plant diversity is better!

During this pandemic, we have all been and continue to be, under high levels of stress, with isolation, loss of income or work, social distancing, constant sanitizing and maybe going through some health issues. In order to cope with this new stress, some of us have increased our alcohol consumption, turned to junk food for comfort, are smoking more and exercising less than before. All of this is ultimately affecting our health and more specifically our gut health! In this blog, I will share with you my latest research in the gut microbiome, how it is linked to our immune system, and how a diverse plant-based diet can ultimately improve your health. So no matter where you are at in your journey the key to health is plant diversity.

Plant diversity is king!
Super foods are good, but plant diversity is King!

How important is our gut microbiome?

One of the main reasons why your gut is so important in determining your health is that 70% of your immune system resides behind your gut. It is jam-packed behind the thin gut lining and If you were to zoom in to this layer, called the epithelium lining, you would see it is only one cell thick.

Intestinal epithelial cells (IECs), plays an important role in the digestion of food, absorption of nutrients, and protection of the human body from microbial infections, and others. 

This layer is a separation between 30 trillion human microbiome on the one side and the immune system on the other.  This microbiota is composed of protozoa, archaea, eukaryotes, viruses and predominantly bacteria that live symbiotically on and within various sites of the human body.

Since the gut microbiota is so complex, it is difficult to pinpoint certain bacteria as the most beneficial. “It would be great if we could identify 10 or so bacteria and say these are the ones you need most, but it doesn’t work that way, and there is no magic bullet,” says Dr. Hohmann ( Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann of the infectious diseases division at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital). “There may be a community dynamic at play as well as good mixtures of communities.”

Our gut is a barrier that separates what we choose to put in our mouth and the inside of the body, it is also where we interact with our food coming from the outside world so it’s our place of most vulnerability. Hence why the immune system patrols these borders identifying what is good and what is not and what to attack. So to ignore what food we decide to ingest is ultimately putting us at risk and damping down the immune response to any intruder.

This microbiome is intimately connected to our immune system but also to our mood, our hormonal system and to our entire metabolism. There are many species and they are mainly good guys that outnumber some bad guys (like salmonella and e-coli). This is how this micro-ecosystem works. There is harmony in all of them working together and helping us to thrive.

Dysbiosis is the damage done to the gut microbiome as opposed to Eubiosis which represents balance and harmony. Dysbiosis starts affecting the thin single-cell barrier (epithelial layer) by allowing bacterial endotoxin to leak into the body and this activates the immune system. This, in one word, is inflammation. And if this inflammation happens on a daily basis it becomes chronic inflammation which is the leading cause of most modern diseases.

Your brain’s best friend is the gut. The brain is up there at the top, but brain health goes through gut health, they go hand in hand, this is a 2-way street. They are continually talking through the vagus nerve, through hormones that are released and even through your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  Stress alone can induce dysbiosis.

The gut produces neurotransmitters. Ninety per cent of Serotonin is produced in the gut and it is capable of passing the gut-brain barrier and of altering our mood.

Short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, acetate and propionate, which come from the consumption of fibre, also help communicate with the brain and possibly alter brain function in a positive way. This happens on an ongoing basis; they are actually talking to each other now as you are reading these lines.

The king is superfood is broccoli!
Broccoli is the king of superfoods, containing tons of sulforaphane…

How can we improve our gut health and immune system?

From better mental health to greater immunity and less reactive skin, we are starting to recognise how vital healthy gut flora and diverse microbiome is to our overall wellbeing. Scientists have found that the Hadza tribe, which numbers around 1000 people, has one of the most complex and beneficial spectrums of gut bacteria in the world. In an exercise to examine whether it’s possible to diversify gut flora by adopting a Hadza style of eating, Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at Kings College London, travelled to Tanzania and ate with the Hadza. He discovered that after just three days, the variety of “good” bacteria in his microbiome had increased by 20 per cent, and he had even acquired said rare strains of bacteria that are now acknowledged as mightily favourable to human health and longevity. With a diet based on tubers, meat and baobab fruit in the dry season, and an abundance of berries and honey in the wet season, the Hadza hunt over 30 different species of mammal, and forage for plants on a daily basis. They eat no processed foods and never take antibiotics, which is a big plus from a gut microbiome point of view. So what can we learn from the Hadza?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Shop in season. Be aware of what fruits and veg are in season in your location. This will benefit your gut, your wallet as they are usually more economical, and most definitely will reduce the carbon footprint of your shopping basket.
  • Ideally grow your own vegetables, in your garden or on your terrace. There are more and more inventive ways to do so in a limited space.
  • Fill up on fibre! On average, Europeans consume 15g of fibre per day. The Hadza get around 100g a day. Fibre ferments in the large intestine, allowing healthy gut bacteria to flourish, so alongside keeping you regular, it’s key to maintaining good health across the board.

Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Though most carbohydrates are broken down into sugar molecules, fibre cannot be broken down into sugar molecules, and instead, it passes through the body undigested. Fibre helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. The best sources of fibre are whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and nuts.

Soluble fibre, which dissolves in water, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Foods with soluble fibre include oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries.

Insoluble fibre, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation. Foods with insoluble fibres include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Hadza, resting after hours of walking and hunting.
A well deserved rest after hours of walking and hunting.
  • Eat when you are hungry! The Hadza are hunter-gatherers, so the outcome is quite unpredictable. This involves long walks, climbing, crossing rivers, running and they might have to go many hours without food. But they are never starving, they eat when they are hungry and they only eat what they need.
  • Diversify your plant intake! On this planet, there are about 300,000 different types of edible plants. The Hadza in Tanzania eat approx 600 different plants in a year and in our modern society this number drops down to between 15 to 20. We are totally ignoring this huge plant diversity, by focusing on 5 or 10 so-called superfoods. Don’t get me wrong they are not called superfoods for nothing, but it is important to keep adding a wider variety of plants into your daily consumption.
  • Vary your shopping! So now at home, we take it in turns to shop and add a new plant or fruit every single week. I have to admit that this requires some effort because as humans we want to know what foods are the most nutritious, the healthiest for our daily consumption. So we go along and get the same foods every week. I would get broccoli, carrots, courgettes, red beetroot, a mixed bag of salads and tomatoes, and although all of this is very healthy and nutritious I am not helping to promote a happy and thriving gut microbiome. You are better off eating 20 different types of plants per week than just focusing on kale and broccoli because they are superfoods. Every type of plant has its own single fibre, and they all have minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals that are unique to each one of them, like resveratrol. Resveratrol is capable of changing the microbiome all by itself and has anti-ageing properties. This is just one of them and all the plants that are edible have their own phytochemicals. Plants have microbiome of their own that evolve with the plant from the seed to the flower and then to the plant. So when you are eating an apple you get the fibre, vitamins, the phytochemicals and the apple’s microbiome. And each plant is showing similar behaviour. They all want to bring something positive to your health. So start incorporating a huge variety of plants and fibres in small amounts. It’s like rehabbing your gut so you restore variety to your gut microbiome.
  • Eat real food!  Stay away from processed foods as much as possible.  processed food has been stored on a shelf for months or years it’s completely lifeless. They have no microbiome and we have pumped them full of chemicals, additives etc. So imagine what happens to your microbiome when you eat this food for 30 years.

I know it’s hard to resist the craving for chocolate, ice cream, crisps, or a salty pastry but researchers believe that the lack of refined and processed foods in the Hadza diet contributes towards their generally glowing bill of health. 

  • Listen to your cravings! I know this sounds counterproductive but cravings are only a call out from your gut microbiome. They are basically asking to be fed. So if you are planning on changing your gut microbiome you will change your cravings and eventually your taste buds. This will mean gradually reducing your favourite foods and supplementing your diet with more plant-based products.

I remember when I spent a month in Thailand, my food had completely changed and was mainly plant-based, but as I was flying back home I was already salivating at the thought of a pizza or a hamburger. Some of my microbiome had not been fed for a month and was asking for their favourite foods.  

So whatever choice you make the gut will change and adapt. It is trainable, in less than 24 hours it can change. So think of the gut as a muscle it can be trained, change and adapt. And when you decide to work on it the magic will happen. So for example, if you haven’t been consuming beans for a while, a good idea is to start with a small amount of them on your plate. Your gut microbiome will have time to adapt to this new food and your family will probably thank you for it as well…  

Fiber rich diet will contribute  to a healthy gut microbiome.
Fiber rich foods will contribute to a healthy microbiome.
  • Eat more fermented foods. Include naturally fermented foods containing probiotics (live bacteria), such as sauerkraut, pickles, miso, certain types of yoghurt, and kefir (a yoghurt-based drink).

“A healthy, varied, balanced, high-fibre diet with complex carbohydrates is good for the bacteria living in your gut and encourages a diverse ecosystem,” says Dr Hohmann.

My daughter and I have just started doing our own sauerkraut.. we followed a Youtube tutorial, chopped up a cabbage, added salt, squeezed it to death and compressed it into a sealed jar… et voila. Truth be told we haven’t tried it yet… we will tell you in two weeks.

  • For future parents! As a man, I feel a bit awkward giving women some suggestions, however as a father I wish I had known these wonderful facts 27 years ago when my first child Yannick was born. So every parent should know that optimizing gut health for your newborn child starts when he is born. Having a vaginal birth will give the baby a sample of the mother’s microbiome. This is where mum is donating a sample of her gut microbiome to her newborn child. The relationship between the mother’s microbiome and her child starts very early. The child is as close to sterile in the womb. He is wide open to recruiting new microbiome into his new ecosystem, and this will go on until he is 2 to 3 years of age. By then his gut microbiome will be fully formed like mum’s and dad’s. It is also when the child’s immune system is developing and when it decides what is good and what is bad.  Adequately breastfeeding her baby, the mother will make sure she is doing everything possible to provide her child with a robust ecosystem enabling him or her to thrive.
  • At 36 weeks mum’s vaginal microbiome starts changing to resemble her gut microbiome so she can donate it to her child. The mother’s breast milk has everything it needs to nourish a newborn child. Human milk oligosaccharides HMO are contained in the breast milk but they have zero nutritional value for the child however they are programmed to feed the child gut microbiome, they act as a prebiotic for the gut microbiome and consequently help the development of the child’s immune system. So breastfeeding is essential for the child’s future development.

My conclusions

 Sharing is caring!

When I met my wife Jane, we used to practise the half and half rule. We would order or prepare one dish and share it. Now at home, we have implemented a fun routine. Just before digging into our food, we take 3 deep breaths and start appreciating this meal by visualizing it nourishing us, reaching all parts of our body and giving us tons of energy and goodness. 

The Hadza never eat alone. All the food is shared, mealtimes are communal and everyone pitches in. While this does not directly benefit your gut microbiome, the rituals and conviviality around food and mealtimes likely improve social bonds while fostering an appreciation of food and preventing any one individual from having more than their fill, all of which have to lead to better health in the long run.

Consume a broad variety of plants and be 90 to 100 per cent plant-based. That’s what has been practised in the blue zones and how we can bring the highest nutritional value to our body. Beyond feeling good and healthy, this is also helping the health of our planet, it’s reducing this damaging industrial meat industry and making us more compassionate towards the way these animals are treated. 

Living to 100 is not uncommon in the blue zones.
Okinawa island is one of the blue zones, where people live to more than 100.

When we abuse our planet and all it’s living life forms, they are probably going to fight back in some shape or form. It’s all linked, our gut health and the health of our planet. Our soil health and all its lifeforms are intimately connected to human health via the nutrients it produces.

This conversation goes way beyond any specific diet that you may be following now, it’s based on how you can diversify your gut microbiome by adding more variety. It’s not about reducing but building new things. 10 different plants are better than 1 superfood. So, as wide a variety of plants as possible, and make superfoods your friends. 

Here is a quick reminder for your next shopping trip;

F fruit and fermented

G greens and whole greens

O omega 3 superseeds chia, flex 

A aromatics flavours foods onions garlic shallots

L legumes and whole grains are foundational for the microbiome

S sulforaphane is a phytonutrient that you find in cruciferous veg like broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and is the most powerful cancer crusher. And the highest content of sulforaphane is contained in baby broccoli sprouts, 100 times more than in mature broccoli.

This is now part of my eating strategy to live a long and healthy life to 100.

Take care my friends, until next week.

Smart Living To 100.

DISCLAIMER; The material on this post is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.  No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.

Jumping on the bandwagon – Stepping out of my Comfort Zone!

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Jane Gracia, Pedro’s wife, and as the title suggests I long ago realized that I have to get on board and follow all these tips, practices and bio hacks to live happily and healthily to 100 and beyond. This Blog explores an important aspect of keeping the mind and spirit “young”.. stepping out of our comfort zone.

First dive with my daughter Matilda...
First dive with my daughter Matilda…

I haven’t always been a huge fan of swimming, however, I have always loved the beach. My siblings and I spent every summer out at Templeton shore with our parents, at a time where one could park the caravan for the whole summer and no one paid any attention. We all have wonderful memories of that time, playing in the sand, searching for crabs in rock pools, climbing the hill behind our campsite and sliding down on sheets of cardboard… giggling and laughing, windswept and carefree, truly precious memories.

I was not a strong swimmer, slightly nervous of the grey Irish sea and the rolling waves, but at the same time, I was drawn to it. My darling mum insisted on swimming lessons at the local leisure centre and my confidence grew. By the time I moved to Spain in 1986, I delighted in the warmth and clarity of the Mediterranean sea. However, I was not very eager to put my head under the water, and although I tried snorkelling I quickly rejected it.

Then I met my husband and all changed. Pedro was a dive instructor working in a centre attached to the hotel where I had secured myself a summer job as a travel rep. He was and continues to be, passionate about the sea. His confidence in the water inspired me and before I knew it I was learning to scuba dive. It was a very special time, early morning excursions out on flat calm waters, discovering all that the underwater world had to offer.

Pedro still passionate about the sea.
Pedro.

A magical time, as I fell in love with him, I also fell in love with the sea, worked my way up to divemaster and we spent many years travelling around the world and diving together.

Fast forward many years… My last dive was 8 years ago on a trip to Thailand. It was not a very enjoyable truth be told. Murky water, strong currents, very choppy sea… I could barely see my hand in front of my face, never mind any marine life! Now, as we live in Mallorca you may be wondering why we did not dive here every summer, I can`t really answer that… The summers go by and we do go snorkelling a lot, out in the kayak and on the paddleboard. At the end of last summer, Pedro booked himself a wreck dive with a local dive centre. It was spectacular and he came back and said: “why do we not do this all the time”?

Despite having 100s of dives in my logbook I felt reticent about diving again. As we grow older I think we find it harder to step outside our comfort zone and this needs to be addressed. Stretching ourselves by doing activities we do not usually do is vital for longevity. The dive was booked for last Saturday. I reckon by the Wednesday I was starting to feel nervous about it, I was even dreaming about it!! There was even a part of me thinking that maybe the weather will be rough and it will be cancelled. Saturday dawned bright and beautiful, the sea looking like the proverbial millpond. We live close to the dive centre so we strolled down in the cool of the early morning.

I had some concerns about how they were handling the COVID pandemic, (you know, the lying awake at 4 am type of thought, I mean really !!!!) were they cleaning the equipment thoroughly etc, but as soon as we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see how ordered the centre was. Cristina had our equipment laid out, and she talked us through the hygiene protocols they have in place. I will take a moment now to say Scuba Mallorca in Puerto Pollensa, you guys are fab, I was very impressed with everything, highly recommended !!

Another 200 metres walk down to the pier and onto the dive boat and off we headed to Cap de Formentor, the famous lighthouse sitting majestically on Mallorca’s most northern tip. So, I thought to myself, no backing out now!! The boat trip out to the dive site is very familiar to me, but every single time it takes my breath away. The sea cobalt blue, the towering cliffside with hundreds of brave little trees hanging on for dear life, the wondrous beauty that is nature.

Once anchored, Tom, our dive leader, briefed us on the dive site. The butterflies had subsided and I actually started to feel excited. I easily remembered how to prepare my dive equipment and before I knew it I was standing at the stern ready to take the giant stride into the water. It is actually called a giant stride entry, basically a big step off the platform into the sea to ensure one’s equipment doesn’t knock against the back of the boat. But, for me, there was a double meaning, a physical and a mental giant stride. My first dive after an eight-year break. A giant stride indeed, right out of my comfort zone.

Suffice to say it was beautiful, the giant boulders adorned with purple sea plants, the electric blue starfish, the many purple and gold moray eels and the hundreds of fish both big and small. It was beautiful in other ways, the light splitting though the blue of the water, the silence, the perfect weightlessness. I felt very much at peace and quiet calm. I was quite proud of myself that I hadn’t let those little fears take over. It felt good to be back.

I quite like this stepping out of my comfort zone…

Next week we are off to Menorca, camping in our Peugeot 206… let’s see how that goes.

Until then, take care my friends.

Smart Living To 100.