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Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples

af John Robbins

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2673101,780 (4.21)1
Health & Fitness. Nonfiction. HTML:

Why do some people age in failing health and sadness, while others grow old with vitality and joy? In this revolutionary book, bestselling author John Robbins presents us with a bold new paradigm of aging, showing us how we can increase not only our lifespan, but also our health span.

Through the example of four very different cultures that have the distinction of producing some of the world's healthiest, oldest people, Robbins reveals the secrets for living an extended and fulfilling life in which our later years become a period of wisdom, vitality, and happiness. Bringing the traditions of these cultures together with the latest breakthroughs in medical science, Robbins reveals that, remarkably, they both point in the same direction.

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Here's the short version of my review:
I highly recommend his to everyone. It's not just about eating good food and being fit, but about having loving relationships and contributing to your community and society. Feeling like you are loved and that you matter and have a purpose. Excellent book that also reminds us that we should be ashamed of the way we treat elderly people in this country.

The longer version:
Robbins is a near-vegan, and the societies he chose for this book reflect that. There are other long-living groups that do eat a lot of meat products (see [b:The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest|2213117|The Blue Zones Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest|Dan Buettner|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320442392s/2213117.jpg|2218905] and http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/2013-03-29-where-people-live-the-longest/). However, this book was written in 2006, and I don't know how long research of the other groups has been going on, so I'll give Robbins the benefit of the doubt.

Regardless of your opinion of a meat-free diet, this book is still loaded with powerful research-backed information. Everyone knows that eating healthy food (even if they can't agree on what that is) and staying active will help you stay healthier longer. But Robbins points out that without love, respect, and true intimate relationships, all the vegetables and running in the world isn't going to do any good.

It's fascinating to read about how much of an impact feeling alone can have on your health, and on the flip side, how "toxic" relationships can literally be toxic to your body.

The societies that live the longest revere children and the elderly. No one is left hungry, even though these groups don't have much in the way of material possessions. They all take care of each other.

As for food, the one thing that Robbins' groups and The Blue Zone groups have in common is that they eat little to no processed food. (At least that used to be the case. Now Western foods are creeping everywhere and people are getting sicker and sicker.) ( )
  amandabeaty | Jan 4, 2024 |
This is an excellent book. Recently I read and reviewed a similar book – The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner – telling us of similar so-called primitive societies, where the people lived into their nineties or more while remaining super-healthy.

The regions described in the present book are : 1) Abkhasia in Soviet Georgia 2) Vilcabamba, a small town in the Andes, in Ecuador 3) Hunza, at the northernmost tip of Pakistan and 4) Okinawa, the southernmost Japanese prefecture (state). The region of Okinawa was also examined in the afore-mentioned book.

In Abkhasia sickness is not considered a normal or natural event even in very old age!

There is a tremendous respect for the aged – a person’s status increases with age. The Abkhasians do not even have a phrase meaning “old people”. Instead, those over 100 are called “long-living people”.

As regards their diet, they drink one or two glasses a day of a fermented beverage called matzoni, made from the milk of goats, cows, or sheep.

The traditional diet is essentially lacto-vegetarian with a rare serving of meat, the dairy component consisting primarily of the fermented matzoni.

They eat vegetables such as watercress, green onions, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbages. At all three meals they eat cornmeal porridge.

They eat large quantities of fresh fruit – cherries, apricots, pears, plums, peaches, figs, many kinds of berries, and apples.

Vegetables are generally eaten raw, because food that is not totally fresh is considered harmful.

Nuts are the primary source of fat – almonds, pecans, beechnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts.

Most Abkhasians consume less than 2000 calories a day, while Americans eat twice as much.

Abkhasians are strong and slender with no excess fat on their bodies. They eat slowly and chew thoroughly and deeply enjoy each other’s company.

These people are friendly, long-living, happy and extraordinarily healthy. In Vilcabamba, in the Andes, degenerative diseases seldom if ever affect the population.There is no heart disease, no cancer, no diabetes, no strokes, no cirrhosis, no senility, no arteriosclerosis. Neither have they rheumatism, osteoporosis or Alzheimer’s. Physicians have declared their general standard of fitness to be “amazing”.

They die as the result of an accident, from a sicknesss introduced by visitors from the outside, but never from the major diseases that affect the rest of the world.

Their extraordinary cardiovascular health was linked to their leanness, diet, low cholesterol levels, and high levels of physical activity.

Some of the population did not actually know their ages. However, the very oldest people were remarkably fit for their age.

The viejos of Vilcabamba own no cars or bicycles. They have no horses. They simply walk everywhere.

There is always physical work to do in the household or garden, and both males and females are involved in it from earliest childhood.

There is a saying in Vilcabamba that each of us have two “doctors”, the left leg and the right leg.

They have no canned, packaged, or processed foods.

They eat vegetables picked fresh from the garden. Fruits are eaten the same day they are plucked. The diet is almost entirely vegetarian, made up primarily of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, beans and nuts. Very rarely do they consume milk or eggs. They eat almost no meat and never any butter.

Their protein comes from vegetables, whole grains and variety of beans. Their carbohydrates are always unrefined, and come primarily from whole-grain cereals such as corn, quinoa, wheat and barley and from tubers including potatoes, yucca and sweet potatoes. Their fat comes mostly from avocados, seeds and nuts.

The third region described is Hunza, in Pakistan.

Elderly people here have remarkable good cheer and vitality and are extraordinarily vigorous. They hike up and down the steep hillsides with amazing ease and agility.

A heart specialist, Dr White, visited the Hunzans and found they lived to exceedingly old ages without any heart disease. He could not verify the actual ages of the elderly Hunzans he studied but he examined a group of 5 Hunzans whom he believed to be between 90 and 110 years old. None had any single sign of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.

There are no hospitals, no insane asylums, no drug stores, no saloons, no tobacco stores, no police, no jails, no murders or other crimes and no beggars.

They are the world’s best mountain climbers, as they can travel, fully laden, over Himalayan terrain, at a rate of more than 40 miles a day, They seem never to suffer from fatigue.

There are thousands of terraced fields in Hunza. These fields are flooded with the rich mineral waters that come down from the surrounding mountains and deposit “a thin film of precious minerals over the already fertile soil”.

In these terraces the Hunzans grow a wide variety of fruit, including apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums, grapes, cherries, mulberries, figs and many types of melons.

Their diet includes a multitude of wild berries, both fresh and sun-dried.

A typical breakfast in Hunza in the winter is a porridge made from dried apricots and millet, with freshly ground flaxseeds sprinkled on top.

Like the Vilcabambans and Abkhasians, they eat very little meat. Meat and dairy products together constitute only1% of their total diet.

Vegetables play a prominent role in the Hunzan diet, particularly greens, including mustard greens, spinach, and lettuce, root vegetables, an assortment of beans, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkins and squashes. They cultivate many kinds of herbs and grow flaxseeds,

A large part of the diet is eaten uncooked.

When vegetables are cooked, they are typically lightly steamed, and the water used to cook them is always consumed along with the vegetables themselves.

The fourth and final culture described is that of Okinawa, Japan.

This prefecture consists of 161 beautiful islands inhabited by 1.4 million people.

Okinawa has been scientifically established to be the home of “the longest lived and healthiest people ever thoroughly studied”.

In Okinawa there has been meticulous keeping of birth and health records, so there is no doubt about the claims to longevity.

“Okinawa is home to the world’s healthiest documented elders, to the world’s longest recorded life expectancies, and to the highest concentration of verified centenarians in the world.”

“When it comes to authenticated supercenterians (those who have lived to 110 and beyond), Okinawa is in a class by itself. Okinawa today accounts for 15 percent of the world’s documented supercentenarians despite being the home of only 0.0002 percent of the world’s population.”

The word “retirement”” does not exist in the traditional Okinawan dialect.

Finally, to sum up, the diets of all four of the people in these four regions have much in common:

They are all low in overall calories.

They are all high in good carbohydrates.

They are all “whole-foods” - diets with very little, if any, processed or refined foods, sugar, corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavours or other chemicals.

They all depend on fresh foods, eating primarily what is in season and locally grown.

They are all low, though not super-low, in fat, and the fats come from natural sources.

They all derive their protein primarily from plant sources.



The elder Okinawans say that they stop eating when they are 80 percent full. They say they “eat less in order to live longer”.

High fructose corn syrup can be found in almost every processed food. Some studies indicate that corn syrup is almost worse than cane sugar.

A single 12-ounce can of “soda pop” contains about 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.

Excess sugar consumption is linked not only to obesity but also to kidney stones, osteoporosis, heart disease and dental cavities.

Obesity now contributes more to chronic illness and healthcare costs than does smoking.

Obesity is an epidemic. Almost two-thirds of all Americans are overweight. Obesity is increasing in every country in the world.

In Mexico, the average family of five drinks six gallons of Coca-Cola a week and 65 percent of the population is overweight or obese.

As regards low-carb diets such as Atkins’, side effects experienced include constipation, headaches, bad breath, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and cramps.

Ornish’s low-fat, plant-based diet has been scientifically proven to reverse atherosclerosis, decrease angina (chest pains), bring about permanent weight loss and dramatically reduce cardiac events such as heart attacks.

Atkins’ diet was declared to be dangerous, “a nightmare diet”. It reputedly puts people at risk of heart disease and raises the bad cholesterol.

People may temporarily lose weight on the Atkins’ and the South Beach diet but their LDL cholesterol goes up if they remain on them.

While in the White House, Bill Clinton consulted with Dr Dean Ornish who advised him to stay away from high-fat animal products, but he loved burgers and chose to follow the South Beach diet. After Clinton underwent emergency quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery to relieve clogged arteries in 2004, he said he wished he had never gone on a low-carb regimen of steaks and cheeseburgers and had instead followed the advice of Dr Dean Ornish.

He would have been better off if he had. The healthy and long-lived people of Okinawa, Vilcabamba and Hunza eat a diet very much like the Ornish diet – a low-fat, wholefoods, plant-based diet; they are among the leanest people on Earth.

In Okinawa, due to mistaken government influence, younger Okinawans are today eaing a much more Western diet than their elders have ever eaten.

They are consuming far more calories, far more processed food, far more meat, sugar and corn syrup.

They eat many of their meals in American fast-food restaurants and are becoming less physically active.

Young Okinawans today have the highest level of obesity in Japan, the worst cardiovascular risk profile, the highest risk of coronary disease, and the highest risk of premature death.

The book contains many further absorbing chapters, including one on the healing power of relationships.

I can highly recommend that you read this book. I will now be reading some of the author’s other books, those that I can get hold of. ( )
  IonaS | Sep 17, 2023 |
There's some specious claims about some of the diets, studies, and old age of the culture groups (this can be found by doing some searches on the 'nets). But the overall message is still sound.

This book got me to move to 90% vegan. Unfortunately the false (or at a minimum disputable) information kind of ruins it and pushes this from "I love this book" to a little bit uncomfortable recommending the book without giving the whole asterisk to watch out for. It's too bad-- it didn't need to be that way.

Some of the disputable info is about his emphasis on the China Study (which comes to conclusions that are not quite scientific) , Vilcabamba centenarians (or lack thereof), and Okinanawan diets. I'm sure there's more, but that was enough for me to just throw the book across the room. ( )
  rumurphy | Oct 9, 2013 |
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Health & Fitness. Nonfiction. HTML:

Why do some people age in failing health and sadness, while others grow old with vitality and joy? In this revolutionary book, bestselling author John Robbins presents us with a bold new paradigm of aging, showing us how we can increase not only our lifespan, but also our health span.

Through the example of four very different cultures that have the distinction of producing some of the world's healthiest, oldest people, Robbins reveals the secrets for living an extended and fulfilling life in which our later years become a period of wisdom, vitality, and happiness. Bringing the traditions of these cultures together with the latest breakthroughs in medical science, Robbins reveals that, remarkably, they both point in the same direction.

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