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tv   Vital Signs with Dr. Sanjay Gupta  CNN  April 11, 2015 11:00am-11:31am PDT

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♪ how can we live longer? well, if you're a woman, if your mother was 25 years or younger when you were born, or if you live on a mountain, you have a good chance of making it to a hundred. let's say none of that applies to you. what do you do then? i'm dr. sanjay gupta, and welcome to "vital signs". if you're like me, you want to
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know how do people live the longest? we decided to visit them where they live to try to learn. some of the answers you're going to find quite simple, but others will surprise you. >> to do bypass surgery is not sound unless you have a program you put them on. >> right. >> what's his name in new york, wrote the book -- >> oh, yes, oh, i know -- i'm blanking on name. >> campbell. >> that's right. impressive you remembered that and i did not. you're a hundred years old. >> well, i'll have to say this. i have noticed no deterioration in my mental ability with my age. >> that is remarkable. what do you attribute that to? >> well, i think it goes a long
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with your general health and i have to say this, i'm a heavy promoter of the vegan approach. >> yeah. >> dr. ellsworth follows an entirely plant based diet, and it appears to have served him well. he's 100 years old and in perfect health. in fact, he was a practicing heart surgeon until only five years ago. >> i assisted until 95. i could do open heart surgery right now. eye hands are steady, eyes are good. >> how does that diet help? >> we concentrate on the heart. see, you don't have heart attacks. >> he lives in california, one of the original blue zones, hot spots in the globe where people live measurably longer lives, greece, italy, japan, and costa
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rica. each of them colleselected becaf lifestyles that create an environment where people live healthier, longer. dan led the team that first discovered the blue zones. >> loma linda has the seventh day adventists in the world, and they are living longer. >> that's over here. >> the national institutes on ageing had pointed me to the adventist health study that showed that adherent adventists lived seven to ten years longer than their north american counterparts. >> we are what we call whole plant based diet vegetarians. >> they practice a religion that promotes principles of healthy
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living following a diet of no meat, no smoking, no alcohol. that made them the perfect control group for the adventist health study. >> is there a tangible number you say you're going to live this much longer, have this much of a health benefit? >> well, five simple habits together, no smoking ideal weight, eating nuts regularly, and regular exercise, that's adding eight to ten years to your life. each contributes about two years. >> one day. >> adventists observe a strict saturday sabbath. it's a time to unplug and unwind and share time with other like-minded people. >> someone listening to this saying, i want to adopt -- i don't live in loma linda, i'm not an adventist, but i want to adopt that in life. what do you say? >> first thing to do is to assess your social network, who are you hanging out with? are the people bellied up at a bar or sitting on the tv,
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sitting on the couch watching tv on the weekends, or are they belong to a gardening club, bike, or walk? we all know we ought to eat better, what to do, exercise, lose a few pounds. most of us fail to do it because we don't have the drive, the purpose. i think that comes with saying i'm part of something bigger. i have a purpose with my life. i really believe that the secret to longevity in the blue zone and everywhere else is not so much eating a particular diet as it is having a purpose in what you're doing. >> in addition to creating sense of belonging and purpose, seventh day adventists say their religion helps them deal with stress. >> if your life is god directed, you see, you don't interfere with him, he's a pretty big person. let him do it, and accept what he gives you.
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>> how big a role does stress play, did it play in your life? >> you asked the wrong person. i don't go for the stress theory. >> no? >> no. i never had stress. i have a philosophy you do the best you can and the things you can't do anything about, don't give any thought to them. as far as i'm concerned, stress is a manufactured thing. >> his positive take on life was inspiring. it reminded me that so much of what affects our health and how long we live is mental. >> i'm a surgeon. like you. because of that similar background, you may know someone like me better than most. what somrt of advice do you giv someone like me? >> you have to realize that it's a choice. you get up in the morning and you choose to be happy, you just choose it.
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you know what abraham lincoln said? most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. >> i like that. >> well, here we are, we're intelligent people, make up our minds to be happy. that's all there is to it. >> next, we visit another blue zone. to meet some centurions making you rethink what it means to live long and healthy. "vital signs" is brought to you by --
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in the 20th century, life expectancy shot up by 30 years. it was the greatest gain made in more than 5,000 years of human history, and centenarians, people who live 100 years or more, no longer an exclusive club. in fact, by the year 2050, there will be 3.2 million of them all over the world. while we can't all live to 100, we can all learn how to live longer, and centenarians, may be some of our greatest teachers. [ speaking inin ining ] >> he lives with his family on a
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small farm in costa rica, spending most of his life riding horses and working in the fields. today, he gets around on the back of his grandson's four wheeler. jose is 105 years old. he lives in the peninsula of costa rica, along the pacific coast. it's another one of the original blue zones, and those longevity hot spots on the world where people are found to have live longer than the rest of us. we visited the peninsula in 2006. >> nicoya specifically they have water that percolates through the limestone highmagnesium. it could be a little in the water there. they tend to have fewer fatal broken hips at older age, and their bones are stronger.
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they eat mostly a plant-based diet living in villages where every time they go to work, every time they go to a friend's house, to church, or go out to eat on occasion, it's a walk. every 15 minutes or so, they are nudged into some physical activity, which keeps their metabolism at a higher rate. ♪ >> they tend to be people of faith. we know people who belong to a faith-based organization, doesn't matter which one it is, they are living 4 to 14 years longer than people who don't have that faith. he found the nicoya peninsula thanks to the work of demographers from the university of costa rica. relying on the country's accurate birth records, they pinpointed what appeared to be an island of longevity, extensive door-to-door survey
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including blood samples found lower heart disease and found something remarkable about the genetic biomarker, a good indicator of ageing. >> longer the life, and specifically nicoyans have longer years than the rest of the costa ricans, especially centenarians. >> surprisingly, costa rica spends a tenth on what the united states spends son health care. yet more than twice as many men here will reach the healthy age of 90. >> you see long evident phenomena among the poorest people. the notion that you have to be rich to be healthy is completely wrong. >> this 108-year-old lady is maria francisco, known as the oldest resident in nicoya. like jose, lives in a humble home and shares that same spark.
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>> her sight and hearing diminished, but she can remember things like the song that her first boyfriend sang to her when she was only 15. >> she looks like a lady of 70 or less than 70. she doesn't have many drugs, yes, a few for some pains, joint pains. >> she had four children, and they have stayed close to her. her oldest son, pablo, is 92 years old.
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>> laughter. it's another important element in blue zone longevity. a big part of what costa ricans call pure life. >> ahead, some lessons for all of us on how to live longer from those who live the longest. vo: with beyond natural dry pet food, you can trust our labels.
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we met incredible centenarians on the blue zone journey, each with wisdom and advice for living long and healthy lives. taken together, there's common themes and common sense. call them longevity take aways. >> you talk about these four
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principles, which i love, because they make perfect sense, and i want to break them down for a second. move naturally. eat wisely. belong. connect with people. >> we also call that purpose. in blue zones, people actually have terminology for it. in okinawa, the word is the reason i wake up in the morning. they do not have a word for retirement, but they can articulate their sense of purpose. >> finding that purpose may keep you alive. as part of the new book, looking how to appblue zone situations our lives, there are startling statistics that a chance of dying increase dramatically after you retire. >> at middle age, to take the time to get clear with what is more purpose, and how can i put that to work? that gets you out of the house
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in the morning. that's going to keep you taking your meds, keep your well being and zest for life. >> you're not saying that the purpose has to be something that's changing the world, but it could be a hobby? could be something you're passionate about? >> the easiest mix and stir way to live out your purpose is to volunteer. >> he's taken what he's learned from the world's demographers and scientists and condensed that into an easy how-to list. he calls it the power nine. number one on the list? move naturally. the world's longest live people don't go to gyms. they move without thinking about it. next, have that sense of purpose. knowing what gets you out of the bed in the morning adds up to seven years on your life. he also says to down shift, find a way to shed the stress. make it part of your routine. follows 80% rule. in other words, don't stuff yourself. stop eating when you're stomach is 80 % full.
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plant slant, eat less read meat and more plants. wine at five. share a glass with friends, moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers. belong. attending faith based services add years to your life. put loved ones first. invest in family time. reap the rewards. finally, find your tribe. remember, you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. find ones that support healthy behaviors. >> these are time tested principles about how to be healthy, and they are so understandable to the layperson. >> the blue zone formula is being tested on entire communities. >> so this is beach cities. this is a place that invited you to come to try to help them change how they do things here. >> redondo beach, manhattan beach, 125,000 people, it looks healthy, they are no healthier
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than the rest of america. they are more stressed out and worried than even detroit and new orleans after hurricane katrina. >> by the way, what you're talking about is this, right? you see the beach. you see volleyball. then you turn, literally, and go down the block , and it's a different world. >> right. four blocks in, it looks like middle america, obesity rates and smoking rates. >> here in the beach cities district, south of los angeles, california, citizens and city officials are embracing the blue zone secrets and exploring ways to make them work in their neighborhoods. >> if you want people to permanently change behaviors, you have to change their environment. make the healthy choice not only the easy choice, but make it unavoidable. the walking school bus was one way to get kids started off on the right foot. it's a community wide effort to leave cars at home and get kids walking to school.
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it's not all about getting people moving here in southern california. they are finding new ways to slow down. healthy eating and stress relief combined with the right tribe, all ingredients for living longer. after four years, many of these little nudges to make better lifestyle choices and create a healthier environment already have begun to show results. officials report that fewer people are smoking, obesity rates are down, and more people are feeling better about their chances of living longer. >> do you spend time thinking that i want to live to 100 years? i want to be a centenarian? >> right now in america, to live to 100, you have to have won the genetic lottery. reality is the ceiling, and you probably know this, is about 92 or 93. do i want to live to a healthy
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