Longevity is Blue
Posted on September 5, 2016
We finally caved and bought a new mattress set. Okay so to be completely frank, Rocket-man caved. Me thinks he had grown pretty damned tired of my complaining. He wanted to wait until after our move (is that laughter I hear?!) Anyhow, that would make darned good sense: Tempur-Pedic® mattresses are quite heavy (ours is a king) not to mention expensive. Getting rid of the old one before our move and purchasing one at our new destination would help keep moving expenses down (I’ve been shedding stuff for months now). However, as you all know I’ve been sitting on packed boxes waiting for my house to sell for eleven months now. My patience has grown wafer thin.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that my resolve to smile more and complain less (as was my original intention in writing in this-here blog space) has not been going swimmingly well lately. In fact, my record for the past couple of months has been abysmal…perhaps even borderline dangerous. Naturally, I’m not happy with myself about that. My only defense? I’m definitely a work in progress.
So in my grumpy state I’ve been carping on about piddly stuff including my lower back pain for some time. Okay, that’s arguably not piddly but I usually muscle through things of this nature. Some of it could be due to working out. Certainly I cannot bounce back as quickly as I did in my forties or even early fifties! Epsom soaks are now a weekly occurrence as opposed to a once-in-a-blue-moon thing. Make no mistake…. I do love them! No complaints there! But I’m fairly certain the culprit has been our aging mattress. It’s nearly 15 years old….a good five years past it’s prime. So we took advantage of Labor Day specials and made the purchase (heaven arrived on my doorstep three days later precisely at 10: a.m.)
As we drove away from the mattress store to continue on with errands, a thought popped into my mind. As we wound our way over the mountain heading for Home Depot I shared my thoughts with Rocket-man who was immersed in Word With Friends on his iPhone.
“Wow. That was an expensive buy! But you know, most likely we’ll only have one more mattress expense after this.”
“How do you figure,” asked Rocket-man still playing his game.
“We’ve got a good 20 years left on this planet. If we’re really lucky maybe 30.” I’m not trying to be morbid here….just realistic.
“Ah. I see what you mean,” came his soft reply. With that, he placed his hand over mine. “But you’ve been reading about life hacks for longevity. We could have two more mattresses in our future…maybe even three.”
It’s true. And with that, I’ve found that longevity is colored blue.
The other day while perusing the stacks at Barnes & Noble I’d picked up a National Geographic special edition magazine devoted to the topic of Blue Zones…areas around the globe where people live measurably longer lives… especially compared to Americans. A team of researchers literally circled in blue ink the places around the world where they found the highest concentration of centenarians (folks age 100 and older). For those who are interested, check out books by Dan Buettner, the founder of Blue Zones, an organization devoted to helping Americans live longer. He’s written several books on the topic (and yes….I purchased one).
I ordered a latte at the coffee bar and took a seat to flip through the magazine. The first country that was listed as a Blue Zone was Okinawa (for inquiring minds, there were five Blue Zones covered in the magazine: Okinawa, Sardinia, Loma Linda California, Ikaria, Greece and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.
Okinawa. Hmm. Ah yes! I vaguely remember reading The Okinawa Program, by Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., M.S., Craig Willcox, Ph.D., M.H.Sc., and Makoto Suzuki, M.D., Ph.D. some years ago while studying for my Masters degree. I suppose—as I often do—I did a brain dump after reading it! But, as I read, knowledge bits were coming back to me, aided I am quite sure by the grande-sized caffeine jolt.
A bullet point list of Okinawa’s longevity foods includes: bitter melon, Tofu, Sweet Potatoes, Garlic, Turmeric, Brown Rice, Green Tea, Shiitake mushrooms and Seaweed (Kombu and Wakame).
Hmm. I’d say I do a fair job of incorporating most of these longevity foods although I am not inclined towards tofu…blech. Apparently, according to Buettner, Okinawans eat tofu like the French eat bread! After my last sip of coffee I made a new resolve: let’s put some excitement into our diet and try some new things. I decided to start with one thing in the list that would be new for me. Seaweed.
Next stop? Whole Foods of course.
No problem finding seaweed at Whole Foods. For example, in the cracker aisle there were a number of seaweed snack products. I pulled three different seaweed snack items from the shelf. One brand had “Strangely Addictive” printed in bold red letters. Into the cart it went. I also picked up more sweet potatoes and green tea.
Later that evening Rocket-man and I talked about this whole longevity thing.
“I mean realistically…do we honestly even want to live to be 100? And what about the money? How can we afford to?” If I could reach the age of 100 enjoying relatively good health with Rocket-man at my side (yes, the man who often makes my eyes roll to the ceiling in exasperation over one thing or another!), without being a financial burden on anyone, I could see the merits. Despite the world being such a topsy-turvy place, there is much that is wonderful to behold all around us (yes….even in middle-earth Alabama!). All that is required is an open mind, which admittedly, seems to become harder to achieve the older one gets. Add to that the joys of remaining close to my sis and her family. I’d include my children, but while I do love them to pieces, at this writing I think they’d much rather push me over a cliff well before I reach 80!
As Rocket-man and I sat down to catch-up on Outlander I brought out the snacks I had gotten hours before at Whole Foods.
“I’m trying a new longevity hack for us. It’s seaweed. It’s touted as being one of the excellent low-calorie, nutrient-rich choices for longevity according to the Okinawa diet,” I told Rocket-man as I handed him the bag of seaweed chips.
Rocket-man eyed me suspiciously.
“What?” I said in mock innocence. I pointed to the label on the package. “Look, this says these are “Strangely Addictive.” You know….we thought we wouldn’t like crunchy Wasabi chickpeas, and now we’re totally hooked. How bad can these be?”
Having said that….
“Here Mikey…you try it first,” I joked.
Rocket-man picks a chip from the bag and tentatively takes a bite. Then he pops the rest into his mouth. Well…he did not gag but that isn’t saying a lot. He’d eat two-week-old left-overs if left to his own device.
“It’s palatable. I’ve had worse,” was all he said.
Then I take a chip. “Interesting,” I say as my nose wrinkles in mild disgust upon a tiny nibble. Still, I was determined to give it a good go. Perhaps another one would set better in my mouth.
Now comes a gag. Blech.
“It’s terribly fishy tasting.” The explosion of fish taste in my mouth felt one hundred times stronger than burping up just one fish oil capsule.
Rocket-man laughed. “It’s seaweed….from the ocean….silly woman.”
I went to the fridge scavenging for anything to take out the taste. I selected Fage yogurt with mixed berries. Twenty minutes later I could still taste an ocean’s worth of seaweed in my mouth. So, I fixed myself a chunky peanut butter sandwich, slathering on more peanut butter than usual.
Are you freaking kidding me? Not only have I already consumed an extra 400 calories I’ve now made it worse as fish and peanut butter together battle for superiority in my mouth.
Suffice it to say that seaweed is one diet longevity hack that won’t be implemented in this house. I hate the thought of throwing out the other snacks I had purchased. Perhaps I can donate the unopened bags to the food bank? Rocket-man thought that was mighty funny. We are in Alabama after all; seaweed chips wouldn’t be considered a holiday staple.
So folks, I think I’ll stick with what I know and love (that would be the Mediterranean diet). Luckily it turns out its fairly close to another Blue Zone diet; Ikaria Greece. What’s not to love about a diet rich in extra-virgin olive-oil, potatoes, feta cheese, almonds, chickpeas, wild greens, coffee and wine! That, along with their lifestyle practice of a daily nap seems like bliss to me.
Just thinking about my lunch of chickpeas and greens with olive-oil and lemon has got me feeling younger already. Then a short nap.
Bliss… times two.