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Review of "Healthy At 100" by John Robbins

Imagine a world with no heart attacks, no cancer, no dementia, Alzheimer's or arthritis. Well, such a world exists and John Robbins captures it in abundant detail in his groundbreaking book Healthy at 100

I often talk of what I call Supercultures, groups of people whose health surpasses our wildest imagination.  Supercultures have almost no need of hospitals, except for when Western disease are introduced or perhaps an occasional accident. However, it is safe to say that 90+% of all hospitals and medical facilities could be eliminated in cultures such as these:  there is simply almost no chronic disease as we know it.

There are actually quite a few Supercultures around the globe, although they are slowly disappearing as Western foods and lifestyles changes are introduced.  John Robbins chose four in particular to examine for one primary reason:  the quality of their elders.  In these four Supercultures a very high percentage of adults reach the age of 90 and beyond. Furthermore, the "old guys" in these culture will put almost every young person in a Western Society to shame. 

Three of these four Supercultures are mountain peoples and 90 year olds almost always climb through the mountains with agility and ease, leaving Western reporters and interviewers breathing heavily behind them. There is no dementia either:  90+ year olds are almost always youthfully sharp, full of mental energy and ample positivity and even humor. 

Robbins realtes the story of a 1969 study of 300+ Vilcabambans.  The authors found NO osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes or Alzheimer's.  None. The Hunzans are equally astonishing:  their superaged people can usually read almost perfect, i.e. the lenses of their eyes have retained their elasticity.  And loss of hearing is also uncommon.

What greater irony is there?  The billions and billions that we throw at drugs and medical care do not even begin to approach the quality of life that these people enjoy. Three of these peoples, the Hunza, the Abkhasians and the Vilcabambans are quite poor by modern standards.  However, all three cultures are known for their underlying happiness, respect for age and lack of mental disease, depression and suicide. Yet, in spite of the fact that these peoples have all found Health Nirvana, we by and large ignore their example and wisdom, instead choosing lifetimes of illness and disease.

The fourth Superculture, the Okinawans, is also particularly intriguing:  John Robbins points out that they exist in very toxic part of planet earth in Japan and yet enjoy incredible longevity and good health.  They have a very high rate of centennarians and have rates of heart disease and cancer about a sixth of ours. This should give everyone reading this great hope.  The Okinawans have proven that you can live a Superculture existence in a modern, industrialize environment.  

So how do they do it?  All of these culture eat almost entirely a plant-based diet by Western standards. They also all have a lower caloric intake and relatively low fat consumption as well. All of them exercise many hours of the day, although in the case of the Okainawans, it's mostly walking.  Their social structure and support is also very tight and often stress is low as well.

This is a must-read book. How I wish I had read it about three decades ago. I just hope that a lot of younger people will ready it and create their own Superculture and living a life of abundant life and productivity.

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