In the last decade, there has been an avalanche of books and documentaries about extending healthy years. Many people would prefer an extra ten years of a healthy and quality life. Few people are excited to have an additional five years in a wheelchair.

The term for that is “healthspan.” According to the National Library of Medicine, “healthspan is the period of life spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of aging.”

Blue Zones

Recently, Sandy and I watched the Blue Zones documentary, Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones, which is about a handful of places around the world where a disproportionate number of people live to be 100 years old. People in these places shared several traits, including relatively more walking, almost no gym, with an active, low-stress physical life, low-calorie diet, slower pace, worship (Japanese worship ancestors, Seventh Day Adventists are Christians), and strong and multi-generational relationships. The documentary concludes with the plan to transplant some of these themes into a US city of about 30,000 people. The initial results seemed extraordinarily promising.

The documentary is one way to learn about the Blue Zones research as well as on their website The Blue Zones. and their book that triggered the Blue Zones phenomenon, The Blue Zones Secrets for Living Longer: Lessons From the Healthiest Places on Earth.

Three themes stood out for me. People who live long, healthy lives have a strong network of meaningful relationships, are physically active throughout their life, and pay attention to their diet.

What we do already.

It seemed to me that Sandy and I were doing pretty well in two of the three themes. We are fortunate to have several strong relationships with family and friends. Over almost 40 years in San Diego, we have established and maintained deep ties with many people. We both have been affiliated with people we like, trust, and admire.

Neither of us were an athlete in high school or college. Yet, Sandy and I have attempted to maintain fitness health with various kinds of exercise for 20+ years. Over the decades, we have done Pilates, hiked down to the floor of the Grand Canyon and back, twice, hiked and biked locally, and taken active vacations such as white water rafting and biking tours. Neither of us will be on the cover of Fitness for People Over 50 magazine, yet our MD says we’re more fit than many of our contemporaries.

This leaves diet. We’ve tried to eat sensibly for many years. We haven’t done anything dramatic. We follow some of the standard advice about how to eat better.

Other Opinions about Longevity

Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To is a book by a world-class medical researcher, David Sinclair PhD. Hundreds of research efforts are seeking ways to extend healthy years. Because of his training and prominence, he is aware of almost all the major research. His book reports on dozens of projects and a few give him immense hope. Many encouraging studies involve over-the-counter medication. Lower calories, less red meat, sensible sleep, and routine aerobic exercise are among most experts’ standard recommendations. He thinks that many people born today will live to 120; maybe 150 is possible for some people born today.

The comments about diet in Blue Zones and Lifespan intrigued us. I grew up where “beef is real food” and dairy was as American as apple pie and the flag. This was new territory for me.

Three documentaries gave us more information on that subject.: What the Health, Forks over Knives, and The Game Changers. These documentaries share a respect for a plant-based diet and cite studies showing that animal protein carries costs not associated with plant-based protein.

Each documentary tells their stories well and makes a strong case for a plant-based diet instead of meat and dairy. You expect a documentary to tell a story, cite peer-reviewed research, interviews with experts, and allow  the other side to make their claims and respond. Both did that.

Our Experiment.

My bride and I decided to do a 90-day trial of a plant-based diet. That was the evening after we had eaten an immense helping of meat and she had done significant shopping. So, Sandy went cold turkey, if you’ll pardon the pun. Until it’s gone, I still eat about three thin slices of meat and cheese a week. We’re exploring another adventure as we seek to live until we die.

We’ve been on a plant-based diet for a month. Sandy has resumed running and today was her best mile in about five years. She had only run twice in the year before we went vegetarian. We each lost some weight from our middles. So far, we like the results.


Feedback is always a gift. What are your thoughts or experiences about healthy living?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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