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The Vegetarian Fountain of Youth: Secrets Revealed

Posted by at 5:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)


fountain-of-youthWhile life expectancy has increased in our society, many people spend the last decades of their lives infirm, loaded to the gills with pharmaceuticals, and/or stuck in front of the television. And yet, we all know of individuals who are vibrant, active, and alert well into their 80s or 90s. What’s their secret?

Many factors interact to influence health and longevity, including genetics and luck. And biology itself sets upper limits to age: Humans are not designed to live forever, any more than cats, dogs, or sequoia trees are. But let’s take a closer look at what counts as the fountain of youth–the characteristics of those who grow old not just gracefully but energetically so. What do people have in common who are agile and even athletic and who contribute ideas, energy, and compassion to our world well beyond the age of normal retirement? Recent research is pointing–and even explaining–the way to lasting, if not everlasting, youthfulness.

First, a quick world tour. Healthy at 100 summarizes the lifestyles of the Abkhasians, the Vilcabambans, the Hunza, and the traditional Okinawans – and many of them are healthier at age 90 than most Americans ever are in these times. The common denominators: lifelong physical activity, social bonds, and a plant-based diet (vegan or nearly so). The suite of diseases which so besets industrialized countries–obesity, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart ailments–are virtually unheard of in those societies. And when modernization happens, along with factory farming and massive meat consumption come those very same diseases. China is a notable and well-documented example: The country has exponential growth of diseases linked to meat. The most recent reports focus on the epidemic of breast cancer, which was previously unknown in traditional Chinese villages.

Why are vegetarian diets so closely associated with long-term vitality? The answers are unfolding in laboratories around the world. Recent studies have found that cellular repair mechanisms are enhanced by a vegetarian diet. One key seems to be telomerase, which fixes breaks in DNA to keep cells healthy. You can opt for $25,000 per year for telomerase treatments, if you like. But it’s a whole lot healthier, not to mention cheaper and easier, to go vegan! Telomerase is abundant and active even after short trials of just a few weeks on a vegan diet. Another recent study shows that oxidative damage to DNA, lipids, and proteins can be overcome with a vegetarian diet, with marked effects in older people. In short, a plant-based diet reduces premature aging and disease risk. You don’t need to get pumped up on growth hormones to be youthful unless you’re a Barry Bonds wannabe. Just stay active, socially connected (for example, by leaving comments at PETA Prime!), strive for inner harmony, and go vegan! The harmony part, of course, is much easier when you’re not killing animals to eat them.

Have a tip for staying active?

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    Gary says...

    December 26th, 2008, 3:20 pm

    Thank You for this Post.
    I recently committed to eating Vegetarian due to moral issues regarding Animals, and it is good to know that there are other benefits.
    I prepare food for my Animal Companions, and have found a good source of free range meats to put in their meals, since they do not have the same ability to metabolize plant protein as Humans.
    Thank You for reading.
    Gary
    Tampa

    Chris Adams says...

    December 26th, 2008, 10:17 pm

    I went vegan after severe health complications a year ago at the age of 36. I have since lost 90 lbs, my blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol count are all excellent now. Anyone who says you need meat does not know what they are talking about. I have buffed up into a toned and athletic body without meat or animal products. For people who say they would miss the variety that meat provides, I say get some vegan cookbooks. My diet has more variety now than it ever did, and the food is tastier.
    Go Vegan!!!
    Chris Adams
    Ridgecrest, CA

    Paulo Borges says...

    December 27th, 2008, 2:48 pm

    I am primary a veggie for the animals. I just can’t stand the idea of killing cows, chickens, fish, etc, just for greed. If being a veggie improves my health, ok, good news, but that’s not the reason why I don’t eat meat.
    São Paulo, Brazil

    Cathy Gibbs says...

    December 27th, 2008, 10:14 pm

    Hello ~ I did not know why this manager at the office had the nicest skin…it sort of glowed for a white guy really! Other factors got me to go veggie over a decade ago. But I asked him why, why, why was he so
    glow-y and healthy looking. He finally told me he was totally vegan for 15 years and going strong. I will never forget the way he looked.

    Having always experimented with diet to get rid of a lifelong asthma issue, going veggie was a natural for me. Now after a decade of no red meat foul or pork, I am amazed at my health, my vitality (never thought it could be any stronger – but this put me in a whole different category), skin texture…just about everything is a plus. Cholesterol numbers are way off the bottom of the charts…I am so healthy. I finally even found a doctor who did my first colonoscopy….who LIVES as a non-meat eater as is his entire family. Western medicine normally does not even give credence to my being a non-meat eater.

    I also quit meat just for the animals originally like Gary from Tampa. It is a very simple choice to make. People just do not know they can NOT eat meat.

    It is funny…when I walk into a business meeting that is held at a restaurant that serves beef as its specialty, the place always smells like a slaughterhouse to me and it really makes me sick to my stomach. I have not even gone in a meat place in a long time though.

    Shhhh. During our company shutdown this week – I left the paperwork for veganism particular to boycotting veal. We will see what occurs.

    If I had it all to do over again, I would have taken over the cooking with the family I was raised with. I make much tastier and more fulfilling meals now than ever when I was eating meat. (My father, from a family of 12 all who ate lamb and raw meat too died from colon cancer + complications)

    Love,
    Cathyg

    Marko says...

    December 28th, 2008, 1:15 am

    Steve,
    I liked this article very much. I love life and I love being a vegetarian. I wish I started sooner. I’m 53. I have been meat-free for three years now and I feel great. I feel like I found the fountain of youth. I have giving up taking any type pharmaceuticals my former Doctors have prescribed. I am seeing a chiropractor for low back problems but he showed me my x-ray and found that I have a 6th lumbar. He said it wasn’t very common but it has been noted before by other doctors. He wants me to start a mild exercise program, yoga and some light weights, before trying any hard work outs. I believe it living healthier and share my knowledge with others. Some actually listen and ask a lot of questions so I do feel like I am helping others too see the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Thanks for the info.

    Angela Crossland says...

    December 29th, 2008, 9:34 am

    I agree, I’ve been vegetarian for just over 2 years and am much more energetic – I was always tired as a meat-eater. What I find hard to swallow though is how I am ALWAYS having to justify myself – I don’t tell others that they should be like me, but they seem to think that I should be like them and eat meat! It’s a personal choice and I did it initially because I LOVE all animals – the health benefits were a bonus – why does it annoy people so much!

    DWAYNE KING says...

    December 30th, 2008, 8:25 pm

    I apreciate Peta’s efforts at keeping people informed of all that goes on in the animal world and beyond!

    I am 45 years young and have been vegetarian/vegan since I was 20 and a half yrs. old.

    My primary motivation was for animal welfare,- as a protest against factory farming and what occurs in slaughter houses!

    Health awareness also played a large part for me.

    Natalie says...

    December 31st, 2008, 12:55 pm

    What lovely feel-good vibes I’m getting from this article & your comments! :]

    I went vegetarian 16 months ago and since that point gradually became vegan, but did it within a couple months. I totally agree about my diet expanding rather than being limited, especially with tasty Indian food, yum! Going organic feels great, too.

    I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to give it a whirl… and to read Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (sp?) It’s amazing and hilarious- many of my friends (yes, even guys) have borrowed it and purchased one to share with others- what an informative eye-opener! I can’t wait to read it a third time, very much worth it.

    Have a Happy New Year everybody!! :D

    Living // The Vegetarian Fountain of Youth: Secrets Revealed // PETA says...

    January 6th, 2009, 6:30 pm

    [...] following post was originally posted on PETA Prime by Steve Martindale on December 24, [...]

    Linda says...

    January 8th, 2009, 4:09 pm

    Thank god for kind, caring people. I have been veggie now for 30 years, my younger son Julian has been veggie for about 5 years. We could not imagine putting meat in our mouths again. I love all animals, they have as much right to life as we do.

    Thank you PETA for all you do.

    Francisco says...

    January 8th, 2009, 5:28 pm

    Thanks for the article. There are many interests involved trying to keep people eating meet. However, I think that little by little more and more people will see the advantges of being vegetarian.
    Francisco
    Venezuela

    Joan says...

    January 8th, 2009, 7:15 pm

    I have been a vegetarian for 19 years and am a young, vibrant, about to
    be married 69 year old. My oldest daughter who is now 37 was the one
    who first educated me about the treatment of animals on factory farms
    and at slaughter houses. After learning the “truth” behind those neatly
    packaged meats we buy at the grocery store I could no longer support
    such a cruel, barbaric practice of raising and killing animals for food. I
    have always been an animal lover, but like everyone else never allowed
    myself to think about where that meat was coming from. Becoming a
    vegetarian was the best thing I have ever done. I am healthier than
    everyone else I know who is my age – take no medication – exercise
    daily and enjoy it – and can still hike with my children and keep up! I
    have a clear conscience that my being alive does not depend on the
    suffering and death of another creature. I, too, now have a much more
    diverse, tastier diet than I ever had when I ate meat. Everything about
    being veg. is a plus!!!!

    Julie B says...

    January 8th, 2009, 9:59 pm

    I went veggie on October 16th 2007, mostly for health reasons and also for the planet and the animals. I’ve lost weight and kept it off effortlessly. I love food and love to taste new things, my friends think eating veggie does not give you much selection but I find it is the opposite, food is so much easier and faster to prepare. The most difficult, I would say, is eating out – Vegan, I must sometimes compromise (with dairy products – I usually have pimple breakouts 1 or 2 days later). Now my skin is beautiful, I feel lite, healthy, full of energy, no more eczema, actually all my allergies have cleared up. I strongly recommend it, my husband has just recently made the change to a full time vegetarian diet after seeing his cholesterol and many other health problems go away from a half veggie diet. He loves the variety and all the new dishes we explore together. Many thanks to Skinny Bitch for my intro to going Veggie!

    Ankur R.C says...

    January 9th, 2009, 5:12 am

    A vegetarian by choice, here,and a biologist, Not sure I agree about telomerase being responsible for repairing “breaks” in DNA.
    Telomerase only regenerates the ends of chromosomes, which are called telomeres, and as a result enables a cell to divide more times before it reaches a stage called replicative senescence after which it has to die out, which manifests as delayed aging.

    Inga/Belarussian/France says...

    January 9th, 2009, 6:52 am

    My Heart feel so happy to read all this! I am vegetarian for 2 years and the first reason was “killing animals”. One night i saw a dream where many animals were crying and killed at the factory of meat. That was a clear Sign from the Univers for me to stop eating meat! Since i feel light, energic and never ill ! I DREAM TO BUILD A PARADISE ON OUR PLANET EARTH, WHERE NO MORE ANIMALS ARE KILLED, NO MORE WARS, NO MONEY, ONLY HARMONY OF HUMAIN WITH HIMSELF AND WITH THE NATURE. YES WE CAN DO IT !!!

    Lillian says...

    January 9th, 2009, 8:23 am

    I totally agree, I have friends who are younger than me but really look much older.. and just a little walking makes them so exhausted. I have been a vegetarian for 5 years now and I feel stronger, more energetic than before…I can do yoga, hike for long peiods of time and jog with my pets, not to mention that I am not forgetful like my other colleagues younger than I am do… When I tell my patients ( I am a public health physician) especially those with cardio vascular diseases and kidney disease to go vegetarian or vegan ..they are skeptical until I tell them that I am and they are amazed that I can live just eating plant food. Thanks for the article I can share it and tell them that I look much younger than 51 because I eat only plants, I love animals and I care deeply for the environment…

    martin henry says...

    January 9th, 2009, 9:14 am

    I have been Vegan for around 17 years now,and can honestly say i will remain so for the rest of my life.Like Lillian,I look years younger than my carnivorous friends,in fact more than once have been accused of being a liar when i tell them i am 50 this year.All this is just a by-product of a vegan lifestyle.
    I became Vegan as i became more,and more,aware of what was going on in the world,and the barbaric cruelty that mankind inflicts needlesly on other creatures that share our planet,and the Kharmic effect that these actions have on all of us,and the planet as a whole.
    Every action has a reaction.
    Thank you Peta,for all you do,you do make a difference.
    Peace & Love
    Martin

    Judy Martindale says...

    January 9th, 2009, 2:47 pm

    Steve,
    ..Thanks to you I am a vegetarian and have lots of energy. It’s good to know there are everlasting health benefits from a vegan diet and we are also saving animals lives. Lots of Love. Your loving wife, Jude

    Rachyl says...

    January 10th, 2009, 10:16 pm

    I totallly agree… I have only been a vegetarian for about 2 months and I am loving every mintue of it. I am 18 years old and plan on being a veggie for life. I decided to become one when learning about what actually goes on in slaughter houses and because i love animals and I don’t want to eat my friends. It was hard for me to tell my family what I was doing because my family loves meat, but they supported me and now at family get togethers there is atleast one thing vegetarian for me. I love this new diet because it has so much variety in it and I can say that i will be a veggie for life….

    julia artist lady says...

    January 10th, 2009, 11:55 pm

    I appreciate what I have learned about being vegan…I’m
    not completely there, but because you have encouraged me, I’m much more aware and feel much healthier.

    I saw your photo with the Lettuce Ladies..that was too cool. Literally.
    I admire your tenacity and passion,steve.

    Are you married? You’re my kind of guy.
    Julia

    Sarah says...

    January 13th, 2009, 7:38 am

    I agree with what Angela Crossland says… “I am ALWAYS having to justify myself”, it’s ridiculous! People… (friend, peers and even family!) are always trying to convince me to eat meat again. But after 6 years nothing has changed, except I feel great and stay thin despite how much I eat.

    I can tell people I love animals, and that is why I went vegetarian, and still it doesn’t really affect them – they don’t care. But if I tell them eating meat gives you cancer, high blood pressure, heart problems… maybe they will listen!

    Thanks PeTA for your continuing efforts to cure peoples’ ignorance, the worst illness of all.

    Hana Schierling says...

    May 9th, 2009, 10:49 pm

    Hana says , I love to be vagen. Look and feel so good.

    paul bikoff says...

    May 28th, 2009, 12:25 pm

    6 years since my sister junie passed away from colon cancer…and six years since going on a weekend yoga retreat with Dharma Mittra and becoming 100% vegetarian at age 53 -never too late to change – sometimes from the greatest loss we find our true path – i pray every nite that all people everywhere find that place in their heart that allows them to kick the carnivore habit ( & for a cure for ALL cancer) – Woooooooeeeeee- my neighbor Meredith just gave me a giant 3 foot squash – can i use it to tap my 3 kids on the noggin to knock a little sense into them? i guess NOT a very good yoga-like approach – and anyway, i can’t remember where i put it?! -( if you want to see a beautiful picture of Junie with her horse PG , Perfect Gentleman, just go to amazon books and search for “A Junebug Recipe”, click on ‘Look inside’, then ‘Back Cover’)- luv to all! – paul

    Jude says...

    August 7th, 2010, 11:57 pm

    Long term vitality certainly is a great side-effect of an ethical and moral decision. Thanks Steve for bringing this part of the whole story of vegan diet. I am newly vegan (vegetarian?) shift from a life long animal devouring life. At 49 and not a few pounds overweight I have found in three weeks of no dairy, no meat and only 3 free-range eggs in that time – that the pain in my gall bladder associated with eating has gone! I have lost 14lbs in three weeks. I wake up more alert, I sleep better already! I just had a rocket, pine nut, sweet potatoe, pumpkin, bell pepper, carrot salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for lunch – whoo hoo! bouncing out of my skin. :-)

    Ann says...

    March 7th, 2011, 8:18 pm

    This is a great article! I’ve been slowly cutting down on meat from 2005-07, stopped eating fish and became a full fledged vegetarian June, 2009, losing and keeping off 50 pounds. Due to junk food (made with eggs and dairy) my weight has fluctuated these past two years, but starting January 2011 I have about 80% vegan, and this year am an additional 10 pounds down, 15 to 20 to go! Whoo hoo!

    I did it because of the cruelty in the meat, dairy and egg industry, but getting into some decent sizes is a great added benefit.
    (and getting healthy, although I have to admit a low cholesterol level is not nearly as exciting as getting into a size 6, which I hope to do by time I hit the big 50 in December.)

    AND did Peta readers know that the new book Veganist was on the amazon best seller list! What Peta has started is growing fast…

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