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Longevity in Rural Spain

As part of a recent vacation, I was exploring a small church cemetery in rural Spain, in a village perched on a cliff. A pretty place, nothing unusual, until I started looking at the dates on the headstones. Some people died in their 20s or 30s, but most made it well into their 90s. They lived in a time before modern medicine and they still lived a very long time. Why? Did I just happen on a Blue Zone? Maybe, but I think it is simpler than that. These people lived active, engaged and purposeful lives. They daily pushed heavy fishing boats out to get their meals, and they hiked that cliff every day. They were strong. They had a vibrant community. Even today, the bar in town was filled with people from 14-90 — no age siloing here. They had purpose — be it family, church, or their village. They ate a Mediterranean diet: lots of lean protein, good fats and very little processed sugar.

We all know these are factors in living a good, long life. These things used to be normal; they were not a “to do” list for us. What we have seen here at AGEIST, is that these values and behaviors are back in a big way with our people. We see how things did not go so well with our parents’ and their parents’ generations. When we come upon places like these rural Spanish villages, we see them as these north stars: yes, this is how it is done.

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