What are the Longevity Hot Spots?

In the medieval hilltop village of Campodimele in Italy, a man in his 80s cycles up the hill past the olive groves, looking forward to a supper of wild boar and freshly-picked greens drizzled with olive oil, accompanied by a glass of home-made organic red wine.

In Okinawa, Japan, a woman in her 90s perches nimbly in the branches of a citrus tree and picks fruit for her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.

On the Mediterranean island of Symi in Greece, a robust fisherman in his 70s flexes his muscles, picks up his oars, and starts rowing out across the turquoise water to get the day’s catch.

In Nicoya, Costa Rica, a woman aged 105 smooths back her glossy black hair as she sits chatting to our team, our conversation accompanied by the odd ‘plop’ as a ripe red mango falls to the ground nearby. ‘What do you do to relax?’ I ask. ‘I like to get my machete and hack down the jungle around the house’, she replies, grinning.

There are some places in the world where people frequently reach the age of 100 and over without suffering so much as a headache, and lead vibrant, happy lives to the end.

I call these places the Longevity Hot Spots. I came across them accidentally whilst helping to develop a television series about ageing and some of the most cutting-edge research being done by biotech companies on how to slow down the ageing process.

The biotech companies hadn’t found a cure then, and they haven’t found a cure yet. However, people in the Longevity Hot Spots have already found the ‘Holy Grail’ of anti-ageing that those companies are so desperate to get their hands on. It’s all about their diet and lifestyle, and has much less to do with genes or any kind of magic bullet.

People stay younger for longer in the Hot Spots, and have exceptionally low levels of chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer. For example, the cancer incidence in Bama, China, was just 4.4 per 10,000 people when I first did my research as compared with almost one in two in the US and the UK.

The good news is that nearly all of us can go a long way towards creating our own Longevity Hot Spots at home. In my books, all of which incorporate the essential knowledge I have taken from these places, you can find out how.

I have been lucky enough to visit several of the Longevity Hot Spots. They are very special places – extremely beautiful, with exquisite food and happy, radiant people; they are the kind of places you don’t want to leave once you’ve arrived.

The Hot Spots featured in my books are: Okinawa in Japan, Symi in Greece, Campodimele in Italy, Hunza in Pakistan, and Bama in China. With my former employers, the US wellness company Akea, I have also looked at Nicoya in Costa Rica, Loma Linda in California, Barbagia in Sardinia, Italy, and the village of Montacute in Somerset, England.

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Since it's so hot, it's a good time to eat as much of this riDICulously delicious raspberry ripple ice cream as possible. I had to eat two bowls full just now as it kept melting whilst I took the photo. It's easy and fun to make - it's best if you have an ice cream maker (you can get a simple one for about £40).

INGREDIENTS: cashews, soya milk, coconut oil or manna, 1 lemon, vanilla, sea salt, maple syrup/agave syrup, 1 tin creamy coconut milk, 1 small tin coconut cream (optional), berries, cornflour.

- soak 1 cup cashews for a minimum of 2 hours (overnight is good)
- bring to a simmer 1/2 cup soya milk + 1 tin coconut milk + 2 tbsp coconut cream (optional - if your coconut milk is really creamy you may not need it) + a squirt or two of agave/maple syrup
- take a little out and mix it with 1 level tbsp corn flour to a paste, add it back, and simmer gently for 5 mins
- put the soaked cashews in a nutribullet or vitamix type blender with the rest of the ingredients + 2 tbsp coconut oil or coconut manna + the juice of 1 lemon + a pinch of salt + 1/2 tsp vanilla and blend until smooth. Cool for an hour.
- put it an ice cream maker and churn for 20-25 minutes
- just before the end add raspberries or any other berries - you can squash them up with a fork and add a squirt of agave or maple syrup if you want it sweeter.

You can get the full recipe (this is a simpler version) from Health Nut Nutrition's blog - it's called 'strawberry cheesecake icecream with a graham cracker crumble'.
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