When Daniel Kennedy decided to make his documentary, Healthy Long Life, he wanted to go to places full of long-lived people to look for longevity secrets. One place on his list was Mexico. While filming the show, he was introduced to numerous Mexican centenarians who were willing to share their secrets to living to be over 100 while still staying in good health. Here are four of those secrets.
1. Plants at every meal
While Mexican restaurants in the US lean toward meat, traditional Mexican food is very plant based. Many dishes are filled with vegetables like corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers, and mango. Studies have proven that plant-based diets are connected to lower levels of heart disease. This is due to their antioxidants, healthy fats and fiber contents which are directly connected to promoting overall longevity.
2. Anti-inflammatory spices
Besides being filled with nutrient-rich plants, spices are also an important part of traditional Mexican food. Spices have phytochemicals that are very good for us. Spices like cilantro, garlic, chipotle powder, and cinnamon are all proven to fight inflammation. And that is something vital for supporting longevity because inflammation can lead to cognitive decline, chronic diseases, and many age-related illnesses.
Another spice that’s frequently used in Mexican food is cayenne pepper. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper is excellent for health due to its antioxidant properties and metabolic support.
3. A higher power
Spirituality is a huge part of Mexican culture, and this is why some say its centenarians are so resilient. When you are spiritually strong, your reaction to crisis is better, and that affects your immune system. On the other hand, negative emotions like anger often lead to disease.
Studies about spirituality and health have linked having religious belief to lower rates of cancer and heart disease. But there might be another reason for this: community. One paper found that older adults who were spiritual often were connected to a church, which gives social support.
4. Mexicans value the elderly
Mexicans are very connected to their family—and this helps them as they age. It is very common for elderly Mexicans to live with their children, much more common than in the US. And a recent UN survey found that living with a child was the most common housing arrangement for older people in Latin America. It is believed that the feeling of being taken care of and valued, is possibly Mexico’s top longevity secret.