Everyone has heard about how Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), can have a profound effect on peoples’ lives by enhancing their thinking, communication and people skills. Not everyone knows about “NLP’s sister”, Time Line Therapy®, created by Dr Tad James to help people get rid of negative emotions in their lives, and how we can possibly think our way to a healthier life.
When I first got to know about the Okinawa Centenarian Study, I was amazed at how this little island an be the home to the most number of Centenarians in the world. The Okinawa Centenarian Study (OCS) began in 1975 and they have documented at least 950 people who live to 100 years and beyond. This garnered world wide attention and people are interested to find out why Okinawans live so much longer than other people and they do so in apparent better health. The “old people” from Okinawa are mostly active to the end – 97% of their lives are free from any form of disability1.
It’s logical to conclude that Okinawans are blessed with superior genes that allow them to fight off diseases and allow them to age slower. Or so I thought.
Diet and Exercise
Until I go to know about this place called Ikaria in Greece. The Ikaria Study, conducted by the University of Athens School of Medicine, surveyed the over-80 population in Ikaria, found an unusual population of healthy individuals, particularly men in the island.
In 2012, NY Times ran a report by Dan Buettner about a Greek named Stamatis Moraitis who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1976 in the US and was given 9 months to live. A total of 10 doctors confirmed this prognosis. He was about 66 (his identity card states his birthday in 1910) years old at that time. He contemplated seeking treatment in the US but decided instead to move back to his hometown, Ikaria, near the Aegean Sea so he could be buried with this ancestors and save on funeral and medical costs, in order to leave his retirement savings for his wife, Elpiniki.
After 9months have passed, not only did Moraitis not die, he got better. 25 years after he returned to Ikaria, he was still alive. So he decided to call his doctors to see if they could explain what happened. Ironically, all of them have passed away. He lived for another 11years after that and passed away in Feb 2013 at a ripe old age of102 (estimated).
The interesting thing is that he is not the only centenarian in this tiny Ikaria island with a population of 10,000 Greeks. According to “The Ikarian Study” done by the University of Athens School of Medicine, the people on Ikaria were, in fact, two and a half times more likely to reach the age of 90 (particularly, Ikarian men are almost four times more likely than their American counterparts to reach 90, and often in better health.)
Similar to the centenarians in Okinawa, Ikarians are mostly healthier than normal – they were living about 8 to 10 years longer before contracting conditions like cancers and cardiovascular diseases, and they suffered less depression and about a quarter the rate of dementia. Almost half of Americans 85 and older show signs of Alzheimer’s. The Ikarians tend to stay sharp until they die of old age.
The study discovered that the Ikarians ate healthily just like the Okinawans. They had typical Mediterranin food – olive oil (known for preventing heart attack, stroke and other hearth diseases), red wine, fish, coffee, herbal tea, honey, potatoes, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, and a limited amount of meat, sugar and dairy products, except goat milk3. Due to the hilly nature of Ikaria, Buettner also noted that it was common to climb up 20 hills in a day while he visited the island.
Anyone who has been to Okinawa will tell you that the people there eat healthily, their air is fresh like Ikaria and the water is crystal clear. The Okinawan people also live a healthy lifestyle. They tend to their gardens, travel on their bicycles from point to point and do not gorge themselves on fast food, or processed food for that matter.
Applying NLP Techniques
So I began to draw similarities between the two places, to live a long life, you need to live on an island, eat healthily and exercise. I can apply NLP techniques to create healthier eating and exercise habits, or use NLP modeling to adopt the lifestyle of the longest living Okinawan and Ikarians, that’ll probably extend my life span by at least a couple of years.
Yes… and not quite.
My newfound theory on human longevity was refuted when I came across the study by Dr Steward Wolf, who taught at the Medicine School in University of Oklahoma. In the 1950s, Wolf got to know about a group of people living in a village in Pennsavylnia from a fellow physician who told him that he has not seen anyone from Roseto below the age of 65 with heart disease.
Wolf got interested in this town, almost entirely formed by immigrants from the original Roseto in Italy in 1890s. With the help of the Mayor, and some students and colleagues from the University of Oklahoma, he began to study the inhabitants of Roseto and what makes them seemingly defy the odds of mortality.
From historical records, he found out that no one below the age of 55 in Roseto had died of heart attack or reported having any heart disease. For men aged 65 and above, their death rate from heart disease was half of the national average. Mortality rate in Roseto was also 30-35% lower than the rest of America4.
My theory on “healthy diet” was debunked when Wolf noted that the Rosettans substituted olive oil with lard when they moved to Pennsylvania and improvised with sausage, pepperoni, salami, ham and sometimes eggs with bread dough instead of “healthier pizzas” in Italy made with salt, oil, tomatoes, anchovies or onions in a thin crust. In the new Roseto, they also had sweets traditionally reserved for Christmas and Easter year round like biscotti and taralli. What baffled the wolf and his counterparts most is that the men in Roseto were heavy smokers, and many of them struggling with obesity5.
My theory on genetics was also busted when Wolf tracked down the Rosettan’s relatives in Italy and found out that despite similar genes and “healthier diet” their relatives were not as healthy as they were!
They began to look into nearby towns inhabited by hardworking European immigrants like Roseto – Nazareth, which was a few miles away and Bangor, which was just down hill of Roseto. To their surprise, they found that the death rate of men over 65 in these two towns were three times that of Roseto. So we can rule out “fresh air and clean water”.
Applying NLP And Time Line Therapy® Techniques for longevity
Wolf and his team, like other researchers in this topic, started to look into the communities that these people lived in. They concluded that while diet and exercise played a part in good health, the fact that the relaxed pace that the Rosettans lived in played a part in their longevity. Many of them live with their extended families, they have close relations with their neighbours and would chat with their friends in the streets when they met one another.
This finding is confirmed in The Ikaria Study. One of the interesting finding is that roughly 75 percent of the population on Ikaria is under 65. Many of the young adults live together with their parents. They typically make a living through small jobs and family support.
Dan Buettner interviewed, Dr. Ilias Leriadis, a physician in Ikaria in 2009, about the lifestyles of the Ikarian people. Dr Ilias said, “People stay up late here,” Leriadis said. “We wake up late and always take naps. I don’t even open my office until 11 a.m. because no one comes before then.”
He also commented about the idyllic lifestyles of the islanders, “Have you noticed that no one wears a watch here? No clock is working correctly. When you invite someone to lunch, they might come at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. We simply don’t care about the clock here.”
The people of Okinawa too, live a relatively stress free environment, making it an ideal getaway for nearby cities.
It all started to make sense now; diet and exercise form the foundation of a long life. A healthy mind can even mitigate the effects of poor diet and lack of exercise. However, without a healthy mind, people become susceptible to diseases and sicknesses.
We can apply NLP techniques to adopt a healthy eating habits and get a healthier mind with time line therapy®.
Negative emotions can have a devastating effect to one’s health. Time line therapy ® can help people with remove negative emotions and emotional burdens. It can also help people deal with anxiety and stress. So think yourself to a longer life.
1. “Want to live to be 100?” – Emily Wilson, The Guardian.
2. “The island where people forget to die” – Dan Buettner, New York Times.
3. “Ikaria Study” – Wikipedia
4. “Outliers” – Malcolm Gladwell page 8.
5. “Outliers” – Malcolm Gladwell page 9.