What is the Secret to Living to 100+? The Blue Zone

What if you could live to 100 and beyond? It’s not as far-fetched as it may seem. The number of supercentenarians is growing worldwide — in 2015 there were 451,000 worldwide, and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more than 3.7 million. Healthcare is getting better worldwide as is access to clean water and food. We also know more about how to treat our bodies well, with ample rest and exercise. But clearly this isn’t enough. How can we live to 100 and beyond?

Genetics plays an important role in how long you live, but it’s not the deciding factor. Some scientists estimate your genetics only accounts for about 15% of your chances of living to 100 and beyond. Other factors include things like your diet, getting regular exercise, and cultivating a sense of purpose and community.

There are some places around the world known as ‘Blue Zones’ where people routinely live longer and healthier lives. In places like Loma Linda, California, where the average inhabitant lives 10 years longer than the national average, it is thought the diet and emphasis on religion and community play a major role.

Learn more about Blue Zones from the infographic below. Maybe you will live a lot longer than you think!

Secrets to Living Longer
Source: Best Health Care Degrees

6 Months After Quitting My 7 Years as a Vegetarian and 5.5 Years as a Vegan: How Do I Eat Now? High Protein Kosher, Similar to Paleo

Even though I only publicly admitted it recently, it was actually 6 months ago that I decided to retire from my dedicated plant-based stage of life, which coincided with most of my 8 year-old son’s life.

After I made the announcement, one of my nieces was shocked, reaching out to me, saying, “I’m pretty sure you have been a vegan for most of the time I’ve known you, ha ha. So you eat cheese pizza now?”

My answer: Well, I could… but I don’t… not really.

(To find a funny t-shirt like this one for the lowest price on Amazon, click here.)

Here’s what I do eat now:

Certain kosher meats, but only if they are baked or broiled, never fried or processed (like in a “nugget” form).

Wild caught fish: mainly salmon, cod, mahi mahi, and even anchovies; but not tuna, which instantly causes my dyshodrotic eczema to return. And definitely never shellfish: shrimp, scallops, lobster, etc. (They are not kosher.)

Chicken, without the skin.

Turkey, but I don’t really like it.

Beef, but never with dairy, like cheese; which is part of keeping kosher.

Eggs, whey powder, and cheese, but not milk.

(To check out the whey isolate protein powder I consume on a daily basis, click here to find the best deal on Amazon.)

I see no reason to drink milk from an animal; not only because it contains more sugar than most people realize, but I attribute milk as the reason my sinuses and allergies used to be so horrible.

Vegetables, but not cooked in heavy oils.

Fruit, with no limitations.

Grains and potatoes, but only on occasion:

I am intentionally strictly avoiding flour (like wheat pasta or wheat pizza dough), hydrogenated oils, and processed sugar.

So would I eat a cheese pizza? I have; several times.

But I realized that it goes against what I am trying to accomplish; which is to have a permanent, healthy and balanced diet which will allow me to comfortably fit back into my size 32 pants again.

I have learned to appreciate grilled chicken pesto pizza on gluten-free, cauliflower crust.

Could I eat a cheeseburger? No, because it’s combining beef with dairy; which isn’t kosher.

Could I eat a hamburger? I could, but I’m not in a hurry to, since that would involve a lot of bread.

I think that ultimately, new identity as an ex-vegan consists of a dietary regiment that is still as disciplined as being a vegan, though it’s a lot less restricting.

(To check out the high protein, whey-based bars I eat on a daily basis, click here to find the best deal on Amazon.)

In the past 6 months, I have loss and kept off 5 pounds since I stopped being a vegan. And because I have been faithfully working out using Darebee.com, it is my belief that the reason I am not continuing to lose more weight right now is that the muscle I am building weights more than the fat.

I’m thinking that within another 6 months, I’ll have more confirmation and clarity for Operation: Comfortably Fit in My Size 32 Pants Again.

If not, I’ll keep being open-minded until I figure it out.

Millennial Parents Respond to Mayim Bialik’s “Competitive Moms” Story

My wife and I recently published a video for our YouTube channel for this blog, giving our reaction to Mayim Bialik’s story on People.com, called Mayim Bialik Reveals She “Left in Tears” After First Group Meeting with “Competitive Moms”.

Her story addresses the fact that Millennials live in a version of the world in which so many parents feel the need to compete with one another. This creates an environment in which those who are not “competing” often feel judged by those who are.

In our own video responding to the story, I explained that the real issue with parents who feel the need to compete with others in their parenting style and skills is this:

They are insecure in their identity not only as individuals, but as parents.

It goes back to junior high when I learned this from my mom; that the kids who were most likely to tease others were simply revealing that they were actually more insecure than the kids they were making fun of.

And now as adults, this same concept continues:

The most insecure parents have the biggest need to project an image of themselves as the “better” parents. And sure, social media helps encourage the competition.

“Mirror, mirror, on my Facebook wall, who’s the fairest parent of them all?”

People tend to seek confirmation when they communicate in social media. They are often seeking approval from their peers to confirm that they are cool, they are funny, they are beautiful, they are relevant, and/or they are good parents.

But what if you simply don’t that need confirmation and therefore, you have no reason to compete?

Insecure parents compete with other another, while slightly clueless yet confident parents ignore the competition all together.

In our video, my wife and I explain that none of us parents truly know what we’re doing. We can’t.

I explain that if you are competing with other parents, you are automatically losing that competition. The only way to “win” is not to play at all.

Instead, all we can do is the best we know how and hope it works out in the end. But as we “practice” parenting, the last thing we should worry about is some silly ongoing competition on the best way to parent.

I explain that while all of us are clueless to some degree, we can still show we are secure in our own identity as individuals and as parents by simply accepting that our own parenting methods are no better than others’, and therefore, we have no reason to seek confirmation or approval in a competition, or to judge other parents for making different decisions than us.

For example, my wife and I do not spank our children. We discipline them, but we have never physically struck them. That’s the culture in our household.

However, that doesn’t mean we have any interest in judging parents who do spank their children. After all, my wife and I are in the minority in this.

Similarly, we have no desire to judge other parents for what they let their children eat. Yes, I am a vegan and my wife and children are vegetarians. But that doesn’t mean we believe everyone should do as we do. We simply don’t care.

Let other people live their own lives. As for us, we’ll live our own. It’s that simple.

When you are focused on doing what is right for your own family, how can you have time to worry about whether other parents are doing it better or worse than you?

My wife and I definitely do not have it all figured out. We never will. We automatically disqualify ourselves from the competition.

You’re more than welcome to join us.

Why Do Jews and Muslims Not Eat Pork or Shellfish? Preventative Health Reasons.

Before switching over to a kosher diet 9 years ago on Thanksgiving Day 2008, I always assumed that the reason Jewish and Muslim people didn’t eat pork or shellfish was more arbitrary; something to the effect of simply showing obedience to God by disciplining their eating habits.

But after eliminating all pork (ham, bacon, sausage) and shellfish (shrimp, scallops, clams), and seeing for myself how it was causing my eczema (dyshidrosis) to finally start clearing up after nearly a decade, even though it’s “medically incurable”, I realized that this whole kosher thing actually had a scientific purpose.

In the same way we all know now that beef is worse for our health than chicken, certain “bottom-feeder” animals are naturally less healthy than others for us to eat.

It easily makes sense that a pig, which will eat nearly anything and has no sweat glands, is naturally going to be less nutritious to the human body, as compared to a cow; though beef is red meat, cows eat only plants.

So indeed there is a scale of uncleanness in the animal kingdom, that helps us to understand which are most likely to increase our chances of getting cancer and disease.

I believe we all know by know what the black strip is along the back of a shrimp, right? When it comes to seafood, shellfish are the bottom-feeders who eat all the rotting remnants and feces. Even catfish fall into this category.

The more I learned about this, and realized that by eating only plants, I didn’t even have to worry about the “scale of uncleanness” anymore, it was a natural transition for me to switch to the Mediterranean diet, then vegetarian, and finally vegan.

So nine years ago I became kosher, and for the most recent half of those years I’ve been vegan.

The eczema has been gone for many years now. And the sinus infections. And the pet allergies.

Coincidence? I submit it is not.

3 Non-Romantic Reasons I Love My Wife

On the surface, it’s easy to see why I chose to spend the rest of my life with the woman I married over 9 years ago. She’s universally beautiful, she’s unselfishly kind, and she’s humble yet confident in herself.

I am a lucky man. I have the ability of knowing in all confidence, I made the right decision.

Not only did I choose the right person to marry, but I made the right decision that fateful night of October 5, 2006, when I spotted her in a crowded room full of hundreds of people and decided to take a chance: I walked up to her and attempted to woo her with my interesting stories, my charming, yet off-beat personality, and my average looks.

It worked.

Now here we are in our mid-30s, having been married nearly a decade, and having produced two blue-eyed, Dutch-looking children despite our DNA.

So while I could easily write 841 words on the romantic aspects of how much I love my wife, I’m instead going to take a different direction. What about the non-romantic reasons I love her?

What about the reasons that would be symbolized not by a heart emoji, but instead, by a house or a stack of money, or by a clock or even a skull?

If for no other reason than to challenge myself as a writer, I now present to you 3 non-romantic reasons I love my wife.

  1. We make a good business team.

I feel like this isn’t emphasized when a couple becomes engaged, but marriage is a business, and it needs to be ran that way. The longer we are married, the better we become at running our family’s business.

During our first year of marriage, before kids, we were able to pay for my wife to go get her Master’s Degree, without going into further debt. That investment paid off, as my wife has since then, consistently made considerably more money than I have all these years. My wife also handles our family’s weekly budget.

On my end, I have been faithfully building my experience as a writer (thanks to this blog) since 2009, and as a YouTuber for the past 3 years. Now at present day, we are seeing the possibility that my “side hustles” (as a blogger, ghostwriter, SEO expert, social media influencer, and YouTuber) are starting to pay off. I actually speculate that by January 2019, our monthly mortgage payment will be covered from my YouTube earnings alone.

My wife is the detailed accountant and investor. I am the creative entrepreneur. Together, we run a family business.

            2. We make a good parenting team.

In the same way we are counterparts as co-business owners, we function the same way as parents. My wife is the nurturer, the schedule keeper, the travel planner, the head chef, and the laundry engineer.

Meanwhile, I am the disciplinarian, the head of communication, the chauffeur, the before-and-after school program director, and the “wake up at any hour of the night to get our daughter back to sleep” technician.

We are not great at doing each other’s roles. Instead, we embrace our individual parenting strengths as part of our own identities. We’ve got a good system. And we’ve got good kids.

Whereas I see marriage as a business, I see parenting as a talent management agency. We have two young recruits who we are responsible for molding into respectable and independent adults, preparing them for the real world.

        3. I want to be around her even during the predictable, seemingly uneventful, non-                          Facebook-status-worthy moments of life.

For me, it all comes back to the famous line in our wedding vows: for better or for worse.

Yeah, I’m totally cool with slowly aging alongside my wife for the next 40 years as we live happily ever after, until ultimately one of us finally dies first, leaving the other person with the insurance money- and unimaginable sadness.

But what about the in-between of better or worse? Not everyday can be a Michael Bublé song. Many days are more like Huey Lewis, when he sang, “Yes, it’s true, I’m so happy to be stuck with you.”

I love my wife for the moments in our life together that are just normal and forgettable; the B-roll footage that no one would care about watching if our lives were a reality TV show on TLC, called Our Crazy Vegetarian Life. Being grateful for your spouse through all the filler moments, which honestly, make up most of our time on this planet, is what real love is all about.

So maybe I’ve failed to hold true to the title of this article. Maybe there really is something romantic about building a life together, running it like a business, creating and raising mini-me’s, and choosing to love a person until the day you die, even if most of those days don’t have fireworks and champagne.

Maybe there’s something undeniably romantic about the unromantic parts of loving the person you married.

If so, consider me a hopeless romantic.

Photo credit: Mohamad Alaw.

About the Author:

I am an accidental stay-at-home vegan daddy blogger based in Spring Hill, Tennessee. I have no spare time, but by default, my hobbies include playing guitar, singing, songwriting, mountain biking, skateboarding, running, and going on road trips across America with my family in vehicles that Toyota and Lexus provide for free because it’s smart advertising for them.

Additionally, I enjoy making videos for both of my YouTube channels: Nick Shell, which is a mentorship program for younger men who are psychologically dealing with going bald, and Family Friendly Daddy Blog, which celebrates and explores ethnic diversity based on DNA test results.

Are American Restaurants Still Ignoring Vegans as Potential Customers? As a Millennial Vegan Daddy Blogger, I Say Yes.

Today I was contacted by a brand promoter for Applebee’s, who invited me to participate in their newest campaign, “There’s No Shame in Being a Meat and Potatoes Man.” I would have received a gift card for my family to dine at Applebee’s, as I promoted the following options for the modern Meat-and-Potatoes Dad:

Topped Steaks & Twisted Potatoes Line-Up:

  • 3 Steak Choices:  6 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin, 8 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin, 12 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin
  • 3 Steak Topper Choices:  Tavern Mushroom & Onion, Savory Herb & Butter Sauce, Creamy Horseradish & Gravy Topper
  • 3 Twisted Potato Side Choices (pick 1):  Twisted Tots, Loaded Potato Casserole Back, Loaded Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 Perfect Side: Fresh Broccoli

Hey, I would have appreciated the free meal for my family and would have had a lot of fun promoting Applebee’s here on my blog. One small problem, though…

I am a vegan and my wife and kids are vegetarians.

It’s not that big of a deal that I don’t eat meat. Not eating meat or animal products (for health reasons, not necessarily for animals’ rights), is becoming somewhat normal. In fact, this past summer Moe’s Southwest Grill actually hired me as a freelance writer to promote how vegan-friendly and vegetarian-friendly their menu is.

Some restaurants, like Moe’s Southwest Grill, are able to perceive a shift has occurred in the eating habits of health conscious Millennials, like myself, and how that has an effect on my family’s spending habits at restaurants.

When you Google “how much of the American population is vegan?”, one of the top answers that shows up is an article from onegreenplanet.org, which claims that there currently 6 million vegans in America!

And that in itself is a 6% increase since 2014, when only 1% of the American population identified as vegan. That’s a significant increase!

Isn’t 6% of the population significant enough that restaurants would at least try to cater to folks like us?
My guess is, apparently not. Apparently there are people who are better than I am at math (and who have done enough market research) and have decided that vegans aren’t worth the trouble to get in their restaurants; even though we currently account for 6% of the American population.
Imagine all that collective money that American restaurants aren’t making from families like mine. Oh well.
With that being said, here’s my casting call to any restaurants out there who would like a Millennial vegan daddy blogger with good SEO on his blog to promote the “vegan-friendly” aspect of their restaurant.
Any takers?

MyHeritage DNA Test: Photos of My Great-Grandparents’ Jewish-Middle Eastern Wedding from 1919- Giuseppe Metallo and Maria “Mary” Vite

Last week at work, my wife was explaining to a coworker how our family is vegetarian and that it all started a few months after we were married in 2008, when I went kosher; meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish.

The natural follow-up question from her coworker was logical: “Is your husband Jewish or something?”

My wife replied, “Actually, he is. He just took a DNA test and found that out!”

(This is funny because my going kosher had nothing to do with my ethnic background; I simply had to in order to cure my eczema dyshidrosis, severe sinus infections, and allergies. In the end, it worked, by the time I eventually became a vegan in 2013.)

Despite my mom thinking her whole life that she was half Mexican and half Italian, her own DNA test through MyHeritage told a much different story:

True, her mother truly was Mexican; but on her father’s side, her Italian grandfather was mostly Middle Eastern and her Italian grandmother was Sephardic Jewish.

My mom’s mother’s side:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

My mom’s father’s side:

15.2% Sephardic Jewish

14% Middle East/West Asia (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

2.6% Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)

2.0% West African (Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo)

These wedding photos are from my mom’s paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1919. This is Giuseppe Metallo (age 28 and a half) with his bride Maria “Mary” Vite (age 19). I speculate this was an arranged marriage, but I have no proof; only speculation, based on their age difference and the fact they were recent immigrants to America from Italy.

They both moved here from Italy, spoke only Italian, and had Italian names… yet ethnically, they were barely Italian at all. My theory is that their own ancestors had settled in Italy a few generations prior but had culturally become Italian by the time they got to America.

I’m guessing their families had both converted to Catholicism by the time they had left Italy.

This stuff is purely fascinating to me!

But what do you think? Are we truly looking at a mainly Middle Eastern groom and a Sephardic Jewish bride, who were known to me up until this year as my Italian great-grandparents?

I would love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.