Supplements, Religion & Mortality: 9 Questions for Cameron Diaz

When I saw that Cameron Diaz wrote a book on longevity I was ready to dismiss it as light celebrity reading. But I must admit that after 10 years of longevity research, I’ve not read a book that more clearly describes the science of aging, nor one that offers a better prescription than The Longevity Book. Here, Cameron discusses religion, supplements, mortality and the unique cells of women:

1. I notice you don’t talk much about supplements in your book. Do you believe in any them?

No. Our “pill society” is really what is making us sicker. We do talk about turmeric, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants; but we don’t prescribe anything. I really wanted to make sure we wrote a book that was informative and not instructional. I don’t want to tell anybody what to do; I want to empower them with the knowledge to go and find out what works for them. You know, everybody has different needs. I believe you should really try to get most of your nutrition from your food and not supplements — especially if you are not paying attention to what you are eating because you feel like you are getting it from a pill. You have to be aware. I don’t want to give anybody permission not to be engaged with their own body.

2. In Okinawa, women have a beautiful tradition of forming committed friendship circles called “moais.” In your book you call out the importance of connectivity. Do you think you have a moai and how is it contributing to your longevity?

I do have a moai. My girlfriends are a major part of my emotional well-being. Period. We do everything together: we eat together, we go away together, we support each other in our homes, we go to see each other when we need one another. We don’t live in a community such as that of Okinawa where they are so close, so it’s harder, but we all fantasize about the day when we get old and we all get to live in a commune together. Lately, I’ve started to weed out the people who are not contributing to my life in a positive way. I’ve started to gravitate towards the people who I can count on, who are honest with me, and who support my values.

3. In the blue zones, we found that purpose adds about eight years to your life expectancy. I wonder if you have a sense of purpose or if that has evolved now that you’re approaching middle age?

I think that my purpose has always been family and extended family and friends. I like to work hard, and for 20 years my purpose was getting a job done. Now, at 43, it’s changing. These books are important to me because I really love sharing information. I love to learn and I love to share what I’ve learned.

4. What was your biggest surprise from writing this book?

All the cells in a woman’s body are female. I know what you’re thinking: it’s like, “Can you say that again?” Men and women consider themselves the same — only different in the areas that our bikinis cover up. But really our cells are different; they’re female, not male. That has ramifications from everything to how we treat disease to what nutrients are better for women over men.

5. If you were to give people one piece of longevity advice they haven’t heard before, what would it be?

Pay attention. Be connected. Know your body. Listen to it. Ask it questions and it will talk to you. If you take the time every day to just check in and ask yourself, “Do I feel strong or do I feel weak? Do I feel like everything is flowing properly or do I feel like there’s a block somewhere? How’s my breathing? How’s my thinking?” It doesn’t have to take a long time. Make it your priority.

6. Did you know that winning the Academy Award adds about four years to your life expectancy? I’m wondering if you think that your fame and the status that comes with it will add to your life expectancy.

The wonderful thing about being in the position that I’m in is that I have so much goodwill coming toward me. I meet so many nice people every day and I have the opportunity to give appreciation and say thank you. I think that there’s something really important about gratitude and appreciation that creates abundance in your life. I think gratitude adds not only to your life experience but your life expectancy.

7. Does religion figure into your longevity?

I think one of the reasons that people are so afraid of aging is because they are afraid of death. Clearly, with aging, mortality comes into question. I think that one of the reasons why people are so afraid of it is that there are a lot of people who don’t have a god. They don’t have an answer as to what happens to us when we die. And when you don’t have a god then you don’t have a connection to a higher power, something bigger than you. We’re not separate from God, if you believe in a god, if you have faith, and if you believe you’re part of this higher power, this contributes to a sense of acceptance of life and acceptance of death. People who accept aging are essentially accepting of death. They’re connected and I think there’s a certain peace that comes with that and it can help you live longer.

8. Do you have a faith?

Definitely; I don’t belong to any one religion. All religions have something beautiful to offer. They’re all saying the same thing with just different stories and different characters. Everybody wants to know: Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? All religions address those issues. I think for me, my connection to a higher being, my God, is one of the most important aspects of my being.

9. When was the first time you realized that you were mortal?

I think when I was growing up I lost people around me at a very young age. I had a boy at my school who died very young in an accident and that was really eye opening to me. I realized that kids die too, you know? And that was, in my little kid brain, when I started to realize that could happen to me too.

Cameron also shared with us her favorite longevity recipe — a delicious probiotic bowl!

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