Parts of his body are very weathered-looking, and he gets around extremely slowly, but after all, we're talking about a 183-year-old.
His name is Jonathan, and he's been through a lot in life, including a serious this-could-be-the-end health scare after he lost his eyesight and ability to smell. But Jonathan, who happens to be a giant tortoise living on the south Atlantic island known as St. Helena, is still going strong.(1)
So, what can be learned from this amazing creature? Turns out, a lot.
What turned his health around after his scare was the fact that he was put on a diet consisting of highly nutritious foods. Veterinarian Dr. Joe Hollins suggested that the Seychelles tortoise eat from a bowl that included carrots, cucumber, bananas, lettuce, guava and apples – a far departure from Jonathan's previous selections of leaves, dirt and twigs.(1)
How healthy diet turned tortoise's life around
Jonathan, who has lived on the island since 1882, and is considered the world's oldest living land animal, has gained the weight he needed, is more active, and has even redeveloped his sharp beak which helps him eat with more ease. All of this means that he's now able to function considerably better and enjoy life even more.(1)
According to Hollins, "Jonathan has become almost completely blind due to cataracts and has lost his sense of smell. He was just grabbing at food and ended up chomping on twigs which blunted his beak. He lost weight because of his nutritional deficiencies." Hollins explains that when he changed his diet to the nutritious and primarily high-calorie, healthy selections, Jonathan put on weight and started walking more. "Since then his life has been transformed," he says.(1)
Eat healthy, pass on harmful junk foods
So, does this mean that everyone should run to the store and nosh on the exact mixture of guava and bananas, just like Jonathan? Not necessarily. As with any diet, you have to take your specific health needs into consideration, including possible food allergies, taste preferences and so on. However, the overarching theme and lesson to be learned here, is that healthy food choices have the incredible power to turn your health around or – at the very least – help ensure that you maintain your existing good health.
Junk food, filled with huge quantities of sugar, salt, bad fats and unpronounceable chemicals and flavorings, is detrimental to health. It's no secret that such foods are linked to problems such as obesity, heart issues and diabetes, to name just a few. In fact, junk food manufacturers are keen on a process that actually tricks your brain into craving more of the bad stuff, much like an addict who can't get enough of a high, despite the harm it's doing to their body. Such "sensory-specific satiety" is an intentional act that junk food corporations are well aware of. Your good health diminishes, while their profits soar. So it goes – and it's all the more reason to eat fresh foods that mostly consist of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.(2)
Examples of people who drastically improved their health after turning to nutritious foods
There are several examples of humans who have vastly improved their health – Jonathan style, if you will – after trading their unhealthy food choices for more nutritious options.
For example, New Jersey resident, Lori Miller Nasatka, lost over 100 pounds by swapping her less-than-nutritious meals for ones that included carrots, fresh berries, sweet potato chili and quinoa. She's now filled with energy and confidence galore, has kept her weight off, and is no stranger to participating in various fitness events.(3)
Then there's the amazing story of Janette Murray-Wakelin, who was diagnosed in the early 2000s with stage 3 breast cancer. Given just months to live, she shunned chemotherapy treatments and turned to a raw food diet, exercise and meditation. These days, she's a breast cancer survivor who is involved in numerous marathons. Foods she consumed included broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and green apples.(4)
All of this goes to show that a nutritious diet has the power to transform and heal. We can't promise that it'll have you blowing out birthday candles on your 183rd birthday, but eating healthy foods sure will improve your health in a variety of incredible ways.